One area in which I never have any difficulty is finding inspiration.  If anything, I’m too willing and see beauty and interest in too many things.  Right now, my husband, Randy, is watching some of the post-Thanksgiving college football games and I can glance up at the commercials and see the artistic talent and incredible genius in the commercials.  The marketing wizards of television advertising create such compelling imagery, as well as often having incredible auditory stimulus.

Today we drove across the Cascade mountain range from Western Washington to Eastern, where my husband loves to hunt.  It is with a bit of trepidation that I mention this activity. I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, and with the exception of a short couple months living in San Francisco and many years of living in the Seattle city limits, I have found myself living back in Bellevue, a short distance across Lake Washington from Seattle.  I bring this up in contrast to how my husband was raised, in the rural countryside of Minnesota.  Having been brought up in suburbia, I don’t remember anyone that I know of having guns or being a hunter.  My impression of hunters was probably pretty biased… radical right-wingers… card-carrying NRA members… although I didn’t have any real ethical problem with hunting, so long as they would eat the meat, rather than just killing for sport.  Even after several years of having been a vegan in my past (a vegetarian who eats no animal products at all, including meat, poultry, fish or dairy) and having studied the issues of being a carnivore, I feel like that hunting or fishing at least gives the animal/bird/fish some change at survival and a better quality of their life than most creatures that are farm-raised.  In contrast, Randy grew up with pheasant hunting every year with his father.  It’s a very nostalgic activity for him.  Regardless, I know that there are plenty of people who are anti-hunting.  So I tend not to mention this aspect of our life to many people, for fear of their reaction or rejection. 

mini crab-apples

As a lover of animals, I’m relieved that my husband only hunts upland birds (pheasant, quail, and chucker.)  I’m pretty good with training, both dogs and as a horsewoman.  So my participation in the past years has been to train and maintain control of our hunting dog.  Yet for the first time this year, my two teen boys passed their hunter education and I took the class with them, so I’m actually participating in the hunting.  I guess I should say for those who’ve never gone hunting, that it’s a lot like fishing… it’s a good day when you see a bird- but many times you don’t.  If you really want to bring home dinner, you pay to go to a bird farm/hunting club, where they place farm-raised birds which you buy (regardless of whether you actually get the bird or not) in a field for you to hunt.  The real joy is in being out in the field watching your dog do what he/she is raised to do and love.

upholstery fabric from restaurant

OK, how does this relate to finding inspiration?  As I said, I find inspiration everywhere.  The sky and clouds, the few lone crab-apple trees in the orchard which are inexplicably filled with fruit while most are bare, pieces of wood, fields of grain… these are a few of the things which I viewed today.  I also saw some wonderful textiles, again in everyday places- the upholstery at the restaurant we ate at, and a cute applique pillow in our hotel room. 

machine appliqued pillow at hotel


So where am I going with this?  I suppose that the real trick is not to just find inspiration, it’s then to act on it.  One of my next steps is to figure out how to be making art every day.  How to use all the remarkable inspiration I find (or even a portion of it) rather than taking it in and then it being forgotten.  How do translate inspiration into your artwork?  One of the many questions I struggle with at times.