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Poppy Power!

Rebecca Vincent  Detail of new poppy seed heads original monotype painting
Detail of new poppy seed heads original

When I'm not making art for a living, I love gardening as a hobby. My husband and I both enjoy spending time out of doors pottering in the garden. He has recently got into growing flowers at his allotment whilst I grow them for our back garden and for the planters around The Hearth Arts Centre where I have my studio. We have quite a lively rivalry as you can imagine!

I visit the allotment from time to time to check on his progress... The evening is the best time when it's quiet and the light is really low. Even though we live in the centre of the city, it feels like the garden of Eden with the plants and flowers bathed in a golden light that defies description. I love seeing the plants with the light behind them; every hair on each stem is perfectly illuminated. I often try to capture this effect with my camera but mostly, I store it up in my mind's eye and these memories transcribe into my artwork.

Rebecca Vincent poppy seed heads painting
Poppy seed heads original detail

I've often used stylised plant forms in my landscapes but with these two pieces, I've let them take centre stage. The simple compositions allow me to play with graded colour contrasts to give depth, variety and the sensation of that back-lit effect I've been trying to describe. Whilst the colours aren't realistic, there's a loose reference to the natural colours we associate with these seedheads: a chalky grey/green for the poppies and rich purples over green for the alliums.

Mr V has made quite a speciality of growing poppies. Opium poppies and Common field poppies (also known as Flanders Poppies) have always self-seeded by themselves but he's grown different varieties of these from seed. Iceland poppies were new this year: gloriously bright orange and yellow shades. California poppies, Shirley poppies and the perennial Oriental poppy have all come through from seed.

Rebecca Vincen allotment flowers
Flowers from our allotment site (the blue one belongs to someone else!)

And hidden away in a damp, shady corner, he has many seedlings of the big blue one, the holy grail of poppy lovers: the bright blue Himalayan poppy: Meconopsis betonicifolia. I can't wait to see these ones in flower...

Their beauty is fleeting with the petals soon falling to leave attractively shaped seed pods. These more simple silhouettes gave me the idea for the picture above. I cut the stencils from drafting film with a craft knife - you have to simplify quite a lot!

Mr V shares his flower love on a dedicated instragram profile called Allotment Buzz, which you can follow.

Rebecca Vincent Detail of alliums seed heads original
Detail of alliums seed heads original

At The Hearth, there's a row of purple alliums (ornamental onions) just beside my studio window. Again, the petals don't last long but the seed heads are glorious and I keep a few in my studio as props for photographing with my work. Again, there was some pretty radical simplification to create the image above. Whilst the colours aren't realistic, there's hints of the purple against green that we associate with this flower.

The video below is just 30 seconds of fun to show how I drew in the alliums step by step. You can see more videos of the making of these two pieces over on my instagram profile.

Rebecca Vincent Detail of alliums seed heads original
Detail of alliums seed heads original

These originals are now complete and will be offered for sale soon, initially to my email subscribers. Sign up now to receive notifications of when new work is available. Scroll down to the form in the footer of every page.




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