It didn’t take us (or Britney Spears, no biggie) too long to recognize the dreamy creative force behind Vicki and her daughter Brooke’s enchanting floral art which is made entirely from twigs, flower petals, plant leaves and branches. Allow us to introduce you to two masterfully skilled artisans whose drive-by-clippings and forest foraging remind us that inspiration is all around us.
How did you get your start creating flower art?
I’ve been a professional artist for over 35 years, most of that work was painting in some capacity. It’s only been the last year and a half I’ve been working with foliage as my medium. It was completely by accident that I started my journey with flowers, but looking back it makes perfect sense! Brooke and I had seen a couple of pieces of flower art on Instagram, and for some reason I told her I HAD to try it! We put the first finished piece on our Instagram feed and people started asking me to “make them”, so I started and haven’t been able to stop! I guess it fits, growing up with a mother who was a professional floral designer and photographer. I’m a hardcore master-gardener-wannabe too, having over an acre of land with not one blade of grass, it’s just one very large perennial garden. Everybody thinks I’m garden obsessed, but I tell them it’s no different than painting, it’s all about color, texture and composition! So I guess flower art was my next step, and meant to be!
Why do you create the characters you create, any theme behind the women you pick?
I think part of the reason I wanted to try flower art, was the challenge of creating a face. Starting out as an artist I did portraits, and for years I wasn’t really interested in anything else but portraits and life drawing. Women are fun to create from flowers because I get to recreate their hair, clothes, jewelry and sometimes their Halloween costume! Haha! I always want to convey a feeling or tell a story around the faces I make. You can see samples of that in the series of girls we’ve done like, Courage, Hope, Olive, Faith, etc… Frida Kahlo is my muse, and her story was something I wanted to celebrate. I can’t get her out of my system, and so for now I will keep creating her until I run blank!
Last Winter while creating holiday pieces I started really branching out into landscapes, and that led to some of our most favorite pieces like the swimsuits, pineapple, secret garden, etc. If I’m not challenging myself and forcing growth in my art everyday I’m not happy.
About how long does one piece of artwork take to create?
Oh wow, it’s different for every piece. I start by foraging for foliage outside, on foot and sometimes going by car to places I’ve seen while out. I always carry a bag and pair of scissors in my car, I call them “drive-by-clippings”! Ha! Living in the Midwest calls for flower shop runs sometimes too! Once I’m organized I sort everything out on a table, usually using a mix of old foliage I’ve kept as well as fresh flowers. I just did a face out of all my old dried flowers that took me maybe 45 minutes to do, but most often it’s much longer. Some pieces take a couple hours and others can take a couple days; I just have to refresh the flowers if they’ve faded. Once I have what I like, Brooke takes the professional photos and works her magic on cleaning up all the dirt and little ants or spiders crawling around in the pic we don’t want in our final print. She’s also my second set of eyes and best critic during the process.
Is your artwork permanently placed or can it be fixed for installation?
One of the things I love most about this art form is not using any type of glue or tape or anything that would adhere the foliage down permanently. Every piece is a very delicate balancing act, where all the foliage is literally just resting on another. I keep all the windows closed and try and NEVER sneeze when I’m working!! Sometimes total blowouts of parts of a face happen because I’ve dropped something while trying to place it and everything starts rolling all over. This is usually where a curse word or two slips!
I love that the work isn’t permanent. It’s just a moment in time and then recycled all back into mother nature. This is such a great exercise for an artist to have to let go. So different than painting where you keep analyzing your work over and over because it’s always there looking at you.
When creating your art, what particular flower types do you use, and which do you prefer?
We haven’t met a flower we didn’t like yet. Lately I’m loving Ranunculus, Peonies, and a piece never seems finished without Succulents. I like to have small flowers as fillers to work in with the larger ones, and don’t like anything too stiff looking so a Farmer’s Market feel is fun to work with.
Any considerations around creating your artwork we should know (lighting, outdoor vs. indoor, special materials)?
The best lighting for working as well as photographing is natural, and direct light would be the worst. I have made things outside many times, but for my art pieces I stay inside where there isn’t a breeze!! I use foam core boards for most of my backgrounds, a pair of scissors and tweezers.
What was it like having THEE pop princess, Britney Spears, become a fan of your work?
Having Britney Spears repost our “Beach Babe” flower face was kind of funny…in the most flattering way of course. We were like “whaaaaat?!” I think our friends freaked more than we did. Needless to say it was super cool and we’re still not sure how she found us, but hey, we’re happy she did!
What inspires you?
Nature is our inspiration in almost everything Brooke and I do daily. From all the artists we choose to work with to the art we choose to create. The reason we love working with flower art so much is how it keeps us feeling connected to the earth. It’s sustainable, eco-friendly, and for me, truly therapeutic and has changed my life.
Please tell us a little bit more about how you curate your online boutique and how you got around to doing home goods.
We started the online shop as a way to make Vicki’s artwork available. At the time it was her watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings that we launched with. We always had plans/hopes to expand the shop into a boutique full of other independent artists’ goods, and a few months after first opening, we added a small selection of handcrafted jewelry and accessories. Home goods from both global and domestic artisans was a natural step forward. We like to incorporate things into the shop that we like to decorate our own homes (and ourselves) with. We love how one of Vicki’s flower prints and a Kilim pillow work together (and fit the same customer), for example.
For more information, visit Sister Golden’s online boutique featuring one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces for your home.