The Multi-tasking Norwegian

Madonna and Toddler, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Multi-tasking is such a big thing with some people.

I mean, I think it’s impressive if a person learns another language — like whatever it is that they speak in Uzbekistan — but for some of those who operate on 36-hour cycles instead of 24, listening to Uzbekistani fairy tales in the car while meditating (eyes open) and doing one’s nails (hands at 10 and 2) is the norm.

These people are not.

Normal, that is.

Now the Norwegian Artist, who, when he uses a chain saw to chop wood, does not text at the same time, does multi-task when he paints, namely by listening to an audio book while he dabs.

This isn’t really possible when you’re writing, by the way.

(Try it sometime — it’ll drive you nuts.)

Given that the Norwegian Artist, however, is one of the sanest people I know,  his digital reading habits in conjunction with the wielding of his brushes apparently don’t mess with his brain as much as living in constant contact with me.

Months after completing a painting, he looks at the image and remembers what he was listening to while he was working — “Jason Bourne was driving through Switzerland as I was putting the finishing touches on that sail,” he’ll comment.

Crall Hollow Late Afternoon, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

With my ability to read and re-read Agatha Christie novels because I never remember whodunit, much less what was done, I find this memory feat amazing.

When he isn’t “reading,” the Norwegian Artist listens to music, a frustrating activity in our household since none of the progeny knows how to work the plastic CD caseholders enough to put CDs back in them, and every shiny disc we own is scratched, dented, clawed, marred, and burnished bronze.

So, in the effort to save money, I troll through the Dollar Delight Store in search of paintable music, and some of the time I come back with tunes worth listening to, which means that, most of the time, I don’t. The Norwegian Artist has a stack of shiny discs, in their cases, that he listened to once, if that, and put away because he felt as if he were stuck in an elevator, out on the beach, with birds chirping in unison to Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

I am learning, however, and I would like to impart to you my wisdom, accrued in a dollar by dollar fashion:

If the disc title has the word “relaxation” in it, then the background behind the music pulsates with wave sounds, wind whispers, or those wretched birds — sometimes all three.  The resultant cacophony of noise overshadows any melody, and you find yourself with a tension headache and the desire to go off somewhere quiet — like a treeless, waterless, cat-infested desert — and relax.

Castle Rock, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

The word “spiritual” in the title is no better, especially if the disc cover has rocks on the front: this means that there will be a series of knock knock and clanking sounds (the rocks, apparently) superimposed over a toneless and tuneless base.

Italian Cafe Music is a big, big mistake. Disconsolate, weeping Italians with accordions trash vaguely familiar rock songs from the 1980s.

Favorite Hymns — any of you who spend Sunday mornings in cavernous rooms with long benches know how many verses the average hymn has — and while it’s bad enough struggling through the whole pile, plus the chorus, eight times, with the words — it is far, far worse with a piccolo and a tambourine.

Smooth jazz — you know, for a dollar you don’t get Euge Groove or Grover Cleveland. At some point before unconsciousness hits, you think you hear birds.

One time I struck gold with a virtuoso performance by some anonymous genius in Spanish Guitar. I loved this disc, so much so that I played it in the car — over and over and over and over.

Until one of the progeny — none of them would admit to it — pulled it out, couldn’t figure out the plastic case contraption, set the disc on the seat, and sat on it.

On the bright side, it was still shiny and unscratched — both halves.

And the Norwegian Artist has never painted a picture to it, because he has never heard it.

Dory Beach, by the Norwegian Artist, Stve Henderson

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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4 Responses to The Multi-tasking Norwegian

  1. Dianne says:

    This one had me chuckling all the way through. A lot of been-there-done-that. I too listen to audiobooks while I paint, and sometimes music. Then I faced the problem of the multi-disc player is in the living room and when I paint I don’t want to have to keep stopping an changing discs. That’s a sure way to get paint all over them. So, I finally invested in an iPod classic and a membership in Audible.com. 120GB of memory, so far I’ve got well over 100 books on there as well as music downloaded through iTunes or Audible.com. No disc changing, no lost or broken discs etc. So now I either have the thing in a pocket using one earphone (books don’t need stereo and I need to be able to hear what’s going on in the other rooms) or my little iHome iPod player/charger with just the one speaker, takes very little room, and shows the time too. Not that I pay much attention to the clock function. And while I often cannot remember what day it is, when I look at a painting I remember what was happening in the book when I painted it!
    (I must admit I do listen to hymns sometimes, I found some with interesting arrangements and singers and they can move me right along. Search on Mindy Jostyn or Peter B. Allen)

    • Tired of Being Youngest “lent” a spare MP3 player to the Norwegian Artist, who trolls through the library for downloads. What a happy man.

      It’s okay to listen to hymns — just not those dollar things. The Norwegian mentioned the other day that it might be best to budget those individual dollars into a more expensive, single CD with songs worth listening to.

  2. tina filbert says:

    “With my ability to read and re-read Agatha Christie novels because I never remember whodunit, much less what was done…”
    HA-HA-HA-HA! me too!! I even laughed out loud, for real, when i read that. Still have a smile upon my face. We save a fortune in books, don’t we. ; )

    • Read and re-read — yes, that does save a fortune.

      The most disturbing thing about the Agatha Christie, books, however, is that, midway through, I get a vague sense of who possibly did this, growing stronger until 3/4 of the way through, I’m 99 percent sure of the culprit, but just can’t remember why . . .

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