Have you ever dreamed up something that doesn’t exist and then made it exist?
What causes that creative inspiration? Where does the idea come from? What part of the brain can picture something it’s not seen before, let alone then figure out how to make it happen?
I was talking with my husband about the creative act. He doesn’t have a brain that makes things up. He won the top baking prize at our regional fair last week, the “Best of Show,” for a lemon tart that tastes like heaven. Joe follows a recipe when he makes it, the same recipe he was given by the chef at the culinary school where Joe trained and now volunteers every day. He gives that recipe to other people, who make the tart but it doesn’t turn out as well as Joe’s rendition of that tart. So Joe has a special touch as he cooks the juice and blends the curd and then the crust and then bakes the tart. He makes a beautiful, unbelievably delicious tart, but he doesn’t invent anything.
I invent things, and he thinks that’s amazing. I can’t make that tart, but tell me to make a flower arrangement that represents a famous writer of my choice, and I’ll picture a full-blown floral design that illustrates not just the writer’s specialty, but uses components of his style and references to specific works. I’ll see it all in my head. How does that work? Why does that happen? I love that it happens, but it’s so curious.
The second floral competition of the fair required floral designers to do table settings for 1) a famous person associated with mountains and 2) a favorite writer. I chose Ansel Adams and John Muir.
I used Adams’ unbelievably beautiful shot of Yosemite Valley as my inspiration, those incredible textures and lines of that monochrome shot. With angular black and red Asian tableware and vases on a white cloth, I used red dahlias, red miniature roses, black eucalyptus and highly textured white-green foliage for two floral designs.
It was stark, monochromatic, and totally true in structure to an Ansel Adams composition. I loved it. I didn’t shoot a very good photo of it, but here it is:
John Muir’s design got redwood foliage in homage to the redwood forest state park named after him here in California. I used wood tones in vases and tableware, and combined small curving branches with lavender Echinacea coneflowers and golden yarrow in simple, woodsy arrangements.
The judge gave the Muir setting a thumb’s up, with a first place ribbon and the Judge’s Award. He or she was not overly impressed with the Ansel Adams work, giving it a third place. I usually agree with the judges in the floral design competitions, but when I saw the first and second place settings in the same class as Adams, I got myself an attitude. I saw blue ribbons on my four other pieces illustrating winter….
and summer…..which I forgot to take a photo of…. and laughed at myself and at my Higher Power, who listened to me asking please, may I have a couple of special ribbons for my work, and who generously saw to it that I got blue ribbons for everything (except Ansel Adams) plus a big fat “Judges Award” plus a big fat “Best of the Day” award for a lovely little flower called a peacock orchid that I had entered in the show’s cut-flower divisions, which I found in my garden this week after having totally forgotten I had planted it years ago and so I did nothing to make it grow and it grew only because of God’s sun, rain, and fine weather.
So I was given the couple of special ribbons I asked for, plus more besides, and who do I think I am to whine about anything, I ask you? I am so blessed to get to work with lovely flowers and make things that I picture in my head. Now I’m going to rest up like a happy camper until Monday, when work on the third and final flower show begins.
(The photo at the top is the exhibit I made on the first day of the fair illustrating the fair's mountain theme. I speak of it in the post below.)