My final painting of 2014 felt like it had saved itself up for last at the end of a year that was all about shift and transformation. This one came directly from the soul and took on an almost surreal quality as I played with what felt like the nearest thing I could muster as a visual expression of how I was feeling about the age we are currently living in. It was a remembered experience – of a hillside covered in such poppies that I walked across with my family, feeling in such a glorious heartspace, one unforgettable midsummer evening – and a metaphor all in one.
Part of my pressing urge to create this one was a, finally unleashed and very overdue, desire to paint poppies only (normally), as soon as I get even close to depicting the scarlet poppies of late summer that I love so much, I find myself frustrated and reticent to depict what would, inevitably, translate as a symbol of something I have no time for anymore; its impossible in our culture to see a red poppy and not think of “all that”. When (what began as) a compromise occurred to me – of painting a field of decidedly un-red poppies – it came as such a relief (unfettered, unburdened of all that heavy association) as well as delivering a whole new level of understanding to me through its metaphor.
Doing this felt like I was reclaiming one of my favourite blooms for love, softening and lightening its association with blood spilt; and if this throng of radiant heads merged all together in a sea of blushing radiance reminds us of ourselves then let it remind us, also, that we are all one. I let the piece ‘happen’ just as it did, playing with the light, but – looking at it on completion – I can’t help noticing how the fiery sunset glow looks like blood is being washed away, evaporating from the scene, leaving behind a sea of light-filled, tall-standing blooms with a valiant core and the tender hue of rose quartz; the colour of the heart. Ironically, having worked through the process of transformation that this painting became for me, I now feel that I can reclaim scarlet poppies for themselves without the heavy burden they have been carrying – for me, for our culture – for so long.
A painting that harks at an age of transformation, this was an appropriate final piece of the year for me and, in some sense, my assertion that it is time to shake off our woeful history, to stop harping on, glorifying, stirring the embers and re-living it; time to remember who we all are, as we are (connected at the heart beneath all that) and collectively move on.
“Love Swept Lands” is an original oil painting on a deep sided canvas, dimensions 50 x 50 cm, with white painted sides. You can view this painting in much more detail, with some alternative views, on my website. Prints will also be available to purchase from my site later this month.
I really love the story behind the artwork. The stories make me look at the work differently and add more meaning to it.. It’s lovely to hear them.
So appreciate your feedback @TheGrazingElk, it means a lot to know the back-stories of my art resonate and help bring my work to life!
I love the composition of this painting Helen – the way the poppies lead us along a path towards the light.
Thanks so much Andrea, I appreciate that! Whereas I typically work from a particular photo that has grabbed me, and though I had several photos of a field like this, this one really felt like an internal landscape unfolding, the brush being guided, and I knew when it was done.
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