By Marylou Coffman
In the last few years, Oriental designs have become very popular in our Rose shows. In Shoka, Nageire and Moribana, we use plants as they are found in nature. In Freestyle, the design depends on the character of the materials we choose, their shape, color and texture.
Freestyle is used to express the creativity or feelings of the arranger by a composition of colors, shapes and textures of the materials chosen. Freestyle design gives visual form to our personal feelings, to various aspects of our daily lives, to a theme or to the beauty of our environment. While freestyle discards traditional rules, it does not mean that we can just simply throw together a design. The arrangement is designed with thought, using the principles that organize and order the arrangement ; simplicity, the use of space, dominance, pattern and proportion.
It is very important in creating a Freestyle arrangement to have a clear idea in your mind before you start. Read the schedule and follow the theme. The time you spend on planning your design ahead of time will be very well spent. Even in Freestyle, remember that simplicity and grace always look better than clutter and confusion. Freestyle allows us more freedom and variety than other methods. Interpretation of the theme, expressiveness of the arranger and how plant materials are used are artistic choices of the designer.
The four main variations of expression in Freestyle are naturalistic, symbolic, abstract, and surrealistic.
* Naturalistic expression presents a realistic representation of the plant materials. It should express the natural beauty of the plants as they grow, to suggest a scene or a season. In this style, the plants are used in the same way as they express themselves in nature, without artificially altering them.
* Symbolic expression is the use of plants to convey an idea or emotion. Plant materials and colors can be used to symbolize or honor a season or a holiday, a special occasion or particular event.
* Abstract expression is the thought of non- representative or anti-naturalistic expression. It was established under the influence of modern art. It is a sharp contrast to naturalism. Plant materials can be incorporated in very imaginative ways, so that it may not be obvious what plant is being used. Non plant materials can be included. These designs often focus on shapes and colors.
Surrealistic expression was also established under the influence of modern artists. It is used to convey a dream, something wild or a fantasy world.
There are also four basic patterns or shapes in Freestyle, vertical, horizontal, slanting and complex. These are not fixed patterns, jiyuka is freely arranged. The shapes are simply guidelines in creating the arrangement.
* Vertical shapes or lines suggest movement, either up or down or complex movement in either direction. Vertical lines suggest height and solidity and give a volitional, solemn, courageous impression.
* Horizontal shapes or lines have movement to the left or right or to both sides. These lines suggest width and stability and give a peaceful, restful, quiet impression.
* Slanting or leaning shapes and lines have movement either up or down and extends to either one side or the other or both. Slanting lines give depth and movement to the design.
* Complex pattern is one that uses movement is all directions. It is usually suggests a very unique surrealistic feeling or emotion.
There are many other shapes that give meaning to a design, round suggest completeness, oval-grace, square-solidity, triangle-cool, scalene triangle-elegant and artistic, ovoid-grace and elasticity.
There are always four elements in a freestyle design: line, surface, mass and points.
* Line comes from line material. From the grace of slender branches to the crooked lines of old wood. In new shoots, flower stems, autumn grasses and in long green leaves.
There is great variation of strength and character among the lines of plant materials.
* Surface is usually provided by leaves. Leaf surfaces often have distinctive color and shapes, and leaves of many flowers and trees show interesting undulations. Large, broad, or unusually shaped leaves are more recognizable as surfaces then long or slender leaves.
* Mass is a volume of flower material bunched together. Large globular flowers or groupings of small flowers give interesting impressions of masses. Masses display their characteristics of being globular, three dimensional and having beautiful volume, boldness, and strength.
* Points are small focal points. Parts of some plants give the impression of points. A colorful flower backed by a larger green leaf or several small flowers at the end of a stem can be a point.
You can mix these four elements exactly in the proportions you want.
Voids are very important to the arrangement also. The whole arrangement does not have to be filled with material. Flowers can be made to come alive by space created around them.
Color plays a very important part in freestyle designs. Bold colors can be used to suggest a season, like, red roses and green pine for Christmas or convey a mood such as white for stillness, life or silence, red suggests an emotion like passion or boldness and yellow is very uplifting and cheery. The use of color is what draws our eye to the arrangement.
Special care should be used in selecting a container for the design. The color and texture of the container is as much a part of the design as the flowers, leaves and branches. It can contrast with the flowers, or harmonize with them, or play a unique role by emphasizing itself. As long as it is part of the design, anything goes, from ceramics, wood, metal, stone to kitchen ware.
When choosing materials for your design, the possibilities are endless, in addition to living plants, we can use plants as compositional parts of the arrangement. Branches, vines, flowers, leaves and stems, fresh or dried, can be used and can be modified or transformed by pruning, bending, or altered to achieve a desired effect. Dried materials can be bleached or dyed. Many other materials with interesting qualities can be used.
Remember, the rose bloom is still the dominate flower and cannot be abstracted or changed.
Other characteristics of freestyle are:
* Freedom in the use of color.
* There is freedom in the choice of mechanics.
* The container is part of the total design.
* Interesting qualities or shapes of plant materials can be varied or modified to show new beauty and interest.
* Line, surface texture and mass are important elements
* Focal points may be developed other than the main focal point to display artistic features for their own sake.
* Freedom from the asymmetrical triangle and all rules pertaining to lines.
* The design is an expression of the arranger’s motives and feelings.
The Oriental philosophy is, “The heart becomes one with a flower,” and that “Our lives resemble those of flowers.” Such sayings suggest that there is truth in the beauty of flowers and that the act of arranging ennobles the human heart.
We “arrange” flowers rather than merely “inserting” them. “To arrange” means to bring out the inherent beauty of the flowers and, at the same time, to bring out the beauty of one’s own spirit.