Art is a harmony parallel with nature.
– Paul Cezanne
We finally invited friends over for dinner last weekend. I procrastinated on the invitation because it has been miserably cold and rainy here, and our very old, heatless home is more suited for enjoying summer evenings on the patio. Even so, we were determined to defeat the gloom outside and create our own warmth inside. Marshall prepared the makings of a crackling fire to keep our guests toasty. I cooked a sizzling winter stew in our red Dutch oven to warm their insides. But still, our home looked as though it had just woken up from a long winter’s nap.
The afternoon before the guests arrived, I stood in the dining room thinking – how can I change the energy in this room that feels as cold and gray as the rain streaming down the window panes? My weeks-long search for signs of spring had proven fruitless, with not one sighting of anything resembling the new season. It’s the middle of March for heaven’s sake – where are the pots of tulips?
Despite the downpour, I put on my raincoat and hat and headed to the grocery store one more time. Miraculously, huddled together under the market’s outdoor metal roof, dozens of burlap-wrapped pots sat shivering. Many of them held barely sprouted tulips with their petals still tightly closed as if to keep out the chill in the air. But then in an instant, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. I smiled and thought, life is filled with the tiniest moments of pleasure. I loaded my car with as many pots and bags of candles as I could carry and returned for several long-stemmed bouquets. Then I headed home.
In the dining room, I predictably arranged three pots of orange tulips mixed with cream colored candles to embellish the center of our funky old Mexican dining table splattered with decades of red, green and blue paint.
But what can I do with the remaining flowers to enliven the living room and family room? Then I remembered The Nature Lover’s Quotation Book I had been reading, which had fabulous quotes about the connection between nature and art. I decided to combine the two.
Nature Imitating Art
In our living room hangs a piece of art, Two Men Sitting at a Table, by Seymour Tubis, who was a student of French artist Georges Braque. On the black piano below the painting, I placed a French confit pot filled with luxurious long-stemmed pink tulips from the market. The shapes and colors of the pointed green leaves and brilliant pink tulips mimicked the curves and palette of the artwork. I stood back and smiled. Even the piano’s black and white keys and red temperament strip accented the painting above.
Art Imitating Nature
Our family room holds a mysterious painting called The Show by Italian artist Gigi Giotto. We purchased it in a tiny gallery in Milan several years ago. The pots of orange and apricot tulips warmed by the fire had opened just minutes before the doorbell rang. Our guests entered the room and immediately marveled at the effect of the color of the man’s coat and hat juxtaposed with the flowers, as well as the way the fat curved tube in the painting seemed to merge into the sensual shape of the horizontal tulip.
But the winning tableau of the evening was in the living room, where my favorite painting, Woman with Horse, by Russian artist Irina Korsakova hangs above a cluster of lace cap hydrangeas. The wide curve of the woman’s pale gray dress is matched by the crown of small white flowers in the rustic urn below. The harmony of the painting and flowers lit from above created a glow visible all the way from the dining room table.
Fairy Tale Magic
If Easter, Passover, or any occasion brings you together with friends and family this season, fill your table with candles and fresh spring flowers from your garden or market. To elaborate the celebration of spring, add some nature under or beside your favorite artwork to call attention to these creative combinations. If possible, choose flowers with similar shapes and colors that evoke harmony between nature and art.
A text message from our dinner guests the next day read, your home looked like a fairy tale. That’s what can happen when you combine nature, art and candlelight – pure enchantment. I think Cezanne would approve.
For the love of harmony,