Melting pot . . . Natalia Lopez has been using her skills as a painter to decorate garden pots since New Zealand's first lockdown. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

It started as a way to keep entertained during New Zealand’s first lockdown, but now artist Natalia Lopez’s painted plant pots are bringing colour to more lives than just her own.

Originally from Argentina, Lopez has always been a painter.

‘‘My culture is all about colour,’’ she said.

She came to New Zealand with a friend for a working holiday in 2015.

Her plan was to work for a year before setting off for another country.

Instead, Lopez had twin girls Arianna and Ezmeralda Lopez-Campbell (5) — and her plans changed.

In 2018, Lopez moved to Oamaru with the girls and their father.

When life needed brightening during lockdown, Lopez brought colour to her home by painting pots with colourful patterns.

She had two other reasons to pick up a brush started painting — her daughters needed something to keep them entertained.

Lopez soon branched out, painting the Mona Lisa, Frida Kahlo, and Michaelangelo’s David.

As colourful pots mounted in her home, she started giving them away to friends and family, who urged her to start selling them.

So she did, after the country’s snap lockdown last year. She recently started taking commissions, painting pictures of people’s pets on pots.

The reactions had been great — and emotional. For some, the pots acted as special reminders of pets that had passed away. One woman started crying after receiving her pot.

‘‘That’s when you feel you are doing the right thing, ’’ Lopez said.

Though Lopez’s pots were for sale, painting was something she did primarily for pleasure, rather than profit, she said.

If business was mixed into it, Lopez was unsure if she would enjoy it still. Commissions could be arranged through her Facebook page, Naty’s Painted Flower Pots.