Painted Poppies

Poppy Field in Argenteuil by Claude Monet

Poppies always make me think of two favourite paintings, this wonderful country scene by Monet, and Georgia O’Keefe’s iconic paintings of the flower, including this gorgeous red.

The Monet is so warm and so serene… I want to step into the picture, to share this quiet walk with Mother and her little daughter. What are they perceiving, what are they thinking, what are they talking about? Or are they silent, wrapped and rapt in the calm beauty of the moment? Who is that behind them? Is it the same couple, coming down the same path on another occasion… an indication of time passing, of day following day, of summer counting down to autumn and the cycle of the seasons?

Now, in the middle of November, our gardens in southern Ontario are a faint shadow of what they were in spring, in summer, even a few weeks ago before the leaves all came down . It is dark too early, cold and damp in the morning, the landscape and cloudscape turning grey before our eyes. There is no snow, yet, to reflect the light and brighten the landscape. It is a good time to think , not just about  Remembrance Day poppies… red or white… but about the Monet summerscape as well.

Red Poppy by Georgia O’Keefe

Georgia O’Keefe’s floral paintings always remind me “to stop and smell the flowers” to look, really look, at colour and shape and texture, to appreciate the amazing complexity and beauty of the natural world. These paintings were radically innovative, taking the flower out of the crowded and formalized bouquet, and looking at one specimen, intimately and intricately.

It is worth taking the time to find your favourite artwork on-line, and to think about why you love it, what it says to you, why it is important.  And it is amusing to try a critical analysis as well. 

This multilingual website offers detailed analyses of many favourite paintings. I suspect that it uses a computerized translation application because the fractured, non-idiomatic English presents a charming puzzle. For example, exhibitions or shows are called “exposures”… which quite makes sense if you don’t really know the language. Consider this…


In the poppy field Monet evokes by a sowing of coloured spots the tactile feeling of the walkers in a field by a heat day of summer… The painting returns vibrating the effects of light. This picture is one of most famous of impressionism… The impressionists knew that there are three colors the primary, red, blue and the yellow, complementary between them and giving by mixture the secondary colors green, orange and purple… As they sought to make the light natural with a maximum of fidelity, they used these pure colors. But this implied a thorough knowledge of the theory of the colors and an tireless research aiming at making the way truest and most natural what the eye of the painter perceives.

Give yourself time to explore the delights and surprises of their picture gallery… and learn a bit about art at the same time.

When you are finished with that, there is an interactive application in which you can give Mona Lisa a facelift. Collagen, Botox, skin abrasion, and plastic surgery… she looked amazing when I gave her huge eyes, enormous lips, whitened teeth, and a porn star’s enhanced bosom. I said amazing… not better! You will find this listed under “plays” (not games, as we would say) at the end of the website. You may want to turn the music off!

No, there is nothing there about Georgia O’Keefe, but you you may  find much of interest and delight. Let us know what you think!

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3 Responses to Painted Poppies

  1. There are so many beautiful paintings of poppies including several by Monet & O’Keefe.

    This is one of my favourites by Van Gogh: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/vincent-van-gogh/red-poppies-and-daisies-1890
    Also by Saryan: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/martiros-saryan/poppies-1958

    • motleydragon says:

      Thank you for pointing out the Van Gogh… I had not seen it before. I have done a fiber art interpretation of his sunflowers, but the poppy bouquet is really more interesting.

      I have been meaning to write a reply to your blogs on reading, and to point out a few of my other favourite reading websites. How do you manage to read so much, and to find such interesting authors?

      And how was your community affected by the big storm?

  2. debbierodgers says:

    Ellen, the storm didn’t touch us at all – just a day of gentle rain a couple of days following the devastation on the U.S. east coast. (Thanks for asking.) 🙂

    I really have spent too much time reading this year and plan/hope ot slack off a little in the new year, once the deadline for the challenges is past. I was insane when I signed up last year. As for reading time: I don’t watch television (although I will watch a video now & then with my husband – we have just finished two seasons of Downton Abbey). Most evenings, I have a choice: I can work, surf the web, work around the house, or read. And I guess it shows what I usually choose to do!

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