After a particularly rough period in her life -“a harsh roller coaster of chronic sorrow and loss”, artist and gardener Lorene Edwards Forkner longed for a daily practice, “a fixed habit to provide structure and discipline, a framework and a through line for my days”.
Knowing that yoga, sitting meditation or journaling would not work for her, she found inspiration in watercolorist Mimi Robinson’s book Local Color: Seeing Place Through Watercolor. She decided to paint the colors of one detail of her garden every day as part of the 100 Day Project, in which people from all over the world commit to spending 100 days exploring their creativity and publicly sharing their efforts on Instagram.
On April 3, 2018 she posted a watercolor study of a blossom of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and wrote:
These days life is charged with loss and grief. But if I’m honest with myself (and desperately trying to keep on keeping on) I have to acknowledge that without great love, there would be nothing to grieve. My hope is that this daily interval focused on seeing and my beloved garden will provide refuge and a way forward.”
Color — specifically garden color —became her muse and and meditation.
Painting the colors of one small element of her ever-changing garden became an essential, meditative practice that she has carried on to this day.
…Constantly foraging for color has taught me to be mindful of and accept my own cycles of attention. Some days flow with an almost audible chime. Others produce nothing but noise and a tiresome repetition that just about does me in.
Over years, her instagram gardenercook has become a lush garden that is a pleasure to view daily.
Her color studies range widely, even within one card, from vibrant “shouts” to palest hues. Greens alone are astonishing. Nothing seems to escape her attention, even the lowliest weed…
The series of short films Forkner has made while painting give a sense of her quiet exploration. A favorite is Sea Garden Study:
After 100 days, Forkner’s practice taught her a great deal beyond painting:
Those 100 days of my Seeing Color in the Garden project taught me that love and loss are precious, sometimes brutal twins. That nature is a balm, one that I find in the garden and color. And that nothing really ends.
Purchase Lorene Edwards Forkner’s prints at her store, A Handmade Garden.