|The Inspiration: ‘Pathway Through High Grass’ (detail), |
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Photo: The Art Archive/Alfredo Dagli Orti/Art Resource, NY.
Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ, Flower Styling by Lindsey Taylor,
Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart.
As much as I love a quaintly snowbound winter, I’m more than ready for Mother Nature to turn up the color dial—ready for spring’s fresh greens, for bulbs of blue and purple poking their heads up, followed by early white blossoms of star magnolias and the yellows of witch hazel and cornus mas. Don’t get me wrong: The thick cover of white that surrounds my house is lovely, but right now, it’s as if I am living in a blank gessoed canvas that’s waiting for its brush strokes.
I casually clustered eight vintage glass bottles, collected from flea markets over the years, to channel Renoir’s unlabored approach. An ode to spring needn’t feel large and important the way a sprawling, massed arrangement in a single, grander vase might. To me, spring is really about savoring fleeting moments—and the interplay of the bottles’ colors in the light captured that.
I chose daffodils, fritillaria, hyacinths, muscari and allium to parallel Renoir’s field of grass with its pops of white, periwinkle and purple. Chartreuse viburnum blossoms and blooming white spirea—its leaves echoing the bottles’ hues—brought the canvas’s yellows and greens to life.
For the final brush stroke, I added two bright-orange ranunculus to mimic the flowers in the painting’s foreground and match the parasol that frames the central wanderer. Fancy taking a stroll in this verdant landscape? I’m ready.