Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ikebana in Desert

I started another blog for my ikebana study. Please check it.

Ikebana lessons 03/27/2009

(1) Yuko, kensan-nashi (without kensan): excellent work, it represents the Japanese famous landmark, Miyajima. Good job.

(2) Eileen, free style: large arrangement study.

(3) Linda, basic slanting nageire

(4) Momoe, No. 3 variation, slanting, moribana

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sogetsu Study Group Exhibit

(1) Sandy

(2) Eileen

(3) Kelly

(4) Ping

Ikebana lessons 03/20/2009

(1), (2): Sandy, No. 5 variations

(3): Yuko, free style

(4): Mei, No. 2 variation

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ikebana lessons 03/13/2009

(1) Momoe: Free style

(2), (3) Linda: Basic upright and slanting

Monday, March 9, 2009

On Heaven, Earth, and Human (天,地,人)

Three main stems exist in all major ikebana schools. They maybe named differently. In Sogetsu school, we call them "shin (真)", "soe (副)", and "hikae (控)". In Ikenobo school, they are called "shin", "soe", and "tai".

From time to time, people who studied ikebana from other schools may ask me that if I teach ikebana in a way to emphasize "heaven, earth, and human." They want to relate their ikebana practice in a more spiritual way. But in Sogetsu school, we never talked about the spiritual meaning. The founder of the Sogetsu, Sofu Teshigahara, advanced the ikebana from ritual, rigid practice to an art form. Even though "shin", "soe", and "hikae" from time to time can relate to "heaven, earth, and human", we never feel we have to. It only can limit our creativity to a formality. It won't add to our free expression.

But what is "heaven" and "earth" in ikebana? If the stem pointing to the sky represents "heaven", the stem pointing downward is "earth", I think "heaven" and "earth" in this way are too limited. Let's give them a more broad meaning.

"Heaven" is the sky, the freedom. In order to fully express "heaven" in our ikebana, we need to be free. This is aligned well with creativity and imagination. In other words, heavenly quality is about freedom, creativity, and imagination.

"Earth" is the ground, the disciplines and the rules. Without disciplines and rules, things will fall apart. "Heaven" and "earth" are indeed "Yin" and "Yang", they cannot exist alone. Sometimes when you see an arrangement, all you can say is "Oh, it's very creative." But in reality, it's groundless, messy, and pointless. Other times, you would say "Oh, it's cute." Everything is tight, compressed, and sometimes depressed. It's lack of breathing room. Both are too extreme. The first one has too much "heaven" quality. Without "earthy" rules, it doesn't work. The second one is the opposite. It has too much "earthy" quality, lack of freedom. We "human" are in the middle. Our job is to bring "heaven" and "earth" in perfect harmony. It's not an easy task, but that's what we keep studying for.

In summary:

Heaven and earth are not the branches pointing up or down.

Heaven is the creativity.

Earth is the discipline.

Human is the balance between heaven and earth.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Phoenix Art Museum Arts and Flowers

Woman/Man (Diane and Bill), oil on board, William Beckman (partial)

Ikebana: Calla Lily, Anthurium, ceramic containers by Ping Wei

Red and Blue, colored branch study

One of my neighbor's bushes died. So he dig it out and put it at the curb side for trash pick up the other day. I saved it from being thrown to the trash dump site, and made it into my ikebana.
When I was working with the branches I cut from the dead bush, Momoe, one of my ikebana students, suggested that I should spray paints on them, red and blue. Well, I did, and it turned out to be a rather good arrangement. I showed the arrangement to my neighbor. They were delighted that I made a piece of art work from their trash.

Ikebana lessons 03/07/2009

(1) Wei, shape of the container

(2) Yuko, to be viewed from above

(3), (4) Kelly, No. 6 variations

(5), (6) Sandy, No. 4 variations

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ikebana lessons 02/28/2009

(1) Elsa: free style ka-bu-wa-ke.

(2) Yuko: viewing from below.

(3) Sandy: No. 4, upright

(4) Kelly: No. 4, hanging

Ikebana lessons 02/27/2009

(1) Elsa: Horizontal arrangement. NZ flax leaves, eucalyptus seed pods, and lily.

(2) Wei: Color of the container. Dogwood, hanging amarantus.

(3) Linda: Basic slanting.

Advanced Ikebana Workshop

Theme: Dried, bleached, or colored materials

(1) Ping: my quick study; silver colored branches (unknown material) and oncidium.
This is a simple arrangement. I try not to mix colors, nor to mix dry and fresh materials. Instead, show the contrast of color and texture of the materials.

(2) Eileen: dried bush branch (unknown bush), bird of paradise and leaves. Well balanced arrangement. The up side down placement of the dried branch form the character of the arrangement. She broke (purposefully) one leave to accentuate the line and provide the depth of the arrangement (soe).

(3) Yuko: dried kiwi vine, NZ flax leave, and protea. This arrangement worked in the way of slight weaving of NZ flax leave, which form the loop coming out of the container. Pin-cushion protea were framed in the loop. Kiwi vine provided lines to accentuate the curve loop.

(4) Coni: mitsumata, protea, and eucalyptus seed pods. It's better not to place the dried materials in water, especially for mitsumata. (It will grow mold and turn the white branch into black if leave the mitsumata in water for a long time.) The movement of the arrangement is horizontal. Proteas are placed low to accommodate the movement direction.

(5) Elsa: colored party sticks, NZ flax leaves, and oncidium. It's a difficult arrangement. Sticks provide so many lines. The key is to confine them in the main direction. Here, oncidium also define the direction, which pull the sticks together in a magic way. Don't leave oncidiums scattered everywhere. Grouping them together is more effective.