“In floral design, there is no better teacher than the flower itself. This is the essential maxim. In a flower’s perfection, we instinctively recognize the infinite creativity and wisdom of nature. By looking closely at each flower, we take the first step in discovering how best to display its beauty, arrange its placement, and find possible companions in a floral design.” – Alisa A. de Jong-Stout, in A Master Guide to The Art of Floral Design, a book I checked out of the Swarthmore library. The book our Longwood teacher recommends is $180…so, I think I’ll wait on that one.
I think in picking up this book, I was hoping to get some answers on what floral design really means. I want it to be meaningful. I think I struggle with its meaning somewhat because I know plants better as they are growing, alive, with roots in the ground. For me, plants/flowers take on an almost spiritual cast while in their natural state – they are to be observed, identified and photographed, in a worshipful way. Before I read this book and started this learning program, I had this somewhat disdainful view of the floral industry – that floral design is just nature’s wannabe imitation, that making bouquets is sort of cheating when the real work is in growing things. But now I think I feel differently – we can learn from the flower whether it’s in the ground or in the vase – marvel at its patterns and form and color. You can respect the biological side of things and at the same time appreciate the art of the flower while its in a jar. And I’m loving the artiness of it all! Because, you know, according to Ms. de Jong-Stout, “cutting a flower outdoors to display indoors was conceivably the first and most basic of all artistic impulses.”
“Abstraction is the defining quality of floral design. Even botanical compositions, which emphasize the specific identities of the plant material involved, contain an element of abstraction. Simply taking a bloom out of its original environment dilutes its botanical purity, which is why a floral design can never completely duplicate nature. As abstraction increases, inherent qualities of shape, form, or color, independent of floral identity come forward. Yet a design can never be purely abstract because its foundation is a living flower. …Success can only come to those who take the time to read the flower and benefit from its incredible wisdom in design. Respect for the natural essence and character of our medium assures its identity will be preserved, even in abstract compositions.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!