I've been thinking about ideas and how they come to me and what I do with them. I can't remember who said this, "The muse doesn't t come every day but woe unto you if she comes and you're not home." I've written about this before, how sometimes an idea lodges itself in my mind and I can't move on until I put it on paper. Other times I sit and stare out the window or at my nails and say, "Okay, Muse, whenever you're ready."
In 2002 my mother said to Jessie and me, "let's take a trip--you decide where." I wanted Italy, Jessie wanted Australia so we compromised on Greece. We took a cruise on a sailing ship from Athens to Istanbul. Our first stop was Santorini, and who should I meet on the street but this happy couple(the Pelicans.) The mermaid was painted on the wall of a restaurant. That's our ship in her hand.
The pictures I take when I travel might drive someone else crazy. Here's a sample from an album I put together. That's our ship. in the harbor.
No labels, no identification of place or time, just images I like and think, "Maybe I can us that."
've shown up in many of my drawings. They absolutely grabbed me and I did a whole series of staircases. That may have led to my series of open houses-I often start with a staircase.
The next year my sister-in-law, Kathleen, invited me and my other sister-in-law, Donna, to visit her daughter, Shelagh, who was doing her junior year in Seville. That was the closest I'll ever get to a sisters trip, and it was wonderful fun. We went in November but the weather felt like September, my second favorite month, and the streets were lined with orange trees full of fruit. I'll never forget tinta verana, red wine mixed with lemon soda-it may sound weird but it's delightful and perfect for a long lunch on a sunny afternoon. I tried it here in New York but it wasn't the same. Like the campfire stew I made in Girl Scout camp; I went home and told Mom, "We have to have this at home--it's so delicious! You just brown hamburger and stir in a can of Campbell's vegetable soup!" Mom said, "You know some things taste better when you're outside and really hungry." She was a good sport, or maybe she knew that a good teacher lets us learn for ourselves so we tried it at home and I had to agree. Some things belong in their moment.
But I digress. Back to Spain. We took the train to Grenada and visited the Alhambra. Oh those gardens with their tinkling fountains, the tiles, the arches. The history and the Islamic culture, the feat of engineering that brought water up to the mountain.
I didn't take any pictures on that trip but I did make this little collage book. One note says,
"Friday- Real Alcazar-Gardens-Moorish tiles arches"
Turns out those things have shown up in my work over and over.
Now that I look at my book case I see that I made little books for most of my trips. How could I have forgotten about that?
Then Arthur found that we had a bunch of airline miles that we had to use or lose so he figured out how far we could go for free--and the four of us went to Budapest. I loved Budapest but not much came of that trip artistically as far as I can tell.
But you never can tell. These three trips showed up in my work for years afterward. Mainly I was enchanted by the gardens and the notion that a garden is the image of Heaven on Earth.
I never know what will capture my imagination, and I'm surprised at the things that leave me cold. I'm happy to say that I'm more likely to be delighted than to be bored.
Early this week we went to the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass and I saw this staircase. You may be seeing it soon!
And this! Sweet Woodruff and ferns. So beautiful, and perfect for something I'm working on right now!