Yellowstone, nature and perspective

Photograph from Artist’s Peak at Yellowstone National Park Two weeks ago, I stood at a vantage point aptly labeled “Artist’s Peak” in Yellowstone National Park. I looked out over the winding water, following it backwards with my eyes to the magnificent, billowing waterfall rich with strokes of white and green. I saw the shape of it’s path, cut over millions of years into the gold canyon rock, supporting any tree stubborn enough to endure the steeps lope. I shifted my viewpoint multiple times in an attempt to throw off the balance of the landscape, the color, the composition, and failed to do so. I couldn’t help but feel completely humbled by the splendor of the scene laid before me without the touch of human hand.

Today, I sat at a desk above a sketchbook rapidly brainstorming concepts for a logo I’ve been commissioned to redesign, and the sights continue to fuel me.

All creative professionals grapple with the challenge of conjuring divergent thinking on cue. It is potentially the most mysterious aspect of aesthetic professions, but that enigmatic quality is typically what keeps us insatiable creatives from turning the other direction and pursuing a more reasonable occupation. However, to avoid stagnation we must continue to hone our ability to observe and subsequently transform and synthesize sensory stimuli.

A still from Shadow of the Colossus alongside a photograph of a male bison in Yellowstone National Park
A still from the PlayStation 2 game “Shadow of the Colossus”, baring resemblance to a the real-life male bison.

Pablo Picasso famously said “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal.” While this idea is often and easily abused, it is entirely sound; creative people are always taking ideas and making them their own. The concept is a celebration of the observation and transformation skills in our mind’s toolbox, and it gains effectiveness the wider we cast our observational net.

I visited a gallery in Cody, Wyoming called Traces of Light, showcasing the nature photography of husband-and-wife Jim Wilson and Leslie Slater-Wilson. All of the photographs were stunning in their beauty and attention to the dichotomy between subtlety and magnificence, but what struck me the most was a collection taken of crimson, cavernous formations.

The photograph “Rushing Water’s Design” alongside a desktop wallpaper design by Apple
Jim Wilson’s photograph “Rushing Water’s Design” looks as though it could have inspired the sweeping pathways of Apple’s default Mac wallpapers.

The intricate, fluid designs of the canyon walls possess a thrilling combination of spontaneity and calculated balance, with extraordinary color that gives the imagery an ethereal quality.

The world needs artists like Jim and Leslie, not solely for their amazing work, but to remind us that inspiration is everywhere, so long as we maintain our curiosity for it.