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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perceiving Electrical Fields of Flowers in Art

The Electric Flamboyant by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)
Flamboyant Flux - 2009 by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)

New Research
Flowers have sophisticated ways of communicating, that until recently were unknown, according to new research by scientists at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences . According to new research lead by, Professor Daniel Robert , "pollinators such as bumble bees are able to find and distinguish electrical signal fields given out by flowers. From their research they reveal, flowers produce bright colors, strong patterns and fragrances to entice their pollinators. Now researchers have found flowers have their own electrical equivalent of a neon sign. They create distinct patterns of electrical signals. Plants are charged negatively, due to being grounded. Bees on the other hand require a positive charge, up to 200 volts as they fly through the air; the bumble bee generates this in the hairs of their body. When the bee approaches a flower their electrical signals interact and when the bee leaves, the flowers electrical field is change for some time after. Researchers believe the flower lets the bee know the honest status of it nectar and pollen supplies, and also , how long ago, it was visited by another bee. The flower and the bee share an electrical relationship. It is also shown that electricity boosts flowers other tools too, such as color. Researchers are speculating if it is possible, electrical fields happen when humans and other animals interact with flowers also. "When you bend over to sniff a flower, will it change the flowers electrical potential?" says Professor Daniel Robert. Indeed!
In my painting I explore my passionate love of flowers, not only as pretty colorful objects but on a deeper level, sensing them acutely and in great detail. These are two paintings I did in a series of large flower paintings beginning in 2009 and still ongoing. The subject is the Flamboyant Tree of the tropics, (Delonix regia ), also known as the Flame Tree.  It is one of the most strikingly colorful trees when in flower. The whole tree turns a vivid red that can be seen for miles.  I looked at just a singular flower cluster for study. Painting images are taken from my website: Stephanie Tihanyi   
My earlier flower work was much more simpler, though the more I am studying them, the more information I am able to sense. When I study these blooms, the color is what is most striking and then I am drawn to the incredible detail in the intricate patterns on the petals made by colours and by the vein structures. The whole thing seems to give off energy, that travels along the routes of the veins and is expended out at the ends, into the environment.
Electric Flamboyant -  2009 by Stephanie Tihanyi
When I am so highly focused and open to the flowers information it can feel like the neurons are firing up in my brain, mirroring the flowers energy. I know it sounds a bit nuts but that's how it literaly feels. I have a friend, Douglas Eby, who says this is a trait of the Highly Sensitive Personality : 
he is a psychologist, author and researcher who also writes a blog: The Creative Mind. He has a name for such an experiences; latent inhibition.
"One technical term for the personality trait of high sensitivity is “sensory processing sensitivity” – One study, for example, found that the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment." Psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD is probably the leading expert on high sensitivity, or more technically, sensitivity.sensory processing  She writes “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait.“It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings,a great advantage in many situations.
“It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” Douglas Eby, who has interviewed Aron says, '
An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitive People that they are quite normal, and that their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect'.
When I am painting or observing the flower, it seems a if I am both acutely sensitive to all stimulation and intently focused at the same time. I extend all my senses as far as they will go. The only other time I can do this is in the bush, in the countryside. I get too overwhelmed otherwise. Other people normally operate in the middle but I seem to be able to pull the two extremes of this spectrum and hold them together at the same time. It’s a state that you can defiantly sense in your nervous system and with prolonged use, when working for a long time on something, your brain can feel hot and you can feel dissociated. This effect can last hours after and is not good to everyday other activities. I find the best way to "get back out of my head again" is to energize the other part of yourself, your body. A good run or vigorous swim is the best way to re-set your biological nervous system.