How to use {negative space} in floral arrangements

I’d love to show you more of my work here on the blog and a big part of it is defined by my academical studies. With my background in art history, I also love to challenge my mind and make trips to various academic disciplines and theories. For my work on Eclectic Trends I get lost in one of my favorite fields – trend forecast and its examination. Gudy demonstrated, what has always been an innate feeling to me: once you notice a ‘thing’ more than three times, it’s likely to become a trend. Today I’d love to show you how academic theories can be applied to floral design.
First of all, let me show you some great, great examples of a floral trend I have been noticing. With Instagram being one of my favorite sources I keep seeing arrangements that tend to be ‘build around a circle’- of course this is only an imaginative circle, but if you look at these images, there is a pattern. Now let me explain this a little further, as these photos display what I mean.

Sculptural floral arrangements - build around an imaginative circle
Sculptural floral arrangements – build around an imaginative circle

sources from top left: li.sense.abrrch_floralcultivatedbychristinfirenzaflowers

In my workshops I get asked how I create those wild, natural looking arrangements and with this post I would love to give you a little insight of how I work. Naturalistic floral arrangements tend to be the hardest thing to do, at least this is what I hear a lot. I am not a florist but my love for flowers goes back to my childhood: I was born in the Ukraine where my family had a ‘dacha’ – a small country home where we grew veggies, fruits and of course flowers. I remember being outside for months {luckily school summer vacation lasts 3 months in the Ukraine}, playing with flowers and plants all day long. My academic studies only added up to my aesthetic perception. This background of a playful approach to nature and all of the learned design principles allow me to start each floral project from a very unconventional way. I love to experiment with flowers and eventually theoretical design principles find their way into my work, on a very conscious or very subtle, unconscious level. One of these design principles I love to work with is negative space. A simple translation of the term itself might sound like the most boring thing, but it is indeed one of the most effective tools you can use to add interest to your work! Even if you are not familiar with art history, you might have heard the term: negative space.

learn how to make a naturalistic floral arrangement
learn how to make a naturalistic floral arrangement

In art and design it is defined as the space in between and around the subjects. If you study the artistic compositions above, you will notice that the use of negative space is key to the images! Simply by leaving empty spaces around and in between the flowers, and building sculptural arrangements around an imaginative circle, this negative space becomes most evident. The focus is all on the arrangement, but it is the empty places that surround the arrangenment like a visual echo and add vitality to the image. They form a characteristic and artistically relevant shape and add interest to a fascinating and most beautiful shape.

learn how to make a naturalistic floral arrangement
learn how to make a naturalistic floral arrangement

I made this arrangement to demonstrate how you can apply negative space to floral arrangements. To create this look you need:

  • long flowers or bend branches that already have a circular shape {these will be the key pieces of your arrangement}
  • a solid base to support your asymmetrical arrangement {to balance the weight go the larger pieces}
  • chicken wire inside the vase, to underline this solid base
  • seasonal, round-shaped flowers to complete the look
use circular shaped flowers and branches to create an artistic floral arrangement
use circular shaped flowers and branches to create an artistic floral arrangement

If you want to create this dramatic look, you need long branches or flowers that already have a circular shape. Their long, round shapes will be the main focus of the arrangement, this is also the reason, why I like to start with these large pieces. Once you have prepared a vase with chicken wire inside, you can start adding your round pieces into the vase. Try to work with the natural form, not against it and stick the branches and flowers into the vase and wait how it will balance out. If you are satisfied with the curves, you can add all the other flowers you have gathered and want to be in your arrangement. Here I added round shaped flowers too, to underline the effect of the ‘invisible circle’.

use circular shaped flowers and branches to create an artistic floral arrangement
use circular shaped flowers and branches to create an artistic floral arrangement

If you learn to apply the principle of negative space to your arrangements, you will soon see how free, wild and naturalistic the arrangements begin to look. Irregular forms can add so much naturalistic atmosphere to an arrangement, all you have to do is just to follow nature’s forms and shapes, as nature itself uses these universal design principles.

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