Opium Dreams Exotic Art Work Naming
Enzie Shahmiri Portraits and Fine Art
Opium Dreams Oil on Panel – 6×6 inches
When I was painting this poppy flower I was listening to the Blog Talk Radio show "Artists Helping Artists", specifically to an interview with Ken Auster – a California based artist. He was making a comment about his unusual art work titles and his advice about not naming your paintings the obvious. Like “Poppy Painting” for example is rather self explanatory. He suggested artist should think about what comes to mind when they look at their own work and relate it to past experiences. Now don’t start laughing and assuming things – ”Opium Dreams” my newly chosen exotic art work naming isn’t exactly based on first hand experience of me smoking away opium in some opium den, but rather what I remember of my life in Iran.
In Iran the poppy flower grows in fields and I remember as a teen being in awe when I would see a poppy field in full bloom. I have always loved the flower’s delicate petals and wonderful orange -red hues. I have also often seen people smoke opium and yes some of them were in a rather dazed state – to say the least. One of my funniest memories associated with the poppy flower and opium in particular was on a skiing trip. My ski instructor, a local handsome looking Iranian youth had a real bad tooth ache the day we met up for my lesson. As we were sitting on the chair lift going up the mountain, he started fumbling around in his pockets and retrieved something brown and gooey looking. He molded it around and proceeded to place it on his tooth. When I ask what it was, he told me it’s opium and that a little bit on the tooth does wonders for the pain.
According to Wikipedia Cultivation of opium poppies for food, anaesthesia, and ritual purposes dates back to at least the Neolithic Age (new stone age). The Sumerian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Indian, Minoan, Greek, Roman, Persian and Arab Empires all made widespread use of opium, which was the most potent form of pain relief then available, allowing ancient surgeons to perform prolonged surgical procedures. Opium is mentioned in the most important medical texts of the ancient world, including the Ebers Papyrus and the writings of Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna. Widespread medical use of unprocessed opium continued through the American Civil War before giving way to morphine and its successors, which could be injected at a precisely controlled dosage.”
I don’t remember anymore how his skiing skills were that day, but I am sure he was a happy camper well into the late afternoon when my lessons with him were finally over. So there you have it! My psychedelic background for my poppy painting led to an unusual title, an exotic art work naming and a little bit of reminiscing about the great fun I had in Iran! Now when someone ask me about why I chose this title I have an interesting story to retell, which I am sure will be more memorable than just “Poppy Painting”.