How on earth did that get there?
I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of
a single, proud, red poppy growing strong and tall from a crack in the grey tarmac, against a crumbling brick wall. I was walking into a place I´d been to countless times and in that poppy, I saw my surroundings with fresh eyes, as you do when you come across unusual things in unexpected places.
Then, driving through Blandford on my way home, I had to stop the car and have a closer look at a whole party of poppies thriving against a dilapidated wooden fence, nodding merrily in the evening breeze. Coincidences like that should not be ignored and now I see poppies everywhere. They´re back!
Poppies are the beloved symbols of remembrance, of course, and curiously two paintings went off the following day to a daughter whose Dorset- born father lives in Glasgow and misses home. Bournemouth Pier and Durdle Door, iconic emblems of this lovely county.
Poppies are perhaps not so well known as symbols of imagination, messages delivered in dreams, beauty, success, luxury, and extravagance. I began to think about my next painting. I´ve long loved painting these flowers for the strength behind their delicate appearance. Blue poppies last year for the NHS inspired me during the early stages of lockdown. I organised an on-line sale and donated all the proceeds to the fantastic frontline staff.
With 150 different species flourishing in fields and hedgerows worldwide, springing up through rough gravel where only the hardiest of weeds can grow, I can´t fathom why I haven´t been able to grow one single poppy in my garden. I´ve bought so many packets of seeds, harvested them from the fields behind my house, and finally decided they don´t grow there because they don´t want to. I love that. They grow where they will, stubborn, no two exactly the same, all so deceptively fragile yet so resilient.
Sam showed me how to paint swans gliding across the water in my latest poppy picture, a first for me. What beautiful, serene symbolism. Inner beauty, grace, love, trust, loyalty, a pair of swans represent soul mates for life.
Of course, “poppy” is just a vowel away from my other current obsession. It´s my last visit tomorrow- I´m bringing Sunny home on Saturday. I´m like a child at Christmas, can´t sleep and beyond excited. I watch him as he runs around with the other tumbling, playful puppies, already very much his own dog, a strong little character, almost regal in his bearing. His familiar, knowing eyes watch me as he snuggles up, and I feel as if Bonny is coming home. There´s so much of her expression in his face, and the way he knows and responds to me. But no matter how many training videos I watch, or how many healthy dog treats I lovingly prepare, there´s no doubt Sunny will chew my canvases and do his own thing.
Like a bright red poppy where I least expect to see one.
Original paintings and prints available from my website. Commissions accepted with joy.
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