The art of Canadian wild flowers

Irises and Lady slipper orchids

“Canadian Wild Flowers” (1868) was one of the first serious botanical works about nature and plant species in Canada 🇨🇦

Offering many beautiful lithographs of the wildflowers found in this country, this pictorial work written by Catharine Parr Traill & illustrated by Agnes Chamberlin, was a notable accomplishment for women at a time when we were largely unwelcome in a male-dominated scientific world.  –  The entire book is in the Public Domain and free to view online through the BHL digital library portal, with thanks to the Canadian Museum of Nature: HERE

A dose of art and the beauty of nature might help take our minds off the chaos currently taking hold of our world, if only for a little while.  Stay safe, everyone.

Feel Good Friday – A #FridayFeeling and #TGIF prescription

In light of all the ‘happenings’ in the world these days, in general, it seems to me that many people focus on what’s negative; today I choose to think positive!

With a family I love and who loves me back, a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a wonderful cat, and the promise of spring, I am indeed a rich person.

This is not me burying my head in the sand. I watch the world with keen eyes. Indulge me if you will…

I see greed, war, poverty, decreasing democracy, nationalism, inequality, health, & major ecological issues, just to name a few. Each one in itself seemingly insurmountable, let alone when combined in a wider list.

The Worship of Mammon, and the personification of material greed, by Evelyn De Morgan. 1909

Online, on TV, or out & about, we’re inundated by 24 hour news cycles thrusting people’s anger towards us, depending on what side of the aisle one is on, which can trap our mindset in what may seem to be a planet pitted in frustration.

We’re told by marketing folk that the material things we lack are the only things that will actually make us happy. I’m just not buying in to that any longer, (pun intended). Further to that, we all know ‘you can’t take it with you’, so why do we willingly chain ourselves to so much of it in the first place?

Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe it’s because I just read this quote: ‘Don’t grow up, it’s a trap.” 😉

I’m not saying we shouldn’t want to better our selves, our circumstances, fix what’s broken, (pipes or political systems), or follow our dreams. I’m simply asking why, when we see what ‘the Joneses’ possess and we do not, do we feel any need to keep up? Are we really lacking something, and is that something making our life less somehow, or are we simply conditioned to think that’s the case?

In any case, I won’t be able to think positively every day. Nobody could! But, I won’t beat myself up for it either. That’s where vicious cycles begin. Maybe an admission of this can bring balances. Perhaps it’s healthy to consider what’s wrong with the world sometimes in order to fully understand what’s right about it.

Maybe if we don’t dwell too much on either view, the world could become a happier place.

Maybe my mindful exercises will continue to keep my spirit light! Hopefully focusing on a ‘less is more’ mentality, and the many positives in this life, I won’t tune out the world’s problems, but won’t internalize them either, meaning there’s less risk of morphing into an ostrich, or some sickeningly sweet Pollyanna. 😉

Here’s a list of activities I’ll be doing more often. In no particular order!

  • Engaging with/in nature
  • creating more art
  • reading more books
  • baking & cooking new recipes
  • listening to more music
  • spending more time with family
  • catching up with old friends & far-away family
  • spending less time in front of screens, including this one
  • finishing my book
  • finding humor in situations (whenever possible, & not funerals!)
  • gardening, gardening & more gardening
  • Enjoying each season as it arrives & lasts (translation: not complaining about winter because it’s cold & snowy so I can’t be out growing flowers in the garden) 😉

Mrs. Woman

Seeking happiness within, and without, is my effort to engage in a balanced life. With a clear perspective of this ever changing world, it’s a worthwhile effort to look within, and out at the world around us, put ourselves in other’s shoes, and hopefully see what’s important and what is not.

What makes you happy? What would be on your list?

TGIF, my friends! Happy Friday! Have a terrific weekend. ~ Karen

Painting Autumn in Winter – Local landscapes for #WordlessWednesday

‘Highland Colours’ 11 x 14 – by Karen Sloan

End of the Rapids 11×14 –  by Karen Sloan

The Poppy – remembrance and symbolism of things past

As humans, we’ve been creating symbolism with flowers and plants since time immemorial.

Flowers can convey messages that we can’t always speak. They represent every sentiment one could think of, and as a floral designer, I’ve always been fascinated by this partnership between humans and the language of flowers.

With Remembrance Day upon us, I began to consider our link to the Poppy.

It ended up that I dug quite a bit further back in history than World War I & II.

I discovered an enormous amount of interesting information about the evolution of the poppy, and how it’s played a part in tandem with humanity over the centuries.

Probably the best known Poppy is the Papaver somniferum, which is the opium Poppy. It was domesticated by indigenous people from Western and Central Europe between 6000 and 3500 BC.  It’s believed that the use of opium may have originated with the ancient Sumerian people.

Papaver somniferum L. is one of the oldest cultivated plants with the hypothesis that this particular poppy is derived from the species Papaver setigerum, which grows wild along the Mediterranean region.

