annunciation diary days eleven and twelve: sunflowers

Gradually the Annunciation garden takes shape. I started planning sunflowers for this painting when I was working on the earlier Kevin and the Sunflowers. (We had one giant sunflower appear in the garden here last year, the result of an escaped seed from the bird feeders I would hazard. All the drawings done in preparation for the two paintings were made throughout the life stages of that single specimen.) By clicking on the image you get a higher resolution version, and clicking on that will give you a highly detailed close-up. The heart of the flower at bottom right is achieved using a technique of sgraffito, scratching through the top layer of paint when dry to reveal under-painting. A different quality can be achieved by scratching through the top layer of paint while still wet.

9 thoughts on “annunciation diary days eleven and twelve: sunflowers

  1. I think the final result with the sunflowers is perfect, Clive. As Dave points out, there’s a sense of chorus with them, a group of silent observers if you will. It feels like they’re there to bear witness. Also as Marly pointed out, there’s a plethora of subtle implications from the flowers. And let’s be honest: you rendered them beautifully!

    • I can see why they aren’t used very much in an allegorical sense, save in isolation, as in the sunflower paintings of Paul Nash. The fact is that the flowers have so much personality that they can easily take over a composition. They’ve been very tricky to keep under control in this Annunciation, and although I feel that the balance has just about been achieved… still a little way ro go before I’ll be completely satisfied… the flowers have significantly become a sort of third presence in the composition, taking up quite as much space as the Virgin. I certainly didn’t foresee that when I initially thought of using them.

      • The way you have abstracted them from the literal also has an ancient halo quality–little stiff rays–that only reinforces the link between the Virgin’s son-seed and the holy.

        They do have a lot of presence–like Sylvia Plath’s tulips that eat all the available air and demand attention.

        • I would even go so far as to say that the shapes of the sunflower heads remind me of the photos we’ve all seen of the microscopic human ova with thousands of sperm swimming ar their rims. Whoa! These sunflowers are POTENT images, aren’t they?


          • I can promise you that neither of those references were my starting points, though I can see where you’re coming from. Sunflowers do have an astonishing ‘architecture’, and I certainly enjoyed playing with the form. I can see that the results are perhaps sunflower-esque, as opposed to aspiring to botanical accuracy. But seeing as you’ve mentioned it, yes, I really quite fancy a mince pie right now! (-;

  2. it’s so, so beautiful clive! stunning! those sunflowers have so much character, i love the way you’ve represented them, and the particular blue of the angel is so special. thank you for sharing all this!

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