Poppies are short lived perennial plants. The petals are crumpled in the bud and as blooming finishes, they lie flat before falling away. The petals are showy and may be of any colour. They are generally in bloom in late Spring or early Summer.
The symbolism of the poppy has long been used as that of sleep, peace and death. Sleep because the opium extracted from some varieties is a sedative and death because of the blood red colour of the red poppy. This sleep / death symbolism is evoked in the famous novel "The Wizard of Oz." The symbol of the poppy is also used for wartime remembrance. In many countries around the world, artificial poppies are worn to commemorate those who died in war.
Poppies are actually one of my all time favourite flowers. I really love the delicate papery, crumpled translucent quality of the petals. I'm really interested in trying to evoke this translucence with watercolours. I also love the long spindly stems and how they explode in a pop of colour at the top of these long spindly stems when they bloom. I could gaze at these flowers for hours and find every detail about them fascinating. Above left is a recent painting I have completed of a bunch of colourful poppies I bought from the shop. Above right is a old painting I completed quite a few years ago of a Himalayan poppy. The original sold a long time ago, but unfortunately I didn't take a high resolution photo of it, so it will never be available in print form. Below left is a red poppy that I painted in a more freer, spontaneous style, trying to capture the essence of the flower. This one is available as a print by clicking on the photo. Below right is one of Georgia O'Keefe's most famous paintings of a Red Poppy (1927). It is a perfect example of the macro modernist style for which she became most famous.
I bought a book that looked interesting called "Urban watercolour sketching" by Felix Scheinberger (2011). It's got some really cool ideas - more illustration type of an approach to watercolour with sketching in pen or pencil and then using the watercolour to enhance the illustration. Scheinberger describes watercolour as not just a technique, but an attitude, being wilful and anarchical ! He goes on to state that the key to creating good watercolour art is to strike a balance between control and letting go. I think I could benefit from more experimentation in letting go with my watercolour paintings. My floral stuff is mostly very tightly controlled and I can understand that to move my art to a higher level, I should practice more freestyle techniques.
With some inspiration from a page on food (above right), I tried to sketch and paint some vegetables (above left). They're kind of just little illustrations which I will use later to put on products in my design store www.zazzle.com/juicyhues.
The author illustrates and paints a lot of urban type scenes such as buildings, cityscapes and people. Hopefully I have time to make my way through the book over the coming months and experiment with a little bit of urban watercolour sketching and painting !
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.