WSJ, June 27, 2014
I wanted June's arrangement to have a cooling effect—to mentally prepare me for the oppressive summer heat to come.
Searching for inspiration, I recalled a favorite series of paintings done by French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) while he was in North Africa in 1912 and 1913. Matisse traveled to Tangier, Morocco, where he worked mostly from his hotel room. The resulting paintings are a departure from the heretically vivid ones he'd produced as a leader of the Fauvist movement: Thin washes of soothing blue pigment show the texture of the canvas and capture the haziness of the desert light.
For my vessel, I selected a tall handmade piece as upright as Zorah with an organic, gesso-like patina. To reference the painting's shades of blue, I went with the breezy, but still majestic, perennial blossoms of delphinium, cutting the stems at different heights and arranging them loosely to echo the painting's naive, anti-formal quality. For a little playfulness, I chose two red tulips, not yet open, and placed them off to one side of the bouquet, to stand in for the slippers Zorah removed before assuming her kneeling pose.