When I look back over the endless amount of photos taken of the tables and floral decoration for my various homes, fruit or fruit mixed with flowers is a constant theme in decoration. As I perused the photos (of just the last few years – I could easily go back 35 years and find more examples) I started thinking about the source of my inspiration and loyalty for this classic duo, and know it came from my love of the 17th and 18th century Dutch Masters who created the glorious still life paintings that I have always loved.
Fruit was used by the Dutch as a sign of the shortness of life (vanitas.) It was also the perfect subject to display their extraordinary talent with the lifelike quality of the fruit and flowers, through their mastery of color, textures, light and shadow. Total realism when one looks at each object, but with the completed composition the painting becomes a tableau of fantasy that has always captivated me. The beautifully executed bunch of grapes where a butterfly sits, or the crazy insect that wanders across a luscious flower. My eyes wander through this magical world and get totally captivated as they travel through the painting.
I often use a fusion of fruit with flowers for a classic piece, but when certain varieties are not in bloom, you cannot beat an individual fruit arrangement. The ingredients are so accessible, even more so than flowers, and I usually just use my local grocery store – cherries, pineapple, oranges, apples, pears, grapes, berries all work well. To avoid any waste, we freeze the fruit once taken off display, and use later in smoothies.
Tips for fruit arrangement :
- If using a basket or bowl, stack crumpled tissue or craft paper underneath the fruit to build up the base, enabling you to need less fruit
- If using a platter, lay lemon leaves (or other greenery) underneath the fruit as it frames the fruit
- If you need the display to stay in place for a while, you could use floral clay, or attach the fruit with a glue gun (I do this at Christmas to crate topiaries, garlands, mantle decorations or wreaths of fruit)
I also use fruit on packages, gift wrapping, cookies, table settings…..and of course it as been a muse for my watercolor paintings – a far cry from my Dutch heroes, but I can only try!
Regardless of your style and mood: light and playful, or elegant and formal, the use of fruit alone or coupled with flowers works in every environment, modern, rustic traditional and in my classical world.
Just remember the new is built upon the shoulders of the old.
Stay tuned for Venice and Julian Fellows dinner – should have already posted them but have spent the last week digging up 3,500 dead boxwood and many other deceased plants who were victims of Hurricane Matthew – bah humbug or stronger words…..