Are You Planning to Talk or Listen?

I have a friend who keeps a little book to write in with him at all times. When he hears a funny or interesting phrase spoken in real life he writes it down in his book.

Today I heard a phrase from a Dad to his son that ought to be in that book: "Are you planning to talk or listen?"

How does this apply to art? If you travel in artsy circles you'll hear the phrase (or one like it ) "the piece wanted to go in that direction". Non-artists just roll their eyes.

But there is something important about listening to your work. You start with an idea, certainly. But then the paint, and your brain and your hands sometimes create something that is not exactly what you had in mind. You have to be willing to let the original idea shift and change as you work. Sometimes you'll have a "happy accident". And later you can put it in your "on purpose repertoire". That happened to me once when I "ruined" a doll I was working on. It had featherstitched eyebrows. In frustration, I painted over the whole doll, embroidery and all. Then I started repainting it with washes of color. I discovered a technique that I now use on purpose. If I had faithfully created the image in my head I would have created a very stiff work.

So, "Are you planning to talk or listen?" Life itself is a work of art. We start out with dreams and plans and sometimes circumstances change the possibilities. We can struggle and keep trying to go with the original plan or we can
listen. It's a dance, for sure, but when you're flexible it brings some very interesting and awesome discoveries.


"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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