“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Albert Einstein, The World As I See It

I’ve always been drawn to visual images. Photographs. Paintings. Sketches. Even doodles that take on a life of their own. The collaboration of images and words … well, it’s pure magic, of course. And since we all could use a dose of inspiration in January, why not focus on this very combination? Here’s a photograph by Mary T. Hercher, for instance. I love the color contrast, the “electric blue,” as she put it, against the steadfast evergreen. The picture points to many things: the bounty of nature, the insistence of creation itself, the importance of protecting and appreciating the environment, awareness of the natural beauty that readily flows from something organic and lasting.

What do you see in Hercher’s photograph?      

“Feeling a little blue in January is normal.”
~ Marilu Henner
MANY great poets have written about the poetry of nature. Trees, in particular. Personally, I can’t imagine a yard without plenty of trees. I grew up seeing plenty of cottonwood trees along the Missouri River, and scattered elsewhere on the prairie like afterthoughts. But the evergreen, it’s year-round beauty, is especially rewarding to gaze upon. Most, tall and stately, seem oblivious to everything going on around them, as they insistently stretch skyward … with a touch of inspiration for anyone who cares to notice.

 I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
~ e. e. cummings
THEN there is the phenomenal artist, Paul C. Jackson. I couldn’t mention inspiration without mentioning Jackson (AWS, NWS American Watercolorist) in the same breath. A prolific artist and ambitious world traveler, he is one of today’s most versatile and visible contemporary watercolorists. Whether his subject is landscape, cityscape, portrait, architecture, still life or abstract, Jackson captivates his audience with genuine emotion, intensity and finesse that energize each of his creations.

Music is often the focus of Paul’s art. Here, for instance, is “Lovesong” (20 x 26 watercolor), a new painting from Jackson.
Inspired by a series of Adele performances that Paul and friends enjoyed at Madison Square Garden in New York in September 2016,
this painting was selected for inclusion in the American Watercolor Society’s 150th Annual International Exhibition (Salmagundi Club,
New York City April 3-22, 2017). Paul notes that “this is the most prestigious exhibition for a watercolorist.”

PAUL was also the artist behind my recent book cover for The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone. I needed artwork that depicted a depth of emotion for my memoir that studies the dynamics of sudden loss while seriously venturing into the spiritual realm of life’s deepest mysteries. After looking at several of Jackson’s paintings, I knew the one he also decided to name “Silence of Morning” was a perfect choice. The words, the overall sentiment of the book, truly could be “seen” in Paul’s painting. Not only was the artwork beautiful, but Jackson has always valued collaboration with other artists and can find a viable creative edge for nearly any project no matter how far afield it may seem from the world of watercolors. When words and images come together … the possibilities are endless.

I must mention, however, that Paul may come by his tremendous creative spirit somewhat naturally. Nancy Jackson, his mother, recently completed a handmade quilt that features the names of authors she’s followed or admired or read. Included: William Least Heat-Moon (of Blue Highways fame), Paul Jackson (as he is also an author), and my name, as well. Nancy gathered the individual quilt blocks over a span of years; each author personally signing his or her name on each block for inclusion in her project. I was honored to be asked. The end result is outstanding! Amazing! Following the work of Jennie Doan, the quilt pattern author, Nancy has created a true work of art. I hope it is displayed in a  prominent place one day soon. Here then is the Nancy Jackson piece that beautifully illustrates that expansive and magical merger of words and images.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

INSPIRATION is also important to another artist I admire a great deal. Canadian contemporary artist, Terrill Welch, is an impressionist painter and photographer who seems to find tremendous joy in her work. A lovely commonality among all of my featured artists, actually. There must be something intrinsic to the artistic soul that moves universe itself. 

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ― Vincent Van Gogh

WHEN you visit Terrill’s website, you’ll find this: British Columbia artist and photographer Terrill Welch’s quick sure painting strokes, and photographic images capture forest, sandstone, sea and sky.  They remind us that there is only one moment – this one. Since 2010, more than 80 of Terrill Welch’s paintings of various sizes and significantly more of her photography prints have found their way into private collections. Many of these paintings have sold while still work-in-progress or resting wet on the easel.

