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.