Radiant sunflower vividly vibrates with happiness, expansion, energy, joy and vitality. Its botanical name is Helianthus, from the Greek for the sun god, Helios. Like the sun, sunflower’s energetic signature is specific, potent and universally recognized. The brilliant yellow petals around a dark center represent the lightness of mood this flower can activate, even in the presence of darkness.
An annual plant native to the Americas, there is evidence that it was cultivated in Mexico as early as 2600 BC. The sunflower was used as a symbol of the solar deity by many early indigenous peoples, including the Aztecs and Otomi of Mexico and the Inca in South America
What is often thought of as the flower is in reality a flower head, composed of many small florets crowded together. Outer florets with petals are sterile, while the inner florets mature into seeds. The petals with in flower head are always found in a spiral pattern. Amazingly, each floret is positioned towards the next one by the golden angle, 137.5 degrees, which creates a pattern of interconnecting spirals. The number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers, usually 34 in one direction and 55 in the other, and in very large sunflower heads, 89 spirals in one direction and 144 in the other direction.
Sunflowers usually grow to heights of 5 to 8 feet, although much taller ones have been documented. No surprise, they grow best in full sun, preferring fertile and well-drained soil. It produces a large flowering head on tough, hairy stems with broad, coarsely toothed and rough leaves. In the 1510, Spanish explorers brought the seeds to Europe where they were widely used as a cooking ingredient.
Seeds are grown commercially for snack foods, a peanut butter alternative and cooking oil for humans and as bird food and livestock feed. Indigenous peoples called the sunflower the third sister; corn, beans and squash were the other three sisters.
The sunflower plant can extract lead, arsenic, uranium and other toxic substances from the soil, as well as neutralized toxic substances and harmful bacteria in water. At sites of nuclear disaster, Chernobyl and Fukushima, they have been used to remove caesium-137 and strontium-90 from water. The Zuni medicine people created a rattlesnake poultice by chewing fresh or dry sunflower root.
I drove past this field of sunflowers one summer and promptly turned around and came back to photograph it. The experience of seeing it, photographing it, painting it and viewing it was and is still uplifting.
Jeanette French, paintings, photographs, canvas prints, framed prints, metallic prints, acrylic prints, greeting cards, gift cards, fine art.
Creating portals of light, love, joy, beauty, compassion, hope and gratitude is my lifelong passion and gift for the earth, hence the name of my art business, For the Earth. My mother painted in oils when I was young and encouraged my own drawing, painting and handcrafting in all forms. My father, the photographer, gave me my first camera at age 8. As a result of these loving influences, I am a lifelong student of both mediums. I am grateful to my wonderful Pacific NW painter teachers, Stan Capon and Edi Olson, for training my eye and technique. I hope you will enjoy this image as much as I enjoyed its creation. More gifts for the earth can be found at these websites: jeanette-french.artistwebsites.com and jeanette-french.pixels.com.
January 12th, 2013
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