June 19, 2016

We are SO excited to share with you our totally exquisite collaboration with the artist + illustrator behind The Mint Gardener on Instagram + Etsy, the lovely Sarah Simon. After falling in love with her illustrations of #FlorenceAndHerFascination's, we immediately knew that we had to connect with her and collaborate on something special together - and we wanted Florence to take center stage.

Florence, the girl above with a bouquet of Euphrasia flowers in front of her face, is Every Girl. She is anyone who has ever wanted to try something new. She is someone who loves the adventure of a new Fascination. She tackles new challenges with fearlessness, courage and a sense of wonder for the unknown. She pursues people and excitement in earnest. She dives into new pursuits - and loves to share! 

Urban Family Farmer stock photos.

We asked Sarah a few of our favorite questions to learn a little bit more about what sets her heart on fire...

What is your favorite flower + 3 words to describe its personality?

My favorite flower seems to vary with the season - it's so hard to pick just one! So, for this season, my favorite flower is the Peony. It's elegant, bold and vibrant.

What is one of the most memorable or profound experiences you’ve had in nature? Tell us about it.

I am blessed to have memorable experiences in nature almost every day, in the form of our green garden. It is full of growing things! My husband loves to garden, so it is something we do together, which makes it even better.

Urban Family Farmer stock photos.

How does nature influence your work?

We are city dwellers, and for the first few years of our married life, we only had room to keep plants in our apartment. Despite the small 600 square feet of our tiny space, we always came home with more plants, and our space became like a jungle. I remember pushing past giant leaves just to pull the chair out from the table to have breakfast. Now fast forward a few years, and add the blessing of our city home, which has a quarter of an acre of green space. Our yard is now twice the size of our entire apartment! It is a dream come true. The yard was a blank canvas when we found it, save for an old and abundantly flowering tulip magnolia in the middle of the grass.

So now, with our early weekend mornings, before the babies are up, we dream of our garden together. If it's gloomy outside, we perch on our big comfy chair and stare out our large picture window, overlooking our gardens. We each have our coffees (his is black, mine is extra creamy and sweet) and our sketch pads. We measure and plan and list the vegetables we want to grow in the next season, or the flowers we want to line our beds (and our mantles) with. If it's nice, which in Seattle means a morning it's not rainy or icy cold, we sneak out of the house on tiptoes feeling like reckless kids; sshhh…don't wake the babies! We throw on the first wool sweater and crocs we can find and slip out when there is still dew on the grass. We huddle together in the early sunlight under the timeworn magnolia and we breathe deeply. We breathe thankfulness and gratitude and deep dark earth. We sip and speak softly so we do not interrupt the garden as she wakes.

Urban Family Farmer stock photos.

And we meet and dream and savor uninterrupted. My husband paces off new beds of earth he wants to create for vegetables. He brings me leaves of his new sage or basil he wants me to smell and taste. I soak in the warmth of the sunlight and watch the garden come alive in the light. I bring my sketchpad and draw the shapes of our olive tree leaves. Or I tend our 20 year old peony bushes that we received as precious gifts from our parents garden, wrapped in wet newspaper for their long journey to our home and transplanted gently into our growing garden. Another favorite part of our garden is our lilies that defy gravity every year, as they climb and climb all spring only to explode in firecrackers of flower bouquets, fragrant in the heat of summer.

Urban Family Farmer stock photos.

The time in our garden is sacred and sweet and a bit magical now that we have our own little green patch of earth. And when the babies awake, a new day routine begins. We greet them with a renewed freshness because of the green dreams we've been able to savor in the garden. Every time I dig in the earth, I feel like the dirt recharges my energy, my inspiration, my mind, my fingers and sets my mind buzzing with new painting ideas.

painted purple flowers

Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s the main message you want people to get from your work?

I paint and I garden to feel. We all know, life gets busy, and the minutes of the days collide, filled with “have-to’s” or “let me just get this done and then I can’s…” As a wife and mommy, I have a full-time, wonderful job. It can begin to feel numbing as the chore routine repeats again and again, and I can easily lose myself in the task list. But I’ve found that letting the table stay messy so my four-year-old can paint and keep coming back to her art project, so she can create as she feels inspired, it’s worth the chaos. It’s worth ignoring the task list so we can experience and feel. I love that when her Daddy was explaining the meaning of gifts to her, and he said, “We give gifts that people enjoy. We give friends things that they like. Now, it’s almost Mommy’s birthday. What would you like to give her?” Inside I braced myself for “Mommy does lots of laundry and likes to tell me to clean up my messes.” But instead she said, “Mommy likes to Art. She loves arting. Let’s get her paint!” I remember this every time I hand her the tape and glue and markers and tell her to go for it. We encourage her to make “salad’s” and flower garlands from her garden clippings. She was poking giant stick holes in a grapefruit the other day, and then went and got a straw and drank it like a coconut. This is why I paint. This is why I slow down. I want my loved ones to feel free to experience the day and act on creative whims and feel through the minutes of each day. Not to just pass the time.

The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
-Pablo Picasso

It's my gift to my husband, my children - to see a Momma that's happy and healthy and pursuing passion. And most importantly, its my gift to my family to allow a space that encourages them to be free, healthy and happy to create themselves. This is what Florence is to me. She’s every girl that wants to pursue a passion, a Fascination.  She dreams up a dream, and pursues the experience. Her life is full of Fascinations, which makes her a fascinating person. And these difference fascinations resonate with different people, which just makes my heart sing, and inspires me to paint even more. It’s a wonderful circle!

Florence and the Bird of Paradise

How have you taken health + happiness into your own hands? How does your work relate to mindful awareness? What rituals or exquisite practices do you do that trigger more awareness in you?

When I paint, I enjoy everything in my life more.

Patterns, details and colors that I never noticed before are suddenly in the forefront of my thoughts. The needles of pine trees, or the way an ocean wave resembles a snowy mountain peak - all pop out to me and seem to call out, 'paint me paint me paint me.' I didn't notice these details before I was honed into my craft. And the more I paint, the more detail I see in nature and the more beautiful my world becomes. The more I garden, and experience the beauty all around me, the more I paint. If I ever need inspiration, I go to the garden.

Inner Peace - Florence and the Arctic Lupine

I am constantly in awe of the bounty we have been given in growing things. The process of planting a seed in nutrient rich earth, tending it as the small shoot reaches to the sunshine, protecting it from the elements and pests, watching it grow into something mature that we then get to eat and enrich our bodies with; what a gift! The leafy greens, the vitamins and minerals – all the things our body needs to thrive, are right there in the garden. And the waiting and watching, planting and tilling and tending that builds the anticipation – all of these are such healthy things for our mind and body.  And then finally, the sweet taste of eating your very own food grown from the earth and rain and sun. It is a satisfying process. I believe it’s only natural that I then feel inspired to paint the things we see, grow and eat.

Lotuswei Flower elixirs

LOVE Sarah's illustrations of Florence and her flowerific fascinations? Download all 6 as digital wallpapers perfectly formatted for your phone, tablet or computer!


Love + flower petals,

katie hess

*Sarah's portraits by*

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