On February 28, I was the guest author at my friend Gale Cunningham’s book club. They’d read my novel, “Intentional” and had smart questions and interesting comments. It was fun. 

Then Gale brought out a little book I’d done years ago with photos from my series of paintings of fabric. It got some “ohhs” and “ahhs” and someone said, “Wow, you can paint and write.”

One of several small books I created on Blurb.
One of several small books I created on Blurb.

And my response was that I’m really bad at science and math. I could have added foreign languages, sports and a lot of other things that other people are very good at. I know, you shouldn’t have to apologize for being good at a couple things, or rationalize away their value by telling what you’re bad at.

But I did it, and what’s done is done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the similarities between the two things I am good at…art and writing, and basically I think it comes down to observation.

Photo by Lukasz Lada

Seeing: as an artist you see details, that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset, that a particular shadow is made of blue and green and purple and not just variants of black. Details. And then you take those visual details and arrange them into something new and interesting. In writing, particularly in fiction, you’re observing the visuals (that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset), but also behavior, and interactions between people; then rehashing, embellishing, reducing, enhancing, and reimagining what you observe into something new.

Is this what makes me sensitive to details in everyday life—that wrinkle in the bedding that I have to straighten? Noticing. All the time noticing. The loose hair on my shoulder? 

Or maybe it’s a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness.

I used to be good at dancing too (I don’t think it has anything to do with anything).

So, tell me, what are your strong suits? Bragging is encouraged here…

8 Replies to “Observation”

  1. I am good at naming the wonderful abstract creations you have made…My observations help me see unintentional and intentional images in your work. I am also an observer of the wonders of nature, enjoy painting, drawing, and more so now, photography.

    1. Cyndi, you are an all around talented woman. Plus, I know you as a generous, compassionate, kind human being. Caring for the less fortunate— that’s one of your strong suits.

  2. I’m trying hard to think what I am good at without equivocating about how I’m not really THAT good at it. Just kind of good. Or pretty good. You and I were both “good at art” in high school but you have always had that special creative drive ( gotta sing, gotta dance) that is the mark of a true artist. You are not just a painter, you are an artist. And if you stop painting your creativity leaks out in writing. I’m good at appreciating my creative friends. And I was a really good agent! There! I knew I would get there!

    1. Pat, here’s a couple more things to add to your list.
      1. You are a passionate dog lover, fostering puppies to be companions for returning soldiers with PTSD. You’re really good at that.
      2. And when you were part of this northern tribe, you had two gorgeous green thumbs.
      Now that you’re in Florida, I bet you’re becoming a good golfer.
      PS. You are also a good kind friend.

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