Inflorescence is a project that collaborates across mediums to celebrate our local flower community here in Maine. Across the course of the 2020 growing season, each of these designers made an arrangement for me to reinterpret into paintings. My ideas refocused with each intricate arrangement, attempting to capture some of each designer’s unique style and the particular moment in the season when the flowers were cut — as well as something of the larger ideas flowers hold.

Carolyn Snell Designs
June 2020
1. Carolyn’s Arrangement: includes poppies, tree peonies, viburnum, ranunculus, stock, lupines, allium, physcocarpus, and raspberry foliage
2. ‘Collaboration with Carolyn Snell II’, acrylic and collage on canvas, 24″ x 18″, $425
3. ‘Collaboration with Carolyn Snell’, gouache, acrylic, pencil, pen, watercolor pencil, and collage on paper, 37″ x 31″, SOLD
Watershed Floral
July 2020
4. Sarah’s Arrangements: include cosmos, rudbeckia, spray roses, zinnias, snapdragon, yarrow, feathertop grass, ferns, raspberry foliage
5. ‘Collaboration with Watershed Floral II’, acrylic, gouache, pencil, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, wax marker, and marker on paper, 22.5″ x 14.5″, $325
6. ‘Collaboration with Watershed Floral’, gouache, acrylic, pencil, pen, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 30″ x 22″, $650
7. ‘Collaboration with Watershed Floral III’, acrylic, gouache, pen, pencil, watercolor pencil, and collage on paper, 33″ x 27.5″(at largest points), $700
Plant Office
Early August 2020
8. John’s Arrangement: includes zinnias, viburnum, rudbeckia triloba, lisianthus, helichrysum, mountain mint, and marigolds
9. ‘Collaboration with Plant Office II’, acrylic and collage on canvas, 24″ x 18″, $425
10. ‘Collaboration with Plant Office’, acrylic, gouache, pencil, pen, watercolor pencil, marker, washi tape on paper, 32″ x 33.5″ (at largest points), $850
Runaway Bunny
Mid-August 2020
11. Caitlin’s Arrangement: includes zinnias, wheat celosia, echinacea seed heads, lisianthus, millet, grasses, physocarpus, dried fern, and mountain mint
12. ‘Collaboration with Runaway Bunny II’, acrylic and collage on canvas, 24″ x 18″, $425
13. ‘Collaboration with Runaway Bunny’, acrylic, gouache, pencil, marker, wax marker, and collage on paper, 30″ x 22″, $650
Bad Rabbit Flowers
Late August 2020
14. Anika’s First Arrangement: includes dahlias, zinnias, snapdragon, scabiosa, wheat celosia, grasses, helichrysum, gomphrena, and tulsi
15. Anika’s Second Arrangement: includes dahlias, zinnias, wheat celosia, snapdragon, drumstick verbena, butterfly weed, chinese forget-me-nots, and tulsi
16. ‘Bad Rabbit Flowers & Field’, gouache, acrylic, marker, pen, and pencil on paper, 17″ x 14″, $250
17. ‘Collaboration with Bad Rabbit’, gouache, acrylic, pencil, watercolor pencil, marker, wax marker, and pen on paper, 30″ x 22″ $650
Broadturn Farm
September 2020
18. Stacy’s Arrangement: includes dahlias, hydrangea, foxglove, rudbeckia triloba, ageratum, dill, gomphrena, and viburnum berries
19. ‘Broadturn Flowers & Barn’, gouache, acrylic, pencil, pen, colored pencil, wax marker, and collage on paper, 17″ x 14″, $250
20. ‘Collaboration with Broadturn Farm’, acrylic, gouache, pencil, pen, and collage on paper, 48″ x 31″ (at largest points), $1,000
More About the Project:

The word inflorescence refers to the pattern and process in which a flower takes shape. There is a growing movement in floral design away from rigidly imposed ideals, towards emphasizing nature’s role and the influence of seasonality, temporality, and imperfection. Similarly, we need to reassess the way we consume and value flowers — too often they’re relegated strictly to special occasions, but they can bring a bit of nature and temporary resilience to our daily lives. Flowers play vital ecological roles, and should be considered not extra, but essential. 

The global floral market has a huge ecological footprint, with flowers sometimes boarding planes more than once before reaching consumers, compared to the beautifully sustainable option of locally grown. Local designers and growers move mountains for these stems, and yet the environmental impact is nothing so drastic — things return to the earth not far from where they began, with minimal chemicals, primarily irrigated by rainwater. My paintings, created in conversation with these floral designers, attempt to convey what makes locally grown flowers special.

When I began planning the project, I had no idea what a tough season 2020 would be for local farms — from the supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic to the severe drought conditions brought on by climate change. Nearly all weddings and events have been canceled, drastically impacting the market for flowers. At a time when we’re all reconsidering our priorities, the case for a closer look at flowers has grown heavy with our collective grief, charged with questions of access, and vital for the future of our planet.

We celebrate flowers as important symbolic markers of happy occasions like weddings, births, achievements, as well as to mark the anniversaries of such — they are equally powerful as offerings of sympathy during sickness, hardship, and loss. As commonplace and abstracted as these traditions have become, the direct link to flowers’ cyclical environmental roles and vibrant impermanence is often glossed over. This year, when so much has been lost, we can’t take anything for granted as we rethink and rebuild and renew.

With this body of work, I especially want to blur the lines between fine art, design, and the creative work that goes into farming. I hope to present an optimistic look at the future of making local, sustainable, and creative choices for our lives and our shifting relationship to the natural world.

Additional Paintings:

These paintings grew out of site visits to some of the designers farms, my bouquet of the month subscription with Carolyn Snell, things picked up from the farmers’ market, as well as flowers grown in my own and friends’ gardens.

To purchase or with any questions and comments, please email me at [email protected]. All pieces are currently unframed. Prints of select pieces will be available soon in my Etsy shop.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.