What: “Myth and Constellations: Paul Alan Bennett”

When: Exhibit displays through Sunday during business hours; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Bend Art Center, 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 180

Cost: Free; originals and prints for sale

Contact: bendartcenter.org, paulalanbennett.com

At 69, Paul Alan Bennett — visual artist, improv performer, choir member, songwriter, author — is as creatively curious as always.

“What I’ve always viewed my creative life as is that of an inventor. I just like to invent things. It happens to be in the arts. It was the only thing in school that I felt I could be an inventor in. Everything else was basically (memorization),” he said last week at Bend Art Center. Bennett is a member of the Bend printmaking studio, where a show of original paintings from his new, self-published book, “Night Skies,” is on exhibit through Sunday.

For the last few years, Bennett has done his inventing with the tune of time’s winged chariot in his ear.

“When I turned 64, I asked myself if I had a bucket list,” he said. “And immediately it was like somebody yelled in my ear, ‘Learn a musical instrument and write your own songs.’ It was like, ‘Do it now.’”

In short order, he borrowed a ukulele and took lessons from a friend, adding musician, singer and songwriter to that résumé.

Time for music and laughter

Bennett was born in Montana, where he lived until age 11. His family moved to Colorado when he was in middle school and then lived in Baltimore, Maryland, during his high school years. There, he studied printmaking at The Maryland Institute of Art, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts. His Master of Arts comes from The University of La Verne, in Athens, Greece, where he lived for six years. He lived in Portland for 10 years before moving to Central Oregon, where he and his wife, fellow artist Carolyn Platt, live in Sisters.

“I’ve been here for 29 years,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

In the mid-1990s, he taught art history for three years at Central Oregon Community College, and during a five-year period starting in 2011 he also taught design, watercolors and painting.

He and wife Platt have an adult son, Parker. Though Bennett is now receiving Social Security, in practice, prolific is a better way of describing him than retired.

“Again, it’s like as you get older, you realize your time gets a little more precious as far as what you want to do,” he said. “I just felt like I really wanted to focus on my art and my music, and I wasn’t finding the time. When I went on Social Security … I had some money coming in. It basically equaled what I was getting teaching.”

That afforded him time to work on the book, painting and songwriting. In addition to his other pursuits, Bennett has performed in the Bend-based comedy improv troupe Triage — which holds down a residency at Cascades Theatre in Bend — for the past eight years.

Improv requires the willingness “to fall on your face and say something stupid and be foolish — you gotta know that that may happen,” he said, laughing. “But you get so much joy out of it. Just to go to rehearsal every week for improv and just be able to laugh your guts out is such a reward. The same thing in performances. Sometimes I crack up laughing in performances, and I just cannot stop laughing.”

The nimble, playful thinking and awareness improv requires is of service when performing a song.

“I struggled with that — I’m still struggling — but the first year or two, it was really difficult,” Bennett said. “Trying to play and remember songs, and perform and not get nervous. I just have the greatest respect for musicians. You have so many brain cells that have to be firing to make it all work right.”

Music isn’t entirely new to him: He played trumpet in elementary school, but in middle school, where he had only one elective to choose, he went with art over music.

Songwriting for sonnies

“Part of writing songs was wanting to write stories about my parents, or my friends, or maybe my travels,” he said. While writing an actual biography about one’s parents might prove too laborious a process, “a song is really an ideal container for not only a particular story about, say, your mom or dad, but it also carries with it an emotional weight. You can make a person laugh or cry with just the shift of a chord or on one note. And it brings that person back to life. And that’s, really, what you want to do is not just give that information, but this was a living person who experienced this.”

Bennett plays one catchy song about his dad and his lucky belt buckle: That is, his father, drafted into World War II at age 28, was saved in battle when a bullet hit his belt buckle instead of his stomach. Bennett has also come up with several ditties related to his book, “Night Skies,” including a soothing a cappella tune about dozing off on a blanket under the stars. He’ll perform some of these tunes at future book talks, including a 3 p.m. event June 22 at Roundabout Books in Bend, and another at 6:30 p.m. July 19 at Herringbone Books in Redmond.

The book features large and small versions of his multimedia paintings of, as the title states, night skies. Bennett has also written accompanying prose imploring, gently that we look up and take notice of the vast wonder overhead.

“Take a moment. See the lights of the constellations and the planets. See the quiet movement of airplanes and satellites,” he writes.

The original works, created anywhere from 30 years back to only recently, have been on display this month at Bend Art Center, where you can still catch them through this weekend. Originals are priced at $1,400 and up, but there are a number of prints available for a more affordable option.

Stitching style

Included in the show is the painting of a single glove purchased years ago at the Great Bazaar in Istanbul. For Bennett, it captures an important moment: when he discovered his signature woven style.

“I just liked the design,” he said of the glove, among a half dozen pairs he bought. “When I got home I was thinking, ‘I wonder if I could paint that threaded look?’ With gouache, I was able to duplicate that weave.

“I’d been thinking, ‘How do you develop a style? And how do you get a style that does the things that I want?’ Those are good questions to ask, but what do you want in a style? I wanted a style that spoke of my interest in art history, and my travels and had a very inclusive quality about it.”

Weaving and knitting were common across all cultures, he realized, “And so I could tap into these different cultural aspects, and I’ve always liked pattern. And the work can be very flat and childlike … or it can be very sophisticated. It gave me a lot of latitude in terms of the voice I could come across as.”

The recurring woven textures of the voice he found are seen in the rippling waters, the tree lines and the grasses in his landscape paintings — often conjured from imagination. However, when they end up resembling places he knows well, the names of those places may end up in their titles, such as “Driving Back from Redmond at Night.”

In the “Night Skies” paintings, you can also find that stitched appearance in the starry skies, some of them pure creative license, others constellations he’s faithfully reproduced.

Asked if there are any more creative avenues he’s contemplating, Bennett cracked a joke about taking on modern dance. Well, it was probably a joke. It’s hard to be sure with him. But in all seriousness, Bennett said he wouldn’t mind the challenge of composing for a large ensemble. And he’d like to record a CD of his songs.

If there’s a theme common to his creative work, whatever the medium, it’s probably “wonder and beauty,” he said, “the pretty traditional themes there, in a lot of art.”

“In art, anything you make, is going to be a new creation to you,” Bennett said. “It’s not whether it’s good or not. It’s like you birthed this thing. It is new to the world, and it’s exciting. And then all these things will have their own histories.”