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My Life as an Artist

Happy Zinnia Faces

I hadn’t even clocked in yet at the garden center yesterday before two people stopped me, somewhere between the parking lot and my new home-away-from-home: the potting shed, and gleefully announced that my services were in high demand! Brand new and already I had a custom-order for a client with a weekend party and a large patio to make colorful. And a slew of memorial pots for an elderly gentleman visiting his family in cemeteries in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

After gathering hot pink impatiens, lobelia, vinca vine, and a spikey accent for some custom urns, discussing the memorial pots with Mr. R., and solving the patio decoration challenge with a series of cheery pots filled with deep pink (well, almost red, really) geraniums, yellow violas and white allysum, I had a few moments to myself. Surrounded by the tools of the trade, gazing through the screened window behind my potting shelf, I realized that I had indeed arrived at a destination of my dreams.

A year ago I was in the process of closing a brick-and-mortar business and the idea of “being an artist” was just that: an idea, a dream of my imagination. I had no notion of how to get there and had spent years working conventional jobs to pay the bills, wishing for a “someday”. A someday when my eye for color and composition could serve as vocation rather than avocation. And by the way, it never ever occurred to me that this equation would include my love of flowers and gardens!

A good friend encouraged me to work through The Artist’s Way. I took her advice. I wrote morning pages and attended to each chapter’s tasks religiously. I made vision boards, too, highlighting exotic destinations, writing, and natural beauty. After spending almost a year in hibernation and processing the disappointment of closing the store, wondering what the next chapter might look like, it seems I’ve come out the other side.

Potting Shed and Bicycle, copyright 2006 Lisa AllenWhat I never considered was that being a working artist could mean a job in which I design pots of flowers for others who either don’t have the time to do this for themselves, feel they don’t have the talent or knowledge to figure out what goes with what, or simply don’t want to get their hands dirty!

I was reminded of someone’s advice to stay open-minded and to not pre-design the desired end-result too specifically. Doing so can prevent you from allowing unexpected opportunities to become part of your life. It is tempting to want to know in advance what’s coming, but sometimes letting go and riding the currents brings you to the best destinations. … Bon voyage!

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  • mlegan May 20, 2007, 8:30 am

    Congratulatins! This reminds me of a man I met who was a professor of art at a small midwestern college. Every day he watched the gardeners outside and thought about landscape designs, how he’d do the gardens, etc. He eventually left his teaching job and now is the landscaper at the college and says he is much happier, and has mental energy to do his own painting in a way he didn’t previously.

  • Kelli May 19, 2007, 7:33 am

    I love this notion that if you keep your mind open, your art will find you. Beautiful!
    And I think by looking at those flowers and reading your words, without a doubt this has happened for you.

  • Lynda May 17, 2007, 2:27 pm

    Lisa, your pots look great! Talk about a dream job! ♥

  • Fran May 16, 2007, 10:56 am

    Lisa, I love your openness to new artistic experiences — another sign of a TRUE artist!

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