Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Fave book

The language of flowers

Fascinating factsKerrie Woodhouse
 
 

It is an enchanting idea to me that flowers express themselves so clearly that they have become recognised symbols of their own energy. They are, to me, a hopeful representation of the notion that if we could be truly ourselves, without the shroud of our doubts and fears and unobscured by our 'shoulds', that self expression would be effortless and that we would be completely understood.

There is a language, little known, Lovers claim it as their own. Its symbols smile upon the land, Wrought by nature's wondrous hand; And in their silent beauty speak, Of life and joy, to those who seek For Love Divine and sunny hours In the language of the flowers. –The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

We have been attributing meaning to flowers for so very many years that the 'language of flowers' now even has its own  name - floriography.  Victorians sent coded messages using flower arrangements. For example;

  • roses symbolise love

  • daffodils symbolise chivalry

  • lilies symbolise beauty

  • daisies symbolise purity and innocence

  • gerberas symbolise cheerfulness

The colour of the flower conveys meaning too.

  • red - passion and love

  • orange - expansion, growth, and warmth

  • yellow - clarity, truth and intellect

  • green - renewal, growth, hope, health and youth

  • blue - dreams, inspiration, tranquility

  • indigo - emotions, depth, intuition and expressive moods

  • violet - royalty, nobility and spirituality

If you are in the mood to explore the language of flowers a little further, Kate Greenaways' Language of Flowers is available to read online for free here. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has a more modern Flower Dictionary as well as a charming novel, The Language of Flowers.

Explore more of the Flower Faces Series or see the rest of the monthly series in the collection.

Drawing perspective doesn't have to be hard - here's 3 easy tips to get you started

Beginner ResourcesKerrie Woodhouse
 
Flower-Face-no-18-kw.jpg
 

One of my endless fascinations is the illusion of depth on a flat piece of paper.  Being able to perceive distance in an image on a page is what draws us into the world of the image's creator.

My analytical side is intrigued by the techniques we can learn to create the illusion of three dimensions.  Ok, I have to admit I kind of love that even something as mystical as art boils down to maths in places.

The fact that drawing perspective does involve a step towards maths is probably what puts many of us off learning.  I think the trick is to sidle up to it... surreptitiously. Ease gently in, nothing too scary. My introduction was really in Danielle Donaldson's class Creative Girls - a good beginning!

If you are starting out with drawing perspective, here are three things to think about that will help to offer the illusion of depth and distance.

Atmospheric perspective

This is a safe place to begin - all about colour. Warm colours (red, orange, yellow) appear to push forward from the paper, while cool colours (blues and greens) recede into the paper.  How fascinating it is that this is the way the brain interprets these colours.  So one of the easiest ways to suggest a sense of distance is to graduate colours you use from warm ones in the sections of the image closest through to cooler ones in the sections of the image intended to appear further away. Just like my row of little flower ladies...

Size matters

The other thing that the brain does in interpreting information from the eye is to recognise smaller versions of similar items as being further away, relative to their larger counterparts.  So even though all my little flower ladies are about the same size, the ones intended to appear close to the viewer are larger and further apart from each other. Their size and spacing diminish gradually to suggest to the viewer that they are more distant. If you were to draw a line across the tops of the heads of the flowers and extend it out beyond the tiny blue flower and another similar line across the bottom of their stalks, these lines would intersect at one point out beyond the right hand side of the image.  Accordingly, this is referred to as one point perspective.

Details

As amazing as our eyes are, we can only see the finest details close up. As we look further into the distance our ability to perceive small distinct details decreases.  On a piece of paper, we can mimic this by reducing the level of fine detail progressively from the parts of the image intended to look like they are nearest to us to the parts of the image that are intended to appear further away.  Compare the level of facial details on the little red flower at the front of the row to the blue one at the end of the row in Flower Faces no 18 to see what I mean.

Learning to solve puzzles like how to make a flat piece of paper seem three dimensional is an intriguing pastime. If you end up hooked like me then you will be wanting to know a bit more.  I am reading a terrific book by Phil Metzger called The Art of Perspective which I am finding to be very helpful. It is not a dry collection of rules and is more like a series of annotated pictures. Phil has a sense of humour and offers step by step instructions of things to try out. Give it a go!

Explore more of the Flower Faces series or see the rest of the monthly series in the collection.

Make a little time for yourself

My art journey, Self DevelopmentKerrie Woodhouse
 
 

Yesterday I used up all the white space around my flower face with a textured background. Funny - it was only when I covered up the white space that I actually noticed that there was a lot of white space in most of the other pictures in this series.

I like that they don't have to share the page with anything else.  I like the white space.  It reminds me that I have made time in my life to make them, and that in turn has given me a little 'white space' around myself. Each flower face sitting in its clear space seems to be saying, "Make a little time for yourself."

It is so easy to have life take over and for there to be an endless stream of tasks to tick off the to do list. How often do you get to the end of a really busy day and find yourself wondering... what did I really do today?

If I am not careful, the day whizzes by in a flash. Before I know it the things I would like to do  - the things that are important to me, have been squeezed out.  Unless you prioritise them, and  set aside a specific time for them, they will be neglected into oblivion.

We multi task whether we realise it or not - even if we have read many an article telling us that this is not the way to do things anymore.  Our mobile devices beep and flash and vibrate with every little whimper from cyberspace. It is hard to ignore that flashing envelope icon with every new mail, or the persistence of our social media notifications.  In the car at school pick up, we can be planning the evening meal, googling a recipe for it and placing an online order - all while chatting to the mum parked beside us.  Whatever happened to staring calmly into space for a few moments?

No, I seem to have to allocate time to be still. I don't want to say this, but it is like scheduled 'me-time'. No you see... I really want to go back and delete that. It sounds so selfish, doesn't it? But really, if we don't reign in the frenetic pace at some point - find a little white space for ourselves, we become less capable of doing everything else that we need to do.

If you are wondering how to go about incorporating a little time for yourself, this article has some helpful suggestions.  If you are looking for some more in depth information and guidance than an article, you might want to have a look at Cheryl Richardson's books.

Sitting down with my paintbrushes and pencils is my daily white space. What is yours?

Explore the rest of the Flower Faces Series.