Transformable. / by Gary Perrone

My quest for creative inspiration is a never-ending process. Not only I am looking for subject matter, but also a state of mind that makes creativity possible. For me, it helps to find balance with nature and I like to go for long bike rides to natural places. I spent the past three afternoons in Titus County, Texas riding my bike with my buddy (we have been riding together for over a decade, and up until now mostly in Dallas). After a ten minute ride out of the relative hustle of our City of Mount Pleasant, the environment became remarkably different. The predominant sounds were wind in the trees and birds. The roads wound around farms, ranches, forests and swamps. The air was incredibly fresh and at times the fragrances of honeysuckle and countless flowering species were overpowering. 

I was continually distracted by the vistas and aromas, but especially by the visual components that comprised the ambience of these places. The color spectrum was apparent –fields of green and yellow. Tracts of maroon, orange and cyclamen, not to mention every shade of purple. Flowers with a color I can only describe as day-glo. White flowers covering enormous trees and tiny white blooms sprinkled on pastures like powdered sugar. White narcissus, daffodils and spider lilies growing wild. All beneath the blue sky. 

As we rode along, I took it all in and marveled that I was in this place at this time, not taking the Earth for granted. As a longtime urbanite I found myself longing for natural places that were almost non-existent within the city limits. Now, far from metropolitan Dallas I did not have to imagine uncomplicated nature – it was right before me. My buddy remarked on the effect we seem to have on grazing cattle as they consistently stopped their activities to watch as we passed by.

Humanity is here but at a much smaller scale – ranchers, farmers and country folk. Indeed, the largest groups we encounter are the occupants of several Texas cemeteries that dot the county, and a few of these locations have become something of a destination for us. What I find curious about these places are the grave markers that pre-date 1930 and even the 20th century. They are hand-carved from marble and limestone and encrusted with symbology and lichens. I am inspired by the places of reverence, quietude and beauty in which they reside.

These experiences have had a profound effect on my creativity and my transformation from urban to non-urban has brought about a welcome change in perspective. The distractions of color and the changing vistas of the rural landscape have been food for my subconscious mind and cannot be compared to the stresses and artifice of the city. There was a time when I lived for the city. As a city-dweller I found great inspiration in the human nature and design of the city. Even so, I always sought out the beach, park and riverfront. Now more than ever I realize my true nature leans towards simplicity and introspection – neither of which the city seemed able to offer me.

I am gratified to see I am transformable. I often hear people comment on how others are set in their ways or opposed to change. If I fear anything it would be my unwillingness to grow and adapt to new life situations. My transformation included a return to a different time and place, one where I did not expect to go. When I am there I am inspired to create beautiful works of art. I realize nothing can capture the magnificence of that moment and I would be hard-pressed to attempt artistic duplication. I would attempt to distill this compilation of scenes and emotions to the essence of what mattered to me at the time by transforming my thoughts and memories into art.