Friday, May 31, 2013

What I Did Wrong--Lessons in Ikenobo and Editing

Yes, you're right, on the left is the same photo I put up last time. My last post was about the flowers pictured in the photo but not really about the arrangement itself. Now I've had the benefit of my sensei's comments on the arrangement.

He complimented my choice of material, noting that the delicate lines of the columbine and honeysuckle were appropriate for a half-moon container. The honeysuckle offers the kind of gentle curve traditionally suited to this particular type of shoka design. I was pleased that he approved of the plant materials, because that selection is of prime importance in creating an appealing arrangement in a container with such a bold, black form.

However, what I didn't manage to do successfully was to give the pleasing lines their due emphasis. He pointed out the blob of green honeysuckle leaves at the far right, which obscured the lines. In his edited version of this photo, he erased most of that distracting patch and said he probably would have removed it all if he had been actually working on the arrangement instead of a photo of it. Alas, I never even noticed that bunch of leaves until he pointed them out!

He also erased the tangle of criss-crossing columbine stems inside the moon. I should have clipped those with an eye to simplification.

Finally, he pointed out what he called the "staircase regularity" of the opposite leaves on the longest, the shin honeysuckle stem. He said that a Japanese teacher would run his/her fingers along a section of that stem and remove the leaves from it, leaving a bare bit of stem to emphasize the line and introduce an interesting  randomness into it.

As a writer I can see the similarity between editing plant materials in an ikenobo arrangement and editing words. A writer wants her line of thought to be clear, not obscured by a patch of unnecessary words. She wants to eliminate or break up boring repetitiveness. She wants to reduce distractions and cleave to the main point.

I'm a novice flower arranger, learning how to edit.

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