When you look up synonyms for the word Devotion, you read words like affection, ardor, zeal, attachment, fondness, love and passion. There is always something or someone on the receiving end of these words. It isn’t possible to just be devoted. One is devoted TO something. One has fondness FOR someone. You and I have zeal or affection FOR something or someone. It is inherent in the words themselves that there is an object of our devotion. For Mignon Durham, that object is her home and gardens that she designed and built almost a decade ago and to which she continues to devote her energies, love and caretaking.
I was introduced to this land called Devotion through a book that Mignon has written and published. It is one thing to be enchanted by the photos and story of a place. It is quite another to visit and stay for a few days to see first-hand the fruit of someone’s devotion. I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity and to bring my own devotion to drawing in sketchbooks to Mignon’s gardens and to experience the wonder and beauty she (and Mother Nature) have created on a not-quite-three acre plot of land in the mountains of Asheville.
It is difficult to put into words my experience there. Perhaps that is why I draw…a way to tell you about something so lovely that words actually fail. Some drawings do have words added to the page. Most do not. I felt as if I could be there drawing every nook and cranny of not only the surrounding gardens but also of the interior of her home. Every space, inside and out, is filled with artistic design, curated plants and artwork, and fabulous color. Devotion is an artist’s dream…a place where one would never run out of vistas and views for painting.
Over the three days I was there, a total of 17 drawings were logged into six differently sized sketchbooks. Two of those drawings were actually made while visiting the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, which only whetted my pen’s whistle for the lovely gardens at Devotion. Pen, marker, watercolor, oil pastel and ink, all led me through Mignon’s Courtyard Garden, South Garden, and the Walk in the Woods Garden. There are four drawings which await color and I will relish painting them this week.
Only two of these drawings were made of the interior…one from the room in which I stayed, and one drawn from a lovely table decoration she created with flowers from her garden and a loved art piece. The rest were of areas surrounding her home. I covered as much ground as I could but knew I was only scratching the surface of what could be created observing and relishing in paint and pastel the views of spring at Devotion.
I also struggle to find words for my gratitude to Mignon for her generosity in inviting me to stay for a weekend to draw! Truly I will remember the wonderful time spent there, the lovely conversations over meals, the amazing hospitality of such a gracious host. I will relish completing the final touches on my drawings and even starting new paintings from photo references taken while there.
Should you wish to know more about Devotion, consider purchasing her book via her website. She does give tours of her gardens from time to time and you could contact her to see when the next tour dates are set. But if you cannot visit Mignon’s garden, do take yourself to a local garden near you, sit on a bench or meander the paths, learn the names of trees and flowers. And best of all…draw in a sketchbook your favorite view or flower or tree. You will find a devotion to nature well up inside you which will bloom forever.
P.S. There will be some painterly drawings (I call them “momentos of joy”) offered in my ETSY shop very soon based on my adventure at Devotion! Be on the lookout! There are only two paintings of the six added to the shop last week. Thank you for your support of my art!