Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daisy Art

In the wild plant and animal kingdoms there are a few species that are major hits, favorites known to everyone, even readers mainly of comic books--unless I'm talking too much about people I don't know, and these would be citizens with backgrounds so urban and technology-driven that their comic books are all about urban core areas and robotics. But even these members of the vast public may know daisies by name when they see them, in drawings or up close at a roadside.

Daisies are included in Weeds of Canada and the Northern United States by France Royer and Richard Dickinson, the University of Alberta Press © 1999 as a species of concern because, like so many introduced perennials, they will take over pastures and replace up to half of the grass. What food value if any they have to grazing animals is not given. Names like 'poverty weed,' 'poorland flower' and 'moon-penny' have been applied to daisies, recommending familiar visions of abandoned houses and tax-forfeit farms with overgrown driveways.

But as with so many phenomena of Europe and Asia brought to the Americas daisies are full of lore and romance; there is the name 'daisy' which is thought to come from 'day's eye', to be imagined in a scattering of daisies along a summer-lit footpath somewhere in old Germany, France, England, Scandinavia or name-your-piece-of-countryside. Probably there is no more than one car in your fantasy, or anything mechanical, yet the concept of flower clocks may have existed, and the daisies were likened to eyes on the ends of flower stems keeping track of a day's progress in a notion of eternal summertime.

'Day's-eyes' were in the title I gave to the topmost of the two above watercolors, a painting consigned by my friend Scott W. for his grandmother, who is as fond of daisies as most anyone accustomed to the border region between the central United States and Canadian provinces, except maybe owners of cattle and horses. This was the second of two paintings I've done by request as gifts for moms and grandmas of our times, who had spent their youth in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan. Another pair of names given to daisies by the French-speaking, 'marguerite blanche' or 'grand marguerite' seem like more throwbacks to visions of innocence in the form, it's hard to argue, of a little girl dressed in white.

Note cards or prints of the two artworks can be ordered using the links below, in order of appearance:

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