Seasonal Wreaths…

Seasonal Wreaths…circles, imperfect, yes! Shapes and form are basic and elemental. And often set the stage in good design. Wreaths add personality, even create  or convey meaning and mood. I enjoy making wreaths, especially with natural materials I’ve collected or grown myself.  Since we grow a type of grapes called muscadines- my wreaths usually start with a grapevine base. I’ve been known to wind up muscadine vines, leaves and all- left plain? I enjoy it just like that!

I’ve used pale green hydrangeas grown here- I’ll admit those were my pride and joy the first year they bloomed. I love the cotton wreath because the cotton came from a special garden established to honor Alabama native George Washington Carver. A former slave who taught farmers how to enrich soil depleted by cotton growth by alternating growing peanuts! And, yes he’s probably the Father of Peanut Butter and more! For sure, he was a pioneer in adding nitrogen back to poor soil. And his work was done at the famous Tuskegee Institute in part funded by Henry Ford himself.

I had a bumper crop of Oregano- the scent when wound up into a wreath is amazing- fresh or dried. Herbs make wonderful additions to wreaths. As wreaths dry, you never know the form or color they’ll take on. Pale papery blooms take on a beautiful hue. Magnolia leaves are stunning any time of year, especially during holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond.

I made a wreath recently with ‘past their prime’ cuttings of hydrangeas, somehow it pleases me through the beauty of imperfections which will soften and become even more beautiful, I hope.

Shapes often have symbolic meanings. Take circles- there’s no beginning or end. Wreaths are timeless, seasonal- the shape and form feels complete, unified. Circular curves suggest softness and movement, especially when combined with the sharp edges of other forms. Like a door maybe?

Shape and form are basic, necessary elements of design- perfect or not, preferably not. Don’t wait until a wreath or anything else, for that matter, is perfect– just get started. Use Shapes and Forms in your designs. You’ll be glad you did!

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s that Magnolia Wreath- one of my all time favorites!

Add Mood with Nostalgia…

There may be nothing quite like roses and soft autumn leaves that brings forth sweet nostalgia for me… Roses past their prime or pink tinged rosebuds that are still full of promise. And I tend to prefer the softer side of Fall with the pink and red leaves.  A basket full of roses cut from my own, set by our picket fence are precious to me because I know they’ll soon be gone. Then as they wilt and dry, the soft scent is a reminder of a good season of blooms.

Old roses tend to be destined to be pressed or dried- held within the pages of a well loved book. I found an image of beautiful autumn leaves….there may be no more nostalgic image you could offer than a carpet of fallen leaves. Still. A wedding bouquet and the memories of a romantic getaway. We want to keep them all gathered in our imagination.

Mood. One of the most effective design tools we have. To create responses from our life’s imagination of simpler sweeter times. Sweethearts, proms, weddings… Nostalgic mood enriches emotional appeal- a sense of safety, security- of meaning and of times we felt loved and part of an affectionate community. To bring forth the ‘then and now’ – recreates pleasant moods.

In design, Mood is best used to stimulate good emotions. Recollections of sweet scents and exquisite events- puts us in a positive frame of mind. As a marketing tool- make the customer feel good, make them feel a stronger connection to your brand- form closer relationships to you through kindness, sentimental and pleasurable emotions. Folks are drawn to a more personal shopping experience these days. You might say- marketing and branding has joined the ‘slow food’ and ‘slow clothing’ movements, with thoughtful production of resources.

Good marketing sets aside the ‘overwhelm’- the tyranny of urgent demands on our time. Take your readers, your customers on a sentimental journey. Give them kindness, beauty and positive nostalgic mood. They’ll love you for it.

What better way to flourish and grow, than with a nostalgic sentimental mood? Creating Mood is a Design Principle you’ll want to employ over and over again.

Love y’all, Brenda

Greens…

Greens, the freshness of them, all year round. In spring, I have to admit the tender leaves are such a relief. The first spinach salad with nothing but a simple vinaigrette, perhaps some slivers of onion and lots of bacon are a wonderful treat! We enjoy broccoli all year round yet, I do love it when we’ve grown our own! When grapes are in season, they are plumper and better than the rest of the year- and go with almost anything.

