We hit the ground running when we arrived in Knoxville and were invited to attend an award ceremony honoring our son Larsen Jay. He founded a charity called Random Acts of Flowers about six years ago, dedicated to recycling and repurposing flowers and delivering them to people in hospitals and care facilities who might not otherwise ever get flowers. Or visitors. Or know that someone cares. (Back Story: he broke every bone in his body falling off a roof. He got a lot of flowers while in the hospital. He took them around to other patients, and was amazed at the response. He wanted to pay it forward.) He received the Innovation award from the Healthcare Heroes organization at the luncheon. Kind of a Big Deal.
Later that evening, I was lucky to be able to attend one of RAF’s special flower arranging events (photos below), where you learn from a pro PLUS you get take home an armload of flowers. The RAF staff were so welcoming, the snacks and wine were terrific, and for a newcomer to town, it was a great way to meet like-minded people. The arrangements I made are not going to change the face of floral design (it’s way more complex than I ever imagined!) BUT they made great fodder for a couple of paintings/sketches! I’m hoping to volunteer to do some arranging and delivering for RAF while we’re here – it’s like Arts in Healthcare that I did in Corvallis: you experience firsthand the fulfillment of giving. No thank you cards, no fancy plaque, but giggles and smiles and handshakes and hugs. And the occasional tears.
Technique Notes: The big bouquet is apparently known as “hand tied”… it was a huge handful of flowers, and my tying was fairly arthritic, but the good news was there was a big vase to hold them all, so tying was kind of a moot point. For me, the whole point was the camaraderie, and the painting to come. I began the painting with some big sloppy shapes painted with opaque watercolor, which makes a nice bright base. Then I used brown ink, and added transparent watercolor washes. Oh, yes, and spatters of opaque.
The smaller bouquet was made in a 4” glass cube. A bit of chicken wire was folded over the top, then a big square of burlap was tied around that. Flowers and a small cabbage were stuffed into the holes in the wire – okay, that’s the short version of what happened. But it didn’t have to be the same on all sides, it didn’t have to be symmetrical, and it was still “hip.” Worked for me! This one was done just with transparent watercolor, no opaque.