I'm still thinking about a new work I began during my encaustic marathon last weekend. I am pleased with many parts of it but it won't declare itself finished. It was begun with great enthusiasm but waned as I proceeded. Sometimes the work that is fully conceived before you begin, peters out as you work. This is such a work.
If you follow my blog you know that I've returned repeatedly to the poppy in many of my explorations. It is loaded with symbolism and beauty. They have long been used as a symbol of sleep and death. The opium extracted from poppies has a sedative effect on the body and their red colour is connected to blood and death. It is difficult to image medicine with codeine or morphine. In many Greco - Roman myths, poppies were a favourite offering to the dead. If you are an explorer of cemeteries you will find poppies adorning tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep.
Ancient Greeks thought that poppies were a sign of fertility. Poppy seeds were thought to bring health and strength so Greek athletes were given mixtures of poppy seeds, honey, and wine.
Poppies.ws describes the use of Godfrey's Cordial during the Industrial Revolution. It was cheaper than food and kept hungry children quiet. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the tincture of opium called laudanum was as casually bought and used as aspirin is today. A large number of poets and writers of this era were opium addicts. It is hard to believe that these concoction were still in use in 1910 and it took food and drug laws to remove this dangerous narcotic from patent medicines.
In more recent times we use the The red Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), a common weed in Europe, to commemorate the war dead.
The poppy in this work is dreamlike and emerges from a pattern of past centuries.
After several layers of cadmium red encaustic is added and fused I applied a layer of Egyptian purple...
and then Iridescent gold metallic - all R and F Paints
Then the hard work began as I used a large blade to scrape back all the excess encaustic colours to reveal the highs and lows of the original pattern.
The shadow of the poppy in the upper right is an image transfer of a drawing I created this summer. I'm still trying to integrate the dream like quality of the poppy with the heavy patterning at the bottom. No solutions are occurring yet. I always seem to set up these dichotomies that are difficult to marry.