Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunny Dispositions

Much to the dismay and astonishment of my farming friends, I plant sunflowers every spring. 

In rural areas where farming is the main business, sunflowers are considered a weed of the first order.  Wild sunflowers, rangy and invasive, take valuable nutrients from “real” crops and their tough, ropy stems get tangled in farm machinery as it passes by. I’ve witnessed a few of these wrestling matches, and I appreciate the farmer’s frustration.
I, however, am not a farmer. I plant sunflowers because they make me happy.  I don’t believe it’s possible to look up at a towering sunflower, brilliant yellow leaves surrounding a dinner plate-sized face, and not smile. They're regal, and a bit silly looking, and are perfect for painting.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough  Salute!  12 x 12 oil
It's a joy to paint such a happy thing.  It's not often a painter gets the opportunity to squeeze out a variety of yellows, scoop them up unmixed and pure, and slather them onto a canvas - yet that's what it takes. The kindergartener in me is renewed.

Summer is waning and the sunflowers have begun to droop under their heavy load of mature seeds.  Cardinals, finches, flickers and others will sit atop the drying heads and reach over for a snack.  Nuthatches have the advantage, being able to climb under the drooping head to reach the tasty center seeds.  It won’t surprise me to see a squirrel or two to catch on and climb the sturdy thick stalks and munch on whatever is left. 
All I will have then are the memories of blue skies and wide, wide faces circled with sunny yellow.  That alone is enough to make me smile.


Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Yay! They are remarkably happy-making. (and I just love your description - rangy and invasive, regal and a bit silly looking. Perfect!)

Hannah said...

Patty--out here in the Central Valley of CA, we are surrounded by fields of sunflowers and safflowers. One of my favorite things to do is to drive out one of the country roads nearby, surrounded on all sides by these glorious golden blooms with their heads upturned, their green trunk- like stems supporting them. It makes me happy too. And when the sunflowers dry out...well there is nothing more sad and woebegone. So, like you, I take my mind back to the early days of summer when the petals are a brilliant cadmium yellow and the sky, a cerulean blue.

Patty said...

My once-towering sunflowers are stoop-shouldered now, heavy with seed and feeding the local wildlife.
In a few weeks I'll be fighting the giant stems and root clumps, promising myself never to plant another behemoth sunny again.
That promise lasts until spring.

Karine said...

I never used to like sunflowers - too prickly and gangly. Lately, I have been seeing them in new light. Maybe because you paint them...