Tuesday, January 29, 2013

back from Australia


I wish I knew how the world works. Everything from big things like getting a day back by crossing the international date line, down to small things like why suddenly one day my dog becomes a farting dog, where as before she was just so freaking perfect. Those of you who know me know how hard it is for me to say that on the internet.


I can't say I'm really all that interested in traveling, though I seem to do it a bit... I love to be at home in my thermal underwear looking out the window and thinking about ... myself I guess. But a good adventure makes for better perspective - something those of us in this issolating business often need more of. I have a girl named Ruby to thank for it all. She gave me this book on Australian wild flowers and set the ball rolling on this whole crazy trip.


I never thought I'd go to Australia. There was a point in my life, after a particularly bad bought with anxiety and an unfortunate Ambien mishap on a flight to Tokyo that I vowed to never fly again. Concern for my carbon footprint was a clever foil for my fear. My trouble with airplanes is that you can't get off them when you want to. So on the way to Australia we stopped over in LA for a few days. Luxury problems.


I like LA a lot now, where as before I hated it like a good New Yorker would. At the bar in our hotel we sat next to a hollywood exec ... "I've just been communicating with Keanu..." he hammered into his phone.


In Sydney a few days later Nicolette and I hit the ground running, meeting some of Sydney's best florists, gathering supplies, visiting flower farms, getting a grasp on the Australian flower trade in general. What a whirlwind! We ran ourselves a little ragged those first few days. Maybe thats just the way we like to work I guess, the hustle. Fortunately for us every single person we encountered - everyone we asked for help or advise - was more than kind, patient and generous.


And I hope that in return we gave our beautiful Australian students something useful. Some flower knowledge they craved, some fun, or some encouragement. Everywhere we go we meet so many students who are looking to break out on their own... start their own floral design business, open their first shop. I want to tell them all to jump in! Say to them - You only live once! You can do it! It is of course more complicated than that. Because we're not just talking about playing with flowers, we're talking about livelihoods.

with student

But when you do it, it's hard to imagine a better life. I feel pretty grateful that this flower thing has worked out for me, and for Nicolette. I feel lucky that we live in a community of great designers here in Brooklyn; all feeding from one another, inspiring one another. And humbled to have the opportunity to travel around the world to impart some of what I've learned along the way. I can't say that teaching is something that has come naturally to me, but I can say that seeing others succeed, witnessing that excitement is the most gratifying thing ever.


I need to shut this down before I get more sappy. I must be tired. To all my new Australian friends, I miss you. At night - freezing and huddled under the covers - I watch your sunny, tropical mornings unfold on instagram.

To all the students we met, I encourage you to reach out with any other questions you have via email: sarah[at]saipua.com

A full debriefing on our travels is coming soon on the Little Flower School blog, and Nicolette and I will see you back in Australia next year I sincerely hope!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Hello, it's Asheley.
Most of you know, Sarah has been away awhile in Australia and we miss her.

Winter is here, it's grey in Red Hook and everything's washed out, dusky from the clouds overhead. I remember going to bed as a kid, lying awake in the dark, and realizing that light makes color.

I think I know how color works, at least partly. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

The theory of color, according to me, is this: the color you see in an object, is the color reflected back at you, which means that the one color you see, is the one color that object is not. A green marble, for example, is absorbing all of the colors possible except green.

White absorbs nothing; it shoots all of the colors back at you. Black absorbs everything; it's an abyss.

All of this blows my mind. Is there a way to see light bending color? Is that what's happening?

I like all colors, but I'm particular about what feels right together, and in what proportions. It's wonderful how personal this is, and how we can feel emotional about a certain palate. Swatches don't do it for me. Better to pick things that embody a color and a feeling. For example, with black, brown, and blue, I see black stone sanded down, the underside of a leather belt, and velvet blue curtains drawn open in a school auditorium.

Back to the theory - what about color abstracted on a screen, like in film? Does light bend the pixels? My understanding is unraveling a little.

There's a short film called Kitchen by Alice Winocour (2005), about a woman afraid of killing lobsters for dinner. Elina Löwensohn plays the woman. Her dark hair and pale skin are so beautiful onscreen. It makes me want to cut my hair and dye it black. 

The plane of colors in the film - white, cream, black, and grey - is perfectly drab and quiet. Especially in contrast to when the lobsters flop and show the orange of their underbellies. 

You can see the film here. And the following are sources I'm about to read to check my memory on color, and how we see it: from Pantone; from Ted; and from The Department of Computer Science at Brown.

Friday, January 18, 2013

And don't forget to devour your flower.

