This painting started with a challenge I issued to myself: create a painting of sunflowers that wasn’t just yellow, brown, and blue. Discover a way to uniquely express the sunflowers and the idea of fall without relying solely on Autumn’s traditional colours.
Each flower has a story – or could have a story – or should have a story made up about it.
This part of the story is true.
These flowers were a birthday present to me in August. I knew I would paint some part of the bouquet but I am surprised that it was the sunflowers that made it to the canvas first.
None of my best paintings come out without going through a problem stage – a place where I work through all kinds of issues (some that just exist and others I end up creating for myself). As I was problemsolving I began experimenting and disolving parts of the painting into pixel like shapes.
Then the pixels became spots of coloured light, the way that light seems to change in the fall. Or patches on a handmade quilt.
Then I thought about the changing seasons. . .
Then seasonal myths. . .
Then the myth of Demeter, goddess of the seasons and her daughter Persephone.
The quick version of the story is that Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld. Distraught and depressed Demeter wandered the earth looking for her, neglecting her care of the earth and as a result Autmn came, followed by winter. Demeter’s wanderings and negligence endangered the people of earth, convincing Zeus, the god of heaven to insist that Hades return Persephone to her mother. Persephone would be allowed to remain above ground only if she had eaten nothing while in the underworld. But she had eaten six pomengranate seeds. As a compromise, Zeus ordered that Persephone would have 6 months each year to spend with her mother and then she would return to Hades in the underworld for the other half of the year. The arrival of Autumn was said to mark Persephone’s return to the underworld and the begining of Demeter’s six months of sorrow.
This part involves a little imagination.
As I thought of that story I thought of how moms always seem to have something to send with you when you journey from home. Sometimes its a note or treat in your lunch. Other times it might be a sweater or mom might press some crumpled dollar bills into your hand just as you leave.
So what would Demeter send with her daughter?
Something to remind her to come back to the light and warmth of the world above.
Something filled with colour to protect her from the shadowy grey-ness.
Something only a mother would think to send.