Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #115: Inspiration

Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.~ZADIE SMITH, White Teeth

This week, for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #115, Tina asks us to explore the theme of inspiration.  Her intriguing prompt has me searching through my archives and wondering how I’d define it.  No matter where and when inspiration strikes, it always happens in the same way.  It’s a moment when I feel a shiver of excitement, surprise or wonder about what I am seeing and/or experiencing.  That connection between the inside (feelings) and the outside (what I’m seeing) is an essential component of inspiration.

So, without any further delay, here’s my inspiration collection taken close to my home in New England.

Nature’s Beauty

On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.~Jules Renard

Nature’s beauty is always a wonderful source of inspiration.  It is a little bit of heaven on earth.

Earlier in the summer, I mentioned that Portsmouth has many wonderful public gardens, including Prescott Park.  In the evenings, I’ve been taking walks to capture the flowers in the fading light.   It’s a magical spot, which always inspires me and puts me in a great meditative state.  Here are some black-eyed Susans shot a few weeks ago at sunset.

Black-Eyed Susans at Sunset

Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. ~Rachel Carson   

This summer, the sunsets over Portsmouth were spectacular.  In this shot from August, you can see a church steeple silhouetted against a gorgeous evening sky.  The sky was so stunning that night that I ran for my camera so I could always remember that moment.


Human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.~HOWARD ZINN, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

As the pandemic continues, I’m intrigued and inspired by hopeful bits of history that reinforce my belief in “the compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness of mankind’–to quote Howard Zinn, one of my favorite historians.  My current historical obsession is with the lighthouses that dot the Atlantic coast.  They have an interesting history of protecting sailors, their ships, and their cargo from dangerous waters.   Earlier this week, we visited York, Maine and got a good look at the Cape Neddick Light Station erected in 1879.  It is still in use today.  Located on Nubble Island, this steel structure is nicknamed “the Nubble.”  Given that there are over 200 lighthouses in New England, we’ll have plenty more to visit.  It’s thrilling to see this bit of history so meticulously maintained and still doing its job for so many decades.


The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.~ALDOUS HUXLEY, The Devils of Loudun

Portsmouth has a long history associated with shipbuilding, seafaring, and transportation.  It’s also home to one of the 100 “whaling wall” murals painted by the famous marine artist, Wyland.  Over a 27-year-period, he created these paintings in 5 different continents, in 13 different countries, and 79 different cities.  The mural below, whaling wall number 37, was painted in 1993 on the wall of a building in a parking lot near the center of town.  It’s called “Isle of Shoals Humpbacks” and beautifully portrays the magnificent whale, which has inspired other creative artists, like Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick.  I’m hopeful that efforts to restore the mural will be successful.   It’s a wonderful piece of creative and marine history that shouldn’t disappear.

The Quirky and Unusual

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. ~ Martin Luther King

Creative quirkiness never fails to inspire me.  On a friend’s recommendation, I followed the narrow streets lining the harbor and tracked down the Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff.  It was hard to miss this 6-foot wooden tower manned by GI Joe action features.  Here, you can see two “Joes” at work, monitoring the streets of Portsmouth and working on a construction project.

The museum is a labor of love of the writer and collector Clayton Emery.  It features hand-made wooden displays featuring famous western outlaws and heroes like Wyatt Earp and Billie the Kidd.  It also has quirky tableaus of famous people in unlikely jobs–such as, General Omar Bradley as a storekeeper, Sean Connery as an undertaker and Barbie dolls as saloon hall dance girls.

Blessed are the weird people – poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters & troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes. ~ Jacob Nordby

My last photo is a bit strange and wonderfully quirky.  I laughed out loud when I saw this quote engraved on a headstone in one of the local cemeteries.  A quick Google search tells me that the quote comes from the movie Mame and is a line spoken by the leading character Auntie Mame played by actress Rosalind Russell.  In the movie, Mame is telling a timid secretary to break out of her shell and enjoy life.   But why would a Portsmouth man (or his family) choose that quote for his gravestone?  What was its personal significance?   I don’t have any answers yet!

