That mysterious synergy between artists

Pokeweed and ferns set off those florist flowers.
When the creative process is working well between two people, there’s what a friend calls “flow.” Solutions seem to flow naturally into the openings created by problems.
Jennifer Jones makes smashing statement jewelry out of repurposed buttons, gems, earrings, brooches (and the occasional tiny hot sauce bottle). She spends most of her days arranging enamel flowers; who better than to help me arrange fresh ones for my kid’s wedding on Saturday?
Jennifer Jones, hard at work arranging baskets.
We chose the flower colors weeks ago (with the bride’s connivance, of course) and were quite smug about them. And they worked fine in the bouquets. But when we got to the flowers for the church, they were, frankly, boring.
Jennifer stood back, eyeballing her creation, and asked, “You got any pokeweed in your back garden?” The chances of someone deliberately leaving pokeweed in one of our highly-manicured, postage-stamp gardens are nil. But I’ve kept one for two years, ever since costume clothier Gail Kellogg Hope and I had a chat about its dyeing properties.
The florist flowers. Yes, that’s goldenrod in the back, and yes, I paid actual money for it (since it’s already passed here in WNY).
Pokeweed has flashy bright-pink stems, large lance-shaped leaves and grape-like clusters of dark purple berries. (Evidently it is used in folk medicine and food in some cultures, but since it also contains plant toxins, I steer clear of it as a food source.)
I went out with a flashlight and clipped several stems of pokeweed and a few ferns, which are now turning gold. The result was far better than anything I could have expected from the florist blooms alone.
My cousins run a fantastic flower shop called Flowerflower. They specialize in using native plants, but since they’re in Australia, that tends to run to crazy-looking banksias and other things suited to their topsy-turvy continent. Yet somehow the pokeweed seems just as exotic, even though it’s as common as dirt in American farmyards.
The final count—27 vases, two baskets, seven bouquets, four corsages, 11 boutonnieres. Oh, and there will be no painting class on Saturday! 

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!
Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.