It is through the gift of Christ that we receive every blessing. . . . Every flower, with its delicate tints and fragrance, is given for our enjoyment through that one Gift.—Ministry of Healing, P. 424.
"The beauties in nature are a theme for contemplation. In studying the natural loveliness surrounding us, the mind is carried up through nature to the Author of all that is lovely."—Testimonies, Vol. III, p. 377.
It is the use of flowers in the church service of which we would now speak, a use that is not so well established. That there is a place for flowers in the church service has been sufficiently demonstrated to make the subject worth considering. The ministry of flowers in the house of God may be made one of real blessing, as flowers fit appropriately into the sacred setting of holy worship.
A few principles in flower arrangement may be in place for those who would make the most of this service. Obviously our suggestions must be rather general and brief, for space will not permit entering into detail on a subject that already fills a number of good-sized books. While flowers are beautiful enough in themselves to be attractive, it is possible by their arrangement to enhance their attractiveness or do much to spoil their appeal.
Crowding a mass of bloom into any sort of container that will hold water is one thing. Choosing a suitable container and carefully arranging flowers to make each individual blossom fill its place is another. The effect you get from one is quite different from the other. Flowers are beautiful enough to make appeal to some people no matter how they are jumbled together. But people's tastes differ.
In a church or at a camp meeting where flowers may be offered in quantities, the effect may be one of too much diversity in arrangement. Different sizes and kinds of containers, various types of flowers, mixtures of colors, hit-and-miss placement of bouquets—all this may tend to an effect that is not pleasing as a whole. It would be better for one person to have the responsibility of the flowers, with the right or privilege of rearranging them if he so desires. Select someone with tact as well as taste, so as not to offend any who might bring a bouquet that needs rearranging. The effect as a whole for the benefit of the service itself should be the objective.
Probably of first importance in flower arrangement is the proper use of color—not the mixing of colors, as in painting, but of combining colors as we find them in flowers. Colors can be harmonized and made to appeal to the eye and mind even as musical notes can be harmonized and made to appeal to the ear and mind. Colors can also jar the eye and mind, even as musical notes can jangle the ear and mind.
Strictly used, the word "color" applies to the standard spectrum colors : red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. These are the colors found in light. They are seen when light is broken up, as by the glass prism. The rainbow is a good example of the spectrum-band colors in the order mentioned. The sunlight contains all the colors and is spoken of as white light. Black is the absence of all light and all color.
In between the white light and black runs all the range of hues, shades, tints, and tones regarded as color values. The pure colors, or hues, of the spectrum band are of highest purity. Add white to a color, and you have a higher value tint. Pink is an addition of white to red. Add black to red, and you have a lower value of red, or shade, as maroon. We could speak of pink as a pale value of red, and maroon as a dark value of red. So it is with other colors, varying tints and shades of certain hues create different values, all of which have their consideration in flower arrangement.
Some flowers are of a single hue but in varying tints or shades, as, for example, the beautiful Johanna Hill rose. Some flowers present many different colors in themselves, but all related, as in the Talisman rose, which combines rust, yellow, gold, brown, and red. This rose provides appeal because all its colors are close to one another.
The principle of using colors, shades, and tints closely related in the spectrum band may generally be safely followed in arranging flowers. An exception occurs in red. On the one side of red we have orange and yellow. On the other side we have crimson and magenta. Both sides are analogous to red, but they do not go well together. Salmon from the red-yellow side cannot be used with colors on the red-magenta side.
The use of complementary contrast in colors is of high value in flower arrangement. A glance at nature's use of complementary contrast is a good guide. This is seen in the now quite common gladiolus, in irises, in orchids, and in many other flowers. The pansy is a good example of this, as well as of the fact that yellow is an excellent harmonizing color. While the pansy runs nearly all the colors of the rainbow, it makeA free use of yellow to harmonize them, a good note to follow in arranging flowers.
In the complementary contrasts we have good examples in yellow and lavender, yellow and purple, red and white, red and blue, orange and blue or purple, and so on. Such contrasts can be used either close together or separately. However, different colors give much better• effect when grouped rather than "spotted" in. A few purple iris in a lower corner and jonquils at the opposite corner tip will look better than if all were mixed together. Both are thus given their own identity and their complementary color values are enhanced.
Colors have certain values in their appeal to our emotions or our mental reactions. Long experience has associated blue with the distant sky or the deep sea. Blue gives us a sense of distance. We may speak of it as a receding color. It is a cool color, good for a bouquet on a hot day. On the other hand, red is an advancing color, coming right at you, as it were. It is a warm color and gives the impression of heat—not so good for a hot day. It is a popular color, being used in almost every national flag, perhaps because it speaks of ardor and patriotism. Green is a restful color. Nature makes such liberal use of it that we are used to seeing it in plenty and never tiring of it. White is a symbol of purity and innocence. It is associated with sacred things, and in a sense suggests divine power. Black is just the opposite, and has become the color of mourning.
In our next article we shall consider the use of various colors. We shall also take up the matter of containers and the make-up of flower arrangements.