By Laurie Bower Epps
My affinity for sunflowers began as a lover of art. Very influenced by the Impressionists in my own painting, I loved the cheerful look of the sunflower as depicted by Van Gogh and Monet. I had hoped to see the famous fields that Monet recreated in some of his paintings while I was in France, but alas, I did not.
My first experience witnessing them in the wild was while I was working as a tour guide for Lombardi's Ranch just north of Los Angeles in the quaint little suburb of Santa Clarita. They had massive display of them near Halloween called Scarecrow Alley, where local groups would stage scenes of everything from favorite movies to television shows. These groups would participate for prizes too, and mostly, it was just a lot of fun.
Since moving to the upstate of South Carolina 11 years ago, about mid-summer, they can be viewed in the controlled wild in almost any direction of my home. I've come to look forward to seeing them every year, and I hope my first attempt of photographing with them will be inspiring and cheerful for all of you.
As I suspected, sunflowers have quite the history. Originally, they're from the United States, and were used widely by the Native Americans mainly in Arizona and New Mexico (about 3000 BC). Archaeologists speculate that sunflowers were likely the first cultivated crop. No surprise to me there, sunflowers are useful to create oil, make cakes, or even to be pounded out for dough for baking or making of tortillas. It wasn't until the arrival of the Spanish in about 1500, that the sunflowers made it back to Europe.
The first among the Europeans to use and cultivate sunflowers on a massive scale were the Russians. Our beloved Mammoth Sunflowers are the results of the hard work of some determined Russian scientists (leave it to the Russians to go big). Russians were attributed with the first successful cultivation of sunflower crops, and we're all better off for it. With the large influence of the Orthodox Church across Russia, the first high demand of these massive flowers was due to the production of sunflower oil which hadn't been forbidden for lent although most other oils had.
By the late 19th Century, sunflowers made it back to America. How the sunflowers filtered into France for my favored impressionists is still unclear to me, but the tremendous amount of scientific research of those early Russian scientists, made the crops possible that you see today.
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I set out on this adventure with my youngest and one of my close friends, and we had so much fun dancing in the sunflowers. It made for a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Navy & White Nautical Dress
~ The Children's Place
Black Sparkly Sandals
~ Shoe Carnival
Navy Blouse with Lace Trim by French Blue
& Navy Patterned Capri's by Intro
Antique Bronze Sandals by Clarks
~ Rack Room Shoes
All makeup is by Lancome
Sunflowers by their very nature and color are completely cheerful. They inspired me to take numerous pictures even though I'm fairly limited only using my LG phone for this particular outing. The technology on the phones these days is completely inspiring. You can capture moments from your hip pocket. As much as I'd love to get a 35mm it's just not in this single mom's budget. There's always something else in the way from an oil change, to my youngest having a growth spurt. So I hope you'll all bear with me.
I've been told all my life that I've got a "free spirit" and I've always taken that to be due to the artist inside of me. I love to travel, and dream of traveling. I've planned more vacations than I can probably even take in this lifetime.... I love to get up and go where my spirit takes me. However, I'm also grounded enough to realize that's not reality. Lately, I've been compared to a sunflower by many of my friends, and from that inspiration for this blog was born. I encourage you to spend some time in meditation with the Lord and find that inner connectedness. You'll be glad you did.
Fashion-loves, I leave you with the words of Atticus, "Love her, but leave her wild."
Till next time, be fashionable and be blessed,
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