I hope you enjoyed my inspiration collection this week.  I’ll close my post with one final thought about the root of the word “inspiration,” which comes from the Latin word inspirare (to breathe in).  So, what’s the connection from Latin to the modern use of the word?  Inspiration comes in a flash; it’s a moment that startles us and makes us inhale in surprise and wonder.  I think inspirare also hints at the connection with the gods who breathe the upper, pure air, unlike us ordinary humans.  But isn’t that really inspiration, after all?  It’s the moment when we glimpse the divine amidst everyday life.

We are all looking forward to seeing your responses to Tina’s “Inspiration” challenge.  Her thoughtful and beautiful post will certainly inspire you, too!  In your post, include a link to her original post and use the Lens-Artists tag so that everyone can find your article in the WP Reader section.

A special thanks to all of you in our creative community for your continued participation, support, enthusiasm, and creativity.  You inspire us!

Looking ahead, I’ll be leading LAPC #116 on Saturday, September 26th, so don’t forget to stop by and join the fun.  Until then, I hope you have a wonderful, creative week and stay safe.

75 replies »

    • Hi, Tina. I see a company has just put in a bid to renovate the building and turn it into a condo. Hopefully, they will preserve the whale, but I see they want to keep just a smaller replica of the whale!😒. I appreciate your kind words about the post and images. We’re off this week to visit another lighthouse in Maine–further up the coast. This will keep me busy for a while! Take care and thanks for the inspiration, too!


  1. I loved how you put the peeled the layers off the word inspire , that brief moment that sparks wonder and makes your grey cells tingle in delight. Perhaps there is something divine about it . Also the photo of the orange sky were a sight to behold. Fantastic Patti.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sheetal. Thank you! I’m glad you liked the way I explored the word/theme. Maybe there is a flash of the divine in it. There really is no other explanation for that leap or jolt of excitement. Isn’t that sky amazing? Glad you enjoyed it. Take care and enjoy the day, Sheetal.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, SV. I’m delighted this inspired you. I guess every photo brings back a memory and they are very intertwined. I glad you like that! I hope that you have a good day/week and that you join us.


    • Hi, Margaret. Thank you! I think our inspiration will come in many different forms. For some it will be gardening, others traveling…the possibilities are endless. I’m glad you share my curiosity about the gravestone. It’s a real mystery! My imagination is running wild! Take care and be well, too. Enjoy the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful representations of the Inspirational theme. I love the sunflowers, the glorious sunset and the lighthouse. The dedicated lighthouse keepers and their families are inspirational to me. I thought of Auntie Mame when I saw the gravestone! One of my favorite quotes! And I’m a huge fan of quirky and unusual. Thanks for making me smile this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely photos, Patti. The sunset is breathtaking. Glad you were able to grab that camera in time so that you could share it with us. The Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff looks like fun. Gotta make a living, I guess, and it is might as well be doing something you really enjoy! 🙂 Great quotes too, Patti.
    BTW, I’ve sent you an email.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tracy. Thanks for the email. I just wrote a reply to you and I’m waiting to hear back from the others. I’m so glad you reached out to me. As for the post, I’m so glad you like the museum and the sunset. I was fortunate to capture the evening sky that night. As for the museum…it is definitely a labor of love. The owner came out to talk to us when he saw us taking photos. What a character. It’s wonderful when people are passionate about sharing what they love. It’s so much fun. Take care and have a great Sunday, too. I’ll be in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love all the clicks along with the apt great quotes.
    Your last photo with the inscription on the headstone is mind boggling,luckily you given the explanation .But the purpose of the quote in this case…….I given up.
    Thank you my friend for these thought provoking quotes.
    Enjoyed reading

