I knew Darryl Moland was a genius the first time we collaborated on a layout at Cooking Light magazine. Those were heady days—we had just graduated from the mother ship Southern Living to join the startup team of Southern Progress Corporation’s first national culinary title. As the assistant art director, he inspired me (word nerd/copy chief) with his sensitivity to line, color, composition, photography, and photo styling. Put it this way: Darryl could transform a pile of raw vegetables and fruits into a rarefied still life. What’s more, he displayed brilliant word sense, suggesting headlines, underlines, captions, and cover blurbs with zing. If I got stuck on a transition, he came up with a lovely turn of phrase. That’s when I learned that the heart of a literary soul beats within a visual artist.
It’s no wonder that this Renaissance man came up with a stunning coffee-table book that celebrates design every season of the year. It presents the best of the best from Darryl’s well-loved blog. The title says it all—The Decorated Tree: A Modern Ritual Celebrating the Seasons.
“There’s more than one reason to celebrate the season,” Darryl says. “The decorated tree is a natural way to make it festive and fun. Rely on combining decorations that speak your language and you’ll find a pleasing holiday aesthetic along the way.” Then he fulfills this promise with 30+ designs that take you through spring, summer, fall, and winter in an array of themes and moods. In other words, there is something for everyone, whatever his or her aesthetic taste.
The Decorated Tree is a loving tribute to Darryl’s mom, who nurtured his talents, always encouraging his natural creativity to decorate the family tree. “I eventually took over the task each year until I went away to college and embarked on my life away from home,” Darryl remembers. “It wasn’t a chore at all for me—I would lose myself in all the lights and glitter.” Within a few years, he became the community expert on tree decorating. Neighbors and relatives waited breathlessly for his creations at Christmas, and soon he was trimming a second, even third, tree for the house.
The book has turned plenty of heads (Google the title and praise galore pops up). When it debuted, tastemaker Matthew Mead posted a review with unbridled enthusiasm and dubbed Darryl “King of the Forest.” (Click the link to turn up 10 show-stopping trees!)
The author’s creations (embellished by objects from his personal collections) and moving words (often drawn from memory) make quite the holiday package. Here’s another idea—it’s the perfect wedding gift for a bride waiting to connect with her inner muse so she, too, can devise a lifetime of new rituals for her own family.
For more information plus Darryl’s latest creations for Christmas 2015, visit The Decorated Tree Facebook Page. Or drop by his publisher’s site for a preview. No surprise there–it’s a staff pick: “Embellish each season with The Decorated Tree—holiday fantasy intertwined with the rich symbolism of nature. A time-honored Yuletide ritual has become a modern tradition any time of year. Accompanied by 183 inspiring full-color images, this book will become your decorating resource for every holiday, every year.”
A parting notion: if you want to send the coolest Christmas card ever by email to your artsy friends, the book is available in pdf format.
Happy reading & joyful decorating now and in 2016.