Nature is the original and longest-standing source of an artist’s inspiration. Monet’s impressionist paintings of water lilies, Thoreau’s memoir of Walden Pond, and Ansel Adam’s photographs of U.S. national parks all attest to the inspirational power of nature’s beauty. For some artists, nature serves as a reset switch from the drudgery of modern life, while, for others, it is both their source of inspiration and subject of their art. Jana Blankenship is one such artist, who shares the beauty she experiences, not only through watercolor but also through scent.

Blankenship grew up in a small town off the coast of Maine and then moved to northern California where she studied fine arts and art history. It was during this period that she had the privilege of studying under world-class natural perfumer, Mandy Aftel. Aftel creates custom scents for the likes of Madonna and Bob Dylan – a skill she offers to anyone willing to spend $2,000 per ounce and a half.

This knowledge of natural perfumery led Blankenship to make essential oils. Whether it’s the slightly saline scent of Maine’s wild-rose-sprinkled coast or the damp earthy forests of northern California, she has always recognized the ability of scent to evoke strong emotions and transport someone to a specific location. In fact, not only do the scents in the Captain Blankenship product line hearken back to nature, they are sourced from nature. All the ingredients are plant-based (organic and wild-harvested), including the fragrances.

When Blankenship describes her product lineup, it’s apparent that she’s a creative who is highly attuned to sensory experiences. Just as the landscapes that inspire the products cannot be separated from their scents and sights, she realizes that her products and packaging are also connected. “My favorite parts of this job are developing new products and working on the packaging,” Blankenship said. It’s this perspective that allows her to treat packaging as an extension of her primary canvas. After all, the watercolors on the packaging are scans of her own nature-inspired paintings.

The process of blending watercolors on paper parallels the delicate balance when blending perfumes. This familiarity made Blankenship’s transition into launching the Captain Blankenship lineup a seamless one. Although the natural health and beauty market may be saturated, product’s scents are often monochromatic. What Blankenship realizes is that, similar to the blended watercolors of an ocean side sunset, scents like fir, rosemary, and sweet orange (found in the Mermaid Hair Oil) are complementary. Blankenship sees these layers of scents as something that’s unique to the brand’s products.

When the brand transitioned from paper labels to screen printing directly onto the bottles, the canvas for her watercolors was lost. The scents of Captain Blankenship products tell a story about the location that inspired them, but it’s the visuals on the packaging that finish painting the scene.

It wasn’t until the introduction of Professional Image’s folding carton packaging that the canvas was reclaimed. “I was really excited to have a bigger canvas to work with when we started incorporating boxes,” Blankenship said. What Blankenship understands is how every element of a product’s branding either adds to or detracts from that brand’s message. For Captain Blankenship, the message is “beauty wild with nature”. This theme is echoed in their sourcing of ingredients, the inspiration behind their scents, and their visual choices in packaging design. When masterfully blended, these elements accomplish exactly what Jana Blankenship intends – to be a pure reflection of the natural beauty she is mindful of daily.

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