I live near Austin, Texas and in Austin, actually just outside of Austin, sits Lake Travis. It's a large lake along the Colorado River, the lake itself formed by a series of dams. The entire setup is run by an outfit called the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA.) The dams control the flow of water, obviously, to keep Austin (no, not "weird" although I guess they do that too) from flooding like it used to in years past. In the past, Austin was home to some historical floods, with parts of the entire City being shutoff and underwater for great lengths of time, so this elaborate series of dams was built and a government organization formed to control it all, to control the flow of water down the Colorado and protect the City.
Well, smack dab in the middle of Lake Travis there are some islands (sort of) that pop up when we have a drought, basically when there is not enough water to cover them. Because of the nature of these "disappearing islands," islands that are basically there sometimes and sometimes not, the locals have branded them, well the largest of them, "Sometimes Island." According to the news report on the issue,
"So-called Sometimes Island is now part of a peninsula jutting out about three-quarters of a mile into Lake Travis. The Austin American-Statesman reported Monday that the lake, for the first time since the 1960s, is so low that visitors can walk from Mansfield Dam Park to Sometimes Island. The island's name came about because the land is only exposed during droughts. The chief park ranger, Dan Chapman, says the peninsula is pretty brushy and unappealing. The area was part of a farm on which cattle grazed before Mansfield Dam was finished in 1941."I've always been oddly fascinated with the entire concept of "Sometimes Island." I mean islands are supposed to be made of rock and stone, big giant things like Hawaii that offer shelter from the great seas and oceans of the world, right? Hard giant rock formations that you can land a boat on, heck even build condominiums on, not disappearing or "popping up" when the weather is right or they just sort of feel like it. "Hi, we're here! Came in for a spot of tea today. We'll be back underwater tomorrow." I mean what is up with that? A disappearing island? Does it come with its own magician, top hat, and giant bunny too? It's just odd to me.
Combine this with the fact that the newspaper just ran an article saying that our drought is so severe you can now walk out to Sometimes Island, that it's now actually a peninsula and not even an island anymore. An island you can get to without using a boat? One that's only there sometimes and sometimes not there because it's flooded with water but now it's actually a peninsula? Wait...let me get this straight again...It's hard to wrap you head around this, isn't it? (Oh how I miss the giant bunny now!)
[I smell an art project here, I swear I do, or at least the makings of a great title for a new encaustic painting or perhaps a very funny blog post, don't you? I mean, how great would this be for the setting of a murder mystery? I could almost sniff out the title now: Murder on Sometimes Island. Oh man, this is like epic. Where are the late night jokesters when you really need them most?]
Sometimes (ahem!) I have to really wonder about people who say they can't find inspiration for artwork anywhere. I mean, you can't even make up stuff this good. It just falls out of the sky or, in this case literally rises out of the lake. How could you miss being inspired by stuff like this? Is there anything like this in your little world? Any odd inspirations? Settings you find interesting? Or things that strike you as out of place? Sometimes (there's that word again!) it just takes a small glance, a slight look at something and a brief thought but, when we make ourselves ask questions like, "what's up with that?" there is often inspiration to be found in our local setting. We don't have to go all out wild and crazy, we don't have to travel the globe to find this stuff, it's the slightly odd and out-of-place things that work just fine here. You can find a small inspiration, add a lot of imagination, and come up with a great art project. Imagine what the concept of "Sometimes Island" could become in the hands of a great mystery writer, a sculptor, or perhaps even an abstract painter.
In case your new to all of this, maybe you're a beginner or maybe you're just looking for a dash of inspiration, I hope I have provided you with some food for thought. Go out and find something in your little world that's different, unusual, maybe only slightly off and capitalize upon it. Take it to its limits. Stretch it. See where it takes you. It's one of the many ways we can be inspired to create something new and different. Ask the big questions yes, but don't forget to stop, pause, and wonder, "what's up with that?" too. Maybe it's just something dangling slightly out of place, a nail in an odd place, or just something a tiny bit "off" in some way that sparks a thought and provides your inspiration. I hope this technique will help you find new inspiration in the small things you happen upon every day, not just the larger mind-blowing experiences, because those sometimes (!) only happen to us once in a little while.
This image was taken in Venice, at a holiday festival, but it could just as easily been taken in Lake Travis or near where you live. There is water everywhere. There are boats on the water everywhere. There are even islands and odd happenings everywhere. Plastic bags in the wind, odd signs, nails out of place, hooks holding up strange things. It's up to you to go out, to explore, to find these things too. So, maybe you don't have a Sometimes Island where you live, but I'm sure there's something else, something maybe even wilder and crazier or even something that allows you to stop, pause, and reflect just long enough to find inspiration. Go out and find this place, this place that's special and inspirational for you and explore it.
Perhaps tomorrow will bring another image here on the blog from Iceland, Italy, Mexico or, you know, this place, the place known as my own special Sometimes Island. I tend to live there, in case you couldn't tell. I love to hang out in the land of odd little inspirations, strange happenings, and wonderful little quirks, I'm at home there more than I am someplace you might consider more "normal." Sometimes Island? Yeah, I could probably just move there, really I could.
And, let me be the first to tell you if you haven't figured it out already, it's the greatest place to visit if you can manage the trip.
Until next time...