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A Master Guide to the Art of Floral Design
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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. Our introduction to this journey of discovery is an exquisite magnolia blossom from the gardens of Filolir in Woodside, California. This blossom exemplifies the basic rules of floral art. The harmony of "color," "form," and "function" that defines this flower is the hallmark of timeless design.

The magnolia is among the most primitive flowers on earth but does not differ in function and basic botanical structure from the more advanced forms. Floral structure remained a tantalizing mystery until an artist's eye and sense of wonderment read the secret: after what must have been years of intimate observation, the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe realized that, whether of a magnolia or an orchid, the petals, sepals, stamens, and pistils that together constitute the flower all evolved from a cluster of modified leaves.

Nature's brilliance as a colorist is shown by the Filoli tree's yellow blossoms, which depart strikingly from those of the typical white or pink magnolia. This difference automatically provokes subtle parallel alterations to all the hues of the plant, from the various parts of the flowers itself to the leaves. Thus, in this flower's soft pristine yellow, deep burgundy-red, and complex of greens, we discover an essential lesson, not only in color harmonies and combinations but also in color composition.

From color we become aware of the array of textures that grace the bloom. The beautiful soft matte of substantial petals, the coarser matte of the stem, the hairy surface of the sepals — all appear clear or muted in hue as the sunlight plays across them. In this we observe too how texture affects color intensity and depth perception, and how a bloom's physical presence attracts the tactile and visual senses.

The magnolia's elegant simplicity of structure underscores how the importance of clarity and the avoidance of the extraneous equal good design. The totality of its parts demonstrates nature's innate sense of rhythm and proportion. In its complete form — buds, flowers, branches — the magnolia contains a wealth of creative inspiration for individual design choices in such areas as height, width, companion plants, containers, and surroundings.

At any level one chooses to work, simple or complex, flowers awaken a creativity and joy that grow boundless with time and practice, ultimately bringing freedom in floral design. This freedom is also a responsibility. For all the achievements of science, we still cannot make or replace a petal. Standing in awe of such fragility and beauty, we in turn cannot help but treat it with respect.

...for those serious about floral design, this book will fill you with all kinds of new ideas for yourself and your clients!


Author : Alisa A. de Jong-Stout with Hannah Sigur
ISBN : 088192766X
Publisher : Raincoast Books
Sugg. Retail Price : $39.95
Available in Softcover
Number of Pages : 232

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