So I keep writing about what I’ve learned this season and then deleting it because it sounds too snarky which isn’t really a vibe I want to put out there today. (I’m trying to be positive.) Really I just want to give all of my florist friends a giant hug. It’s been a busy summer and I know how we can get a little worn thin. I learned something in an Ikebana class the other day I’d like to share. There is an element to the practice of Ikebana called fruition. It is a kind of relaxation rooted in realizing that you cannot control all the aspects of a piece. An appreciation for the beauty and magic of nature. An understanding of the natural order and state of all life. And a knowledge that everything changes.
I think there is some kind of freedom in this. Letting go of some of the control. Letting the piece direct itself a little bit. Let it be a work in progress. Walk away if you’re not connecting to it. Come back and see what it says to you. Don’t force it. Be changeable.
This wedding took place at the Blount Conservatory in Montgomery, Alabama. Did you know that Alabama’s state motto is “Alabama the Beautiful”? It would be kind of braggy sounding if it wasn’t so true. This really is a lovely state full of green and trees and old southern ruins. It has a natural beauty that’s hard to describe until you’ve been here which many people haven’t. I guess it is a little out of the way. I was up in New York recently working on a wedding for another florist and several people sounded amazed that I had managed to get all the way from Alabama to The Big City. “You came all the way from Alabama?” Lord, I thought, it’s only an hour and a half direct flight, not a 19 day trip on the back of a mule drawn turnip truck. But I think people still think of The South as being a little frozen in time, immune to progress and change. I mean honestly, there is some truth to that but in general I think we have a lot to offer. Alabama grows a lot of talented people. I mean just look at these photos by Leslie Hollingsworth. And the styling of this wedding by Ginny Au. I was proud to be a part of this homegrown affair. Roll Tide, ya’ll.
See more of this wedding in the Summer 2014 issue of Weddings Unveiled.
Photography: Leslie Hollingsworth
Styling: Ginny Au
It’s very common for brides to feel a lot of pressure to abide by a lot of rules. If you get married in Spring your flowers need to be pastel. In the Fall, warm tones. Etc, etc. It reminds me of the 80′s when makeup sales people, after draping a series of poly-blend swatches across your chest and shoulders in order to evaluated your skin tone, declared you to be one of the four seasons and then informed you that you could only use a particular set of eyeshadow colors and lipsticks. I remember being immediately drawn to all of the colors I wasn’t supposed to wear. I mean how dare that lady label me! I can pick out my own damn lipstick, thank you very much.
But not everyone is this way. Some people just buy the bossy lady’s lipstick and never look back. A lot of people feel compelled to accept rules like these and feel very bound by them. And it’s just really limiting and oppressive. And I’m not having it. Especially when it comes to wedding flowers. Is it grandiose for me to see myself as not just a florist but a liberator? A floral Moses? Ok, yes, but hear me out. I’m just saying that we should all be free to express ourselves, to like what we like, wear what we want to wear, say what we want to say, etc. Maybe I’m more like a floral Madonna…Ok, I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Now I’m labeling myself for god’s sake.
Bottom line is this. I’m here to get to know my clients and to create for them wedding flowers that are unique to them. I think that is one of my favorite parts of my job really. Discovering what my brides are really inspired by and encouraging them to move in that direction despite any and all outside pressures/rules/labels. So you’re a Fall trapped in a Spring’s body? No problem. Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Dutch flower paintings? Whatever! It’s your wedding and I’m here to remind you that you can wear whatever lipstick you want.
I am a total perfectionist.
And today I feel like talking about it. I just feel like being honest about it because I think it’s a common struggle for people. It comes and goes for me but lately it’s got me feeling a little worn down. I mean, I KNOW that nothing in this world is perfect. I KNOW that striving for perfection is crippling. I KNOW all sorts of things about the pitfalls being a perfectionist but I can’t seem to absorb what I know in a way that helps me to let go of the drive for perfection. It’s just such a harsh and critical state of mind. Believing that something could always have been better is totally exhausting.
Here’s an example. I made this bouquet this weekend. Here is one of about 400 photos that I took of it. I just kept trying to get the perfect shot and when I couldn’t I became more and more frustrated and critical of what I had made. And I realized all of the sudden how sad this was. I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the flowers because I was too busy criticizing them. The truth is that I was letting perfectionism rob me of joy. The joy I get from working with flowers. The joy I get from taking photos. I have to find a way out of this mental trap.
I wonder what it’s like to not be a perfectionist. I hear you do a lot of being in the moment. I’m like what does that even mean? The moment. THE MOMENT. I think it has something to do with your mind relaxing. My mind, on the other hand, is relentless. I don’t ever stop thinking of what I should be doing or what I could have done better. It’s ridiculous. In college I had this friend Ainoah. She was a total hippy. I loved being around her. She used to take me on long walks into the woods and she would play her flute and I would hum along. We would pick wild flowers. I would forget about my worries. I think looking back on it, we were being in the moment. It was nice.
Basically, I’ve got to find my inner hippy. Wish me luck.
February 22, 2014 -Little Flower School – Long Island City Queens, NY
Despite it being the dead of winter, my month of February was all about growth. I met two of my biggest inspirations in this business. I worked for one and studied with the other at Little Flower School. As you can see from my photos, it was a gorgeous experience. I mean, can you believe these flowers? And all that stunning light streaming through the windows of The Metropolitan Building? I could barely focus on building my arrangement as I was so busy taking photos of all the flowers we had to choose from. Somehow I managed…
My arrangement is the last on in the set. I feel like I learned a lot. I had a successful “blue moment”. I learned to love tulips. I loosened up some. I think that last one was key. I had a mini tragedy occur towards the end of the class when my grapes fell out of the chicken wire and pulled out half of the surrounding flowers. But it was ok because it gave me an opportunity to try not to be a massive perfectionist and just go with it, be in the moment, rework it and move on. Sometimes I need that. A little upset to get me out of my head and into the moment. That’s my new thing.
