ikebana arrangement in two containers by Ekaterina Seehaus, Materials: calla, Australian flax икебана Согэтсу Sogetsu school ikebanaweb.com ikebana meditation article

Ikebana as meditation

I have been reflecting on the meditative aspect of ikebana already for a while. This article covers my discoveries. I am also launching a series of workshops “Ikebana as meditative practice”.  The next workshop is on May 14, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. You can register here.

If you ask your friend Wikipedia “what is ikebana?” it will say that it is an art of arranging flowers. But then it will also tell you that it is a Kado – the way of spiritual developments, a path of self-knowledge similar to the martial arts (karate-do, aikido, judo etc). This perhaps is what sets ikebana apart from other forms of floral art.

I have been curious about spiritual development systems for years. They vary a lot but one thing they all seem to have in common: a practice of connecting with the inner peaceful core. In the contemporary language we often call it meditation.

My personal experience with mediation is all about taking distance from the thinking mind. Or rather bypassing the worrying, chatting, busy part of the brain and connecting directly to the wise, silent, peaceful part of it.

All who have ever attempted mediation know that it is easier said than done. Many of us spent vast amount of time trying to stop thinking. We get frustrated, discouraged and insecure once we realize we are not able to do it for a meaningful length of time. What’s next?

A while ago I came across a helpful hint. The speaker was comparing thinking mind with a very active monkey who is constantly busy jumping from task to task. How do we keep the monkey quiet? The answer was simple. We give her a banana. And while she is busy with it we can do our peaceful meditation.

What can we use as our metaphoric banana? There are many tools created by humanity. Repeating memorized verses of prayers and religious chants is perhaps the most common one. Doing dynamic meditations like martial arts is another well-known form. Any extreme sport would be a “banana on steroids”. Those are needed for the brains of top executives or world leaders. Their minds are filled with so much serious stuff that switching them off is nearly impossible unless you are a well-trained meditator.

A side note to be explored later: I am convinced that most of the successful people are skilled in some form of meditation and do it regularly be it extensive running or a yoga practice. Did they became successful because they were good at controlling their brains? Or did they learn to control their brains to cope with the increasing level of worry as they went up? In either case the ability to find stillness in the most crazy situation seems to be the distinguishing factor between those who “make it” and… the rest of us.

I hope by now I have convinced you that meditation is a serious matter and not a spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Finding our personal way of distracting the monkey brain is worth investing some time into.

After years of yoga and Tai Chi I absolutely unexpectedly found a very easy way of entering into this highly desirable meditative state. For me it is through practicing the art of ikebana. It was a perfect distraction to my thinking patterns minus the dangers of the extreme sports. And it had a bonus compared to yoga: at the end of each lesson I had a nice flower arrangement to remind me of the experience I had.

I have elaborated on my experience many times when talking to people about ikebana. For me, when I come to my teacher’s place for the lesson I leave the world behind the door. I am a different person with a different purpose and a very difficult task at hand. I am working on the assignment and nothing else matters.

I love this perfect moment during an ikebana lesson when there is complete focus, silence and concentration in the group. Keep in mind that it is typically a group of women, who were happily chatting just before the lesson and will carry on chatting right after. They are all transformed for this brief moment. They have fully given themselves to the process of creation. And the more they are able to let go of anything outside of the ikebana world the more enchanting their arrangements are.

In the book “Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement” Gustie Herrigel speaks about the way teachers in Japan used to review students’ works. Teachers were evaluating whether the true connection with the essence of the flower was achieved by the student. Nowadays we perhaps would not use such wording. Nevertheless it is clear what she means. It is not tangible and you can’t put your finger on it but sometimes an arrangement just works and sometimes it does not. Even if there is no fundamental difference. You are just tuning into harmony or you are not.

So how do we enter into this special state of complete presence to our creation process? Well, first of all we try to avoid over complicating it. We just stay with feeling and avoid thinking. The simplest way is to concentrate on the sensory contact with the material.

