I sat down in the studio the other day, with no specific image in my head, other than the desire to create a figure.  I started working from a life drawing I drew recently, and the pose with the tilted head began to emerge.  As I refined the figure, I saw her, tilting her head to listen, eyes closed, shoulders pushed forward, and hands together, in a position which was both relaxed and totally focused, as she leaned into some unseen melody pulling at her heart.

Listening has always been a significant theme in my work. Images like “Eyes and Ears” have come up again and again. A statement which has molded much of my artistic journey is:

“An artist is not someone who draws or paints.  An artist is someone who sees and hears what others do not take the time to see or hear.”

Listening is a foundation for the creative process. Whether it’s listening to the clay I am working with, to my own spirit, to the wounded heart of a friend, or to the voice of the Father, I long to hear the subtle themes underneath the noise and clamor of the world around me. If my art, my voice, is going to speak into the lives and hearts of those who view what I create, then I must first learn to listen intently.

I am constantly tripping over the truth that I need to spend more time listening to people and less time talking – more time hearing their hearts and less time trying to “fix” issues. Often, the real need in the person’s life isn’t the “solution” to their current crisis, but rather the sense that someone hears them, that they have value and beauty which goes deeper than their current situation. Listening, hearing, and responding to what is beneath the surface will bring more healing than any amount of good advice.

In the middle of the noise of our lives, the most difficult thing to do is often to, “shut up and listen…”

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