Notice…and Listen

  “…notice the objects you notice…
Or put another way: make objects that talk–and then listen to them.”
–Bayles & Orland, Art & Fear

Straight, No Chaser
Colors of Jazz Series
24″ x 36″  © 2018

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to this painting.  It was supposed to go with the others I took from Mexico to storage on the way to a new home in the Northwest.  I left it by mistake.  I was so used to seeing it on the living room wall, that I just – well, you know.

So I took it down and have it with other last things to go at the end of the week when I make that journey north for the last time. It’s the only remnant of my work as an artist left in this place I’ve called home for the last eleven months.

I’m happy to listen to what it has to say.  A painting can be as good as a pet for company and much less trouble.

The idea of making objects that talk and then listening to them fascinates and reassures me.  I’m apparently not the only person who has conversations with inanimate objects.  But then the things we create are not really inanimate, are they?

It’s a given in the literary world that every poem, every piece of fiction is, at some level, autobiographical.  Our words come from our experience.  Even genre writing – science fiction, horror, westerns – are based in some kind of human experience.

I’ve been a writer for a long time, so to extend that to my art is a tiny step for me.  It might be easier for a landscape artist or a portraitist, but we in the abstract world are the poets and fiction writers of art. And we’re creating abstract self-portraits every day.  It’s always about the narrative.

Nonfiction writers are the landscape and portrait painters – capturing reality as best anyone can.  When an artist veers into fiction – abstraction – it’s a different conversation.  And that conversation can be serious, funny, off-the-wall, sexy – anything the artist and the viewer hear.  The narrative is wide open.

When interviewers or critics or art historians ask their serious questions about what a piece of abstract art “means, I mean really means” the game is on.

We can talk or we can listen.

The “spark joy” movement is active right now, but I’d never ask if one of my works of art sparks joy for me.  A Snickers candy bar sparks joy for me and that’s about as far as it goes.

I can enjoy any object that appeals to me whether it’s one I create or not.  But listening to it?  Now that’s a different thing.

As I look at and listen to my painting these days, I don’t have questions.  This is not an interview.  I don’t want to know how it feels about anything.  I’m not hoping for a long friendship.  I just want to listen.

In his book Zen and the Art of Seeing, artist and Zen practitioner Frederick Franck says, “Art is neither a profession nor a hobby. Art is a Way of being.”  And it is in that sense that I’m listening.  If I’m lucky, I’ll learn something.














5 thoughts on “Notice…and Listen

  1. Thank you, Dale…I posted a comment on your site. Our unknown friends bring joy when we share thoughts and appreciation…xoxo, Molly

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