In order to successfully arrange flowers that are to be judged in competition it is necessary to become acquainted with all the elements of good design, and the principles that bring these elements together since your adherence to these forms a good part of the judging schedule.
Elements of Design
The following are ingredients of a design, in the context of flower arranging:
This is often the first thing you might notice about a floral design. Ask yourself – Do the colours work together or do they seem unrelated? Unless you are very confident in your skills with colour harmony it is best to use either all pastels or all brights (i.e. colours with the same or similar intensity) as these groups are hard to mix together. Choose a harmonious mix of colours close together on the colour wheel such as red, orange and yellow or green, blue and purple. For a more powerful effect, chose opposing colors such as purple and orange. Studying a color wheel can help you experiment and better understand how colours work together.
This often involves the overall shape of the design. Usually, it is a three dimensional geometric form such as a sphere, pyramid or cube (square or rectangle). Consideration also needs to be given to the shapes of the individual blooms themselves; roses are round, irises are triangular, snapdragons are elongated triangles, and lilies are a circular arrangement of small triangles. A combination of different forms will create interest in your design. Individual flower forms can emphasize the form chosen for the overall design.
Natural material such as stems, branches and leaves have inherent linear features. These lines create the framework of the composition. A straight vertical placement provides a static and stable line, while a slanted or cascading placement creates a dynamic and moving line. It is important to pay close attention to the relationship between all of the composition’s linear elements. They must work together to produce the arranger’s desired effect. Careful pruning of unnecessary leaves and shoots helps to strengthen the line.
You might have heard of flowers being referred to as ‘Line Flowers’, ‘Mass Flowers’ or ‘Filler Flowers. If you are unsure of what is meant by this or would like more detail take a look at this link http://friscowakeland.ffanow.org/F/friscowakeland/Microsoft%20PowerPoint%20-%20Classification%20PPT.pdf
Space in a floral design is three dimensional, as opposed to a painting where it is two. The overall space within the design itself is usually divided between the areas filled with plant material and empty shapes created by linear elements; for example, the open space between the limbs of a branch. Negative and positive spaces are of equal importance in making the design interesting.
The diverse surface quality of each different material in a design creates textural interest. Juxtaposition of shiny and dull, rough and smooth, coarse and fine, regular and irregular material makes the arrangement exciting, evoking the tactile senses.
Principles of Design
The principles organize the elements. They are the recipe for a cohesive and successful design. These being:
Balance, both visually and physically, is a critical factor to the arrangement’s staying power. Physically it’s important because without this it will fall over! Balance can be achieved both symmetrically and asymmetrically. Imagine a vertical line through the center of the design. Are the two sides visually balanced? Does one side seem heavier or more important than the other? The same material need not be used on both sides but needs to be of equal importance. A larger negative space can balance a smaller filled space.
Visual excitement is created by differing materials placed together. Contrast can be achieved through colour, shape, size and texture. The play of these elements provides interest throughout the design.
A clear decision is made to make a certain material predominate in the design. It can be a special flower, texture or color. It may also be the illustrious “focal point.” It might be the form of the design itself or the spaces within. The special interest feature should be accented or supported by its subordinate elements. To create a well-designed whole, be careful that the special feature does not “over dominate” the rest of the design.
This is the relationship of size and quality between all materials in a design. Is the container a good size for the plant material? Is the finished arrangement in proportion to its surroundings? Are the materials in the arrangement proportional to each other?
Rhythm gives vitality and excitement to an arrangement. It is the path your eyes follow through the total design. Rhythm is movement through size gradation, repetition of colour or material and linear direction.
Scale is the size relationship of the smallest material to all other elements of the design. Too much diversity of size will affect the success of the design.