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Bouquet Studies

For the past months, I have been sharing with you on Instagram the evolution of my Bouquet Studies Journal project. Unlike my Book of Flowers project, this one was unplanned and started spontaneously. One day, at the end of 2021, I used a sketchbook to create an inspirational board/botanical study for one of my collage floral bouquets. However, after this first board/study, I stopped creating them for a year for no specific reason. Fortunately, at the beginning of this year, I decided to resume the project, and the result was a journal with 46 studies and some extra exercises.

The goal of the studies was to create a visual diary of my process for planning the collages. Through them, I could think and register all the details I had to consider for creating my collage bouquets. These studies departed from an inspirational bouquet image and developed with the sketching of the bouquet, the identification of the flowers, the estimation of the number of floral paper pieces I would need to create, the definition of the color pallet, the choice of the background paper and the creation of the frame pattern, not necessarily in that order.

As a rule of thumb, I used a black gel pen to sketch the bouquets and to draw the frames around the images or the pages. Just a few times I also used colored gel pens and even lees brush pens for sketching. For coloring the bouquets, I opted for watercolor pencils or brush pens. The disposition of the elements throughout the spreads also varied.

After creating some studies, I became more interested in exploring only the shapes and colors of bouquets. So, I started to focus on searching for inspirational images that caught my attention by their color combo, overall shape, and mix of flowers and limited the study to just sketching the bouquet, designing the frame patterns, and defining the color pallet. The identification of the flowers and the process of thinking about the paper pieces took a backseat.

Another turning point on this journey was my participation in the Creative Elements Challenge from Laura Horn. I developed the challenge around the bouquet studies theme and explored different ways of creating color pallets, backgrounds, patterned frames, flower imagery, and composition. It was during this challenge that I also started to include some embellishment pieces as my paper rosettes and the doily frames, which, I must say, made the bouquet studies even more beautiful.

At some point, I also decided to create a catalog of frames and bouquets by putting together smaller versions of the inspirational images framed by different patterns. I did that just for half of the bouquets, but I intended to create a second catalog for the remaining ones, which I didn't because I forgot to set aside some pages to do that. Still, the catalog turned out very useful as I was constantly coming back to it to check if I had already used a frame pattern or not.

Later on, influenced by the Sketches on Scraps course from Wendy Brigthbill, I started to create monochromatic studies. I always liked to play with linework, so this was a perfect opportunity to exercise it. I loved the simplicity of these studies, with just the images side-by-side with the sketches. No color palette or annotations. A simple exercise to put into practice my ability to create intricated line-worked floral bouquets.

Another exercise from the same course was to create colorful mixed-media sketches. As with the monochromatic studies, I focused on the combination of a reference image + patterned frame + sketching. This time, I took a chance to combine my linework with different ways of coloring the bouquets inspired by the techniques shared by Wendy. I added dark backgrounds and used acrylics and pastels for coloring, and the result was vibrant and expressive bouquets.

As this was an experimental project, many of the studies were created out of order. I started with my 10th bouquet and went back and forth, sometimes mistakenly changing the bouquet order. I confess this has bothered me at the beginning, but it also helped me to let go of my obsession with orderly sequences for a bit. Now that the journal is finished I decided to catalog them in an ordered sequence that you can find here. It feels good to see how things have evolved and changed throughout this project. I also registered that in a flip-through video of the entire journal.

Finally, if you are still curious about my process of creating these studies, you can find two videos on my channel where I share my process. Looking back, I wish I had made more of them. But as many of the bouquets were sketched while watching TV, I missed the opportunity to create more videos. I promise to take this into account when working on my Bouquet Studies II (ops, spoiler!).

So now, I'm dying to know what you think about this project. Do you prefer to work on more structured or more spontaneous projects? What parts of the studies did you find most interesting? How much do you think this project is similar to a 100-day project? I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments.

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