Where Have All the Poppies Gone?

My ‘field of poppies‘ studies have been evolving. I still like my original concept of the aerial view of a field of poppies flanked by the field below and sky above. Perhaps this is the type of thinking that goes into designing icons, such as national flags, family crests, company icons and other symbols. Thus my reference to the fictitious ‘Poppystan’.

Yesterday’s study (pictured below) was a departure from the linear division of the pictorial surface, although a very slight one. Why doesn’t this image remind me of a flag?

Watercolor Sketch - Poppy Field Evolution

Poppy Field Evolution
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Other than the uneven division between the bottom blue-green field, there are figures that transcend  the bottom an middle sections. Furthermore, these figures were created by using qualities of watercolor painting: diffusion of pigments on a wet paper surface; spreading of clear water drops in a pigmented field; grain of the paper and the nature of pigment opacity and/or transparency.

Today’s experiment:

I wanted a more radical departure from the linear organization of ground, middle and sky.


I made two puddles of water on my watercolor paper, separated by a moat. I filled the top reservoir with Hansa Yellow Deep, and the bottom with Phthalo blue. Using a wide brush, I connected the two pools and watched them merge. I brushed them together at the bottom, preserving some of the yellow at the top.

While still wet, I dropped in red pigment at places in the yellow field. The excess blue/yellow pigment pooled at the bottom of the paper. by tilting the paper, I was able to create the wonderful green blooms at the right hand side of the paper.

Watercolor Sketch - Where Have All the Poppies Gone?

Where Have All the Poppies Gone?
9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Press

I placed drops of yellow into the blue/green area in an attempt to create a lighter color bloom. However, the paper was too wet to allow for any detail to emerge. I loved watching the blooms so much that I forgot for a moment that a mixture of all primary colors (used in this study), creates a muddy brown color. One can see this in portions of this study.

I created a very pale wash at the top portion of the paper using a diluted Phthalo blue.


The original idea of representing a field of poppies was not a consideration in this study. Instead, I became preoccupied with watercolors, their interactions with each other, clear water, and the paper.

In this study, another theme seems to have emerged: the flow of water. This may be unconsciously related to my latest reading of Paul Klee’s Notebook (Volume 2), where he talks about the course of a river. Klee discusses the different portions of the river, from its gentle beginnings to abrupt changes in course and speed through the encounter of ravines or other gradients.

Water flow actually occurs on my paper in today’s experiment. However, unlike Klee’s river course, the water/pigment combination is more like sloshing than flowing. There are no obstacles for the water to encounter, ravines in which to gain energy or wide expanses to provide a relaxing smooth flow.

On the other hand, there are no poppies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: