Every June, the de Young Museum in San Francisco curates a show called Bouquets to Art. It features nearly 100 floral artists chosen to pair their fresh bouquets alongside artwork throughout the museum. Some arrangements are direct interpretations, others are complementary and some choose to bring attention to a single element in the art. It has become an annual pilgrimage for me – a way to appreciate the artistic medium of flowers and gain a fresh perspective year after year of the same piece of art. I leave with eyes that feel refreshed and my soul fed by a feast of new perspectives.
Three examples of bouquets paired with the same painting from different years.
This year featured some new fun pairings.
I can’t wait to see what next year will reveal.
After leaving the exhibit, I had the urge to challenge my inner critic, the one that tells me I’m a terrible artist. The one that reminds me I can’t draw anything beyond stick figures and a wonky-looking flower, so don’t even try. I opted to ignore those thoughts and invited a dear friend to join me for a drink-wine-while-you-paint event.
We showed up at Pinot’s Palette, on a Saturday afternoon ready to paint an alternate version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night called Starry Night Lake View. Our instructor, Ben, welcomed us enthusiastically and proceeded to issue a few rules while wearing the Infinity Stone glove from the Avengers. His sense of humor and air of lightness helped dial down my anxiety about not being a perfect artist.
His first rule was to cover up our clothing because we were guaranteed to get paint on us. I donned the smock and thought how messy could this be? A few minutes later, I was wiping paint off my elbow . . .
The second rule was to ask for help, something I’m not terribly good at. So, throughout the class, I asked for more paint. I asked for clarification when I fell behind. I even asked him why my trees looked anemic (let go and be bold, he advised). It got easier with each “ask” and I learned a lot more as a result.
It was the last rule that had me in an angsty, uncomfortable space. “Let go of perfection,” he declared. “And enjoy the next two hours.”
Let go of perfection? Did he know who he was talking to? Yet, alongside my friend, I sat and asked my inner artist to show up and help me explore.
When it was time for paint brushes down, Ben came over and asked, “Are you 75% okay with your painting? If so, you’re done!”
And I was.
I’d overcome my fears and just let go. I had a ton of fun, and lots of laughs, and now have a painting that reminds me I can be an artist if I just get out of my way and let go of perfection.