Friday, April 17, 2015

Artful Communication: How to Read Between the Lines, er... Brushstrokes

Sculptural inspiration for my next piece
We are all made up of layers. 

Physically, our organs, bones, blood, and muscles form the multiple layers that, wrapped up in our skin make our bodies one neat package.

Emotionally, we have ages and stages, that layer one on top of the other as we mature and evolve through life's chapters

And then there are our social layers. The parts of ourselves we show to the outside world and our inner secret selves that we show to no one, or only to the one or two very special people in our lives.

When we communicate we also do so in layers. There are the words we say and the tone we use to speak them, but then there are the things that aren't said, our facial expressions, our body language and even the clothes we wear. All of these things combined tell the real story. But it's up to each individual to take the time to really "listen" to all that is being said. 

Painting inspiration for my next piece
Learning to Listen
I learned to "listen" well during the years I lived and traveled abroad in Paris, France, Calcutta, India, and Negros Occidental, Philippines. When you can't speak the language, or fluency is limited, it's amazing at how gifted you can become in figuring out what's going on by simple observation and being perceptive.

There was the time in the Philippines, at the home of one of my many sisters-in-law, when one of the maids was very upset about her teenage daughter's rebellious ways. I went outside on the porch with her and sat for half an hour as she poured her heart out in her native Tagalog - a language that I don't speak. Sure, I had no idea of the the details, but I was amazed at what I did understand - parenthood is tough no matter what culture you come from!   But even more than all of this, I was humbled and moved by how grateful this little maid was.  Because of the language barrier  I hadn't interrupted. I hadn't interjected with my own agenda. I just shut up and gave her 1000% of my attention and really listened and for the first time she finally felt "heard".  

And isn't that really it. We all just want to be heard. 

Being Heard as an Artist 
Sanding off the old work
making room for the new
I think for many an artist of any discipline, perhaps this is why we create. We have an unquenched desire to be heard and our creative projects are the stories we wish to tell.

For visual artists our "words" are spoken with line, colour, and shape. Our brushstrokes tell the tales of who we are - careful and controlled, exuberant, wild, or chaotic. Our colour palettes speak of our passions, our anger, frustration, love, contentment, or fear. Study our subjects and you open a window into our inner most thoughts, are they happy or brooding, clear, or confused? And sifting through all the layers of a painting and you realize you know more about the artist than perhaps you thought at first glance.

Sculpting of the
window frame is done!
Exposing Myself
Like most artists I wear my heart, my thoughts and ,my feelings on my sleeve, and as a consequence my art reveals a lot about me, probably more than I care for most people to know. I sculpt in bas-relief upon wood panels and the work projects out from the  2 dimensional landscape I paint into the third dimension.

This 3D bas-relief layer mirrors the persona I present to the world. It's funky and different, the material does what it wants to do, and I revel in the happy accidents, smiling and living life with a "go with the flow" attitude.  The real me, or secret me, for that you have to study the 2D painting underneath to gather your clues. The sculpting is a diversion, but go beyond, and the answers are there if you choose to read them...

Mixing my colours.
My colour choices are often limited to one zone of the spectrum with minor splashes of complimentary colours to accent - I don't like to be loud and abrasive, but rather I like to think I choose subtly and diplomacy in all that I do.

The texture of my artwork yearns to be touched - in fact that's always the first question I am asked when people see my work for the first time, "Can I touch it?" A direct reflection of my own personality. I am a kinesthetic learner too and I am also a big fan of a good hug!

Landscape painted.
Now to paint the Sculpting
I am intrigued with exploring all there is to know about communication and what I call "The Art of Listening." And through my art I like to examine my own personal layers of communication about the real me as I live life's chapters. Right now both my children are graduating high school and my world as I know it is changing. It's the end of an era and the beginning of a whole world of possibilities. I'm excited for my kids and yes, a little scared for them. I'm also a little bit excited and scared for my husband and myself too. It is a new journey, a time of transitions.

                            Painting the window frame 
Painting the handle of the window frame

A Glimmer of Hope
My latest work:  "A Glimmer of Hope." Can you "read" between my brushstrokes to understand this chapter of my story? Am I being heard?

A Glimmer of Hope by Alison Galvan 24 x 30

Where to Find my Art?
To view or purchase my original artwork directly from my website, please visit:

I am honoured to have my work represented in several Fine Art Galleries in Ontario and Quebec.  To view or purchase please visit:

Prefer posters, or prints? Please visit:

What do you think?
I would love to know your thoughts and experiences on listening and communication.
Are you a good listener? Please share in the comments below what you believe makes you a good listener? And If you are not, what do you think you need to do, to become one?

No comments:

Post a Comment