“People don’t take trips. Trips take people.” - John Steinbeck
Last year, trips carried me over more than 5,000 miles of road in a van packed to the brim with clothes, shoes, books, notebooks, and... you guessed it… a tote full of art supplies. If I have learned anything about myself as an artist, it is that nature is my bread and experiences are my butter. Without leaving the walls of my cozy home once in a while, the inspiration dries up, my paints dry out, and my smile fades. A walk on old cobblestones, a drive through the mountain mist - it spurs me into action and replenishes my weary frame. Stories come alive in my mind’s eye. Shadows lurk nearby in hues of eggplant. Pines tower overhead with vermillion undertones. I see the world, in these moments, with my pastels before me or in tubes of paint.
Since moving to Texas, the roads we take tend to lead us through Arkansas more often than not. As a teenager, I remember driving through Arkansas a few times with family and being less than impressed by the flat brown fields that seemed to stretch on for ages. Somehow the fields have turned golden and roll out like a Turkish carpet for miles, dotted with crops and maples, ducks, geese, and the occasional lonely heron. I enjoy watching the plowed rows trot past my window. Mirroring rivers gleam in the sunlight as they wind through the woods, socializing in puddles and ponds along the way, welcoming. Westward roll the hills and the sunsets just to the right of the interstate, in blazing warmth. I never imagined I would have so many photos of Arkansas, nor would I have believed that that land would inspire so many of my landscape paintings and drawings.
A word of advice to my future self, my children, and my friends: take the long way home. Stop and take a photo or two or ten. Don’t worry yourself over people that don’t understand why you love staring at the clouds, the trees, the sea. Capture the beauty and let it point you to praise the One who made it all. Praising God is never a waste of time and will feed your soul in ways that nature in all its splendor cannot, for it is but a shadow of His goodness and grace. In Him is peace, the hope of humankind.