Monday, November 8, 2010

A Creative Walk...

I live in a lovely place, directly west of the Teton Mountains, on the edge of the state of Wyoming, directly south of the Centennial Mountains of Montana, and east of the Sawtooth, and Lost River ranges. On a good day, I can have a vista of all of them, for sunrise, sunset, and rarely, the aurora borealis. Large, magnificent images inspire thoughts of creation on a grand scale. Whether looking at the Grand Teton from afar, or from the top of The Wall just above snowdrift lake, it is a marvelous mirror of the dynamics of formation and erosion.

On a particular day in the summer of 2010, I was compelled to witness dramatic vistas, one after the other, within a 24 hour period of time. We often see desert wildfires, or at least the smoke from them. But this particular day, with intense southwesterly winds, the sun setting in the west, and a massive buildup of exhaust from a lightning-caused fire on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory land, I tried to document the energy of the elements as they gathered in force, converging on the evening sky...

The bend of the grass and trees--wind in its fury, the fire-filled clouds, and the earth pushing the clouds of smoke up and away saturated the end of the day with run away energy.

Next morning, a strong thunderhead unleashed its fury, cleansing the sky, and challenged the sun for attention.

The sun, though obscured by the cloud, eventually won over the sky. All power comes from the sun, and the elements respond to its command.

In a primal pond, the same image is reflected, for all the bugs and larvae to ponder...

Even the simple surface of the canal exhibits the wrinkles of the wind, and the shadow of fire clouds.

Some of the most intriguing sights are underfoot--here a close-up of the dried pond earth reflects the image of greatness, with forms of mountain, plateau, and river--all in a space less than the half the size of my number 13.

No matter where we live, there are beauties bedecked in ripples and ridges. Sometimes just taking the time to peddle, paddle, and ponder inspires the creative flow of new ideas. I am blessed to have such a palate to paint from, the daily vistas, the drama of the elements, and the peace to calmly walk through them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Portland Rose Festival Grand Parade float design excursion

BYU IDAHO floral students and faculty get to play before the parade!

In June, for the past three years, BYU Idaho Floral Design students and faculty have travelled to Portland, Oregon, to help do the floral design work on floats for the Grand Floral Parade. It has been a great place to practice the training students receive, and we have been able to perform quite a service as specialized volunteers for the event. If there were no volunteers in Portland, there would be no parade. As it is, there is a small army of help that shows up. This year most of them were Mormon missionaries serving in the Portland Oregon area on a full-time 18 month or two year volunteer mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There were dozens who showed up to help glue, pin, paint, stick, cut...
There are many other loyal volunteers from the greater Portland community who likewise give time to help make the event beautiful.

One of the rules about the parade floats is that all surfaces must be covered with plant materials. This requires some pretty detailed and creative use of seeds, bark, leaves, fruits--in fact just about anything that has the right texture or color ends up on a float.

These volunteers are covering the letters and surface of a sign with seeds. This sign alone took hours to complete.

Volunteers are detailing these signs for a float supporting the local Hispanic community

¿ What do poppy seeds and popcorn have in common...

with dried pineapple...

and candied mango?

Can you see where they were used? Notice the belly covered with ground dried red peppers.

Many of the volunteer time is spent on scaffolds, here several missionaries are covering leaves.

Volunteers pin fir branch tips onto a foam base. You can see the square container caged and ready to accept flowers in the left center of the photo.

And here is the same float nearly complete.

The dragon is spectacular already,

but look how much a few flowers can add.

These boots are made for walking, but the rose parade calls for ROSES!

and then a little more of the patriotic mix of colors.

Many flowers are placed in water pics to help them last and stay securely on the float.

Here they will give an illusion of waves of water.

This one is almost ready for the judges.

Every stem that is inserted in a cage on a float has to be glued in place, as well as inserted in floral foam. No that is not honey!

Here we are after days of work, we take a quick walk before the parade begins, after the floats have been driven a few miles over the freeway (we have to design for the wind), then we jump in the car and drive more than a dozen hours to get back home to Rexburg that night.

Thanks to the 2010 BYUI design crew, ready to head out.
We also send a team to the Pasadena Rose Parade to help with some of the much larger floats there. That will have to wait for another post...
...and, by the way, the floats we worked on won the top honors two years in a row!!!