Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spring is in the Air

I love to express the Seasons in my creations. Spring is bursting all around us and at our local market I found these irresistible, colorful ranunculi. The airy bamboo basket adds to the gay, seasonal mood.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

EmptyEasel Featured Artist

I am very thrilled to announce that Dan at EmptyEasel has chosen me as this week’s featured artist. He wrote a very perceptive review of my work which he entitled Baiko's Ikebana Art. What pleases me most is that Dan didn’t know a thing about Ikebana prior to seeing my work. He is a very knowledgeable art critic and that is exactly how he approached my work. He looked without any pre-conceptions. He has made some very insightful remarks which I hope will help the art buying public appreciate the Art of Ikebana. This is my homage to the late Sofu Teshigahara, the founder of the Sogetsu School and modern Ikebana.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Small Milestone

We reached a small milestone last night: our 500th fan on Imagekind. By coincidence or design, it was artist/member Charles Ferrell who sent in this lovely comment: "Your creativity is inspiring!"
We think Charles is a very talented artist. There's an energy in his pencil drawings that sings out. We've posted one of his works here but to see more, please visit his on-line gallery.

Friday, February 15, 2008


In Sogetsu Ikebana, we often use unconventional material to make our creations. I love the form of this smashed up tennis racket I found at our village club. I spray-painted it jet black to make its form even starker. The camellias which are now in bloom in our garden provide just the right contrast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Meet The Mulberry Man

The Mulberry Man has led quite an interesting life. I created him in Tokyo while studying for my Sensei degree at the Sogetsu School. His appendages are made of mulberry branches and his head is a cocoon. At one point we had silk worms crawling all over our apartment. From Tokyo, Our Friend moved to France, then to Italy and back to France again. Now, thanks to the Internet, he resides in the blogosphere, too.

Order a print of The Mulbery Man

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Figuier de Barbarie

This Ikebana was inspired by the Figuier de Barbarie, a cactus which grows on the steep, rocky slopes that surround our village in the south of France.

Originally from Mexico, where they use it to make tequila, the Figuier de Barbarie grows well in the arid climates here, in Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and north Africa. It's prickly to work with but I love its wonderful, comical shapes. It has a yellowish- red fruit which is a local delicacy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Sogetsu School of Ikebana

The Sogetsu School of Ikebana shaped Baiko's artistic style. The most avant-garde of the Japanese Ikebana schools was started in 1927 as an answer to one man's intense desire to make Ikebana a vehicle for personal artistic expression. That man was the late Sofu Teshigahara (1900-1977), the first Iemoto, or grand master, of the Sogetsu School and he truly revolutionized the world of Japanese flower arranging.

Teshigahara considered Ikebana to be much more than flower arranging. He believed that Ikebana is Art. He said, "the spirit under which the Sogetsu School was born was to create Ikebana that matches actual life and to create something that deserves the name art." He feared that traditional Ikebana would die out unless it adapted to modern times. To survive, he said, "Ikebana has to be always fresh, vital and dynamic."

Here are some quotes from Teshigahara's diary, Kadensho, The Book of Flowers:

Ikebana is born from the encounter of nature and humans; it is the coming together of nature and human life....a clear example of perfect harmony between man and nature....

Ikebana can be done anywhere by anyone. There are no national or ethnic boundaries. Like flowing water or drifting clouds, Ikebana spreads throughout the world....

Just as musicians express themselves through the language of music, Ikebana artists must use the language of flowers....

Ikebana will fail if its ultimate goal is the imitation of nature---even if the imitation is more or less perfect. One cannot just take a piece of it and try to recreate it. One takes a piece of nature and adds something that was not there. This is what creation in Ikebana means.

In Ikebana, the flowers are imbued with a human meaning. They are no longer the flowers of the meadow or the flower shop...the result is an expression of the Ikebana artist.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ikebana and Photography

A few years ago a dear friend suggested that my wife Baiko and I team up to produce a website gallery to exhibit her art, known as Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. The result is Zen-Images. We invite you to take a look at our Ikebana galleries as well as a brief history of Ikebana and a short profile of Baiko.

An Ikebana creation is very transient like nature itself. While there are books by Japanese masters containing photographs of their work, no master has offered a collection of Ikebana works as fine art prints for wall decoration. We can because I am a professional photographer and nearly always available to capture and preserve the transience of Baiko's creations.

As both the camera lens and artificial light can distort a composition, I intentionally keep the photography as natural as possible to avoid imposing on the art. Baiko and I have learned to work together so that the essence of her artistic creations can be perfectly captured.

Sogetsu Ikebana by Baiko

Baiko is the Japanese name of artist Astrid Stadt, Ikebana master (Sensei) of the Sogetsu School of Japan. Baiko means plum blossom, a very revered flower in Japan. White to rose in color, the plum blossom appears in early February, a harbinger of spring. The Japanese admire it for its resilience against the cold of winter. Baiko is a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity. Astrid received the name Baiko when the Sogetsu School awarded her the title Sensei. All the prints of her creations are stamped with her Baiko seal.