Devotion

Courtyard Garden. Ink & Watercolor. Sketchbook.

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.

Devotion Gate. Pen & Watercolor. Sketchbook.

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.

Enjoying the cool mountain morning with palette in hand. Photo courtesy of Mignon Durham.

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.

Field behind the South Garden. Oil Pastel in Kraft paper sketchbook.

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.

“My Room”. 😊Watercolor Pencil & Watercolor. Sketchbook.

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.

South Garden. Ink & Watercolor.

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.

In Process…will share final version later. This is a view of Mignon’s home from down in the Walk in the Woods Garden.

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.

I miss this place already. 😍

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!

3 thoughts on “Devotion

  1. Edward Pilkington says:

    The gifted servant souls of the creators matchless master hand! I marvel that Jennifer and Mignon were drawn (pun intended) together for the purpose of blessing my inmost being and I am sure enriching and enlightening the hearts and minds of many.aesthetically Starved soul

  2. TAMI ELLIS says:

    I wish I had richer words to describe all this: Jennifer’s account of her time at Devotion, the very fact that there is such a person as Mignon Durham, and of course the drawings. All of it, separately and especially as an organic whole, is unutterably, exquisitely beautiful. It does indeed make me want to take my sketchbook out to my patio, and learn the names of the plants and sweet weeds that are growing there. Thanks, Jennifer.

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