Once Oregon finally gets up to speed with summer weather, it is so lovely to walk just before sunset. Even on the hottest evenings, usually the cool breeze drifts over from the coast, and it’s the perfect time to stroll through the neighborhood admiring gardens. I snapped a quick photo a few days ago of a backlit sunflower, one of the new breeds with rusty orange petals and tiny seeds (which I have tried to grow but the sow bugs defeat me every time). The Resident Art Critic pointed out, “There’s a petal missing,” – his usual short and to the point critique. To which I reply – “Duh! Of course there is. The flower is just slightly beyond it’s peak, the sun is setting, day is done, summer will be coming to a close before we are ready… it’s a metaphor for another birthday, Sillly!”
Here is the progression from pencil sketch to watercolor washes, with a last minute decision to paint over the smaller blooms and just focus on the big one, followed quickly by the addition of the stripes in the background, which I really like as a technique. I did a similar background on the dahlia piece last week, sort of looked like wallpaper there. It’s a nod to my textile background, I suppose, and my love for pattern and texture. The seeds at the bottom are a way to focus on not just the whole but all its many parts, symbolic of the future being part of the fading bloom, and I think they make a unique but simple border also.