Listen – pour water into the container as the first step. Listen to the sound of water. This will make you do it slower because it is actually quite enjoyable.  It also prompts you to handle your tools more carefully without making noise when you put them on the surface of the table. This in turn makes your movements more conscious, which is the whole point really.

Touch – different materials have different texture. Try touching stems of different flowers, bark of branches, petals and stamens. Rub pollen between your fingertip (careful, don’t mark your clothes! Some pollen is not possible to wash off). It is fascinating how much variety nature has in it. Humbling really.

Smell – yes, this is the best part. Even if you are using flowers which do not have an iconic perfume smell there is for sure a subtle scent present. And it is not always a pleasant one. 🙂 But this is yet another discovery you can make to get acquainted with your materials. And don’t forget that leafs, grasses they all have their own less pronounced scents.

Observe – colors, shapes, lines, big curves and small details. They all are worth our attention. They are out there patiently waiting to be discovered. And once you discover them it is your job to create an arrangement to share your discovery with the others.

There are so many fundamental principles and laws used in ikebana without being mentioned. I keep on stumbling upon them and exploring them as I move through my ikebana journey. Here are just a few, which I want to elaborate on in my future posts:

  • The golden ratio – it is fundamental to the ikebana proportions but I have never seen it mentioned in any of the ikebana text books.
  • Minimalism – the principal of arriving to the beauty by removing extra elements as long as there is nothing left in the arrangement that has no purpose. Less is more.
  • Color theory – we teach the basics of it in the Sogetsu curriculum but there is so much more. I for sure want to dig deeper into it.

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Morimono ikebana arrangement in automne colors. Pumpkins, physalis, sunflowers. By Ekaterina Seehaus. Sogetsu school of ikebana.

Morimono – use of fruits and vegetables in Japanese flower arrangements

What do fruits and vegetables have to do with flower arrangements?

Japanese do not discriminate: any plant material can be used in ikebana, not only flowers and branches. There is a special type of arrangement called Morimono, which allows using pretty much any part of the plant in the composition.

If  you think of it, using branches with berries is quite common both in ikebana and in Western flower arrangement. But once we move towards fruits disconnected from branches we are out of the comfort zone. The known ways of fixing materials are no longer helpful and we are not clear how to show beauty of, for example, a tomato in our art creation.

Sogetsu ikebena by Ekaterina Seehaus morimono arrangement with watermelon and wind strawberries
Why couldn’t a watermelon become a container? Morimono arrangement and photography by Ekaterina Seehaus

So what is Morimono? In Japanese it literally means to pile up. It does not sound too artistic or pretty for that matter. Therefore our main goal is to make the pile attractive and artistically expressive. Following the main ikebana principles is crucial here.

If in doubt where to begin, start with selecting an unusual container for your unusual arrangement. This will set the tone and help you push your creativity boundaries. A nice board or a flat stone could give enough space for your artistic pile and will give it a bit of a modern edge.

Another approach could be to start with a choice of a color scheme. Same ikebana principles of working with color apply here. You can decide to go for the same tonal range (see above Automne arrangement) or contrasting colors (see red/green contrast of cabbage and peppers above) or simply emphasize one color – the choice is yours. This decision will help you pick the right grocery list for your next supermarket visit.

Another tip is to look for unusually shaped, odd pieces to avoid artificial look. If you have your own garden it is an added benefit. Home-grown fruits and vegetable are more likely to have unusual shapes. This can give you the key element, around which you could build your arrangement.

The point of this journey is to see familiar objects in a new light, to find out the main characteristics and features of a plant. For example it is nice to split bell peppers in half and show their seed pods or to disassemble cabbage and roll the leafs following their natural lines. Pealing off parts of skin on a darker vegetable such as aubergine could give you just the right accent. From there you could build a contrast based arrangement of dark vs. light colors.

Morimono ikebana arrangement red peppers, green cabbage, color contrasts. By Ekaterina Seehaus. Sogetsu school of ikebana
Arrangement with red peppers showing the inside and outside. Contrast of red and green colors. Ikebana and photography by Ekaterina Seehaus

There is a vast variety of techniques available for fixing vegetables in place. Next to the standard ikebana fixings you could, for example, use tooth picks to link several round objects together to prevent them from rolling or choose a larger vegetable as a base for fixing others on top of it.

