Watercolours Breathe Fresh Life into Botanical Art Washington-based artist and illustrator Sarah Simon, also known on Etsy as The Mint Gardener, creates delicate and beautiful watercolour art, in which her distinct and precise aesthetic has made real waves. On top of commissions for stationary, wedding and Christmas cards, and even tattoo art, Sarah’s work has also been picked up for a collaboration with flower alchemists Lotus Wei. These diverse efforts have garnered her a huge following on Instagram, and her love and respect for the great outdoors comes across in her work as she takes inspiration from the beauty of nature with natural colour palettes and soft tones. Sarah takes a contemplative joy fro mall of it: “I paint and create in order to feel life more deeply. It has become a daily, calming meditation for me,” Sarah tells The Plus. This green-fingered passion is clear to see in her work; Sarah is also a keen gardener, and also shares her talent with others in the watercolour classes she leads in her hometown of Seattle. The Plus: What spoke to you about the name ‘mint gardener’? Sarah Simon: I always say: “Paint on my hands, and Earth under my nails gives me JOY!” Painting and gardening are two of my greatest passions. Both activities have a recharging effect on my life. TP: So art, for you, offers a therapeutic way of processing things? SS: It can be so difficult to live in a world where everyone wants something from you. I believe art gives back tenfold, and empowers and ignites the flame to keep you seeking beauty in simplicity. TP: How did you get into watercolours, specifically? SS: I’ve been painting for almost ten years, and really focusing on watercolours over the past few. Watercolours are a great medium to paint with because they dry quickly, and you can put beautiful things together in a day. I’m a wife and momma, so I paint every day whilst my children nap – I can complete a masterpiece during nap time! TP: You’re drawn to natural imagery in your work – why is this? SS: I do feel that watercolours and natural elements, like leaves, work beautifully together. The colouration of flower petals and variegated green leaves often look like they are painted themselves, right out in the garden. TP: You’ve designed several tattoos – how do these commissions differ from your personal projects? SS: It is such an honour that someone would want to carry a piece of my art on themselves. They are some of my favourite commissions, because they are so meaningful and personal. TP: You use a lot of Payne’s Grey in your work – could you talk to us about this attraction? SS: Its tones are fun to coax out – you can find electric blue, black, grey and deep blue, all in one tube of paint. Watercolour work is all about contrast: the power it can pack into a small space, showcasing the differentials of light and darkness. I think Payne’s Gray does that so well. TP: Who are some of your biggest inspirations? SS: Van Gogh, Monet, and Rembrandt are some of my favourites to study. John Singer Sargent paintings, with his ability to capture light, are some of my favourite things to stare at for hours.