I have lived in the Southeastern US for 9 years now, but I will always be a Pacific Northwest girl at heart. Back in October, thanks to my amazing day job, I was able to take a trip (my first ever paid vacation) home for the first time in over 3 years. It was really a trip full of firsts – first time meeting a niece and nephew, first time renting a car, first time in a LONG time traveling by myself, etc… But for me, visiting all of my old stomping grounds is a major creative inspiration too. The more I look at the pictures I took and think about the broad categories of things that inspire me, they are all things that are steeped in the environment and communities of my home. I hope you will join me today in a pictorial reprise of my journey and muse with me about things to come.
The first half of the trip I spent in the mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon, at my parent’s house. They live on a hill, on a large piece of property that crosses over the valley in between the hill and neighboring butte (top). My dad had just returned from a month long moose hunt in Alaska and bagged a massive bull (middle left, antlers held by my brother) – I’m pretty sure I indulged my craving for moose meat every single day I was there. The antlers measure 60″ across…that’s as wide as I am tall! Mom and Dad’s is always a good place to get some bird watching in. The Rufus and Anna’s hummingbirds (middle right) are still buzzing around even with most blooms long gone. While the view from the house is amazing on a clear day, you can pretty much count on thick foggy mornings at this time of year (bottom left). I had a really nice time wandering around the place with everyone – including my dad’s crazy dog (bottom right). She likes to raid my mom’s garden beds for tomato treats.
One day my mom, brother and I made a trip over to Newport on the Oregon coast. Newport is one of my favorite places to visit for many reasons – easy beach access, historic touristy bayfront, delicious restaurants, fantastic bead store…and the Oregon Coast Aquarium! The Aquarium focuses mostly on Pacific sealife, from the tide pools, all the way out to the open ocean sharks and open water fishes. We got there just in time to see the keepers train and feed the sea lions, but my favorite part was the aviary. The weather was kind of lousy, and we were the only people in there. The puffins and guillemots sat and swam close for some fantastic pictures and video.
I did mention the weather was lousy, right? I know, no surprise! But usually we will still get a good walk on the beach in, beach comb and maybe poke through the tide pools a bit…not this time. Not only was it a blustery, cold day, but we got to the beach right at high tide, so I just got this one picture! After I finished up at the bead shop, we headed down to an amazing restaurant in the bay for a fantastic lunch full of local seafood. I had a smoked king salmon salad that I have been dreaming about ever since! Walking along the docks, you can’t miss the sound (and smell) of the local colony of sea lions. The harbor had to install some dedicated platforms and rock pilings just for them quite a few years ago, as they were having a lot of problems with them on the actual boat docks. Also, a note about the ocean – do you see that green color where the water under the pilings isn’t reflecting light? This is the color I think of when I picture the ocean…not your tropical blues (see, Diana?).
After spending the first half of the trip in Oregon, I traveled back up to my in-law’s outside of Vancouver, Washington. The view from their house is equally as delightful (middle), including more hummingbird watching, migratory dabbling and diving ducks on the pond (right), and lots of deer. The deer were elusive when I had my camera in hand, but I managed to catch this one peering at me from between the trees (left).
One of the advantages of visiting someone in Washington, is that you’re not too far away from Shipwreck Beads. If you’re not familiar with this supplier, you should be! They have a great website, but the showroom is worth a visit too – over 22,000 square feet of beads – I’m not joking! I took this picture as a panorama and still left off several parts of the store!
I also was fortunate enough to meet up with former Art Elements writer Linda Landig. She lives very near to Shipwreck, so we spent several hours where she followed me around while I had a marathon shopping spree, chatting about beads and many other things. It was delightful, ! And of course, I know you want to see the spoils…
I was also personal shopping for a friend, picked up a new set of tools, and grabbed a bunch of bright plastic beads and cord for playing with the nieces and nephew. We had fun the next day stringing necklaces in front of the wood stove.
My mom sent me back to Tennessee with some new scarves and dishtowels that she had woven (and knit!). I think this counts as my winter inspiration package! She had also picked up some neat raw fiber for me to use for doll hair. Not for this doll though. Lucky find at one of the thrift stores, this doll is identical to one of the ones that always lived in my grandma’s toy trunk. My cousins and I used to play with her all the time…she has a wind up key and moves. I…may…have had her wound up when I set her on the counter to purchase, and thoroughly disturbed the cashier. When we were at the aquarium I picked up these little ceramic critters (though two are gifts for friends) to add to my creativity altar. And Linda was kind enough to send me back with some of her beautiful ceramic creations too! I love that little brown bead in the middle – raw clay with teeny dabs of orange glaze in the dimples.
And now here I am back in Tennessee, looking back at all of these pictures feeling homesick and inspired at the same time. If you saw my component of the month reveal from October, you’ll see what I mean. Another project (that I can’t reveal right now) is the same, using familiar colors to bring me back home. I have a feeling this trend is going to continue for awhile.
Do places inspire you like this? Either a place you vacation, or the place where your roots are planted? How does this come out in your work? I would love to know!