Last August, I examined the sunflower and all its meanings in my newsletter. I am reposting the article I wrote then in today's blog, as the sunflower takes on another layer of meaning. While I thought 2021 was the summer of the sunflower, I was wrong. February 24th is the season of the sunflower. Sunflowers are especially loved in Ukraine where golden fields of them face the eastern sunrise. They are Ukraine's national flower, and in folk, the imagery represents the warmth and power of the sun.
Re-Cap August Newsletter 2021
Summer is such an uplifting season. It is the season of travel, art fairs, exploration, and real-life experiences. This month I took a break from the studio to venture back into the city for inspiration. I delighted in the revival of New York energy. With exhibitions resuming again, I took the opportunity to explore.
They are considered both wild weeds and cherished garden plants depending on your point of view. The plant is currently in full bloom and glory all across farms and fields of North America this month. However, this year, they are getting additional press due to the "Van Gogh Alive," an immersive experience created by Grande Experiences. The immersive experience has gained international notoriety in over 65 countries so far and combines visual spectacle through digital projection to present more than 3000 Van Gogh images at an enormous scale. The images fill giant screens, walls, columns, and ceilings. The New York City Experience opened on June 10th at pier 36 and continues to run through September. It combines images with the sounds of Mozart and Bach along with aromas infused into the auditorium, creating a full multi-sensory experience. The art world has officially donned the summer of 2021 as the summer of Van Gogh. My Van Gogh summer, however, began over 35 years ago, in the spring of 1986. It was then that I first encountered and became personally connected to the sunflower. I had the privilege of touring the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (I can honestly say this was the first time I remember stepping into an art museum). Standing before the 1887 sunflower paintings, painted 100 years earlier, I felt deep emotion propelling me into a lifelong study of art in both history and practice. Each brushstroke radiated conviction and undeniable passion to the process of his creation. I would argue that even the immersive experience, while impressive, can not duplicate the raw emotion of standing before the original. While I enjoyed the technical aspects of the installation, Its emotive personal experience was not quite like looking at a painting. It was a reminder to me how much is lost in the digitization of art, and yet something else emerges in that process.
Flowers as subject:
Ancient Egyptians were to Represent Flowers in Art History through the representation of the lotus flower. Ancient Egyptians adorned amulets, ceramics, and papyrus paintings with the lotus flower symbolized the sun. Individual flower meanings changes throughout history depending on the context. A single flower, for example, can represent reproduction or decay, purity or promiscuity, love or hardship—or nothing more than a pile of petals. Sunflowers, similar to the Egyptian lotus are unsurprisingly, also related to the sun. They have the ability to provide energy in the form of nourishment and vibrancy—attributes that mirror the sun and the energy provided by its heat and light. They symbolize loyalty, adoration thanks to the myth of Clytie and Apollo. They are well-known for being a happy flower and the perfect bloom for a summer flower delivery to brighten someone's mood!
So much can be learned from the past and utilized to create an authentic style. It is not a mere copy but rather incited ultimately inspired lessons. Looking to the art of the past is a fantastic way to discover a unique voice through the freedom of applying the medium to the ground. (Ground, in this case, is any surface chosen to create an image upon) While I draw inspiration from the late impressionistic master, this is not the entire reason why I choose it as a subject for August. Florals find a place between my larger scale expressionistic pieces when I need to free up my brush stoke and loosen up. Flowers inherently provide properties lending themselves to the process of freedom. They are organic in shape and dynamic in movement. They bend and flow in and out of color, reflecting the sun. Observing the ready-made composition of shadow and light, and my only job is to observe. It is one of the most gratifying experiences to make a mark with zero concern if it is a mistake or not. Using flowers as a subject for still-life to paintings, allow me to hone my brush skills and explore mark making without worry. Painting really has no place for preciousness or fear of mucking it up. It should be a place of exploration, curiosity, and discovery. Van Gogh places the sunflower bouquet in a vase to demonstrate a unique connection between himself and colleague painter Paul Gauguin. For him, the sunflower conveyed gratitude. This month, I draw upon his subject and his meaning as I extend a heartfelt sentiment of Gratitude to all of you who take the time to read my letters and look at my creations. I couldn't do it without you! So for all of you, I give you my rendition of sunflowers. If you continue scrolling, I included a few other florals I created this summer. Enjoy!