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s wonderful when inspiration strikes, and it sure struck you in a wonderful way, Patti! That gravestone is unique for sure and I agree that the artists of the world inspire us through their creative genius. Love those coneflowers! While in Spokane, WA last week, they were growing all over my SIL’S neighborhood. Captured a few with my own lens…they really wake up the landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are gorgeous flowers, Terri. I love them. They’ve already started to shrivel here. We have had some nights in the 30’s already! I’m hoping for a beautiful fall. I hope you enjoy your photo expedition! Thanks for your kind words, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Patti, enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading the quotes. The sky with the church steep is gorgeous and I Iove seeing the Nubbles Lighthouse and whaling wall mural of the humpbacks again. Must admit I had to chuckle when reading the cemetary stone and GI Joe characters, what fun. Your pictures have certainly Inspired me to get out more with my camera now!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Patti, I love how you express inspiration from different angles and show us how we can find inspirations from many places around us. The sunset image is stunning, can’t imagine being there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Amy. The sunsets have been amazing this summer. I’m hoping they continue into the fall. It’s in the 30’s here some nights already! Yikes! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Take care, too.


  8. I have to say, and I’m not being corny here, your inspiration photos and post lifted me up today and inspired me to not get low about the state of the world. There is more than politics, pandemics and deaths. Thank you Patti!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Anne. Now, your comment lifted me up and made me feel great!!! It’s so easy to feel low about the state of the world right now. But we’ll get through this wiser (I hope) and stronger. Take care and be well. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Patti, thanks to taking to New England ..!! I can see why you love it so much. Great storytelling and images as always. I’m still struggling with me Swenglish. I wouldn’t mind getting a headstone with a great quote on. But I have chosen a rosebush at Schönnburn garden instead. I think my headstone would have the quote “If there’s no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not going.”
    I wish a great week … and thanks for the great theme/topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Vivi. Your potential headstone quote is so funny! I love it! And I agree with it, too. I’m glad you enjoyed this collection from New England. It has a distinct personality from the rest of the USA. Take care and be well.


    • Hi, Amy. Isn’t that gravestone quote something else?? I love it! There are a few others in that cemetery that are unusual, but the one here is the most unusual one, I think. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy hearing from you! Take care.


    • Hi, Isadora. I can’t believe those 2 photos were sitting in my Google file for 2 years!! It was a wonderful surprise to find them. Now I want to go back to NM and photograph more places. It’s such an inspiring place. Glad you enjoyed them…and the tombstone, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was smiling because I come across photographs I haven’t remebered taking whenever I’m doing a challenge. It’s nice to know I’m in good company. 😃
        I almost moved to NM. We still have land there. The landscape and foliage is unique to the Southwest. Originally, I went because I wanted to see what inspired Georgia O’Keefe. It feels quietly spiritual there when you’re away from the city. Hope you get to visit there again soon.
        Isadora 😃😎

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to go and visit during their balloon festival. A friend has been there during that time and says you stand awestruck at all the colorful balloons. Imagine photographing that? I hope you get to visit her museum one day. Have a great day … Be Safe
        Isadora 😎

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Inspired choices for this week.Gorgeous sunset! I also hope they restore the whaling wall mural. Portsmouth – especially Prescott Park – is a treasure and fun to visit. I enjoy just walking there. I haven’t been to that museum yet – sounds like a real cool place, so I may have to check it out next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Who knew there is a Prescott Park in Portsmouth? I love all your quirky pictures and explanations in this post, Patti. It’s getting harder to find posts I haven’t seen yet. The GI Joes and the idea behind the museum are adorable and fun. The whale mural has seen better days. Murals wear out a lot faster on the East Coast than they do on the West Coast, at least in Central CA. What a prolific artist and great mini-story about him.

    BTW, Patti, please feel free to link any of your Lens-Artist posts to the comment section of my WQW Writing Challenge. You all use a lot of quotes in your posts already, and most weeks so far our themes have been similar. It has been so fun playing along with the Lens-Artist’s challenges since I met you this year. Thanks for being part of the Hobby Blogging Always Write community this year. Your posts and comments have made life during COVID, moving, and all my air conditioning disasters so bearable and even fun. So glad I met you all. 🙂


    • Thanks, Marsha. I’m delighted that you’ve joined our challenges this year and that our posts bring some sunshine and inspiration to you, too! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support, kind words, and your wonderful presence in our community!!

      Liked by 1 person

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