Having found lists of obscure/obsolete color names and rounded out the alphabet with a few simply-charming-to-me colors, each day, I’ll introduce a color and a swatch I’ve painted and then write about whatever comes to mind as I muse about the day’s color. Fair warning, my mind is a non-linear traveler, so who knows where my contemplations will take us.
P is for… Ponceau – poppy red; vivid red to reddish-orange
Red corn poppies in the United States are often associated with remembrance of those who have served and died in the Armed Forces. But they also symbolize hope for future peace.
My musing today started with a rather convoluted journey starting with remembrance. The other day I was trying to remember a movie that involved a magician, but I couldn’t fill in enough details to make a reasonable search. I did, however, while pondering that movie, somehow remember Oz: The Great and Powerful, which also involved a magician. While I recall very little of the film, I do remember how much I liked the poppy field. I’d forgotten that I’d once been a field poppy myself. Back when I was a kid and taking ballet lessons. Alas, I was exceptionally untalented, remarkably ungraceful, and alarmingly directionally dyslexic, and so for my part in the dance recital, I got to wear a wonderful red costume with a poppy headdress and stand there and sway a little. It was a part truly created to maximize my talents. I must confess my dancing skills never did develop – the following year, I was cast as an icicle.
Oriental poppies are connected to sleep, dreams, and narcotic relief, all considered in the realm of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. So clearly, those are the ones in the Oz fields. This makes me smile as well, given I’m such a prolific dreamer and have kept track of my dreams since I was a teenager. All those hynogogic, hallucinatory, opium references of poppies and the realm of Morpheus bring a certain flavor to our nightly visitations to our own personal dream theaters, don’t you agree?
Then there’s the story about the other Greek gods feeling such compassion for Demeter’s distraught anguish over the disappearance of her daughter Persephone that they commanded poppies to spring up on her path. When she stopped to pick one, she fell into a deep blessed sleep.
I recently learned that ancient Egyptians adorned the mummified remains of their privileged with poppies to ensure pleasant dreams in the afterlife.
While poppies themselves are beautiful, I love pods and seeds as well. I’ve often used the pods in my art – I particularly love them as “heads” for my tiny bottle women. I consider them to be a perfect shape, and I especially love that they have all those seeds rattling around inside like a genius brain full of ideas. And then there’s the fact I can never really look at a poppy and not think of my Grandmother, who was an extraordinary baker. Her poppy seed roll cake was divine.
The above is a photo I took of some origami poppies I folded using some gorgeous translucent red paper. I happen to love “blur” pictures, and although this was accidental, I’m delighted with it being totally out of focus. For me, it’s a perfect dreamy image.
As poet Sharmel Iris wrote:
“The poppy opes her scarlet purse of dreams.”
What do you think? Are you fond of the color ponceau? Like poppies? Remember your dreams? Do tell – you know I love to hear.