Flora for a Young Girl….

Worcester Art Museum

Worcester Art Museum

Earlier in January, I wrote that it was a black and white kind of month.  One of the reasons was working on my choice of art to interpret for the 2014 Flora in Winter at the Worcester Art Museum.

c Worcester Art Museum

c Worcester Art Museum

The work I was to interpret was “Portrait of a Young Girl”, attributed to Willem Key.  (My first choice really was “Endmyion” which you saw in the last post in a brilliant interpretation by The Editor.) In truth this was my second choice.  The statement of why we ‘chose’ it has to be written early before the holidays, often before the design was even really worked out.  “I was engaged by the somber, contrasting black and white palette and the challenges it would provide as to the materials both plant and otherwise.  Being a “paperholic”, I thought those challenges might be met using artists’ papers with the flowers.”

Vase as a blank canvasOn my ‘universal pedestal top, I marked off (with blue painters tape) the dimensions of the top I was working on.  The inside measurements were the Museum pedestal.  The vase is from Target.  One of those fake lacquer light-weight containers made from a kind of coiled caning.  A friend’s husband lopped off some of the top on his saw.

Artists papers and Modge PodgeI set to work with irregularly torn pieces of black artist’s paper and Modge Podge in a matt finish.  Modge Podge acts as an adherent to the surface as well as a sealer for the paper.

Vase with  marbelized paperOnce the entire container was covered in black paper and had dried completely, it was time for the fun part.  Black and gold marbleized paper was crimped and pleated rather like fabric in diagonal lines across the vase, leaving much of the paper in open folds for a three dimensional effect.

c Worcester Art Museum

c Worcester Art Museum

Two days before the event, another information sheet was filled out for the Museum docents to use when giving tours.   This reflects one’s research into the work, symbolism in the painting and/or any stories about sourcing and crafting the design.  My research did not turn up much about Willem Key so I concentrated on the young girl.  I decided to have fun with it and here is what I wrote:

“Portrait of a Fashionable Young Girl”  With her direct gaze and fashionable clothes, this young girl could be on the 16C equivalent of the red carpet.  She ticks off all the boxes of what the well-dressed wore in 16C Flanders: a voluminous dress with the emphasis on the sleeves, cuffed and slashed, a black hood with veil and a finely worked gold and jewel band that she would have worn with many of her dresses.”

Susan DetjensAnd here is what I did.  In this photo the bands of paper disappear into the shadows.  The materials used are:  green hanging amaranth, seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, Rose ‘Crystal’ – which has lovely pink blush to reflect her complexion – white lilies, white spider mums and a pale blush pink carnation with softly rounded petals.

Susan DetjensFrom the side, the embellishment on the container is more apparent.  I was delighted to learn that the design was photographed and appeared on the front page of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette!


About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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3 Responses to Flora for a Young Girl….

  1. Alexandra says:

    Excellent! I like the painting choice and your interpretation. well done

  2. Audrey Curl says:

    Susan, you are a genius! Love the vase and your interpretation. Thanks for sharing.

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