While Sarah is out traversing the wild Down Under,  I have had a bit more time on my hands.  I have since tried my hand at a singing career - in my basement - I didn't want to cause anyone bodily harm so I felt it was best to buffer that audition under at least one floor of wood and brick, but after the neighbor stopped by to see if the screeching could come to a hault I figured I should stick to what I'm good at and leave the singing career for my fellow associate in crime - Asheley.  If you haven't already guessed Deanna is reporting here. 

Ever since I was a wee lass I have been obsessed with film, I once traveled very far away to garner myself a newly fandangled master's in film theory, and since then I have made it a life goal to keep up with the obsession through shhhhhh.... a secret blog no one knows of.  SO here lies my big break.

Jodorowsky... Alejandro Jodorowsky.  The first film I ever saw by Alejandro was Fando y Lis (1968).
The film made me a little uncomfortable in my own skin, i felt dizzied, abandoned, loved, and cast away, by the end I had cried a few times over.  It was then that I discovered the gravity of surrealism, because for me this work caused a schizophrenic fissure.  I felt so many different emotions that they seemed to topple over one another, I could barely recognize when one feeling had fled and the next had developed and nourished itself.  The opening scene to the film shows Lis lying on her bed, garden rose in hand as she begins to nibble on the specimen, in the background explosions and sirens can be heard yet she's seems completely unaffected by such noises, she just continues devouring the flower till the very last bite.

Jodorowsky's film is based on a play of the same name by Fernando Arrabal, and if I could sum up the plot... The war of all wars has taken place leaving the stragglers behind to find solace in an apocalyptic wasteland filled with rubble, crumbling structures, bourgeois partygoers, prostitutes, transvestites, vagrants, mud people, and memories of the past - all of which Fando and Lis encounter.  Fando is impotent and Lis is a parapalegic, and in this wasteland Fando pushes Lis around on a cart complete with a giant gramophone, yet he frequently finds himself tempted to leave her.  In several scenes he does exactly this, leaving her to fend for herself as he indulges the characters they meet along the way, only to realize that the influences of the terrain - the disrobing prostitutes, the naked mud people caressing themselves - may not even exist, leaving Lis as his only proof of truthful existence of which he continuously returns to.  They are searching for the great city of Tar, where people live in happiness and all dreams come true, but does this grand city even exist?  As the film progresses you begin to understand that Tar is a mythic city, a city that exists if you want it to exist, a place that you will find if you want to find it.

During their journey Lis is reminded of her childhood, a specific moment in time where she was abused, in this moment of recalled memory a child sits still under a table holding a single garden rose, similar to the one Lis consumes in the beginning.  This rose is her innocence, and I believe Jodorowsky included this rose to symbolically impart that her innocence was devoured.

Fando becomes increasingly frustrated having to cart Lis around in search of something they can't seem to find. Though he states several times that he loves Lis, and fantasizes about their future life in the city of Tar, he begins to treat Lis with less respect, eventually causing her much anxiety.  Fando wants to believe so fervently that Tar will appear that he imagines flowers growing throughout the terrain, the flowers are the prospect of life and beauty.  For a moment they seem happy, but as he asks Lis to look at all the flowers she doesn't catch on quick enough, she doesn't see them, and he can't stand that she doesn't see them the way he does.

Fando's frustration explodes as he grabs Lis by the feet and drags her down a rocky path, the rubble scrapes her back and while she wails and moans, he screams at her for not seeing the flowers.  Regardless of her many attempts to prove that she can see all the flowers, he knows she never saw them from the beginning.  This marks a pivotal change for Fando in the film, showing just how nasty he can be both concerning his own personal turmoil being stuck with Lis, and the search for an imaginary land of fruitfulness that doesn't seem to present itself, no matter how far they travel.

I don't like spoiling an ending so I can only hope that I have provided enough fuel and intrigue for your own personal viewing.  I will however forewarn that this film is not for everyone, it is a challenge, it is a masterpiece in its own, and it might conjure some feelings of illness, remorse, loss, abandonment, frustration, an abounding imagination and the quest for some place greater than ourselves - A place such as Tar.  A place to come home to that makes all the worry and concern melt away.  When I think of all that one could possibly encounter in life, I take a moment to lay down in contemplation and devour the flower.  Except my flower is a hellebore.

Mucho Respeto,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

no regrets, coyote.


Culled up my favorite images from 2012. What a weird long dragged out flowery farm far flung sort of year. I'm in LA with the professor. It's 9am, time to suit up and go teach a class. Tomorrow we go to Australia.




hellebore composition





























allium garden














miss you, mookie.