And of course, nobody prevents us from using flowers or brunches next to the fruits or vegetables. At the end Morimono is quite flexible and broadens our artistic horizon.

Sogetsu ikebana Morimono with cabbage as a flower by Ekaterina Seehaus
Morimono with cabbage as a flower. Wooden chinese container. Ikebana by Ekaterina Seehaus

Whichever way you decide to go, keep it simple and have fun with it!

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P.S. Want to get more examples and tips on creating original harvest arrangements? Follow ikebanaWEB here and download my Morimono step by step seminar materials for FREE. I have just given this Morimono workshop to the Ikebana International group of Belgium. I hope it will inspire you to make your own arrangements or who knows, may be even to give a workshop!

Already following ikebanaWEB? One click download is here for you.

Interview Akane Teshigahara by Ekaterina Seehaus Floralien Ghent Gent 2016

Interview with Akane Teshigahara

The leader of the Sogetsu school of ikebana have kindly answers questions of teachers and students collected with the help of Facebook

Anticipation was building up over the last couple of months. When earlier this year Ms. Teshigahara was visiting Belgium we wanted to interview her. We collected the questions of ikebana teachers and students from all over the world. It was a nice example of the “good globalization” and how the on-line community of social networks can be leveraged.

During the visit we were not able to fit the interview into the headmaster’s agenda. (Disclaimer: I use the word headmaster instead of headmistresses just because I … like it better. Nothing to do with gender discrimination. In any case the word in Japanese is “iemoto” for both genders.)

Instead of the live interview we were kindly offered by the Sogetsu school headquarters to get written responses to the questions in due course. Today I received the long anticipated communication and I am sharing it with you.

We submitted 7 questions to Ms. Teshigahara, which are ranked by the votes on Facebook. As Akane Teshigahara teaches junior ikebana classes already since 1989 and is regarded as one of the most prominent child educators in the field of ikebana, the question, which got the most votes in the poll is about this topic:

Question 1: What are your top 3 tips for teaching children ikebana?

  1. Do not assume children as a whole from their age and gender, but work with each of them individually. It is important to use your ingenuity so as to talk and teach them differently depending on their type.
  2. Take time. Don’t rush them. Watch patiently what the kid wants to do.
  3. Whatever the work is, recognize it while searching a good point and say something nice first. Do not deny first. Try to make them feel that ikebana is fun.

Question 2: What source of ikebana inspiration do you use when nothing else works?

Enjoy various things other than ikebana, such as paintings, sculptures, movies, theaters… Put yourself in a completely different environment and reset your feeling once.

Question 3: What is the most effective Sogetsu school strategy in popularizing ikebana in the world?

Needless to say, continuing steady activities are important, but it is more important to actively spread information to the outside, not being inward-looking. In order to do so, we will search collaborations with other categories (e.g. art forms other than ikebana, stage performance) and attractive places and put more emphasis on creating works incorporating the “power of the place”. The new Textbook 5 contains the curriculum needed to learn these things. Please look forward to learning it.

Question 4: What is the suggested program for teaching teachers after the book 5 is completed?

Completing Textbook 5 means that the student stands at the start line as an artist who can express personal feelings and ideas. Hereafter, each student will pursue the path that she or he chooses. The instructor should respect such desire, provide various opportunities to learn, and give proper advice to guide the student.

Question 5: How to behave properly towards ikebana?

Ikebana works have energy and power and resonate with people who see them because living flowers are used. Ikebana is to arrange flowers and plants while putting your own feelings and thoughts to them. But you should not forcefully arrange them for your own satisfaction or treat them to diminish their unique attractiveness. Please faithfully face the plants. Do not forget a feeling of thankfulness and respect them so as to see an end when they will return to nature.

Question 6: How would you define good and bad ikebana teachers?

