“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
– William Morris
I’ve been inspired by William Morris’ work recently, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning/collecting visually with you, and the photo piece I made in response to everything I’ve been learning (hint: it involves florals and one of my beautiful friends ;)).
Famous for his intricate floral patterns, William Morris (1834-1896) was also a poet, author, political activist, and a prolific designer. The beginning of Industrialization and mass production made him feel like everything in the world was going to be ugly or boring sooner or later, which to him was the worst because he just wanted beauty everywhere – indoors and outside. So he fought back with art! And custom craftsmanship!
His designs were inspired by an idealized vision of medieval life and an appreciation for the natural world. Check out these pattern sketches… Honestly they are so beautiful it kind of blows my mind.
These designs would have been made into wallpapers, or tapestries for folks who thought the patterns were too wild to fill up a whole room.
He also designed stained glass windows, often a figure set against his signature patterns. These are in Darmstadt, Germany. Oh, he also wrote and illustrated a fantasy novel. Busy dude!
Inspired by Morris, I wanted to make a patterned background made of fresh greenery for a custom fine art maternity portrait.
But what to attach the greenery to? I ended up using a set of long sticks that I found at a craft store, and attaching them to a backdrop stand with gaffer tape so they would stand up.
All of the greenery sections were attached to the sticks with gaff tape as well – a fairly simple process, though it took some trial and error to figure out the pattern and which stems would look best where. Making the background took about 6 hours when all was said and done, plus some retouching in Photoshop afterwards.
You can check out a short making-of video here:
I spend so much time on the computer that it was really fun to have the chance to use my hands and make this little set/background.
And here’s the final image! Maybe you can see the Morris inspo in the swirling pattern created with the leaves. I’d love to try another piece like this sometime.
If you’re interested in your own custom portrait, get in touch with me here. Thanks for reading!
All images that are not my own were found via WikiMedia Commons.