On April 3, 2018, the first day of this year's 100 Day Project, I posted on Instagram:
And so it begins. #the100dayproject is here and so am I—well, sort of. These days life is charged with loss and grief on many levels. But if I’m honest with myself (& desperately trying to keep on keeping on) I have to acknowledge that without great love and joy there would be nothing to lose, nothing to grieve. So however hard, this pain is a gift. #100daysofseeingcolorinthegarden will be my #dailypractice starting today. My hope is that this daily interval focused on seeing and my beloved garden will provide refuge and a way forward. They say that time heals. I’m curious to watch that unfold. How cool would it be (WILL it be) to witness the process playing out in real time. A powerful anchor for future losses.
So for 100 days I will be making time to see and interpret color in my garden. It’s basically permission to pause and play.
The backstory here is my father had just died in late March. I could barely stand for the weight of grief and loss and I desperately needed to get out of my head. But it had to be something simple, intuitive, and soothing. I like to say color is my native tongue, and I'd pretty much lost all other words.
July 11, 2018 There never was any question that today would be a celebration of sweet peas. These delicate, fragrant, blooms are a powerful family totem.
It's now nearly 150 days later and while I'm not still counting, I am still painting. SeeingColorInTheGarden has become a daily practice, permission to step away from work, house, garden—even play. When I sit down at my table with my oh-so-humble watercolors, a brush, and blank 4- by 4-inch sheets of watercolor paper the world goes calm.
Occasionally I get asked “HOW.” I don't know how else to describe it but seeing with all 5 senses... things go quiet, time stops, and everything is focused on the blossom, twig, rock, or the occasional snail. My paints are nothing special, but they’re familiar to me and I feel comfortable with the visual vocabulary I’ve developed with them. For all that this project has played out in public on Instagram, it still feels strange to write about something so intimate and deeply personal. Except that, along with my finding a measure of peace, I have also found a community of people who are also in pain, stressed, or simply in need of a little colorful refreshment. A chromal chord has been struck.
At the end of the day, the swatches and test strips pictured above are my secret sauce. A record of how I hunt and peck and forage for the right color. The paintings themselves without their subject are pretty flat and lifeless compared to the energy of painting + plant. But these little swatch strips please me to no end✨