The good instructor can face each one of the students individually, and respect and develop their personality. Even for the students who surpass the instructor, the good instructor has a broad mind so as not to discourage the learning of the students but strongly support them. On the other hand, the bad teacher does not respect individuality but imposes his or her own way onto the students and forces the students to do what the instructor wants to do.

Question 7: What are the most important principles of integrating ikebana into modern interior?

Look at the people who live in the present times. When arranging flowers, if you think of people who will be in that space and try to understand them, I believe ikebana will naturally harmonize with modern spaces.

This concludes the interview with Akane Teshigahara, the 4th iemoto of the Sogetsu school of ikebana. Big thanks to Ms. Teshigahara for finding time in her busy agenda to answer our questions. And of course thanks to all the ikebanists, who contributed to the Facebook poll and voted for the questions.

P.S. I continue my search for the best advise on how to teach ikebana to children. I got some pretty good materials and will share them soon. Stay tuned. Sincerely, Ekaterina


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Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016
Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the iemoto’s ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016
Sogetsu Ikebana arrangement "Wind" by Ekaterina Seehaus

Essential Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students

A helpful list of 70 Janapese terms frequently used in Ikebana (downloadable in PDF format)

When I started learning Ikebana Japanese words Kenzan, Moribana and a few others entered my world. It was fun and it felt exotic. It also gave some subtle sense of belonging to a group connected by a distant, unfamiliar language.

There is some tribal feeling in having a special language. It does not even have to be a foreign language. Often it is a language of a professional group or an abbreviated language of a big company.  I could talk about it for a long time… If you joined a new company and you hear a sentence consisting of 7 words, 5 of which are acronyms, you do wan to learn the “local language” very fast. Trust me, I know from my experience how knowing the a group language makes you either fit in or alienates you if you do not master it. Back to Ikebana.

When I just began with Ikbebana I was not temped to start taking lessons of Japanese. Still I wanted to use the right terms and I wanted to pronounce them right. After a few months of studying our teacher gave us a list of essential Japanese vocabulary used in Ikebana. Since then whenever I came across a new word I added it to this list. Luckily my teacher is Japanese so I could always check with her if I got the pronunciation and the translation right.

Preview of the PDF document with 70 Japanese terms useful for ikebana students

And sometimes it is more than just translation. You need an explanation of the concept, which does not exist in English or in your culture. In my list of Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana  I did not go as far as writing up stories to give context for understanding the words. But recently I started accumulating articles and videos illustrating some of the unfamiliar concepts. I hope one day I can issue an update to the list with some multimedia links.

For now I decided to share with the Ikebana Web followers my current version of the Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students. You can view it on-line or use a secure download (3 page PDF file).

Are there any other Ikebana terms you would like to add to the list? I would love to hear from you.

 

And the winner is….

Waterfall IkebanaWebFinally we can announce our Natural Creativity Challenge winner. The idea of this Challenge was to get people who have never been involved in Ikebana (or in any other type of flower arranging) to try making a flower composition. The main point is actually not the flower arrangement as such. It is more about restoring our connection with nature by communicating with flowers, branches and other plant material.

For the challenge folks were given a picture of a waterfall in a forest and were asked to reflect their impressions of the image in a flower arrangement. Simple… or may be not? Well, I did get feedback from some participants that it was simply too difficult and they are missing the “finesse”.

But with all that our winner Asya U. have done a great job of reflecting the mood, the colors and the movement of the original image. And she did not have any prior experience! Well done. Here is the picture and I’ll talk about the prize in a minute.

The winner of the Natural Creativity Challenge www.ikebanaweb.com
“The Waterfall” arrangement by Asya U., the winner of the Natural Creativity Challenge on IkebanaWeb.com

The prize is a 1 month free access to the Online Ikebana membership website. This will be a great resource for Asya to explore Ikebana principles, techniques and get inspiration for her creations.

For the rest of the Ikebana Web followers I can offer a link to some limited free training material courtesy of the Online Ikebana. Click on the link, register your e-mail and you will get instant access to one free lesson for beginners and to one for advanced Ikebana students.

