Finding Inspiration: Nature, Music and Magic Mushrooms

You never know what’s going to catch your eye or move you in some way. I like to snap things here and there to record striking colors, interesting patterns and whatever I find beautiful in its own way. And sometimes I just can’t let the face of a cherub on my shiitake get away without documentation. Here’s what turned up in the past week…

Ice-melting creek, an impromptu colored-pencil drawing I did while listening to an odd music mix, a journal/sketchbook that I dolled up with handmade paper and an old pendant, the aforementioned cherub (I didn’t eat him), a rose from a magenta and orange bouquet that has been making me smile everyday for a week now, ice crystals creeping up my window pane, and the first page of a new chapter.

Inspiration Collage

And here’s what I conjured up today…

icy rose in frame art backgroundBeauty awakens the soul to act.
– Dante Alighieri

 

The Pink Moment

For many years now I’ve had reverence for “the magic hour” – that brief time before sunset when the light becomes golden or amber or pink. It’s the photographer’s sweet spot, providing a boost of glowing color and shadowy definition to natural scenes. A friend once said it makes us look like “Italian goddesses,” and sometimes when it bathes my surroundings I feel like I’ve been transported into a Maxfield Parrish painting.

My latest collage – “How Do You Spot a Blessing?” – was inspired by how this magical time seems to calm me down and make my soul smile. So, I was thrilled to read the paragraph below in a Conde Nast Traveler article on Ojai, California (the state is a slight obsession of mine):

…Ojai has been a cherished place for any number of California cultures over the years: the Chumash Indians who first settled the valley; citrus and avocado ranchers; theosophists; Krishnamurti; and Hollywood stars, who’ve long owned discreet retreats here… All of them are drawn at least in part by the town’s famous “pink moment,” a fleeting period before sunset when the jagged Topa Topa Mountains that frame the northern edge of this fertile valley take on a dusky-rose hue: It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind.

It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind…

Sunday evening I was sitting on a bench overlooking the Delaware River sharing a tall Negro Modelo (leftover from our byob Peruvian lunch) with a good friend. We were deep into a meaningful conversation when puffy pink clouds started to float over the mountain across the river. A few of the trees were just starting to exhibit the golden leaves of fall, and the pink light made them glow a vibrant orange amidst their green neighbors. The puffs turned to streaks and soon the sky, the river and my friend and I were all bathed in lavender light. I stopped him mid-sentence and told him about the pink moment. We were silent for a bit, looking up and appreciating the beauty. Soon everything greyed out into dusk and we finished the warming beer. Our conversation continued, but we both came back to it with a slightly heightened sense of awe about the beauty and magic that appears, and disappears, with each day.

Blessing blended small
“How Do You Spot a Blessing” is a digital collage I made from photos I took in New Orleans, LA; Rhinebeck & Woodstock, NY; and my own backyard (the pink sky and dark trees). May it bring you some clarity. And, remember to look up.

Magic Gardens, Magic Night

Art should not be segregated in museums; it needs to live free among us.
– Isaiah Zagar (creator of the installation that is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens)

circle small
The wound is the place where light enters you. – Rumi

statue small

To a dull mind all of nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

bottles small

Without vision, execution is delusion. – Thomas Edison

No delusion here. Pure light-filled visions of heart-tweaking beauty and soul-spinning grandeur.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Dipping into Dream World

During a World Cafe interview, Tracy Grammer relayed how her late husband, Dave Carter, explained his songwriting process. I’m paraphrasing, but Dave had said to Tracy something like: I always have one foot in the dream world. MG dark child on stairs

I call this state Writer’s Mind, or whatever mind applies to your art or craft. Chefs get into Chef’s Mind and Photographers switch into Photographer’s Mind. I’d guess many artists are nearly always walking around in this state, where they experience life through the lens of how it applies to their creative process. We all pick up stimulation through our senses, but when I’m in Writer’s Mind, I’m at once experiencing multiple sensory stimuli and already swirling it around and trying to relate it to a more universal meaning.

A child walking up a mosaic staircase could be sweet, scary or dreamy. I don’t know the outcome at the time, but I notice qualities that I want to capture, ones that will relate to subjects I like to write about: beauty, creativity, sacred moments, sublime images, transcendence.

The mundane details of daily life have a way of yanking me right out of Artist’s Mind. My head takes over and I become embroiled in lists, priorities and logistics. It’s nearly impossible for me to be in both states at the same time – I guess it’s a left/right brain thing. Just being aware of this let’s me drop logic mind fairly easily and step back into my heart and intuition. And dip at least a few toes back into the dream world, where the beauty that inspires me seemingly magically reappears.pool toes

Magic Gardens & the (Dis)Appearing Self Trick

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Art enables us to lose ourselves and find ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

What is the one thing you, and only you, can do in an uncommon way? Make art, get lost, experience art, find yourself – all at once or here and there. Use what’s right in front of you to create a whole new world. Make magic.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way,
you will command the attention of the world.
– George Washington Carver

(Photos taken at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 2013)