Time, Ideas, and Inspiration

I watched Oregon Art Beat last week (Season 16, Episode 6) where they featured artist John Simpkins. I was sucked in. First, I love the Alvord Desert. The eastern slopes of the Steens Mountain is one of my very favorite spots on earth. John Simpkins lives in the old Andrews School (which was either still a school or very near to closing as a school the last time I was up that way in 2010). (It was heartening to see the video and to know that the road out front of the Andrews School remains unpaved. It will be a travesty when – if ever – that road is paved. The impact on the environment is too much for me to think about.)

Simpkins’ art style is folk art, a style I appreciate but cannot imitate. It was more what he said that inspired me (and where he has chosen to live), but I can’t say I was not touched by his art. The piece in progress during the taping of the interview really stuck with me: a cougar. John talked about the inspiration for the painting: he’d been hiking with his dog when “the hair on my neck stood up”. He turned around and went home. The painting was born of his encounter with the ghost of the desert: the cougar. Most people I know who have encountered a cougar have experienced that hair-raising feeling without ever seeing the cat (I am one of them).

It was his words on time that really struck a chord within me. “How many more years do I have to live? What can I do to give back? What can I say?” and “We don’t have too much time here, I don’t think. I don’t have a lot of time…” He didn’t mean he is dying, but that our life span is so incredibly short (my interpretation).

That is how I feel: I don’t know how much time I am allotted. I want to own every second I have of it now.

I don’t know how much time I will have to play in my studio and create. In the past, my time was always cut short by some responsibility or another. Because of my personality, I couldn’t have a studio and manage my other responsibilities at the same time: I need the long, quiet, uninterrupted times. I set my priorities and I don’t look back. The point is this: NOW I have the time. NOW I have the space. NOW I have the right ingredients. I need to grab it while I can.

With that in mind, even a bad doodle becomes a good doodle.


Point in case. I only did this a few weeks ago, but it reflects my 1980’s style.


I did this last week. I never would have tried watercolour on canvas before, but I was organizing and found four little 2×2″ canvases that I purchased somewhere along the line. Canvases begging to be painted on. The hummingbird is from a photograph I took.


This was tonight’s 2×2″ gouache on canvas.

I have two large canvases that are in progress right now. They will probably take months to finish.


The Duck Thief is already mocked in. (The photo is not mine, but was lent to me by a friend. The coyote is stealing someone’s dead duck and their wildlife cam snapped the photo. That coyote is looking straight into the lens and chuckling.) For all rights & purposes, I own the photo right now (by permission).

The other canvas is still in the wrapper.


I play with photography as well as paints and I titled this one: Reflections on Canvas. That’s the blank canvas that will soon come to life with something entirely different than a momentary shadow effect (I am pretty pleased with that photo, by the way).

I have two photos I have been longing to do something with.

59This grainy one is of a tree I could see across Highway 26 from my parking space at my last job. I used the 300mm lens to capture it, but it was really too far away and there’s too much background noise for a good shot of it. I love the shape of that tree.

alvord 239

I took this photo along the Chewaucan River at Jones Crossing CG, south of Paisley, Oregon. This tree has always reminded me of an old owl or something else critter-like.


AND – this is the mock-up of the painting (on the back of a foam board sign, exactly half the size of the painting). I had the inspiration while sitting in the car to keep warm. My husband was visiting his VW mechanic and I got bored with engines that wouldn’t turn over. <wink>

Tree of Wisdom. I figured 15 owl varieties, but not necessarily 15 owls. I don’t think I am even going to try to keep them in scale. Maybe I will try my hand at a folk-art style painting.


2 thoughts on “Time, Ideas, and Inspiration

  1. Time is such a fleeting thing. I know it is a double edged sword, but by not having your grandchildren close at hand, you DO have time to explore and develop your inspired pieces.
    Unfortunately I get frustrated not inspired when I watch shows like Art Beat. I see Artists that have TIME to devote to their art. They don’t mind living simply. Somehow they make the mortgage/rent payment.
    Now I just depressed myself. . .sorry. I truly hear you in this blog. And I want you to know I want the hummingbird piece. I want to scan it and print it, put it under glass as a cabochon and then bead around it for a necklace. You did a lovely job on it and the Giraffe.

  2. I just saw this comment, Mary. I have set the hummingbird aside for you.
    I rarely watch Oregon Art Beat as well, and for the same reasons. I just watched that segment because 1)a friend of mine told me about the artist, and 2) the artist lives in Andrews, Oregon, which is on the way to one of my favorite places on earth: the east side of the Steens Mountain. I feel drawn to that part of the world, over and over.

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