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The Poppy is a Flower that Delights – Richard Box, Guest Blogger

October 7, 2011

Every other year, Richard Box pays us a visit from Great Britain to teach at our center in Washington.  Richard and I, used to both teach at  Missenden  Abbey in Buckinghamshire.  Over the years we got to know each other and appreciate each others talents.  So when Don and I moved to the United States, it was no surprise that we invited Richard to be involved in the teaching programme at our center.  He has worked with hundreds, maybe thousands of students in Britain, to help them with drawing, painting and drawing with the needle.  He has proved to be extremely popular here at our center, not only for his  teaching skills but also his refined sense of humour.  As I am publishing this, I know he is busy at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London.  He made just enough time to write a blog for us.  He is offering the following courses here at Barn House in Spring 2012, Drawing and Painting for the Terrified, and Picture it in Collage and Stitch.

   Read on for his blog titled:  The Poppy is a Flower that Delights


Richard with a group of students at the center.


The poppy is a flower that delights many people.  It certainly gives me great joy, so imagine my pleasure when I found a whole field of them.  For several days I was able to sit in the middle of that field with my oil paints and explored their wondrously paradoxical character.  Their colour is as vibrant as the sound of trumpets, whereas their form is as fragile as tissue.  In the morning their heads rise to greet the sunshine, but in the evening they bow their heads as if subsiding into sleep. Indeed, poppies have often been associated with sleep and consolation.  Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, mourning the loss of her daughter, Persephone, created the poppy so that she could eat the sleep inducing- seeds which would help her forget her grief.

Poppies painting... copyright Richard Box

One of my “lessons” is taken from a small section of this painting.  I prepare a pack for my students, which contains the patterns, the backing fabric, a variety of appropriately coloured fabric scraps and some threads.  I even provide a sheet of instructions.  Even though I am demonstrating and explaining every stage step-by-step, there is always the possibility of suddenly forgetting everything we’ve shown and told (Have you ever gone from one room to another and wondered what it was you went there for ? !!!!!!).  

Poppies collage and embroidery... copyright - Richard Box

We start with cutting the fabric scraps and sticking then in place.  When the glue is dry we machine them in place using the “darning foot”’ which allows us to zig-zag stitch freely.  Imagine the needle is the pen or the brush and the thread is the ink or the paint.  We then hand stitch with a variety of yarns.  This develops the textural qualities of the work.  Finally we return to the sewing machine and refine details with a straight stitch.  This last stage seems to integrate all the stages and unify all the elements of the design.   Richard Box

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