Inspiration: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.

An artist seeks inspiration for their work both consciously and unconsciously.  We must nurture our creativity with our own particular muse. Obviously my muse is nature and all of her inhabitants. But inspiration sometimes strikes when we least expect it and in places we wouldn’t necessarily seek out on purpose.

The stuffed toys of the Winnie-the-Pooh gang used in the movie ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin.’

I started the new year experiencing both kinds of inspiration. In nature at a beach in Maine on New Year’s Day and two days later unexpectedly in a museum in Boston.

border collie, maine, family, waves, beach, golden doodle, frisbee dog

Pounding surf, a walk with family and one very happy frisbee-catching border collie!

The wind was bracing, the surf was rough and powerful, I was with family and my dog was ecstatic. Peaceful and relaxing.

Seeing old friends

Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends were some of my most cherished childhood friends, so my sisters, my niece and I went to the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA on January 3rd. Featuring many original drawings by E.H. Shepard, I was very excited to see the exhibit especially in light of my year of daily sketching challenge. I was sure I would find inspiration in the exhibit and I wasn’t disappointed. I overheard my sister say to my other sister something to the effect of “Erin (my niece and her daughter) and Kelly are like excited little kids, they are just loving this!”  Yes we were…

Me & Erin on Pooh-sticks Bridge.

winnie-the-pooh, 100 acre woods, drawing, Kelly Leahy Radding

A dream come true; drawing in the 100 Acre Woods.

Finding new inspirations

But I also found unexpected inspiration in the Ansel Adams In Our Own Time exhibit. Of course I knew about Ansel Adams and his iconic photographs, but I had never delved more deeply into his life. And I didn’t know about his National Parks Project at all. I spent two weeks last summer visiting national parks sparking thoughts about my own National Parks Project. Serendipity? Chance? Fate? I don’t have the answer to that but I know that I am already thinking about future visits to parks I have not been to yet and I am always dreaming of returning to Yellowstone, my Happy Place.

I have been composing images in unconscious homage to Ansel Adams all along. The exhibit got me thinking both intellectually and emotionally about my own work perhaps sparking some future paintings and drawings. 

Ansel Adams at the MFA in Boston, and me in Montana.


Throughout 2019 I will be blogging about all the ways I find inspiration, both on purpose and by accident. And along the way, I hope that my work is an inspiration for others to gain a better understanding of our vital relationship with nature. my wish is that my art moves my viewers intellectually to also cherish our wild places and emotionally to connect with our natural world more deeply. 

I find my inspiration in nature; it brings me peace and tranquility. If I can stir someone to feel those same emotions, especially in these hectic times, then I am content. 

A.A. Milne, The House At Pooh Corners with illustration by E.H. Shepard