Our sunflowers bloomed a couple of weeks later than usual this year, but are no less beautiful for it. On the contrary, 2021’s sunflowers have extra sturdy stems and unusually large flower crowns
Sunflowers are said to lift the soul, symbolize adoration, loyalty and longevity. I have long been enchanted by their colorful look and impressive height. When I lived in the Johanneberg district in Gothenburg, I grew sunflowers every spring on my tiny balcony and they would reach for the sky! But it was probably during my training as a visual artist at Gotland Art School in the early 1990s that my love for “Helianthus” really took off.
Like many of my fellow students, I also adopted the Impressionist Vincent van Gogh as a kind of patron saint for us bourgeoning artists. His sunflowers vibrated with life and reflected a joy that was so difficult for him to capture beyond the canvas. Like many creative people, it was almost only during the process of creation that Vincent experienced weightless happiness. As a “poor” student, it was not difficult to recognize the frustration and anguish that van Gogh fought against. He made the suffering for the sake of art feel noble, somehow. No pain, no gain.
All in all, Vincent is said to have painted a total of 11 paintings with sunflower motifs; four in Paris and seven in Arles. I have on a couple of occasions been to the fields in Provence where it’s believed that he created some of the most beautiful images.
As I stood there looking out over the bright yellow sea of rhythmically swaying sunflowers, I was mesmerized by the view and could appreciate that Vincent van Gogh might have felt euphorically happy as he stood there with his field easel, paints, and canvases, ready with unwieldy gestures and great frenzy to interpret the amazing view in front of him.
I also feel joy in our garden here in Stora Hult today when looking at our gently swaying sunflowers. They stand guard, tightly next to each other in front of the shed’s long side, ready to spread joy as we pass.