by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
"Make it like a sunflower." Steve Jobs
About a week ago finishing up at the grocery store and heading to check-out the floral section caught my eye.
Hesitate not did I grabbing a bunch of striking sunflowers.
Once home after groceries stowed I trimmed the stems and put them in a simple clear glass vase placing them in the center of the dining room table.
For two days I looked at them. Thinking. I turned the vase for a fresh angle. And thought more.
And then first with casein I painted them - the blooms and mostly in abstract design though clearly sunflowers with just the top of the vase indicated.
The painting was nice but something amiss.
Another day passed and instinct and five decades painting experience compelled me to grab transparent watercolor.
Three variations - landscape format of those big striking blooms - in two days.
Brushes at rest, I looked at the flowers every few hours turning the vase for a fresh perspective while also adjusting the interior plantation shutters to alter lighting.
On the third morning with a cup of coffee in hand and looking at the flowers the blooms though still spectacular had finally given way to the bigger bouquet.
I moved the vase off center and closer to the window.
The watercolor paper now turned portrait format.
And I painted what the layman expects in a floral still life - flowers in a vase atop a table.
With that intended to be the last painting.
But the next morning I decided to paint them again. And again that afternoon.
For four days that pattern continued - whilst the flowers wilted becoming more and more interesting to me.
Titles moved from 'Sunflowers' to '5 Rearranged Dead Sunflowers.'
Strangely, the wilting and dead sunflower paintings are more interesting and beautiful (to me) than the blooms at peak.
While painting all these works politics was on my mind. And so in between paintings brush gave way to keyword to capture thoughts - thoughts that only come about while painting or hitting that euphoric state during strenuous exercise (another daily habit). Thus the flood of recent commentaries.
A good friend lives in Palm Springs. An economist ten years my senior we share interests in economics, politics, art, painting, and more and we enjoy a quirky knack for pun word play (to wit he excels).
He sends me articles of interest found on the Internet and I occasionally reciprocate with recent paintings.
Typically, he responds to the paintings with an admiring and thoughtful witty comment; always short and to the point.
A week ago I sent him the first transparent watercolor sunflower painting.
Last evening I sent him the latest painting.
A couple of hours passed.
Shortly before retiring for the evening I checked email.
With thumbnails of the two paintings, new titles, and one sentence:
"The outcome of Obama's two terms: Withering Heights"
11 x 14 in. watercolor
14 x 11 in. watercolor
"Now that, Bill, is good. Real good. So I will just leaf it alone to stem further repartee and petal away."
I plan to paint those beautiful dead sunflowers one more time - today.
The best is always yet to come.
And so concludes my sunny, flowery take on life, art, and politics.
No matter what, there's a bright side to everything. Look for it - always.