Green… eating green, is a healthy thing to do. When my children were small, I would say- ‘Eat your green vegetables- they have B vitamins, the Beauty vitamins!’  It must have worked because they are beautiful healthy ladies who truly love their vegetables, green or not. If I have a fresh cabbage, I cut it in thick slices and use it as a ‘nest’ for meatloaf or stuffed green peppers- it’s double whammy of deliciousness!

Collards are a favorite in the Deep South. I took some tender leaves, smeared on a cheddar, blue cheese/ pecan mixture; rolled them up. On a grazing board they were amazing- no cooking required. For the recipe- it’s called Camellia’s Bleu Pig A similar thing could be done with kale or chard- which is so beautiful.

A staple green vegetable  here, is the ever present Celery. Take a look at them- filled with a soft cheese mixture- then three stalks are pressed together Tied into bundles and chilled, it’s another addition to a charcuterie board. When sliced, they turn into Camellia’s Celery Blossoms  It’s amazing what a bit of crunch can do, look how pretty and fresh these simple blossoms are!

So? Why all the green? Well, I’ve just sown some salad green seeds, we have time for another round as we head into Autumn, and it’s always good to have easy nibbles on hand.

Then! there’s that Color I love talking about! Color is one of my 9 Principles of Design.  Green comes in so many shades and plays well with others…look at how pretty green is with dark burgundy salad leaves! For every color, there’s a corresponding Green that will add a bit of freshness to anything- your Wardrobe, Online shop, your Photography Backgrounds and Backdrops, any of your Designs even your Blog or Social Media feeds!

Green always sends a message of life, growth, nature and freshness that no other color can quite pull off. I personally think green is a neutral. Just think green leaves or grass- everything goes with Green. It’s just  the color to add those Beauty Vitamins to  anything! Color as a Principle of Design- is an amazing tool!

Love y’all, Brenda

Abundance…

As much as I admire simple, curated space – there’s a case to be made for abundance. Let me ask a question first- which organ of the body uses the most energy, the Heart or the Brain? The brain uses a full 20% of the human body’s energy. Sight, sound, scent and taste – these senses originate in the brain, That’s why visual images are so important in design.

The same brain that loves order also enjoys abundance. Half full or mostly empty are generally unattractive. In any type of brand or campaign for products- balance is key. A product page needs to be simple and curated. A special display benefits from negative space. Your physical store, the cover of a catalog, a travelogue or business blog even newsletter are the perfect places for abundance. And don’t get me started on our homes and gardens.

Abundance -without looking cluttered, stuffy or just plain messy- which is universally unappealing. Where to use it? Abundance is a design principle and when selectively, the human eye finds it appealing. Abundance is that satisfying sensation we feel when we see a good harvest, a basketful in fact!

Set an abundant bowl of fruit on a simple table and it immediately becomes more attractive. Common food displayed in rustic basket or a bundle of garlic on burlap speaks abundance to the eye. A well stocked store is far more appealing than empty shelves.

In the landscape, abundance is what we enjoy seeing. An ornate bench is a type of abundance. Used in just the right setting or proportion is beautiful. Generous bouquets are always a welcome sight and tends to warm a simple space up. Green plants generously added to even the most curated space, have a calm, cooling effect in an overly sunny space. Fresh flowers and plants always add to the experience of a home or an event.

I’m convinced one reason grazing boards are so popular is we like a generous spread and selection of food.

Coco Chanel loved her many ropes ..and ropes of pearls- her simple designs were often set off with generous strands of pearls.

And isn’t that what we really want? Generosity? Without saying a word- abundance is generous, satisfying and ‘no worries there’s enough to go around’.

Yes, abundance as a design principle is amazing. You can do this! I know you can- finding the right balance is key -with a bit of practice you’ll find other folks will appreciate it too!