Take this opportunity to explore your creativity further. Try it out and send me pictures of your arrangements 🙂

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3D Challenge: Natural Creativity – entries are due in 5 days (Sept 20, 2015)

Good news folks: the deadline for the Natural Creativity Challenge is extended to September 20th. Photos of your arrangements have to be e-mailed to Ekaterina@IkebanaWeb.com by Sunday evening the latest.

THE PRIZE will be a 1 month FREE ACCESS to the new Online Ikebana subscription website.

This service is not yet released to the public. The exclusive early access is made available for the IkebanaWeb community. How cool is that? I already got the coupon code waiting for you here. (Thank you Online Ikebana team!) I had a sneak preview of the Online Ikebana site, there are loads of video tutorials for different levels of students. Really great stuff.

For those who have missed the original announcement of this challenge here is the link with the description. The entry is free. You need to take a picture of your flower arrangement and e-mail it to Ekaterina@IkebanaWeb.com no later than September 20.

Good luck and let your creative juices flow! Look forward to receiving your entries.

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Mass and like ikebana arrangement Sogetsu school by Ekaterina Seehaus ikebanaweb.com

3 Main Elements of Ikebana Flower Arrangements: #2 Mass

Mass in Ikebana arrangements is a somewhat controversial topic. On one hand it is quite similar to the appearance of Western arrangements and therefore is not “Ikebana-like”. On the other hand it is a rather difficult task to construct a proper mass. In several workshops I have seen advanced students and even teachers struggle with satisfying master instructors’ requirements with regard to their mass arrangements.

I will share with you what I consider important in arranging a mass. I am sure there are many points of view though, so feel free to leave your comments.

First, density is what defines a mass, so no compromise is acceptable. There should be no spaces  between flowers. If need be one can tighten the mass with a wire on the back of the arrangement.

Second, a shape of a mass does not have to be just a round ball of flowers. Interesting compositions can be created by constructing elongated or triangular shapes. Several masses together also can be quite impressive.

Ikebana Sogetsu Mass Color Gradient IkebanaWeb.com
Dahlias Color Gradient Arrangement with Elongated Mass Arrangement in Two Nageire Vases.

Third, a mass does not have to be made of the same color of flowers. Experimenting with color gradient is interesting. I have tried it in the above arrangement and then developed it further for one of my exhibition pieces described in an earlier post.

Mass ikebana arrangement Sogetsu school by Ekaterina Seehaus. Round Mass of Forget-me-Nots, Elongated Mass of Eucalyptus Leaves and a Cylindrical Mass of Cornus Twigs.
Round Mass of Forget-me-Nots, Elongated Mass of Eucalyptus Leaves and a Cylindrical Mass of Cornus Twigs.

And finally, flowers are not the only material, which could be used for construction mass. Mass in ikebana arrangements could be made of leaves, twigs, artificial objects, paper etc. Like in the top photo of this post I used a mass made of computer cable (or was it a printer cable?… not like it makes any difference). It nicely integrated with the color of the ceramic container, which I recently made and at the same time it gave good contrast to the color of the flower mass of Gerbera. Not to mention the contemporary look 🙂

Do you see how mass and color are closely interlinked and need each other to make the arrangement work? This brings us nicely to the next topic “Color”. Until the next post!

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Here is another free report for our subscribers Essential Japanese Vocabulary for Ikebana. It is downloadable as PDF document.

Lines in ikebana arrangements gladiolus and reed lines by Ekaterina Seehaus Sogetsu school of ikebana. ikebanaweb.com

3 Main Elements of Ikebana Flower Arrangements: #1 Lines

In one of the recent post we introduced the three main elements of Ikebana arrangements: mass, color and line. Traditionally they are all equally important. Well, let me use the words of Gorge Orwell “we are all equal but some are more equal than others” to express by bias towards the lines. Of course it is all about the overall harmony and balance but we all have our preferences. You guessed it right: lines in ikebana arrangements are my favorite element.