I have been following her work for at least seven years now. Though unsure how I first spotted her artistic hand and upbeat presence, once you gaze at a Welch landscape, it’s not easy to stop thinking about where you would hang a piece of her artwork if you were lucky enough to have such a worry. Artistic work that hangs in our memory like a an endurable feeling, like a source of lasting inspiration, is a sure sign of something authentic and true.

  Catching Waves at Georgina Point Mayne Island BC 
Oil on Canvas 30 x 40 x 1.5

SINCE I was specifically looking for the magic of words and images, I thought this description from the artist was interesting. “There is a brisk northwesterly wind stirring up the Salish Sea in the bright autumn sun. I step carefully down the sandstone trail to the shore below the lighthouse at Georgina Point. Looking out across the Strait of Georgia, it seems that the best thing to do is to catch a few waves. Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada.”

SOMETIMES when I spot a new piece of work from Welch, I have fun playing with words to see what title the image provokes. Inspiration. It’s always there if we are open to it; if we seek it out. I can’t imagine a world without art … can you? But the individuals behind the work are usually equally fascinating. What brought them to the world of art in the first place? How do they sustain their energetic enthusiasm for their work? What do they want to communicate to the world? To you, to me?

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you:
I am here to live out loud.
Émile Zola

Born in the village of Vanderhoof in north-central British Columbia, Terrill’s art training came at an early age and continued more in the European style of mentoring and tutoring. Terrill Welch’s work, in water mixable or walnut oil paints and photographic canvas prints, showcases the beautiful, mysterious and rugged southwest coast of Canada. Though locally appreciated, Terrill Welch is internationally recognized.  Her paintings and photographs are sold to art collectors throughout Canada and the United States as well as in Australia, England, Norway and Switzerland.

AND NOW I’d like to return to Mary Hercher, the photographer I began this blog post with … here again is her wonderful red bench that I featured in SunnyRoomStudio last year. It’s an invitation to stop for a moment to gaze out at the world anew. Look at something with the eyes of an artist … how does this vantage point change your overall perception? Can you describe this dynamic or paint it? How do you feel when looking through an artistic lens instead of through the dull eyes of routine and conformity? A whole new world is born in this way, in this context. SO make the shift! Regardless of what you do each day in your life, try opening your eyes to the beauty of whatever is right in front of you. Study the colors, the texture, the expression, the eyes. This alone, I would wager, could change our world.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Edgar Degas

  “I have one image of myself that I like, but it is a ‘soft’ image, one full of joy.”
Mary T. Hercher @ Wind Spirit Photography
Rapid City, South Dakota

I have a feeling this is going to become one of my favorite blog posts for 2017. Certainly, it’s one way to express my profound gratitude to those who are such bright lights in the universe. As an author, I could never find the words for an entire book without the incredible work of others around me to provoke and guide and inspire. I wish all of these individuals an abundance of creative energy and joy in the upcoming year, and thank them again for their profound contribution to creating a world that looks beyond the surface of things for the deeper meaning. As Mary is doing above, keep looking up and out and around! Do this as often as possible. Seek the unknown, seek to finally see what is just beyond your awareness and grasp. THAT is where the true magic of life can be found. Best wishes to all for January and beyond. ~ dh

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

See you again in a few weeks!
Thanks so much for stopping by this creative sunny space for kindred spirits.

Blog by SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.

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  1. Thanks again to ALL contributors to this blog post. Without art (all types and forms) … life would lose its magic, I’m quite sure. Appreciated the insightful comments, as well. Kindred spirits in a sunny creative space are always sure to inspire.

    “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
    ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  2. Audrey Denecke

    Thank you for this gift of beauty in the midst of a cold, partially sunny day in January. Your choices of art and artists here and on your posts are an invitation to breathe in their essence attend to the carefully selected words and reflect. I too will have to return several times to take in all you offer to us.

