Hey there, welcome to the sixth part of Inspire Artventure series.
Missed the previous one? You can read it here: Interview with Sabrina Rupprecht
Today we have Sarah Simon with us, you might know her by the name Themintgardener. She draws some beautiful Watercolor Artworks, inspired by nature.
Grab a coffee, and enjoy the interview.
1) Where do you live? What is the one thing that you love the most, where you live?
I’m located in Seattle, Washington in the USA. I love so many things about this area: the climate which is mild in all seasons, so it allows for long growing seasons in the garden. I also love the vibrant creative community in the City. There are so many people, and so many wonderful places to visit, teach in, and enjoy!
2) Can you tell us about your Art journey, How did it started?
I have been creating and drawing for most of my life, and painting for a bit over ten years. Almost four years ago, I started to share simple posts on Instagram of my works of art and our garden. Instagram was my way to tap into the vibrant, outside world. I had two very young ones then, and I needed a place to just be ‘me.’ I wasn’t anyone’s wife or momma. I was Sarah, the Artist, the Gardener. Since those first few posts, I have discovered that when I share my art, the processes I use and the beautiful inspiration from our garden, the pictures have become incredible ways to connect with a community that enjoys similar things. We bond over lovely images, fall in love with a perfectly placed word –and enjoy one another’s gardens and work.
I have the privilege of falling in love with paint every day, and as a watercolor teacher for the past few years as well, I not only get to share pictures of my work, but I get to teach others of my passion for creating. I have developed a sincere love of connecting with women, my daughters and my community, over paint. I’m writing an instructional book on Modern Botanical Watercolor, which will be available in 2019. It’s all beyond my wildest dreams! I would not have believed you, if you had told me ten years ago that this would be happening.
3) How does nature inspire your artworks?
As a family, we find sanctuary in our small urban garden in Seattle. It’s where all members of our tribe have a place together. My husband is the mastermind behind the edibles in our green space, and I love finding heirloom flowers with which to fill our beds. I surround his kale, corn, collard greens, snap peas, beets – with my sunflowers, roses, peonies, bearded irises, lilies, dahlias. Our two small daughters know where to find snacks, and munch fennel, strawberries and carrots as they come into season. We spend time together every year combing through the seed catalogs, selecting which plants to grow, talking about our favorites from previous seasons. It’s really fun to see your two year old select the seed catalogue as her bedtime story choice.
The garden is a source of endless inspiration for my art as well. I have always loved all botanicals. Larger than life floral patterns, lush and deep green jungles, the delicate and faithful house plant. Leaves. Any type of leaf of any species of plant. There is so much nuance of movement and detail within each plant. I feel like leaf shapes and their veins are a plant’s unique fingerprint, and the shapes in which they grow are sometimes fluid, other times awkward. I love observing them and studying their movement, and then trying to translate them to paper with my brush.
4) What message do you want to portray from your artworks?
It is such a gift to be given the ability to express myself with paint. And there is so much joy in teaching, and sharing this gift. It really has become the most joyful part of all of this: the partaking of and contributing to this vibrant creative community of women around our world. The majority of people who take my classes are women: mothers, young professionals, grandmothers. Women in different life stages, circumstances, different races, religions, viewpoints and experiences. But as I sit with each one, face-to-face, showing them the shape of a leafy vine, or the perfect amount of water to include on their brush, it’s the same story I hear again and again; this story supersedes all boundaries, ages and cultures. Our nature as women is nurturing, giving, self-sacrificial. We throw ourselves into the lives and needs of everyone around us and then feel guilty if we are still a little unfulfilled afterwards.
Brené Brown shares this thought in her book, “Braving the Wilderness,” which has become so valuable to my work:
“In life, there is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale.”
Painting is my Inhale, so I can continue to Exhale throughout my day. So many of the women who attend my classes have no Inhale in their lives. They spend all of their minutes Exhaling for others – no wonder they feel empty. Creativity fuels us and gives back to us. We need to spend some time on ourselves. To do what recharges us, gives us life and makes us feel peaceful. The “out-breath” in our life is required (rent, food, laundry), but we do it better when we’ve given ourselves time for the in-breath. When we have recharged, we are better humans for ourselves, and everyone around us.
For the ones that take the leap, they begin to see that creating is a way to reconnect with themselves. My joy comes in seeing their faces light up and exclaim, ‘Yes! I see how you did that!…I can do that!’ I love that the focus and concentration spent on the process of painting is so calming. They get to see the joy in a craft, and discover the calming and fulfilling effect of dipping a brush in paint and water to create. Of working with their hands, and laughing with others, together. And then they go home, and make the process a part of their lives. I love making beautiful art approachable. I love watching people who have never picked up a paintbrush begin to understand how to use it, and go home and create amazing things on their own. I believe taking the time to create art gives back tenfold, empowers and ignites a flame to keep going and seeking the beauty in simplicity.