Sometimes I wonder what to make of dreams. Some we experience while sleeping and others while we are very much awake. We dream of who we would like to become, places we want to go, beautiful things we’d like to see or make or do. Sometimes we run from our dreams and sometimes we go after them. The whole thing can be scary because what if we go after one and it doesn’t work the way we had dreamed it would? I guess that’s the hard part. But I’ve decided that dreams are not to be feared but rather embraced. Fodder for our creative growth. I’ve also decided that things hardly ever work out the way we think they will so why worry about that part? Sometimes you just have to go with it. Be a part of the process. Let it wash over you and change you. Collaborate with life. Let your dreams inspire you, not frighten you.
I don’t really remember my sleeping dreams so I tend to focus on my waking ones. Being a part of this shoot was a bit on the dreamy side actually. Allow me to elaborate. My friend Caitlin asked me to collaborate with her on a shoot for her gorgeous blog, Roost. Many of you are familiar with her work I am sure and if not, now is the time to enter into her beautiful world. She asked if I could do hair, makeup and flowers for a video she wanted to make about a dream. I was beside myself as I am a huge admirer of her work and have always wanted to see her in creative action. I always learn so much from watching people work and was thrilled to be able to be part of Caitlin’s process. Being a kind and generous friend, she allowed me to tag along with my camera and take photos throughout the day. It was such an honor to be able to capture bits of this dream world she created on film. I hope you will enjoy her video. I hope it encourages you to run toward your next dream. Our lives are always changing and sometimes our dreams really do become a part of our reality. Here’s to the dreamers…
So lately I’ve found myself taking the Rosegolden show on the road more and more. It’s an interesting process. Challenging. The logistics are much more complex than working in my city and out of my studio both of which I know so well. I can’t say that logistical planning and organization are qualities that come naturally to me – I’ve had to train myself to think that way. As a kid I was often labeled “artsy” or “out to lunch”. In fact my parents (in a very Royal Tenenbaums fashion) had me “evaluated” by a team of psychiatrists at a young age because they thought something was wrong with me. As it turns out, I was just a typical creative, a day dreaming middle child with an active imagination. You see, my grandfather was a general in the U.S Army. He was the most strategic thinker I’ve ever met. As a person who could rarely find my homework I often wondered how we were related. As odd as it may sound, it took doing flowers for me to discover that I had an inner general.
I think most good florists have a bit of a split personality – both an artist and a strategist. So much of the job is laying the logistical groundwork that allows you to create the end product. All I can say is that when I got into flowers I had no idea how good I would become at making spreadsheets. It’s been a such an interesting journey. I spent years of my life as a creative person avoiding being organized because I believed it was antithetical to being artistic. But I’ve realized how that thinking was holding me back. Being more organized has made me a better artist. This is not to say I have perfected any of this. Do I still lose my keys daily? Yes. Do I know where my phone is at this moment? No. I’m still myself, just more structured. Basically my inner day dreamer and inner general are like totally best friends now. I think they make an alright team. Cheers.
Another bride in blush!!! You know how I love a gal en rose. And so beautifully captured by A Bryan Photo. I love how classic Bryan’s work is. When you look back at your wedding photos you want them to tell the story of what the day felt like. You want the details but I think more importantly you want the moments and he is so talented at capturing those. I loved working with this bride and her lovely planners at Marieé Ami who always do such a fabulous job managing what always seems like the MILLIONS of details that make up a wedding day. Very grateful to have been a part of such a talented team. Cheers.
A Welcome Dinner.
Welcome to Bend, Oregon! I happily found myself there in October setting up this lovely welcome dinner for the attendees of the Erich McVey Photography Workshop. It was such a wonderful experience for me to work with Ginny Au, Erich and Amy McVey, and Abany Bauer to create a table inspired by the landscape itself. All of the greenery and berries were foraged from the environment in beautiful Bend which was ripe with sage and juniper and strewn with stunning branches of deadwood. I was the first of the creative team to arrive. I touched down in Oregon on a prop plane that had me more than a little nervous. Adding to my slight anxiety was the uncertainty of what it would be like designing and assembling the decor for 48 feet of table from all foraged materials. But the moment I arrived was immediately struck by Bend’s soft desert beauty and saw that the natural environment would provide us with everything we needed to create a perfect table. I was full of anticipation as I was the first member of the team to get to Bend. I scored a huge secret service style Suburban and packed it full of about 4oo lbs of flowers I had flown in via Alaska Air. Me and the girls made our way to Brasada Ranch and checked in. What a gorgeous resort to say the least. After processing what felt like 8 million flowers, I ambled down to the main lodge at Brasada and had a sunset beer. I was ready.
As you can see, this was a busy day. We wanted to provide the attendees with a variety of themes to shoot and I think we accomplished out goal. From the dramatic and moody to classic and elegant – we covered it all. I was particularly moved by the bouquet in the first photo. It was the last thing I made when I thought I had nothing left to give creatively. It reminded me that sometimes you have to dig deep and let the flowers talk to you. I just took a moment to let myself listen and that bouquet practically made itself. I love those moments with flowers. When they start to really sing.
When I had a spare minute here and there I was able to watch the attendees photograph the models and loved seeing how they all approached their subjects a little differently. I learned a lot from watching them shoot and seeing how they directed the models in unique ways. I thought of the attendees often as I worked behind the scenes. I wanted to be the best I could be for them, to do everything I could to create an environment that inspired them and helped them grow creatively. I know I learned a lot just part of such a special team of creatives.