A Limited Palette

Image 12One of my customers recently asked about fixing up the outside of their mountain home with plantings and flowers, clean up their garden beds, etc… An old friend was riding his motorcycle across the country to visit them, and they wanted to spruce things up. Did I know anybody who could do it? “Yes. Me!”  She was surprised, “Really? You would do that?” Well, yeah! It’s what I love to do when I’m not working.

My challenge with this project was that it was the last week of July, way past summer planting time. I stopped at my favorite nursery on the way home. As you would guess, the pickings were pretty limited at this point, very few flowers, lots of foliage, everything Image 20outgrowing their little plastic pots. But that was okay. There was a ton of one of my favorites, coleus. It’s a foliage plant with a lot of variation in color. I would make this work. I had to visualize creating something beautiful using what was available.

I went back the next day and had the best morning! The nursery was empty at 8:00 am. It was raining. The sound of the rain on the corrugated roof of the giant greenhouse was wonderful. I grabbed a cart and wandered around. I actually got choked up I was so happy. All I kept thinking was that someone was paying me to do what I love to do. And, it was raining! An added bonus to me.  It felt like a favorite cozy day.

Image 18The limited choices of the late season made it a creative challenge. Fun stuff. What could I do with what was available? As I was writing about this, I thought about my art classes in college. We weren’t just unleashed to create, there were always assignments and perimeters. “Use a 2″ brush, black ink to draw this person’s pose in 10 seconds….. Now do it again…. Again.” (warm-ups for life drawing) I loved that. What can I do with what I have?

Then, of course, when I got on that track of thinking I applied it to everything. It’s a good skill to have in every part of life, come to think of it. It comes in handy when you are divorced, broke and have two kids to Image 13feed. What can I make for dinner for under $10.00. Tofu and rice! It’s my oldest son’s favorite meal to this day.

A limited palette. I like that. It applies to everything really. We all have a limited palette in some ways. We have what we have to work with. Now what can we do with it? Our palettes are limited by our health, our finances, our living situation, Image 9our time, energy, resources, location, etc…..I can’t wait to create the life I want until I have everything perfect. I can work with what I have though.

SirG and I have a vision of the house we want to build. I was talking about the garden I wanted, the kitchen, the studio….how I missed the horse country I used to live in, how I would love to do cooking classes where we walk into the garden to pick what we will cook with, etc….And, he said, “But, you already have that”. Indeed I did. I do. In a different way than what I “see” in my head, but I do already have what I dream of now. I just needed to open my eyes to what was in front of me and work with what I had. I’m sitting in my studio, one of two that are not only attached to the house, but to the open kitchen, perfect for classes. That picture of basil was snapped one minute ago in my garden. It’s not as big as the one I envision, but I love it no less. The horse was my only company on the day I worked all day, planting the flowers, for the customer who asked, “Do you know anybody who could……” Yes, me. I can do that.

Image 14I just got off the phone two seconds ago with a woman who has taken my workshops over the last few years. We were chatting about the post I was writing and she asked, “But, how do you do it. Do you have somebody helping you? How do you find your opportunities. How do you know where you are at.” I pretty much said, pay attention to what’s already there. Be open to what you come across. Pursue what you like. Read. Take one step. One thing leads to another. Some things work out. Some things don’t. Try something else. Eventually you will notice you are on a path. Follow it.

Oh, the garden….she loved it, limited palette and all. She said, “Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.” Me, “You just paid me to do something I love. I should be thanking you.” 

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