Trio of Tulips – and a Muse

Tiny Tulips

Tiny Tulips © 2010 Bo Mackison

Spirit creates; that behind nature, throughout nature, spirit is present; one and not compound, it does not act upon us from without, that is, in space and time, but spiritually, or through ourselves…it does not build up nature around us, but puts it forth through us, as the life of the tree puts forth new branches and leaves through the pores of the old. ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature 1856

When I ask photographers who inspires their work, their philosophy, their experimentation with their photographs, I often hear mention the photographic greats–Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson are often mentioned, as are many contemporary photographers.

I draw much of my inspiration from the study of photographers, both famous and obscure. But I find my photography is also influenced, not only by artists, but also by architects, naturalists, the natural world, and an entire art movement.

One of the people who has deeply influenced my photography was not a photographer, but one of the world’s most innovative architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright. I live in “Wright Country” and take advantage of regional tours to see his architecture, both exteriors and interiors, when available.

I find inspiration in his use of nature and natural materials in his designs, his functional and simplified forms, and his prominent use of art in his buildings.

Wright drew much of his inspiration from nature, and particularly from the native Midwestern prairie to which he had access for much of his childhood. He opened the boxy houses of his time, instead encouraging the use of wide open spaces and large expanses of windows that brought the out-of-doors to the inside of the house.

Wright also had a deep respect for harmony, and for harmonious relationships between form and function. He typically included natural items in his homes, usually transformed from their natural forms to into geometric designs. Wright was also an American Arts and Crafts Movement proponent. This movement focused on designing the items in a home to make an artistic statement.

When I take photographs, especially in gardens or natural areas, I frequently create photographs with one of Wright’s concepts in mind. I capture the beauty of the natural outdoor to bring into the living spaces of the home. And offer an interior garden all year-long — a bonus in the Midwest!

The photo of the trio of tulips was taken at the Allen Centennial Garden on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wisconsin.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is printing some new pieces for her first big show of the summer art festival season, the Barrington Art Festival in Barrington, Illinois on May 28-29, 2011.



About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. What you are doing works well for you. Your photographs are consistently excellent!

  2. What a wonderful piece on what inspires. I have to agree – inspiration is everywhere. And – I love how you’ve seen..framed and captured these three sweet tulips.

  3. Gandalf says:

    I will enjoy your Wright related posts. I love the feel of his designe.

    The thriple tulip is a great photo.

  4. Inspiration is everywhere, waiting to be discovered. Even within us.

  5. Joanna Paterson says:

    I can see how that is playing through in your work Bo. What a lovely post, and much food for thought about what my own photographic muse is. I think it might be a poet.

Leave a Reply