Art & Decor Trends

The Sunflower Effect: Art Coming to Life (Part II)

Van Gogh - Vase with Fifteen SunflowersEleanor’s mother could not understand why just when she seemed so much better she had suddenly had a panic attack during a bath. She could not imagine that it was triggered by Eleanor’s yellow rubber duck. The unfortunate girl could sense the horror coming on as it landed with a crash in her foamy bath water – it was the color – the agonizing yellow of the sunflowers that haunted her dreams.

The duck’s body begins to stretch and elongate, while sunflower petals grow out of its head. Eleanor tries to scream but is unable to find her voice. She begins to push herself to the other side of the bathtub, but the duck, now completely transformed into a sunflower pursues her, floating eerily above the foam.

Vincent Van Gogh's The SunflowersBefore the Sunflowers, Eleanor used to love to sit in the kitchen watching her mother cook. Today, however, everything was different. As Mother tipped a bottle of sunflower oil over the frying pan, Eleanor stared nervously at the rough drawing of a sunflower on the label, and the stream of yellowish oil trickling with a deafening growl onto the hot pan.

A funnel of oil rises out of the pan with petals bursting from its top. Her mother doesn’t see it. Eleanor’s eyes widen in fear and she presses herself to the wall. Though she forces herself to remain silent the image pursues her throughout dinner, and the fried potatoes, tainted by the loathsome essence of the oil seem to vibrate beneath her fork.

As Eleanor’s odd behavior increased, her parents began to wonder whether her nervous condition required something more than warm tea. Perhaps a nice trip to the south of France would give her the rest she needed…

In the warm sunlight of a French summer, the family stood in front of a small, cozy-looking country house. The house was freshly painted and looked clean and very cheerful. Flowerpots stood on the windowsills and a rocking chair creaked on the wooden porch. The house and the yard were surrounded by a fence. Eleanor listlessly surveyed the scene with an absent look. Her face was drained of all color and very thin. Her eyes, which seemed even bigger than before were red from lack of sleep and had a feverish, haunted look in them. Mother took her gently by the hand and led her over to the back gate of the fence.

“There is a beautiful field behind this house.” She murmured softly, “It is so lovely and bright, I am sure the sight of it will cheer you up.” Stepping forward with a tentative shuffle, Eleanor raised her eyes.

The field is a sea of sunflowers of every possible shade of yellow, glowing in the light of the rising sun. The sunflowers turn their sightless faces towards her, their long necks bend over her, drowning her small figure in their sprawling shadow. Suddenly a metal blade, flashing in the sun crashes down on the neck of one of the sunflowers. Its head falls to the ground with a sickening crunch. It rolls towards Eleanor and stops right at her feet, its dead petals brushing against her toes. Eleanor stands motionless, paralyzed by fear. An army of peasants armed with glittering scythes descends on the army of sunflowers. A bloody battle begins. Sunflower heads fly in all directions, stems crash down on all sides, the sunflowers stretch towards the men, shaking their leaves threateningly. Tearing their roots out of the ground, they march towards their adversaries, slashing at them with their powerful leaves. Some slither on the ground like snakes, tangling themselves around feet and dragging their victims to the ground. The field is strewn with dead bodies, and the sunflowers stand over them in grim triumph, blood dripping from their murderous petals.

Click to continue reading part III of this tantalizing story >

About the Author

Katherine Blakeney is an independent filmmaker/stop motion animator and writer. She is currently studying for her PhD in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, researching silent film adaptations of Victorian Gothic novels with a special emphasis on aesthetic and psychological representations of the monster figure. As a filmmaker she is inspired by Gothic art, Expressionism, and Silent Era film. She creates, designs, animates, and shoots her own animated short films in her studio in Edinburgh.