3 examples of different usages of lines in Ikebana. Sogetsu school. IkebanaWeb.com
Just a few example: combination of straight lines with curved ones, building a structure of crossed lines, using leaf surfaces as lines.

I find it interesting how the use of lines completely changes the character of your arrangement. It can make your arrangement static if you use horizontal or vertical lines or can add dramatic movement with diagonal or curved lines. Can you imagine all the possibilities!

Ikebana Sogetsu curved branch in a curved container emphasizing the movement.
Single curved branch in a curved container emphasizes the movement.

Even a single strong line in an arrangement makes it into a statement piece, into something, which catches attention and looks quite different from what you typically see in a florists’ shops. With bold lines and minimal number of flowers you can create arrangements, which will have a dramatic impact on the space where they are displayed.

There are plenty of different types of lines you can use in your arrangements: natural curves of branches, straight lines of reed and bamboo, peculiarly curled stems of flowers just to name a few. And if you add the lines made of artificial materials such as colorful cocktail straws, electrical wires (those could get pretty colorful as well), thin metal pipes … the possibilities are endless. You can combine straight and curved lines, add different texture, create modern look and test the limits of your creativity.

Sogetsu Ikebana Diagonal Lines with 2 moribana containers IkebenaWeb.com
Bundling several reed stems together for stronger impression. Containers leaned against each other to emphasize the movement.

Just start experimenting. If your material is really thin such as straw or reed, you can put several pieces together or even tie them together to make stronger impression like on the above photo. Another trick is using color to make your lines look more pronounced. On the first image of this post there are 2 reed stems, which are painted red. This gives them more visual “weight” and prevents the flowers from overpowering the thin pale reed stems.

Hope this post gave you some new ideas coming from the ancient Japanese art of Ikebana and inspired you to try expressing your creativity through arranging flowers in some new ways. If you make any pictures of your arrangements feel free to e-mail them to me Ekaterina@IkebanaWeb.com. It would be interesting to share those in the future posts.

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Don’t want to miss the next post? Sign up for e-mail updates from IkebanaWEB.com and we will e-mail you a free report “How to keep your flowers fresh, longer”. This report covers many ikebana techniques for prolonging life of your arrangements through different treatments of stems.

Here is another free report for our subscribers Essential Japanese Vocabulary for Ikebana. It is downloadable as PDF document.

Don’t want to miss the next post? Sign up for e-mail updates from IkebanaWEB.com and we will e-mail you a free report “How to keep your flowers fresh, longer”. This report covers many ikebana techniques for prolonging life of your arrangements through different treatments of stems.

 

ikebana flower arrangements Sogetsu Mass, Color, Line - 3 main elements. IkebanaWeb.com

3 Main Elements of Ikebana Flower Arrangements

Ikebana flower arrangements are mostly known for their minimalist aesthetics. Unlike the typical Western styles, which predominantly focus on creating large volumes of blooms, Ikebana puts equal emphases on the three main elements: mass, color and line.

This image is a simplified representation of an arrangement with the 3 elements being added one by one. First mass, then color and at the end the horizontal lines join the composition. See how they work together and change the overall impression of a simple Syringa (Lilac) branch?

Ikebana flower arrangements: Mass, Color and Line. Sogetsu school. IkebanaWeb.com
Main elements of Ikebana flower arrangements: Mass, Color and Line

Out of the 3 elements we are most familiar with the mass. Traditional bouquets are essentially masses of flowers. Color is an obvious one as well. But the line is not used much in the Western floral art. On a rare occasion we might see a line of a brunch being emphasized but that is pretty much it. Such details as flower stems or roots are almost never in the spotlight. Bamboo stems, reed, tall grasses can also provide wonderful inspiration and give a sense of movement to a composition.

But Ikebana flower arrangements do not have to contain all three element all the time. Sometimes you might consider focusing on one element and showcasing its beauty. It is all about balancing the 3 and using them effectively to create arrangements, which express your ideas and feeling.

To explore this topic further read the following articles focusing on mass, color and line. In those articles we provide illustrations of using each element in different types of arrangement. There is also some theoretical insights such as link to the color theory.

