There must be something magical about the Pacific Northwest, because its beauty inspires so many creative people. From woodworking artist and designer Laura Burkhart to Kathleen Castaneda, aka Kathleen Elizabeth Adventure Photography who specializes in taking photos of couples on their big day, in breathtaking natural settings... there are so many people who celebrate our area with their incredible talent.
One of the best known may be Sarah Simon, aka The Mint Gardener. The artist and designer has taught people of every skill level how to paint beautiful modern blooms. We recently sat down to talk to the talented Seattlite about her art.
Seattle Refined: Sarah Simon, you’re a Seattle-based artist author and teacher. Tell us about your art?
Sarah Simon: I am a watercolor artist primarily, so playing with watercolors, teaching watercolors. I also love to draw as as well. I combine ink pen with watercolor and when you combine that line technique with kind of flowing watercolor, they’re a beautiful combination.
You are known as ‘The Mint Gardener’. How did you get that moniker and does it have anything to do with what is behind you right now?
Yes! We’re sitting in my greenhouse right now. It was semi a joke because if anyone gardens they know that mint doesn’t need much tending, and I felt like that was analogous to my art. I wanted it to be something that I could pursue and enjoy - no matter what the season, and I didn’t want any limitations.
So speaking of plants and flowers - you paint so much natures. You paint them, you draw them, why are you so inspired by them?
I’ve always been fascinated by light and color and I feel like when you capture a flower on a page, you’re capturing the light and the color in its best form.
Some people are intimidated to paint because they feel they have to be able to draw or sketch first. But you have thought of a great way around that.
I know that drawing can feel like an insurmountable task. So in my classes and online I have a flower paint club so I provide the lines which you can them trace on watercolor paper, then you have the freedom to paint without coming up with that perfect drawing. And you grow in confidence and in muscle memory you train your hand and your eye with this new technique.
So it’s a little bit of the fake it till you make it - but you will make it!
Tell us about your book Modern Watercolor Botanicals?
In Modern Watercolor Botanicals, my book I combine ink pen with watercolor and when you combine that line technique with kind of flowing watercolor, they’re a beautiful combination. Because the ink line allows you to capture the form. And then because you have that botanical form already defined. You can then paint more freely.
You actually have different levels for projects right - for people depending on their confidence level.
I designed the book so everyone could approach it at the level they're comfortable with.
Moving on to plants - who is ‘The Plant Lady’ and what the heck is she up to?
The Plant Lady is my coloring book. I started sketching with watercolors and it felt like this plant was kind of floating in the middle of nowhere. So I started drawing kind of human lines around her. So we named her Florence. She was a bit of my muse and she almost became my alter ego. Florence always covers her face. She can be every girl.
I’m gonna have to put you on the spot. What is YOUR favorite paint color?
Probably Payne’s Grey. It’s this deep blue. It’s this lovely shade, it often matches the Seattle sky so that might be part of it but also it’s a really calming color.
What would you say to someone that’s intimidated to pick up the paintbrush, the pen or the pencil?
Don’t compare yourselves. As Vincent Van Gogh says, 'If you hear a voice inside yourself that says you cannot paint, then by all means paint. And that voice will be silenced'.
Oh, I love it! Sarah Simon thanks so much for sharing your beautiful world with us.
Thank you for having me.
For more about Sarah Simon aka The Mint Gardener, check out her official website and her Instagram feed. You can find her books Modern Watercolor Botanicals and The Plant Lady online and in bookstores.