    • Glad you stopped by, Audrey. Kindred spirits make the world a bit less mysterious! Thank you, as well, for your inspiration … a priceless gift.

  3. Love this blog, Daisy! I, too, think this particular column will stand out all year as a favorite. I, too, have always been intrigued by the combination of images and words. When the right image is married with the right words, a synergistic effect is often generated, with the sum being greater than the individual parts. To this end, this blog post also has such an effect, with your wonderful selection of images, artistic quotes and a philosophic approach to the appreciation of life’s natural beauty. Your blog always reveals the aesthetics of a refined sensibility, evidence that you, like the great ancient Socrates, believe that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

    Mary Hercher’s stunning image of berries on the evergreen resonates strongly with this Mainer! It vibrates with color and life, reminding us that beauty itself is one of life’s many miracles.

    I also love Nancy Jackson’s quilt, as much for what it represents as for its craftsmanship. What a wonderful way to honor those who inspire!

    I am also a big fan of Terrill Welch’s art. I was very honored to feature her magnificent paintings in an August 2015 Feature Exhibition in my series, The Cyber Art Show (archive link below):


    Lastly, I love your invitation to “stop for a moment and gaze out at the world anew.” Isn’t this exactly what these great artists do, help us to observe the world through “new eyes?” I feel blessed to work daily in a community of like-minded creative expressionists. These painters and poets and musicians challenge each of us to shed the enamel of jade and experience the world the way they do—with a childlike fascination at life’s many deep and beautiful mysteries.

    Daisy, I wish you and all of your SunnyRoom Studio friends a healthy and happy 2017!

    • Incredible the bounty of a creative world … for those who “see” it. For those who “appreciate it.” The inspiration that flows from so many talented individuals is the best reason to keep contributing to a world that needs artists of all kinds … in every walk of life. Art is the very poetry of the day … allowing us, encouraging us, to leave TV and such behind in a search for the deeper meaning of each breath. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and the Welch link! May words and images continue to bring everything into a new light … as one illuminates and defines the other. Enjoy the new season of a year that will certainly challenge us to stay inspired!

    • Thank you Keith for all that you do and adding a link here to the Cyber Art Show feature from 2015! It was a lot of fun working with you on that project. I can’t thank people like yourself and Daisy enough for getting my work out there into this grand world of ours. I feel extremely fortunate to work with such an engaged online community. A mention here, a share there and the occasional feature now and again makes all the difference. So thank you both yet again! And Daisy, I am thrilled to be included in your inspiration article with such great company. Paul Jackson’s watercolour paintings in particular are stunning in their depth of emotion and mastery of the medium. All the best to you both!

  4. Mary

    Dear Daisy, tears of gratitude are flowing down my checks……Thank you for including me in this blog! Your words, the composition, the flow of this piece, reflect your writing talents and the message is a strong one! May many blessings find you this year of 2017. I am taking classes to learn to paint with water colors and acrylics…..as I want to paint some of my photos…..and on Wednesday we will be painting a winter scene! Thanks for reminding me of the symbolism and beauty of the red bench….this will be my painting on Wednesday. So grateful that our Facebook paths have crossed. Sincerely, Mary T Hercher, Wind Spirit Photography

    • You are most welcome, Mary! I am simply glad to provide the space for kindred spirits who share an appreciation for all things creative, inspiring, thought-provoking, and beautiful. So glad you are learning to paint … sounds exciting. Keep me posted on how it goes and enjoy the journey. Sharing what we “see” with others is a profound, life-altering gift. Thank you so much for sharing your work here in this sunny space!

  5. Daisy — The creative end-results of inspiration you share in this post are wonderful; they speak to me on so many levels. I’m going to come back and drink from this well many times today. Thank you.

    • You’re right, Laurie … there are several threads in this post to help us find our way whenever needed. When writing, painting, taking a picture, or whatever creative venture pulls at our heart strings. Thanks for being here, may the new year bless you in many surprising ways!

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