It was still snowy and chilly, when I sketched this and I was so ready for flowers around!
I have always been struck by the hidden code of historical flower meanings. Here
is a quick study of snapdragons and pansies I did in a moleskin sketchbook with cotman watercolors and pencils. I was just clearing my mind... and nothing like a pansy for that.
The Victorian meaning for Pansy might surprise you given the derogatory use with name calling ... Pansy is specific for clear thoughts, healthy thoughts. AND - as far as name calling - it just doesn't even work. I mean, Pansies are among the hardiest flowers. They are drought resistant, they bloom the whole season, early spring through late, late summer, self seed to come back each year. They withstand frost, shade, and bright sun AND they have so much personality, such a variety of color combinations and cheerful faces. How many flowers do all of that? Pansy... PLEASE call me that. HAHAHA... I'm a pansy, Hooray! See why it's known for clear and healthy thoughts? It's so skilled and resourceful.
Snapdragons make a nice complement to pansies actually. They have a few meanings of their own. They grew wild all through Italy and Spain, and were thought to ward off evil, but again in Victorian times, were really nice hostess gifts to show you respected the kindness and diplomacy of the lady of the house. Weird contrast - Evil dispeller/Nice hostess, hmmm... Maybe so graceful and diplomatic, the hostess can Bugs Bunny even out-wile the creepiest of the night crawlers? They were also lovely to give in courting to show you respected the grace of the woman you pursued.
Putting these two together, they share the clear, healthy focus and discipline of inner thoughts - as diverse as their expressive faces and resilient as they are hardy in drought and cold and expanding community (pansy)... combined with the outer diplomacy and grace that only a truly kind spirit able recognizes wildness and even the nature of evil can muster sincerely (snapdragon).
What a nice statement, gift, or meditation of traits to strive for. AND what an incredible code, or symbolism, to be able to say all of that by adding a few flowers to your painting - with your subjects or as a stand alone! Or just by giving to someone... :D!
This opens a whole new world for appreciating the details and intentions of artists' work from other eras, in museums, spiritual works, in portraits, on cemetery stones, on garments, on stationery, and so on. Adding these details to your own work can help in making some intentional decisions, some allegorical work, other layers to your own process. Some will get it, some won't. Many are familiar with thinking of the color of roses: red for love, yellow for friendship, white for purity. When looking at older works especially, everything is intentionally placed - the flowers, a book, are there hands or not, the food, the clothing, animals... It's not just there for rounded composition. Pretty neat. And, my little sketch is like having my own secret code to bring me to a clear meditative space, or an intentional place when I need it in a flash. A whole different level of journaling.
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.” – Buddha
Happy Flowering!! ~ Birdi
I'm tagging the category "What Even is Woo Woo" here because, this is very much like what people talk about when they are looking at the symbolism of the say, a spirit guide of an animal like Bear or Wolf, or Bumblebeeeee, or Cardinal, which has been going on all over the world as long as time and people co-mingled. It is a way of having relationship with the animal, plant, flower, etc in understanding the behavior, life patterns, social groups. migrations or lack of, family or lack of, eating, and so on, and then seeing what we can learn from them or how we may be similar, but the language around it might make it challenging for some - "Messenger" - "Spirit Guide" and so on makes it more mystical... perhaps by giving it that sacred language, it reminds us of the sacredness that is there, woven in being on such a place as this amazing planet that we are so busy to notice at times?
Have fun, because, why not? Buddha says we can, at least sometimes. - Birdi