Not many of you know this but after graduating, I worked as a gardener for about 6 months. I had a prolonged moment of "what the hell am I going to do with my life? So I started doing something completely different from design - gardening! Why not? Right!
I joined a team of 30 gardeners at Babylonstoren, South Africa as a little intern. If you haven't been there, do yourself a favor and visit it! I learnt a great deal, made amazing friends and found my voice, a quiet voice but still a little voice that encourages me everyday to do what I love - draw and create.
From four years of studying, late nights and hours of sitting in front of a computer, I traded it all in for early mornings, gum boots, strange khaki clothing and hours outside with my hands in the soil, picking flowers or harvesting fruit. And it's probably the best experience of my life. You might find it strange, a designer working in a garden but it taught me a great deal about being confident and drawing!
Three things gardening taught me:
To embrace bold colours! At art school we were always taught to work in black and white, so I never really got opportunity to explore other colours, or maybe I just never had the guts to try it either! But being surrounded by so many colours, picking flowers and fruits everyday gave me a new appreciation for colour. Life is already hard and can be dull, don't make it harder by sticking to only one colour!
I started to explore with colours using a more vibrant colour palette, and not restricting myself as much.
The second thing I learnt was, texture. I worked mainly as a florist, picking and arranging flowers for their restaurants and events. And I learnt how to appreciate and work with different textures. This is the same principle with texture in drawings, I just somewhere along the lines forgot it ...
I have always known about texture, and it's been there but I didn't intentionally focus on it whilst drawing. So I started to look at the texture of my drawings and even started to explore with different mediums. I always used to do pen drawings (black pen!) but made the shift to more relaxed, basic mediums. Starting with pencils, colour crayons, pastels and finally found gouache.
Lastly, working as a gardener gave me the confidence to ignore the rules of " it has to look pretty" and to not be so precious about my sketchbooks, but rather to just fill them. I started to sketch again because I loved it. Moving past what it has to look like in the end, and just going with it. Being a little messy as well, maybe it was the muddy boots or dirty nails but I started to embrace the messiness.
I also met some pretty incredible people along the way that taught me valuable lessons in being brave, embracing who are you and accepting that it's okay to take a detour sometimes. And I learnt how to laugh! Afternoons filled with chatter and laughter!
Before working in the garden, I worked in an office environment which was incredibly challenging and "soul destroying" and it silenced my joy, robbing me of the fun and passion of design. And the garden, the people and the laughter filled my soul again!
I will forever be grateful to you, thank you xxx
Thank you for reading xx