Van Gogh Inspired Me to Design a Puzzle of Flowers

The pieces of Van Gogh's self-portrait put together

By: DIANA TOMA EMC | 16-12-2020 | 5 min read
Up-cycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value.   Diana Toma - Scorched Earth - Blog on Thursd  

The Puzzle

The story behind this piece started with me buying some toys for our children the other day. When I went to the cashier to pay, I hear "You get a free puzzle with your purchase!" in a very kind and joyful tone. I am not a fan of puzzles myself and I am certainly not a fan of the "buy one and get on for free", because, in all honesty, I don't NEED the free item. It comes at a cost, for consumerism has its consequences. But it was a puzzle of a famous Van Gogh self-portrait, and one cannot really say “no” to this man, right?   Diana Toma - Blog on Thursd (3)  

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

I took it as a challenge and accepted the puzzle, knowing full well its strongest asset was the beautiful, yellowish tones, color palette. Yellow was by far the great master’s favorite color, undoubtedly, and surrounding this color, some of his most famous paintings were made, The Sunflowers. Yet these beautiful paintings (which in today’s world could probably be considered the “post” with the absolute most likes on Instagram) are meant to be seen and read as reminders of our own mortality. Things that are beautiful and blooming one moment, fade and they die afterward. Yet the almost gone sunflowers also have inside them the seeds, therefore the symbol of the future in this cycle of life miracle that nature produces.    

Color Is the Strongest Language

Yellow is the color of life and the sun, but painters of the time were already exploring color beyond its physicality. They were well aware that colors have a psychological resonance, and artists for generations have used color and thought of color for the psychological effect, for the emotional impact it has on the viewer. I truly believe, and this I owe it to my formation as a designer at EMC, that color is the strongest language we possess and it lies in our abilities as floral designers to communicate through them.

The Message of Art

The puzzle inspired me to create this piece, but it was more than just the color palette that guided me in making this floral object. There are always great lessons to be learned in the past and we mustn’t forget in our attempt to shape the future, to always return to them. The inimitable manner of painting that Van Gogh invented, that touches peoples’ hearts, is first and foremost unique in its ability to communicate to people, even people who are not art-connoisseurs, he communicates across physical boundaries and time itself. The messages of his art are so universal and intimate all together that people simply feel when standing in front of it. That same manner of transcendence we have to find within ourselves, on a daily basis, when conveying the message of sustainability. It is both a global and personal issue and that we must not seize to address it.   Diana Toma - Scorched Earth - Blog on Thursd  

Upcycle: Puzzle of Flowers

Up-cycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value. Besides the puzzle pieces, truly this piece is all made of reused materials: a piece of reclaimed wood, a leftover from my husband’s carpentry atélier, and a wire construction I have previously used twice in other floral compositions. I assembled the pieces and attached colored pieces randomly, as a symbolic form of emphasizing that the sustainability issue is still a puzzle we haven’t yet sorted out on a global level. The awareness is there on many personal levels, as more and more people are being conscious about the need to take care of nature, yet globally the issue is still out there.   Diana Toma - Blog on Thursd (2)  

Scorched Earth Forces us Towards Sustainability

I have turned to the Xerochrysum Bracteatum to flower up the almost sculptural object, not only because of the beautiful chromatic range of yellows that they have but also for they symbolize a reluctant and resilient attitude. They are fresh flowers that have found the means to be everlasting in their beauty. We should constantly all be inspired to individually fight to find the means of keeping nature just so: everlasting in her beauty. Fights as big as the one we are battling against pollution are not going to be won by merely good intentions and inspirational words. It takes action, reason, good habits, and most importantly, a clear-headed approach to make it happen. We live in a world where this design, although done with such an idea in mind, is not really a 100% eco-friendly piece. I did use the car to go to my workshop, I do use electricity when I work, I did use a drill machine that was made in a factory with materials made in other factories and who knows how to measure if those all polluters or not. Most probably, they are.   Diana Toma - Blog on Thursd (1)  


It is easy to say big words and much harder to control every aspect of your life in order to pollute less. It takes effort, consistency, and determination. And this takes me back to my inspiration, as Van Gogh’s artistic life is the paradigm of just that: effort, consistency, and determination that we should all be inspired by. By Diana Toma, EMC Photos by Alex Mateiu
Diana Toma Emc profile picture
Diana Toma Emc

Diana Toma has years of experience in floral design and has created floral decorations for over 300 private and corporate events. Diana and her partner Dan Toma are the founders and designers at Atelier Teatru Verde. Diana is also a teaching assistant in the European Master Certification program.



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