Nora Sibley Denker

OPEN ROAD

Nora Sibley Denker
OPEN ROAD

^ PHOTOGRAPH by NSD

Want to get inspired? Get on the road. It’s a great place to rejuvenate and stimulate your senses. It’s by far my favorite way to get somewhere new and see the world along the way. My mind can calmly wander and often, it’s in these moments that new ideas form or separate elements connect. The colors and textures of the scenery seem to become part of the narrative in my head, too. The wildflowers we see on the way to Texas Hill Country and the scarlet punctuation of Vermont’s Green Mountain Red Maples flicker and dance in the back of mind and later become something new.

I grew up in a rural area and often my family would hop in the car for a drive. It became sort of an evening ritual. On a balmy night, we would enjoy the air conditioned travel time out to the dairy farm that served homemade strawberry ice cream. Sometimes, with all the windows down and the wind wild in our hair I noticed us all silently grinning as the sun set in the distance. 

With more planning, we would head out for a road trip vacation to visit family north along the New England coast. Cheering as we crossed state lines or singing 100 bottles-of-beer-on-the-wall, these were quality times that bonded my little family of three. I am grateful for getting the chance to engage with the small American towns often overlooked or missed by airplane travel.  We stopped for local specialties like maple creemies or lobster rolls. And in the background was almost always Van Morrison singing “When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit it. Then I must remember there'll be days like this.” On the road, playlists have a large role, but silence can, too.

My mind would drift off as the world blurred outside my window. Sometimes I would press my cheek up against the glass and sometimes I would furiously sketch in one of my notebooks. These long uninterrupted stretches of time to ponder and curate and craft an idea in my head has become some of my most cherished memories of becoming a creative person.

Another typical stop for us was the odd and always intriguing antique shop.  The delicious quest of finding treasure always sparked inspiration for a some project I wanted to dream about. The simplest knot of velvet ribbon or little book would set off busy thoughts so motivating that my heart beat would quicken and I would fantasize about a new design or artwork to make. 

There is a true sense of potential when you’re on the road. The journey truly is the thing. You’ll get there, wherever that somewhere is, but ~ please ~ enjoy the in between, too. Just like being in the process of art making, allow space for your imagination to surprise you. Next time you’re out there, feel the freedom, tune in, muse, experiment, daydream, reflect, visualize and create.