I was asked by a friend to help her complete her Floristry Design college assignment.
The questions were about the ‘principles’ and ‘elements’ of floral design and mentioned certain techniques in relation to various floral displays. Not knowing what these elements and principles were I hastily jotted them down so we could refer to these ‘rules’ in the answers.
Principles – Balance, Scale, Proportion, Dominance, Contrast, Rhythm, Harmony.
Elements – Form, Space, Texture, Colour.
The florist uses these principles to create designs using symmetry, space, repetition, colour definition and contrasts. As I glanced back and forth at my notes I realised (late to the party – duh!) that all these principles and elements are used in every form of creativity. Photography, sculpture, performance arts, painting, drawing, cooking, songwriting and all handicrafts as well as in sport; all the rules apply.
In songwriting we look for the ‘space’ between the notes, the rhythms and harmonies, the dominance of certain voices or the density of the instruments (equalisation/tone) and we look at the juxtaposition of chords, form (arrangement/repetition of chorus) and the vividness of the sounds (colour and texture). Lyrically we use techniques such as contrast and repetition and musically we look at vowel sounds over certain chords and scales and the proportions of verse and chorus lines to structure the arrangement. Then we aim to balance voices and instruments within the stereo image (mix).
In my photography I’m seeking a balance between the ‘hero’, the central character that the eye is initially drawn; a building, a person etc, and the supporting cast of other objects within the frame. (Music composition does this too). Contrast and tone play important roles as does dominance, scale and proportion. The distance, depth of field and texture contribute to the overall rhythm of the piece as does the harmony of the elements within the image (background, repetition, space, symmetry). The same can be said of a piece of sculpture or, for instance jewellery, where space, dominance and proportion contribute to how the piece ‘works’. Painting uses the same formula as does prose writing or doing a sporting activity, whether it be in a solo capacity or in teamwork.
And then the notes I had made kept coming back to me.
I began to look at these principles and elements as pointers to the way we live. Seeking balance, harmony and substance. Elements of our lives can appear as a thin veneer yet other parts of our life-experiences are vivid and have density, weight and give a sense of proportion. We look for structure and form to give our lives meaning and use space to ponder, reflect and relax. There can be symmetry and repetition during our lives, in our work for example. Our memories contain colour; sometimes faded or possessing hues of an intense value. Continuity gives us rhythm, a scale and a beat. How we are, our psychological make-up, can be seen in the principles and elements of our design; our DNA and genetic build; symmetry and repetition.
In difficult emotional moments, time can seem heavy and turgid yet we wish our lightest happiest days could last forever. Perspective and viewpoint are intrinsic and important values to hold. The fleeting, translucent, opaqueness of life.
If we are lucky enough to be in a position to make choices then we seem to gravitate to these principals and elements and move away from unharmonious incidents or recoil from invasions of our personal ‘space’.
A ‘well balanced’ person has a good blend of these attributes; everything in moderation, everything in proportion. However, bullies are over dominant. Narcissists don’t understand personal space and see other people as ‘usable’ extensions of themselves. An anxious or addictive personality might put an over-emphasis on repetitive mechanisms that are unharmonious to themselves or others.
Much like a bouquet the passages of our lives can be closed like a posy, as complicated as a finely sculptured chaplet and as beautiful as a funeral display. A life going full circle like a wreath. Life reflecting art and vice versa. Great artists makes it look easy.
(And eventually, like a flower, we wither)…..