What Inspires You?

Patricia Grady Cox

January 6, 2015


Crocker Art Museum - original house

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Calif.

One of the most common questions asked of authors is, “Where did you get your inspiration?” For me, reading about the history of the southwest, particularly Arizona, inspires me. The scenery of the southwest, the Sonoran desert, inspires me. Visiting places that remain untouched by time inspires me.

In October, I visited the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif. (I wrote a previous blog about this a little while ago.)


A painting of Canyon de Chelly immediately caught my attention, since that is one of my favorite places. Evidently it was also a favorite place of Conrad Buff, considered an American artist, who was born in the town of Speicher, Switzerrland in 1886.  He dropped out of art school in 1904, emigrated to America and traveled across the west, supporting himself with many odd jobs. Arriving finally in Los Angeles, he trained as a lace designer and his day job was house painting. He also liked to travel back to the southwest.

He continued to paint and by the 1920s was a highly regarded artist. In 1940, Mr. Buff completed the painting of Canyon de Chelly that was later donated to the Crocker Museum and is a permanent part of the American art collection. It’s not hard to understand how the scenery of the southwest, and especially Canyon de Chelly, would inspire such artwork.

The following is gleaned from information posted at the Crocker Art Museum:

Painting of Canyon de Chelly

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Calif.

“This oil-on-masonite painting is by Conrad Buff. Dr. Jeffry Mann and Mr. Jerry Hollister gave this painting, completed in 1940, to the museum.

“Mr. Buff trained as a lace designer and held a day job as a house painter, but made regular trips to the Southwest. He and his wife Mary became quite famous for their collaborative children books; she wrote and he illustrated. During the 1920s and 1930s, Buff was commissioned to paint architectural murals on commercial buildings, one of which was the First National Bank in Phoenix.”

I did try to track that mural down but had no luck.

Canyon De Chelly 2010 November 025

Photograph of cliff face taken by Patricia Grady Cox in November 2010. This unretouched photograph is inspiring me to try my hand at painting!

Leave a comment and let me know what inspires you to be creative. It doesn’t have to be writing or painting – gardening, decorating, knitting, scrapbooking, songwriting, and so on are all creative outlets.

Patricia Grady Cox


  1. I wish I could say that great art, or nature, or something equally grandiose inspires me, but to tell the truth I am inspired by the absurd side of life, and people in particular. I then take familiar songs and write parodies of the lyrics that reflect my slanted, but humorous, point of view. I especially enjoy the lyrics I wrote about my second husband, to the melody “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The last line is, “I’ll find you when I walk the dog, and when the doggie’s through, I’ll be looking at his hmmmmm, but I’ll be seeing…you!”


    1. I think being inspired by absurdity is a wonderful thing. You will NEVER run out of inspiration! ha ha ha


  2. What a gorgeous photo!


  3. I know. That desert varnish just fascinates me.


  4. I’d like to believe travel in the West inspires me, but it’s really coffee that does the trick.


    1. Ha ha – and other libations as well!


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