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.


Life is filled with the tiniest moments of pleasure, like the first sight of pots filled with spring tulips.

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.

Predictable Centerpiece  

The combination of nature, candles and art can be enchanting.

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

Pink tulips with slender green leaves mimic the shapes and palette of Seymour Tubis' 'Two Men Sitting at a Table'.
Pink tulips with slender green leaves mimic the shapes and palette of Seymour Tubis's "Two Men Sitting at a Table".

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.

Even the black and white piano keys and red temperament strip accent the painting above.
Even the black and white piano keys and red temperament strip accent the painting above.

Art Imitating Nature

The shapes and colors in 'The Show' by Gigi Giotti harmonize with the orange and apricot tulips.
The shapes and colors in "The Show" by Gigi Giotti harmonize with the orange and apricot tulips.

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.

Exquisite Harmony

The curve of the dress in "Woman with Horse" by Irina Korsakova matches the delicate white flowers in the rustic urn.

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

The colors in Joe Rafael's "The Gossips" is reflected in the glass vase and bouquet of red tulips.

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,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 9 comments
  • Donna Buehler


  • Judith Jones, Boise, ID

    I felt like I was there! Flowers and lit candles saved the day. Your home glowed with coziness and showcased your art. I love your vignette of
    orange….yum. Good job, Linda….as always.


    Well that’s a Wow! Gorgeous. Also you say “predictably “ but not really. Your tabletop collection is stunning. So textured and interesting and a treat for the senses. NOT predictable!! (Did you get the pix and f my green tin lamps)?

  • Nancy

    OMG, this is an absolute home run! Just so beautiful and pleasing to the eye. I wish I had been one of your guests!

  • Cynthia Dah

    As always, love what you do.
    Like you, finally invited friends for dinner. St. Paddy’s Day!
    What to do, what to do. It has been sooo cold here in the NW and my favorite market usually has daffodils available. Not yet tho. Too cold. My goal was to lighten it up, Louise. Banish all thoughts of winter.
    Finally, found a few daffodils, not as many as I would have hoped. Also two bunches of rainbow alstroemeria. Found tulips but they never would have budge.
    All was well. They were here for 4.5hrs with a good hour drive home.
    This morning received msg they had a wonderful time.

    Spring arrives 1 day, 9 hours, 51 minute, 5 seconds.

  • Jody Serritella

    Hello Linda!
    I continue to learn your tricks of your trade! Tricks may not be the appropriate word but you sure do know how to make the magic happen!

    Your artwork is astounding, and the floral arrangements are spot on! Each vessel depicts the mood and adding the variation of vibrant orange tulips and crisp white flowers make each vinyet come alive as if to sing…spring has finally sprung!!
    Thank you for being a constant reminder to love our homes and things in it!
    Especially our furry animals that love to sing with us!
    All the best,
    Jody, Willy and GiGi (the Brussels griffons)
    Hugs and kisses to Tobi!!

  • Jennifer Duffy

    So Lovely and inviting, Linda. And the painting of our favorite lady!! I’ve never seen her so up close in any of your previous photos. The planting you arranged below her is perfectly spot on. Your “eye” is such a gift. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Kay

    Well to me, Linda, your home was a “ Bouquets to Art.” What an incredible gift to your guests – and to your “viewing audience”!!! Thank you for sharing your incredible talents!!
    🤗👍😘 K

  • Laura Mirelez

    You have a Beautiful home Linda, I love the Joe Rafael painting “The Gossips” is he a local artist I would love to see more of his paintings but cannot find him on the Internet.

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