Classic Flemish Floral Design

The inspiration for this video clip was a trip to the Portland Art Museum to view an exhibition of Old Masters paintings. While many of these paintings were created centuries ago, the style is still popular and is currently on-trend. You will love Leanne’s discussion of Flemish style as she creates an opulent floral arrangement using flowers and foliages from Enjoy!

Video Transcription 

Welcome to the Flower video library. I'm Leanne Kesler, Director of the Floral Design Institute. Today I want to share with you an autumn design in the Flemish style. The inspiration was a recent visit to the Portland Art Museum. Looking at all the wonderful floral still life's, often times painted way back the 15th, 16th, 17th century. But today, on trend and current again. 

When you have the opportunity Google Flemish old masters paintings, take a look and you'll notice that many of them are in the fire hues, perfect for autumn, rich reds, oranges. So I went online to, where you can shop by color, and chose my materials that way. I got so many fabulous things to share with you. Kangaroo paw, chocolate phlox, roses, spray and regular, pomegranates, look at that aren't they grand? Some James story orchids, millet, amaranthus, agonis, scabiosa pods, one of my favorite things, montbretia pods. So many grand things. And then one of my favorites, bittersweet. That was in season and it's so perfect. It's so big though, take a look. I had to put it beside me so that it didn't even fit on the table. All of this, bits and pieces, in a fabulous Flemish design. 

One of my favorite containers, the cast iron urn, is perfect for Flemish design. Now if you've ever joined us in the large-scale class, you know I have this in a large scale as well. It truly is a grand container. Very heavy, but fabulous. It is not water tight, so we can't put the flowers directly in. And I want to elevate a bit to add a little more height. So using a six inch design tray with a little less than half a brick of foam anchored in and it fits perfectly on there, ready for designing. 

As I begin, I start with just a few base items, the helecho fern is beautiful and draping. Giving it a cut, extending it outward. And then repeating that line with a second piece, just stripping off the end, coming out to the side. Now in most of these Flemish style, oval is the form of choice. So then bringing in some of the agonis on the opposite side. Again, extending out in a long oval. Then a bit to the front, and a bit to the back. And I can come back with a little of the fern. Cutting it down a bit and letting it come upright, but still short, so it's a low oval design. This is perfect then for the bittersweet. Just giving it a cut and letting that come out trailing as well. 

The James story orchids with their rich burnt red fit this design so well. Giving it a cut and then letting it come out. Draping just a bit, coming out to the opposite side. Maybe even a bit to the front. But everything radiates to a central binding point and fills in, in that oval form, creating horizontal movement from side-to-side and then also front-to-back. 

With the form established, now I move onto the accent. The focal area of the design, which needs to be right in here. And that's where we'll put the heavier items. Now many still life's include produce, maybe berries, pomegranates. And the pomegranates are fabulous for this, the color matches and it drapes over anchoring it in well. And then letting it just hang down and repeating that, and letting it drape. Some are a little stronger, they don't drape as much, so they can come up more into the design. The mountain ash, also beautiful and so vibrant. Taking just a few of the berries, clipping it down and placing it towards the center. Again, so that it draws attention to the accent area. And then up into the center, filling in. This is where you can start adding roses, pods, anything you love to make the accent strong. 

The Flemish style is known for its lavish use of flowers. So many different textures, so much variation in form and hue. This is a perfect time to add amaranthus, millet, flocks, all your favorite things. Giving it a cut and inserting it in. As long as everything radiates to the binding point, you can get it to fit in nicely. Just don't cross stems, you'll run out of space if you start crossing. But if it's radiating in evenly, you can just feed it right down towards the center of the foam. Millet, letting it drape over. The chocolate flocks add such nice texture, just giving it a cut. It also brings the brown of the agonis up into the design. And then the kangaroo paw, are those amazing? They have such great texture. Picking up the red of the orchids as well as the red of the roses and introducing it out to the sides of the design. And lastly a few of the scabiosa pods. Again, getting that grand form and texture and tucking it into the design. 

When you look closely at the old paintings many times you'll find subtle imperfections that were intentional. So maybe a bug eaten leaf because mother nature is never perfect. So adding the little subtle imperfections, these ornamental blackberries are so grand. And then also focusing breaking the oval form by drawing attention to maybe a very important flower. So maybe taking a single orchid and letting it come up a little higher, outside of the oval form. Or a tiny bit more of the bittersweet and bringing that vibrant yellow up and across the top of the design. 

The Flemish style with the luxurious abundance of flowers. You can see when you have fabulous material to start with, it's easy to make a fabulous design. 

For more creative inspiration check out the website Flower The website contains hundreds of floral design how-to videos, floral design classes, online floral classes and DIY flowers. 

If you have questions you can reach me there or by telephone at (503) 223-8089. And I'd love to see what you create. Take a photo, send it to my personal email or better yet, post it on social media and tag #FloralDesignInstitute so we all can see. Now it's your turn. Have fun and do something you love.

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