Hope everyone is staying cool during these lazy, hazy days of summer.

I have long been a member of a writing group here in East Aurora.  Our moderator, Rick Ohler, organizes a field trip every May to explore mainly agricultural Wyoming County, which is basically in East Aurora’s background.  This year’s excursion inspired me to think about what motivates people to create.  Let me know what your creative space looks like and how it inspires you.


By: Karen Wielinski

Creativity requires inspiration.

This thought crossed my mind as I entered the studio of artist Thomas Aquinas Daly, during the annual Wyoming County field trip Rick Ohler had organized for his creative writing groups.

Tubes of paint in an array of hues were scattered on easels and work benches.  Some resembled toothpaste tubes, wrinkled and squeezed but still kept to allow one or more dabs of paste to escape.

A shallow copper bowl lay on a table, its rim decorated with an assortment of paint colors, no doubt placed there as a testing ground before a brush would apply color to a blank canvas. The mixture of colors produced a patina transforming the bowl into a piece of art.  Paint tubes and brushes were placed haphazardly next to the bowl, joined by photographs and a sketch book–snapped and drawn by the artist as inspiration for future works.

An old wooden cubby was the perfect hiding place to store CDs, business cards, camera lenses, matches, letters, and a catalog from Cheap Joe’s Art Supply. Any one of those items could unleash a spark of inspiration.

On the wall, death notices were not so much gathered together as grim reminders of mortality, but rather the remembrance of friends and relatives who had provided inspiration to Thomas during their lives.

An old poster provided me with a reminder of Buffalo’s past. It urged fans to attend day baseball games at the old Offerman Stadium, home of the Bisons from 1923 to 1960. Youngsters under twelve were enticed to come with the promise of a free 8 X 10 photo of a Bison player.  Had that notice inspired the artist to capture a lone baseball bat casting its shadow against the wall in the painting now resting in a corner of the room?

Shortly after my visit to Thomas’ studio, I visited my cousin Suzanne Barrett.  She also is an artist, who surrounds herself with a world of color to inspire her creations.

Again, those tubes of paint in her studio served as reminders of the extent of her creativity over the years.  If I searched the canvases that overflowed in the room, I might detect the exotic hues promised on the tubes: Russian Blue, Violet Dioxzine, Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine Blue, and Alizarin Crimson.

The window in the studio flooded the room with light, and was itself a framed artistic masterpiece. The blues and greens of a pond outside were illuminated by the picture-perfect sunny spring day.  Sunlight transformed one section of the window screen in such a way that waves of blue created modernistic designs. Inspiration could be found just by looking out that window.

I could also see that an array of Suzanne’s papier-mâché dolls, scattered around the room, reappeared in several of her paintings, as they joyfully assembled on the canvas in a colorful group.

A cabinet in the studio was filled with interesting items.  An assortment of martini and champagne glasses perhaps hinted that Suzanne had enjoyed a libation or two prior to facing a blank canvas.  I have occasionally found that practice can stir the imagination and unleash some creativity.  Mermaids, a favorite subject of Suzanne’s, were relaxing on the shelves, along with an assortment of sea shells.  As she has lived on both the East and West coasts over the years, I know the ocean and beach provide her with constant inspiration.

Looking at these studios reinforced my belief that the items we surround ourselves with inspire creativity.

Just like these artists, I find a collection of inspiration in my writing space. Photos of my husband and girls inspire me to write stories of our life together.  A paper Japanese Geisha Girl reminds me of the adventures travel can bring.  A copy of a check from the Buffalo News signifies that my words can be published and produce monetary rewards. An origami shirt fashioned from a dollar bill indicates how simple items can be transformed into works of art. A small stone figure, affectionately known as Lil’ Dude, inspired me to design a tiny wardrobe of outfits for him to celebrate the months of the year, and yes, he became the subject of one of my essays.

May we never lose that thirst to find inspiration that encourages us to create.