Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

 – Pablo Picasso

When you travel from one place to another, there’s a map. To be sure, there is always more than one way to get where you want to go. There’s the quickest way. There’s the way that avoids most delays. Lastly, there’s the meandering way that gets you “there” by way of backroads, shortcuts, dead-ends and detours. Unless you’re dead-set on an arrival time, and have a magic wand, most of us get to where we are going via the meander. Along the way there are folks who point us in a direction, lend a helping hand or walk beside us and show us the way.

I didn’t study art or photography, didn’t have a camera as a child and had not a clue that being a photographer would override my early love of words and writing. My path was shifted over thirty years ago with a challenging diagnosis and my first “real” camera. I meandered a lot. I’ve learned a lot from others and continue to be inspired to learn more. The magic in this visual art is that there’s no end to opportunities to imagine and create images that express ourselves.

Visiting and interpreting shrimp boats were some of my early ventures.

Same area with shrimpers, different scene and interpretation.


It’s a never-ending process. Inspiration is everywhere, but what IS inspiration? Let’s start there.

Inspiration … the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Inspiration gets its juice from the Latin word, “inspiratus,” which means “breathe into.” When we are inspired, we feel like we’ve been infused with new life, new energy. We are motivated. That’s how I feel.

I am inspired by many different things, abstract and concrete. I am inspired by beauty as I perceive it. Sometimes that includes a state of perfection in something; other times it’s all about seeing beauty in broken things. I’m inspired by nature – by all its colors, shapes, textures, light and shadows – and the miracles of art in nature. I’m inspired by flowers, trees, pathways and all the living things of the forest, gardens, streams, rivers and oceans. A walk outdoors is always good for my mind, body and soul and nearly always sends me home with a new outlook or ideas.

I’m inspired by art of all kinds, but mostly paintings and photographs. At least for me, these art forms resonate. They express both literal and abstract emotional concepts that inspire me to dig deeper, to explore more and to experiment with techniques and approaches I may not have tried without having exposure. I’m inspired by details, by the big pictures, by long exposures and motion. I’m inspired by other artists, their work and their stories. And, apparently, I’m inspired consistently by painters in surprisingly different ways.

The beauty of flowers filling the frame inspires me.

The whispers of wisteria in spring spark creativity and delight.

Over the last five years, I’ve made a few trips to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Each time I have been inspired, even when I knew nothing about the art or artists. In 2019, it was “The Beyond Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art” exhibit. I learned much more about one of my favorite artists than I anticipated. Last year it was the “A Modern Vison, European Masterworks, from the Phillips Collection.” Here I saw some amazing pieces, including the dancers by Degas, but also a Van Gogh that I had never seen before, The Road Menders. I immediately recognized his brush strokes, and this led me to study all the painters’ brush strokes in the exhibit. It was incredible to see how each collection of brush strokes on the canvases came together to create amazing works (whether I liked them or not.) This visit inspired me to write a blog, Connecting With Brush Strokes.

Just a few weeks ago, I made a visit to the museum for the “Dutch Art in a Global World.” Here I was introduced to two artists that are inspiring in different ways – Rachel Ruysch and Hendricks Evercamp. These two painters could not be more different to me in their styles or subjects, and both far outshined any Rembrandt in the exhibit for me. Why? I connected with Rachel because of her still life flower paintings, which are so different from the way I typically photograph flowers. Much of my style leans toward soft focus, ethereal and smaller details. Rachel’s flower portraits are filled with dramatic color, texture, details, curves and mostly darker backgrounds. So different and so beautiful. In addition, she was the first female to be offered membership in the Confrerie Pictura in the Hague (an exclusive club of artists and academics). She was considered the greatest tulip and flower painter of the Dutch Golden Age.

“Still Life With Flowers” (1709) – The painting that captured and held my attention.

And, then there’s Evercamp, capturing the “Dutch Ice Age” with paintings filled with details and scenes of skaters on the river along with all measure of ordinary life. He has been described in some writings as the master of the winter landscape. I could see why. “Skaters on a Frozen River” held my attention. As I viewed it closely, I saw detail after detail, scene after scene that could have easily become another painting. The winterscapes took me back to my snowy childhoods, and the landscapes reminded me of photography instructors reminding me to look for smaller scenes within the larger ones.

Because of this last visit to the museum, I want to know more about each of these artists. However, I really want to learn more about Rachel Ruysch because of her flowers. What I have found so far, even with the small book about her art, only scratches the surface. I am intrigued and inspired.

“Skaters on a Frozen River” (circa 1610-1615) – The other painting that grabbed me for different reasons.


When it comes to influence, that, too, is in abundant supply and appears in varying degrees of quality. It’s all a matter of perspective, and it helps to be particular when yielding to influence.

           Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself… or to have power to change or affect someone or something.

For this blog, let’s stick with the influence of art and nature and experiences. I’ve made time to visit the art museum. I’ve also been making time to do some serious cleaning out of my office, reviewing and culling slides I’ve made over twenty years ago. In doing so, I can see the changes not only in what I have photographed but also how I present my subjects (then and now). I can see the difference between images made when I was “winging it” and trying to teach myself through trial and error and when I began taking classes.

Even more, I can see the changes that began to happen when I met and learned from photographers Nancy Rotenberg and Freeman Patterson. I found Nancy by way of a single image and small ad in Outdoor Photographer. She was an early mentor for me with flowers, macro & close-up photography. She was an inspirer and an influence, and she taught me to be true to my vision. She also introduced me to Lensbaby early on. I found Freeman by way of Nancy, who was one of her mentors. My first experience with him was a slide program on composition at a NANPA Summit. There I learned about building images with shapes. I have most of his books and had the pleasure of immersing in a workshop with him finally in 2017. He is one who encourages creativity and play.