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.



Gerushia's New World said...

Oh Dixie: I love this post. How I wish more people would keep quiet and listen. If only for a moment. In every aspect of everyone's life, not just artists.

I remember when my kids were younger and I would have them sit with me by the window when it was snowing. (That's when we lived in Northwest Arkansas). We would have a quiet moment just watching the bunnies and birds. Just watching. No talking. Simply seeing.

Switch to current times here in Southern California. I overheard my daughter talking to her friends in my front yard last summer. We were having an unusually humid summer and my daughter says: "it smells like Arkansas out here". Her friend asked her "what do you mean, it SMELLS like Arkansas. Places don't smell". At that moment, I was so grateful that I had taken the time to give my children the luxury of time. The time to hear and see and smell. The time to just simply listen.

Thanks Dixie, for bringing back some very sweet memories.

Garden Painter Art

Dixie Redmond said...

Kim - I love that story! I've had smells hit me and bring up particular memories from my long-ago childhood, too.


Deborah said...

What a great question! I love that...are you planning to talk or listen? bwaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaha!

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

I completely know this experience - I understand it - I fight it at times...and I dance with it at times.

Time is the gift and the enemy...

great writing Dixie xo

~joy in the journey,
blueyeduck studios
quacks of life

Nanette said...

This is a great post Dixie---you are a wonderful writer!

It is sooo true that our art has a mind of its own. I always want my art to be sophisticated and realistic but it always turns out with a child-like feeling. But I'm trying to accept that and realize that it speaks to some people. I guess the art chooses who it will speak to as well as what it has to say!

Thanks for your insights--Nanette

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

John Wooden