I’m an artist, so…

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Nov 06, 2019

We don’t do schedules. We don’t do clubs. We’re not anti-social, just that we choose when and who to socialize with.

Same with writers. And many artists, myself included, are also writers, kindred professions. So we’re often afflicted with a double whammy of hermit-like peculiarities. That’s because neither painting nor writing is a group activity. They’re solo/mind activities. We don’t share our passions on stage or in film. We create and step away. Introverts on steroids.

The mind creates before brush or pen is picked up. The painting or subject is actually envisioned and mapped out in the mind first, then just translated onto canvas or paper — or computer.

Problem comes in because when the muse kicks in, it isn’t on any time schedule. It turns on whenever the heck it wants. You run with it or you take a chance in losing the thought, the thread, the vision. The muse rules.

Many years ago I used to draw a weekly cartoon strip: Clarence the Seagull for The Free Press. “Clarence” had a gang of friends that included “Shags” the cormorant and “Frenchie” the Canada Goose, an artist. When I was doing the strip, I was what I call “on channel.” That is, when you concentrate on any certain endeavor, the ideas just come at you, like a TV show when you’re tuned in right. I would be driving down the road and the Clarence-muse would land on my shoulder to tell me the latest escapade of his and his friends. I would pull off the road and write the gist of it down then and there, not taking the chance I’d totally forget it in half an hour or so.

You can save the day by quickly jotting down the thought nuggets that pop up. The artist/writer should always have a small note pad (and camera) at hand, in their purse, on the night stand — rather like everyone today has their phone all but glued to their hand.

Writers and artists also make good researchers because they are, by nature, nosy people. They want to know everything about everything. Research used to be a heckava lot harder than these days. The internet and YouTube have brought the libraries, museums, histories and lands of the world into our laps.

The internet and the world are at my fingertips. I can go to Milan, Italy, and stroll through the Uffizi Museum with Michelangelos and Raphaels. I can visit the Louvre in France and trek the literal miles of galleries filled with Renaissance — and all other — artists, including the Impressionists; Van Gogh, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoir.

Never did I dream of seeing the inside of the Russian Hermitage Museum with their separate galleries for the different artists of different countries. But here we are.

Then there are the libraries of the world stuffed with the greatest writers in history. And YouTube for documentaries. I toured Leo Tolstoy’s estate in Russia. Tolstoy was born into great wealth in the 1800s. His vast estate included and wrapped around a small village. He dropped out of college, where he was studying law. He was labeled “Unwilling and unable to learn.” (Same as Einstein.)

The writer DNA kicked in and he eventually moved out of his mansion and into a small peasant's cottage on the estate, which he much preferred. Much as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) did at his estate in Connecticut. Like Norman Rockwell did on his place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Rockwell built a little red cottage in the back of his big house. That was in the '60s when I lived in the Berkshires also and was in with a small group of artists there, including Rockwell, who gave me his cottage phone number so’s I could call. He was "just one of us," not puffed up with who he was. And he had a great sense of humor.

I asked him once: “How does an artist ever get to the point where they don’t have to throw half their work away?” He laughed and said: “I don’t know. I’ve never gotten that far.” I remarked that I couldn’t imagine that he ever did any work that he threw away and that if he did, I’d love to see his wastebasket. He chuckled and said: “Oh, my wife empties every scrap and catalogs them.”

His little cottage has since been moved down on the grounds of the Rockwell Museum in West Stockbridge. It’s worth the visit.

And so it is with the artist/writer persona. We border on the hermetic, noun: “not affected by outward influence or power; isolated."

I thank the Creator every day for being able to look up from my computer out into the forest, to listen to and watch the birds and forest dwellers, and watch the sky and changing colors and light with little awareness of man noises or handiwork. It holds the world of man at bay.

Where now are the minds, the creators, the artists — the Michelangelos, da Vincis, Rembrandts, Beethovens, Tolstoys, even the Samuel Clemens? The young folk today — from about 24 years old on down — can’t even read or write in cursive, as our ancestors have for thousands of years. (The "Deliberate Dumbing Down...”)

Will museum walls one day hang with this century's creations?

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.




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Comments (1)
Posted by: Paul Sheridan | Nov 07, 2019 05:56

Thank you! Just one small correction: the Uffizzi Gallery is in Florence, ITaly...not that I have been there!

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