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A 3D Challenge: Natural Creativity

A guided meditation to boost your creativity using the main source of it all: the nature.

I would like to take you on a quiet self exploration journey. The intention is to experience one of the important sources of your creativity: your connection with nature. No prior experience or special knowledge is required. You do not even need to see yourself as a creative person. Just let me explain first.

I became aware of this technique through my Ikebana flower arrangement studies. But similar exercise can be done in any field of self expression. The assignment we were given was quite simple: we received a photograph of a landscape and then we had to make an arrangement based on the personal impressions. And sure enough, everybody had arranged a very different composition. Here is the original photograph and my Ikebana composition inspired by it.

Ikebana Sogetsu Impression of an image IkebanaWeb

For me it was all about the contrast of the sharp, hard cliff with the soft blue of the sky and of the sea. Diagonal lines were also important as they gave some dynamic.

The materials are very simple and completely free: the piece of a tree trunk we picked up while walking through the fields nearby – an old hollow tree was cut and disposed off. The blue flowers are from a shrub in our garden and the yellow ones were just some weeds on the side of the road. The flowers are placed in a small bottle standing behind the piece of wood. Absolutely nothing special. Just going with a flow and keeping eyes open. Anybody can do this, right?

Now I want to challenge you with this:

1) Have a look at the picture of a waterfall below, get a feel of it, focus on your personal associations.

2) Then go for a walk in the woods or step out into your garden, pick up any materials, which seem to be resonating with you and with your impressions of the picture.

3) Make an arrangement. The simpler the better. Remember “less is more”.

4) Take a picture of your arrangement and e-mail it to me before September 15, 2015 ekaterina @ ikebanaweb dot com.

If there are enough participants (I would say should be at least 5) we will make a poll to select the winner and I will organize a nice prize. Are you in? If you are still hesitant, read on and I will give you a few hints on how to go about it. You will be surprised how much more you could feel and express if you just give yourself a chance.

Waterfall IkebanaWeb

For a few minutes just put on hold all the 10 000 things, which you should have done “yesterday” and quiet down those voices in your head, which say you don’t have time for this. You do have 5 minutes for exploring yourself. Just stay for a moment with the waterfall… in the forest… alone…

If you were standing there, would you feel the water with your bare feet? Would it be cold? Would you hear the waterfall, birds? Would you smell moss or freshness? Notice the emotions arising in your body, acknowledge them. Remember this feeling.

If you think of it, it is a miracle that you have just vividly experienced a place, which you have never visited. A photographer has captured a small part of a (remarkable) 3D reality into a two-dimensional frame. And now miles away and perhaps years later you feel real sensations of this waterfall. And what I want you to do is to continue the magic wheel of art and to try expressing those feeling back in the 3D world. You can use any materials or techniques you want.

When the next time (perhaps later this weekend) you wonder around nature try to remember this feeling of the waterfall. Look at grasses, trees, branches of shrubs, see if any are resonating with the feelings you have experienced “at the waterfall”. May be it will be the color, or texture of foliage, or a curve of a dry branch resembling the waterfall lines. There is no right or wrong, just go with what catches your eye, do not overthink it.

Bring your finds home. Look for a container. A big glass bottle or several cups together could make a great start. Even a plastic bottle could be made into an interesting container if you cut the top off or cut a large opening on the side. Do not restrict yourself to what is considered a proper flower container. Although there is nothing wrong with a normal vase either. Just listen to the sound of water while you are pouring it into the container and contemplate for a moment.

When you are done arranging your materials in the container, make sure you take time to enjoy it. Then take a few photos and attach them to the e-mail addressed to me. I am already getting excited thinking of the variety of pictures you folks will send. Can’t wait.

Enjoy your time with nature!

P.S. I need to make a disclaimer here: if you live in a city and visiting nature is not in your plan you can also try your nearest florist shop. Just make sure you give yourself time to feel which plant materials resonate with your “waterfall” emotions before buying them. Here is the picture of the waterfall once again, a bigger version.

Waterfall IkebanaWeb

 

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