Saturday, February 29, 2020

Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style

Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style is a lushly illustrated and beautifully curated collection of artistic floral arrangements by Christin Geall. Due out 24th March 2020 from Princeton Architectural Press, it's 224 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

This is a lushly illustrated book on a practical subject (flower arrangement) which has a truly renaissance artistic sensibility. Every single illustration is a feast with lighting and scene, arrangement, color, and presentation carefully controlled (but looking beautiful and spontaneous).  There are many of the arrangements which actually literally look like oil painted still life paintings from old masters. The Thanksgiving arrangement on page 24 truly fools the eye, it absolutely could have been a detail from a Rubens.

The text is rich in small details and the author is a meticulous and knowledgeable expert both with writing and with advice for gardening and cultivation. Despite being a book with an artistic sensibility and soul, it's well laid out and presented and accessible. The table of contents is subdivided into sections so that the reader can put a finger on information without aggravation or tears. There's also a good cross referenced index and footnotes section for even more easily finding desired info. The chapters cover sourcing, tools and materials, a solid chapter on color theory (which will have applications in other areas of the reader's life), architecture and building up an arrangement along with a number of erudite and solid observations on practical applications, the elements of style (baroque, Dutch masters, rococo, a little William Hogarth, just breathtaking). This section also includes some tutorial lessons on different presentations to inspire (and in my case, just try to copy outright). The final content in the book covers design theory and developing a personal style. I'm not quite there yet (I'm a copier, not a designer, yet). It's full of positively written supportive exhortation to build a solid background and then trust one's instincts.

The book is a valuable technique book, but there's also a vast personal dialogue between the author and the reader which is, in my humble opinion, more tender, aware, and precious. This book is light years away from the average 'how-to' book. It would be as relevant on a list of philosophy or spirituality books (but blessedly mostly "woo woo" free). The epilogue touched me deeply.

Five stars. This is a superlative book and well worth a thorough read.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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