In The Artful Garden, James Van Sweden writes about utilizing a “broader aesthetic world” and the inspiration of fine art when designing a landscape. He specifically references the gorgeous 1973 Helen Frankenthaler painting, “Nature Abhors a Vacuum”. What resonates with him instantly about the painting are the rich shades of color, very evocative of the russet and gold tones of his firm’s “meadow inspired landscapes”.
Van Sweden talks about loving the energy of the painting, the sweeps of color masses, and the subtle overlapping and intermingling of tone. For him there is the feeling of “controlled sensuality and passion”, identical to what he aims for in his own designs.
Darrel Morrison, my professor at Columbia, also advocates using art as inspiration for planting design. He uses music as well as painting. One evening in class he played Paul Winter’s, Canyon and using pastels on a large sheet of paper, responded with color and mark-making to the ebb and flow of the music.
The idea of a flow between the arts, a give and take of dialogue in mediums is nothing new. Choreographers collaborate with composers, poetry inspires image making – a novel becomes a movie, and a movie inspires a play. So often I am in such a rush to think about plants, I forget to utilize everything available to me when approaching a space. I forget to keep in touch with a broader aesthetic world.