What is it about Sunflowers?

September 21, 2011

I’m not sure how or when it happened, but somebody decided that sunflowers are a symbol of Kansas.  In any art show with a Kansas theme, you’ll find lots of sunflower paintings and photographs.  In the area where I live it is possible to view large fields of sunflowers, all turning their faces to the sun. 

The general public seems to love them.  A rural family I know plants a huge field of sunflowers every year.  The local newspaper lets people know where the sunflower field is this year and photographers flock to it.  When I recently set up my easel next to the field, several cars stopped and people got out with their cameras, not looking at me but at that huge field of bright yellow flowers.

Most artists and photographers seem to prefer concentrating on individual blossoms.  They get up quite close to them with their cameras.  I like the image of a big section of the field best.  One year when the weather was not too great, I sat by an upstairs window in my friend’s house and did a small painting looking out over the field from a distance.  I was glad that this year the sunflowers were in a different place than they had been the past several years.  It gave me a slightly different view with an interesting clump of trees in the background.  I mean  when one has painted sunflowers a number of times, it is hard to figure out something different to say about them artistically.  But I decided to paint them again this year because I found I had only one sunflower painting left.  People do like to buy them.

Another artistic problem with sunflowers is what title the painting should have.  I’m not very good at coming up with titles for my paintings.  I’ve painted “Sunflower Field,” “Ted and Chris’s Sunflowers,” “Sunflowers in the Rain,” and one called simply “Sunflowers.”  This year’s sunflower painting I’ve decided to call “Kansas Sunflowers,” pretty lame, I know.  Maybe next year I can think of something more original.  I’ve posted “Kansas Sunflowers” on the Midwestern Rural page.

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