Narrative in Art features Hemingway:
Many people wonder where an artist's inspiration comes from. My antennae are always scanning the universe for ideas for new work. When my friend, Dee Conors, told me about Hemingway's shortest of short stories, my artist brain went into high gear. According to legend, Hemingway made a bet with his publisher that he could write a short story in six words--with a beginning, middle, and end. The publisher, thinking this impossible, took the bet.
Hemingway simply said, "For sale, baby shoes, never worn." Hemingway was known for his brevity, but a story in six words set a new world record.
Everything about this impressed me. Six simple words became a powerful narrative when used in this context. Multiple interpretations, depending on one's point of view, engage the reader. I had to somehow collaborate with Hemingway to reinterpret his words in my style. Since I do paintings of cinder block walls, my immediate idea was some form of narrative art piece. I considered graffiti, the words scrawled on a distressed wall, perhaps. Or stenciled words streaked with mold and drips. As I walked my dog that evening, I saw a piece of paper stapled to a telephone pole that advertized something for sale. Click.
A concept was taking shape. In my mind's eye, I envisioned a cinder block wall on which someone had glued a paper selling baby shoes. I wanted to keep it simple, just as Hemingway had. As a long time resident of south Florida, I've always been fascinated with shadows of tropical plants cast on houses, walls, and sidewalks. This was the ideal time to incorporate them in an art painting. My concept was complete.
Now I just had to paint it. The finished artwork is presently on loan and hanging in a friend's house. Every new visitor to her home is always asked, "What does this painting mean to you.?" We are amazed by the range of answers, which proves how much a viewer brings to an artwork. This is how it should be. A viewer's input and interpretation is as valid as the artist's.
P.S. If you google "for sale baby shoes never worn" you'll find entire websites dedicated to short stories in six words. If any of you write one, I'd love to read it. Who knows, maybe my next narrative art will feature your story.