Negative space in floral design
At each of the Team Flower Workshops I allow a day (and sometimes more) for attendees to dream up arrangement concepts and work them out using a buffet of seasonal ingredients. I work with them one-on-one, discussing their plans for it, and then I set them loose. As they work, I visit each person to help them break through walls and questions that pop up along the way.
One of the most common walls we break through together pertains to "negative space." There is a desire for it, but old ingredient selection habits, old placement habits and old ways of looking at things tend to get in the path of actually incorporating negative space into the piece. We have to renew the way we think.
It's not a whole lot different than in life. There is a desire for rest, but old habits overpower and we find ourselves standing with our arms full of beautiful blooms again. There are so many pretty things we can pick from to fill our arrangements and our days, and some days are fuller than others, but when the desire for rest is there — how can we get there?
I talk about life a lot because there is a distinct connection between the way we arrange flowers and the way we live day-to-day. In this past workshop more than one person came to me and said, "I think to get the look I want to see in my arrangements, something has to happen inside me first." They were right. As they received more peace, as they quieted old ways of thinking, the arrangements began to flow out of them. Intensely personal, one-of-a-kind, like nothing they had created before. Creativity is often an expression of what is going on inside. Ultimately, we must start there, but for now, let's start simply. Let's think of negative space as a flower, as an "activity" if you will, but an invisible one. Imagine it as something that is to be "placed." Since it is to be placed, you need less physical flowers. So challenge yourself to choose only 15 stems. As you work through this exercise, you will develop a sensitivity to sense the profound effects of the presence of negative space. Will you be drawn to it in your first arrangement? Like the way it appears? Maybe not and that's normal. Keep at it. New things can take a little time to adjust to.