Love y’all, Brenda

Could we talk about Negative Space?

img_5640Could we talk about Negative Space? No, no, no- not that negative space of our mental states. Yet, that’s the point too- when we entered this time of lockdown and uncertainty- our minds were affected and overwhelmed. Still, I wondered – what will I do with this time to help others?  Those who are pursuing creative endeavors- product based or service based, yes even writing a blog. So, in an effort to put to use some of my experience in creative and conventional marketing. When I gave you Five Principles of Good Design–  The use of negative space Is hidden in three of those Design Principles-

  • Focal Point,
  • Light and Color,
  • Abundance and Restraint

Negative Space is a design principle, one so common that you’re apt to ignore it unless you’re looking for it. In fact, hidden in all 3 of those design principles is the use of Negative Space. Use it if you want your artwork, photograph or cupcake as the Focal Point. You actually use negative space- especially with Light and Color or lack thereof. And! Restraint might be the order of the day when Negative Space is employed!

Later, when I wrote a post forInstagram , the use of negative space was so apparent, I realized I had neglected a critical principle of good design. In fact, one photo in particular made me have that lightbulb moment. In collecting charming images of aging adults- some were in black and white- others were in color- to make the post flow as it should I had decided to convert all of them to black and white images. Here it is- see if you can detect negative space at work!img_5611

Yes, it’s the actual image of the lady herself! Not distracted by any other color, wording or clutter around her- she stood out in beautifully stark relief. Her image is the positive space. All around her is what is called negative space. And yes, it works with color also. Take this cupcake, if you’re a baker or food photographer- a tray of beautiful cupcakes cannot compare to a single cupcake pictured with the use of negative space.img_5623

After decades of working in product campaigns, on the selling floors of shops and stores and helping to reset the retail space- it was drilled into us that display space is highly prized real estate. What we put on those walls, in cases or counters hand how it was displayed made all the difference. The composition and balance created on those walls enhanced its appeal to shoppers.img_5614

You can expect these white blouses to be expensive, unique or that this is a new line carried by the retailer simply because of few blouses using up all of that valuable real estate! Think of a handbag display in a high end store– the wall has far fewer displayed than in a discount store, where everything is crammed in tight! High End Shoes are often displayed in this ‘set apart’ manner as well. The couture shoe is highlighted by the negative space around it. img_5626

The eye is able to rest precisely because of an often overlooked and basic design principle called Negative Space.

I wanted to talk to you about the use of negative space in your creative endeavors, one which will uplevel your products or services, make your space more notable and even appear more valuable. The grid of products on your Website or Instagram feed, for shoppers is much like a store front to display your array of products and services. And don’t think color can’t be used to great effect to expand what’s on your Virtual Wall – take a look at this beautiful one… the use of pink is the negative space, the eye rests and then sees the actual products!img_5616

Having to close a physical studio, workshop space or brick and mortar meant you had to up level your online presence with platforms like your website or Instagram (which is the favorite platform currently for inspiration and business.) Negative Space isn’t just an important tool- it’s now a critical design element, so that when anyone looked at your IG grid. With the use of Negative Space design, folks could see- not just a mass of beautiful images of your photographs, jewelry, garden, clothing or accessories designs, negative space highlights your designs and also gives the eye a chance to rest.  Overloaded minds aren’t just yours, the shoppers minds need to rest as well. Take a look at the difference between one image and another- see which one enables your eye to rest (both use negative space by the way)

If your grid is full of images, the eyeglasses will draw the eye far easier than the shoes and accessories image. The use of quotes on blank backgrounds – usually white, neutral  with black type is most effective. Even an image of a simple logo could be considered easy on the eye. img_5634

Use quotes or negative space images every 4-5 blocks also helps your grid – Breathe.  Another benefit of negative space! Closely comparted to the silence in a musical piece called Rest, even though in art, the use of negative space.

img_5503The point is, your customers or target audience, right now, is also as overwhelmed as you are! Regardless of what you’re selling- cleaning tools to soft leather bags even industrial equipment- the use of Negative Space is your insider tip! Try it, I think you’ll be amazed…

Love y’all, Brenda

* I’m going to show you two images- one is a Before I began to employ negative space in my grid on IG- the other is After… side effect was more followers! The first one is Before- the Second One simply adding negative space with the use of quotes-

 

1) Just a bunch of unrelated photographs- img_5628

 

2) Use of negative space-img_5629