Western Asia is also considered the center of poppy’s origin. The oldest documented traces of poppies in Europe come from the Neolithic period, as evidenced by poppy seeds found in the Alps.

The ancient Egyptians of the eighteenth dynasty created containers made in the shape of poppies. These Juglets as they’re called, have been found with trace amounts of opium still inside.  The flower also appears on jewelry and other art objects from that era, and opium seemed to offer a ritual significance as its use was generally restricted to priests.

Poppies and opium then made their way around the known world via the Silk Road. In Turkey, the poppy has been a traditional plant since 3,000 BC, and the city Afyon in central Anatolia (Turkey) was named after them. “Afyon” in Turkish means “opium.”

The Wizard of Oz – Chapter 8

According to L. Frank Baum, (who we all know as the author of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz), Poppies were mentioned in Greco-Roman myths as offerings to the dead.

The origin of the Poppy (Papaver) was attributed by the ancient Greeks to Ceres, who, despairing of regaining her daughter Proserpine, carried off by Pluto, created the Poppy in order that by ingesting it she might obtain sleep, and thus forget her grief.

The ancients considered the Papaver Rhæa, or Corn-Rose, so necessary for the prosperity of their Corn, that the seeds of this Poppy were offered up in the sacred rites of Ceres, (aka Demeter) whose garland was formed with Barley or bearded Wheat interwoven with Poppies.

Demeter rejoiced, for her daughter was by her side. Illustration by Walter Crane – (1914) – Public Domain

Ceres/Demeter is sometimes depicted holding Poppies in her hand. The quieting effects of the Poppy, which were well known to the Greeks, probably led them to represent the deities Hypnos (Sleep), Thanatos (Death), and Nyx (Night), either as crowned with Poppies, or holding Poppies in their hands.

A Minoan goddess represented as a terracotta figurine was discovered by archaeologists. With raised hands and seeds of opium poppies on her head, this female figure, known popularly as the poppy goddess, is thought to be a representation as the bringer of sleep or death.

Greek youths and maidens proved sincerity to their lovers by placing a petal or flower-leaf of the Poppy in one hand, which, on being struck with the other hand, was broken with a sharp sound, which denoted true attachment. If it failed to snap, that meant unfaithfulness. This superstition passed to Rome, and is still practiced in modern Italy and Switzerland.

Currently, many poppy seeds come to market from the European Union, and plantations are also located in China and Australia. In Slavic countries, the poppy seed is a traditional culinary delicacy.

In any case, there seems to be a relationship between Poppies and conflict.

The field poppy, Papaver rhoeas, on which the remembrance poppy is based, has long been associated with armies fighting in Europe.

The flowers often overgrew the mass graves left by battles, and this has been documented, at least back to a 1693 battle in the Netherlands between the French and English, as well as the battle of Waterloo, and of course WWI, where the enormous artillery bombardments completely disrupted the landscape. This destruction infused chalk soils with lime, and the Poppy thrives in that environment where their vivid colour can’t be missed in contrast to the surrounding disfigured terrain.

In closing, the themes for the poppy across the centuries, are for the most part nods to the underworld, sleep, funeral rites, and death, which seems like an appropriate symbol for all of the people who’ve died fighting wars.



Grow note

Poppy seeds like the cool of early spring or autumn to be planted.
They don’t like to be transplanted due to their rather long taproot. If you must move a Poppy, make sure to get as much soil around them as possible. Otherwise, it dries out in no time and you’re left with a dead plant. I say this from personal experience. : (
They sure are showy once they’re established. A real treasure in the garden!

Field of red poppies – S. Shelton, Postcard, ca 1903 Public Domain

 

Gift of Nature – An art exhibit in #MyHaliburtonHighlands

Bittersweet – Karen Sloan

Happily, (after an 8 year hiatus), I’ve picked up my paint brushes once again. 🙂

I’m also happy to share some more exciting news:

Gift of Nature“: A group exhibition of local artists  (including me), held this Thanksgiving weekend: (Oct. 12 & 13, 2019) at:

Sir Sam’s Ski & Bike, here in the Haliburton Highlands.

Of course, #MyHaliburtonHighlands is a beautiful place to experience any time of the year, but if there one season in particular where any artist will find inspiration, (even one who has experienced an 8 year block), it would have to be autumn!

Haliburton County is currently awash with brilliant colours in every shade nature can think of, everywhere one looks!

The weather is absolutely glorious for those many ‘leaf lookers’ who will want to witness this autumn splendour.

Stop in for a visit if you’re out and about!

Having thrown my hat in the ring for this art show, I’m looking forward to sharing my newest painting, alongside the wonderful work of so many other talented individuals.

In closing, I’d like to offer a big thanks to Sir Sam’s for hosting this event, and to the Arts Council of Haliburton Highlands for all of their hard work creating this event, and getting a group of creative types, who offer paintings, ceramics, mosaics, photography, jewelry and textiles, all assembled together.

Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Karen