5) What challenges do you face in your Art profession?
As Creatives, we relish in the joy of Making, but many of us have a common problem: the challenge of sitting down and to actually start. I was terrified to post and share my art with the world, but there is more Fear for me in the actual creation process.
In his book “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield says it like this: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.” That effort of gathering the right supplies, carving out time in our day, and beginning the creative process is where many of us falter. We want to soar, and feel that freedom of the creative life we know is inside of us, but we talk or dream about it more than we actually sit down to do it. There are different reasons for everyone: not enough time, the ‘Creative Muse’ isn’t showing up, feeling discouraged.
For me, the main reason I didn’t paint for so many years was because of Fear.
For many of us, Fear is not a stranger. Dealing with the voices of fear and self-doubt when they come up is a real struggle. Fear immobilizes you and tempts you to give up. I struggled as an unproductive artist for many years. I wanted to paint, but the sheer act of pulling out all of the materials and taking the time required to create all felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford, in time and effort. The process became my excuse every time. But the underlying lurking Big Fear, which was the REAL challenge, was there whispering all along: What could I say or contribute as an Artist that hadn’t already been said or done? If I did manage to create something, how would I be unique from all of the other voices? And would I be any good – and good for whom? Would it be satisfying to be ‘good enough for me’ and to just enjoy the process of creating, regardless of what I made?
After years of listening to that demoralizing voice of self-doubt, I’ve come to see that to giving into that Fear is not to live a full life. When I do not paint, I live a half-life, with a bitter burning in my chest dreaming of what I could be doing.
“Fear prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us our unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers. Everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our status beacon and Polaris.” (another quote from “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield)
So – how to move past this Fear?
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
How encouraging is it to hear that the person who said that was none other than Vincent Van Gogh?
Something I’ve learned, and it sounds like Van Gogh is also saying: when we fight Fear, we win. And we fight by starting.
Sitting down, and starting.
We must Create to be happy.
We were meant to pursue Passion.
Also, as I’ve pushed back against that fear by embracing the challenge and sitting down with a paintbrush, I’ve learned something another invaluable lesson. We create in cycles. If Fear wins one day, try to paint again the next day. Some days are good, some days are bad. Do something to help break the slump in creativity; exercise, garden, speak to an encouraging friend that believes in you and your talent. Listen to that urge inside to try again. Reference styles you like, but let your own personality come through in the lines and strokes. Make a few lists of things you love, outside of art. See if you can combine those interests with your art (i.e., I love gardening, so I’ve combined that with my art). Try new colors, new combinations. Take local classes, ask questions, try new mediums. Just keep showing up, and try, try again. Practice makes better. I also read books to break up my self-doubt and fear. One of my favorites is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (I’ve mentioned it a few times). The author takes apart the creative cycle in small, one-page chapters, and helps you identify what’s holding you back. And once you can see the cycle, and the obstacles, it doesn’t feel as intimidating. When you’ve rested and you try again, you’re better and stronger than you were before.
6) Who is your idol?
There are so many. Claude Monet has been a recent inspiration for me. He was a pioneer in his field, leading and contributing to the Impressionist movement. He was also a gardener and found so much inspiration from his garden. His hobbies, family and life fed one another. He led a prolific life in his artwork, and his personal life, and I consider his legacy to be beautiful.
7) Being a mom, How do you manage everything from artworks to taking care of your family?
I’m a wife, and a Momma to two little girls – and that comes first. But I often paint in my mind, planning out what I want to do when I have a moment to myself. I save inspiring pictures of flowers, and colors on my phone, and use them as a resource when I can create. When I actually have the time to create, it feels like an absolute luxury. I think because the time to create is so precious, and I wait for it all day, I dive in whenever I can, in whatever capacity is needed of me.
8) Do you sell your artworks? How do you price it?
I do sell my work, mainly on Etsy or to private collectors who find me on Instagram, or through a mutual friend. I price prints on the common market value I observe around me.
That’s it with the interview. What we learnt from her is that if your afraid of trying something, then the best way to overcome that fear of that thing is to try that. You would fail in the beginning but don’t let that stop you to achieve what goal you have set.
You can follow Sarah at @themintgardener on Instagram to get to know more about her.
Enjoyed the interview? We share interviews every friday of great artists around Instagram, Don’t wanna miss that? Make sure to follow us on @artventure.
Happy Weekend 🙂