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A close companion to our first word for artists, observe, is PONDER: to contemplate, reflect, and perhaps ruminate a bit.


You’ll find a lot of folks pondering in art galleries. Art exhibits offer a place to consider different perspectives, new techniques, and learn more about history or social issues. Art is often motivating, and then we spend more time on our own projects. Encouragement comes in all forms and breathes energy into us, and can be found just about anywhere.

The secret is to let these inspirational “classrooms”—places that have creative takeaway—find you. And it need not be a place with doors and a roof!

For many there’s a lot of learning from natural wonders: color palettes of the seasons, moods of weather, nature’s resilience. The new landscapes that follow devastating forest fires, for example, always reassure me, somehow. And when perfectly complementary colors team up in the outdoors, is it really a coincidence?

In mysterious ways, nature offers a silent direction to peaceful coexistence and renewal. I ponder that kind of wisdom; maybe we can learn from it.

Other sanctuaries exist in gardens, cemeteries, museums, chapels, seashores, memorials—often, the places less traveled are the sights that invite pondering.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself,” said Danny Kaye. Did you ever think of it that way?

Join me for a few photos that made me reflect and ponder while traveling:


One of several love padlock collages on Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy. The locks symbolize eternal love; lovers throw the keys into the Arno River.


There must be a delicate strategy to perch on a living pincushion while you sing your song. Taken at Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona.


Entering the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona—I was stunned by the view! Truly a place of beauty and quiet reflection.


A starfish gathering surprised us at dawn in Bodega Bay, California.


This Shoe Tree in the Grand Cayman Islands began with a single pair of flip-flops after Hurricane Ivan.


Alaska Veterans Memorial, Denali State Park, Alaska—a place of remembrance to silently honor the greatest sacrifice.


A horse sculpture in pieces of wood, Montreal, Canada, by artist Heather Jansch, presents the question, “Amazing . . . how?”

Thanks for traveling online with me today, Empty Easel friends! In closing, consider this advice from Jonah Leher

“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything.”

I look forward to seeing you next time with our third word for artists. Until then, you can find recent work on my Facebook page.

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Imagine sitting and painting in the high, bright sunshine amid the many faces of the Alpine mountains in Europe. . . or if you have the chance, don't just imagine it. Go there! I can tell you that it's worth the effort! Each mountain face and peak calls for your attention: the way the sun hits the different mountainsides as it moves east to west; the way the snow fills the crags and covers the. . . read more

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