For Morton – Creative Process and Reflection

When you are starting out as an artist, you rely on the people closest to you to believe in you and your ideas. This is how you start to build and grow your network when you do not have any starting capital and all your cash flow is being put right back into your wallet to continue to buy supplies.

One of my first commissioned pieces was for my friend Dominic last year.  

He was going to his family’s home in Marin for Thanksgiving and wanted to make sure his mom had fresh flowers on the table.

Just like Kyle’s project, I had ultimate freedom to whatever I wanted.

I wanted to do something unconventional, since it would be a centerpiece and I was limited on the amount of time I had to do it (about 24 hours).

While I think bouquets are beautiful centerpieces, I do not get excited about them. I am usually bored by the basic shape of glass vases, and feel that they take away from the actual flower itself since you can see so much of the stem. Also, I highly value structure and need to be in control of the shape of the composition. I struggle with bouquets because they rely on the natural shape of the flowers versus what I do, which highly manipulates the flowers into doing what I need to achieve my vision.

I ended up spray painting a box bright red and filled it with a combination of dried cotton, baby’s breath, caspia, and sphagnum moss. Since I am interested in sculpture and wanted to make sure the arrangement had my own unique touch, I added an unconventional material, aluminum wire, to the mix to give the composition height and add negative space.

Dominic’s mom reached out to me again this year. She told me that she was going to a birthday party for one of her friend’s who owns a multi-million-dollar house near Napa county. She wanted a piece that would be seen when you first walked into the house. She trusted my vision and ideas, and knew that I would be able to create something that stood out, look chic, and dry well.  

I have learned a lot about my overall process from that first commission a year ago until now.

I now understand the things that are important to me when I am going to create, and what I need to do to set myself up for success whether it is a floral arrangement, painting, or a mixed media project.

For flower arrangements, I have learned that the most important part for me is the vase the arrangement will be displayed in. Ikebana is a Japanese form of floral arrangement that dates back to the 7th century. After studying Ikebana, I have realized the vase should not just be a glass cylinder – though there is always a time and place for this shape and material – but should instead be a shape and material that holds its own space and compliments the flowers. Since it is the foundation of the arrangement, it should get an equal amount of attention and be considered part of the entire composition versus being an object that holds the beauty.

For this piece, I knew I needed a vase that could go flat against a wall, but be deep enough to allow for a tall arrangement. I went to the local antique shop that I trust and lucked out with the exact shape I needed, an oblong black vase with a small base and large opening at the top.

A black vase is perfect because it allows for complete freedom of flower colors since everything matches with black. When thinking about what flowers to choose, I reminded myself that this arrangement needed to stand out and look chic, but hold its form since it would be left up to dry.

I chose holly branches for their rigid shape but vibrant berries, protea for its sheer size and beauty, craspedia since it dries perfect but it perfectly spherical like the holly berries, and thistle because of its sharp-looking texture.

Thinking of the spherical shape of the flowers and the circle shape of the vase, I knew I wanted to include wire to add yet another spherical element to the composition.

Using my favorite malleable metal, I used 12g aluminum wire to create a circle with an attached base so that it could hold itself at the bottom of the vase so I did not have to use floral foam.

The rest of the arrangement came like second nature. I knew that I needed to highlight the only protea in the middle of the arrangement. It’s size and color take up a lot of space, and it is hard to hide it if you are not using other flowers or greens that match its size. I combined it with the craspedia because the shapes compliment each other. The “sharper” objects – the holly branch and the thistle – went on top. Having the branch on thistle on top creates a separation between the two elements.

Using the aluminum wire, I was able to create a base and form it so that I could put the protea and craspedia in without the use of floral foam, which is a single-use plastic.

Single-use plastics are plastics that get thrown out after one use, such as straws, Styrofoam cups, to-go food packaging, etc. Single-waste products are cheap, but often harmful to the environment, as they are typically not quick to biodegrade and end up in landfills or environments that harm wildlife. 1 block of floral foam is the equivalent of about 10 plastic bags. Floral foam particles that get washed down the drain run the risk of being ingested by fish and doing permanent damage to the fish.

Earlier this year, I made it a point to stop using floral foam in my arrangements and the challenge of creating something structurally sound and interesting without the aid of foam has been rewarding.

I love commission work, and am always looking for more!

The best way to get a hold of me about a piece is via email

Vincent . Distrola @ gmail . com

Instagram @Distro.La


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