Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Van Gogh Series :: Flower Fields

Recently I was shopping with a couple of beady friends and we happened across a booth filled with wonderful artisan beads, including these beautiful flowers. The artisan is Patricia Dugmore of pjBeads. I knew I had to pick up a few for my Van Gogh Series, but the question was ... which ones? 

Right away I decided I wanted red, which reminded me of his Field of Poppies seen here. Poppies are often associated with blooms covering expansive open fields in the South of France. I love the way Van Gogh captured flowers, whether in a vase or waving in the wind out in the fields. Simply stunning. 

Van Gogh's earliest paintings of poppies were during his time in Paris where he painted mainly cut flowers as he did not have the money to pay models. Still-life was just more practical. 

He notes years later in a letter to his sister Wilhelmina that he used the brilliant red of poppy blooms against the bright green of the alfalfa fields because of the color contrast it created. He says, "these are the fundamentals, which one may subdivide further, and elaborate, but quite enough to show you without the help of a picture that there are colours which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple, which complete each other like man and woman.A bit of a run-on sentence, but hey he's an artist. This use of complimentary colors is what Van Gogh became known for, and what sets his paintings apart from other still-life work.

The red pair of earrings came together quickly. I wanted them to focus on pops of red with green as background; just like Van Gogh had done in his paintings. The result is an abstract pair of dangle earrings with large pops of red. In my Etsy shop.

The white ones gave me more trouble. I pulled them apart several times as adding leaves just put the whole thing off kilter. In the end, simplicity won. I knew I wanted to do something that had the look of snowdrops with the flower facing downwards. I just love this beautiful, simple flower with its hopeful sign of spring. Also, in my Etsy shop.

I went in search of any paintings that Van Gogh might have painted with snowdrops. I didn't find any. But what I did stumble across was a crazy sub-culture of snowdrop collectors. One man apparently gardens in secret; living in fear that someone will steal his precious bulbs. There was a run on his garden (literally) when people found out that he had sold a rare variety on eBay for £357 [$577 USD] ... holy smokes. 

He promptly moved his precious bulbs to a super-duper secret location. He says he always gives one bulb away to a friend for security (in case one is stolen; he'll have a back-up). He is quoted everywhere as saying "stealing snowdrops is like stealing a Van Gogh. If it’s rare, all the galanthophiles [enthusiastic collectors of snowdrops - nope I did not make that up] will know who propagated it and where it was stolen from.

Ok, so I think that has got to be the most anyone has ever paid for a crazy friken bulb beautiful flower - right? Nope. A mutant variety sold for £725 [$1,172 USD] on eBay. Ian Christie, a local nurseryman in Scotland, spotted the 'one in ten million' plant and propagated it as a new variation. He sold it and gave the money back to the elderly couple who run the nursery since financing has become more challenging in recent years. Now that is some Christmas spirit!


Duni said...

Your earrings are so pretty! The red version looks very festive - perfect for this season!
Didn't know that about the snowdrops - thanks for sharing that interesting little story :)

Christine Altmiller said...

The Little Flowers! They are the prettiest lampwork flowers. I love what you did with them...perfect! The history with the get invested in their flowers!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Your flower earrings are just gorgeous--the beads you found are just perfect! I didn't know that about the snowdrops either--maybe I should bead up some!

Caron Michelle said...

This is a wonderful series - love the earrings!

Bobbie said...

Love the earrings - but looking at your work always makes me happy. But this story about the snowdrops collector has made my day! I am going to look for excuses to include the word "galanthophile" in at least one conversation each day now!

BeadedTail said...

Your stories are so interesting and fun! I didn't know that about the snowdrops! Your earrings are so lovely!

Jane of The Jewels said...

Very interesting history. Wonderful work :) These are beautiful - they truly look like delicate flowers!

Claudia said...

Your flower earrings are so pretty! Thanks for the background I loved the part where he only painted flowers because he didn't have money to pay for models :/

Magic Love Crow said...

I love the stories about the snowdrops! So sweet that the person gave the money back to the elderly couple! Both sets of your earrings are beautiful! Merry Christmas and many blessings ;o)

Miss Val's Creations said...

The Van Gogh quote is fantastic. Artists express themselves in the most interesting way! The earring designs are so pretty! Those artisan beads were quite a score. What a neat and funny story about the snowdrops. I do not know anything about this flower, I guess because it is so rare!

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy