Earth Laughs In Flowers | Skillshare Projects

Kate Murphy

In constant search for things that inspire.



Earth Laughs In Flowers

I'm an art consultant and writer living in Brooklyn. My love for art and drawing started as a kid. While studying Art History in college, I took as many art courses as my schedule would allow. Drawing continues to be a passion. And after some encouragement from friends and family - who I hope are not just being nice - I decided to take it more seriously.

I am always thinking of ways to make my drawings more interesting and unique. The art of hand lettering is something that I find very beautiful and expressive. Incorporating hand lettering into my drawing practice will provide more opportunities for creative expresssion.

I first read the quote "The Earth Laughs in Flowers" by Ralph Waldo Emerson on a mug that I picked out of grandparent's cupboard when I was staying with them as a teenager. And now, I have a baby niece who literally laughs at flowers. The quote is very meaningful to me and seemed perfect for the project.

Word List

The exercise of making a list of words that I associate with the quote was very helpful when creating my mood board.

Mood Board

I've seen this quote expressed in a folk art style. I didn't want to repeat what has already been done. I love the aesthetic of Art Nouveau and thought it would work for the project. I first looked to the art of Alphonse Mucha.

My research guided me to early 20th century advertisements for alcohol and perfume, mostly French. The lettering on book covers from that time looked very inspiring as well. Considering the 'flower' theme, I remembered this beautiful dress from Christian Dior 2013 Couture Spring Summer Collection. I also researched vintage label design and found this beautiful perfume bottle, which is also Christian Dior. A vintage illustration of butterflies rounds out my moodboard.

Lettering Warm-up Part I

For this first exercise, I focused on the word 'flower.' I referenced the mood board when experimenting with the various type styles.


As I looked at my mood board and other reference sources, I became drawn to the circular frame and top and bottom registers that seem to guide many of the compositions. Flowers, of course, would be the focal motif of the design.

In thumbnail 1, I was experimenting with Art Nouveau decortive motifs and getting a feel regarding how to connect decoration and letters. The result is too static and sparse for the desired aesthetic. The quote comes across as flat. This is when I decided to incorporate the circular frame.

I am getting closer in thumbnail 2. I like the impression of containing the quote in the circle. However, the top and bottom register fall short and the overall design lacks an organic and flowing quality.

I feel that thumbnail 3 is very close to the design that I am invisioning. I like the layout of the quote and how the flower design seems to grow around the letters and out into the circular frame. The rosette motif looked very beautiful in one of Mucha's posters - I decided to use it in the top regester. An organic scroll design fills out the bottom register.


I was having difficulty in settling on the lettering style so I did a little more research and found this source for Art Nouveau alphabet and number.

I really liked the refined, decorative aesthetic of the letter and decided to use it for a main reference.

Here is the final sketch. I omitted the registers above and below the circular frame. The Art Nouveau inspired letters came across as static, so I gave them a bit of 3-dimensionality.

Inked Drawing

Here is the final drawing with ink. "The" was deleted from the final to stay more true to Emerson's original quote. I am pretty happy with how it came out. I am excited to practice more and create more projects using the same process. Looking forward to Lettering II!

Update: I added color to the final drawing using watercolor brush pens.


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