The mystery of the non-depressed men

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Dear Artist,

Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has determined artistic men are less likely to be depressed than artistic women. Professor Jostein Holmen and others studied the lifestyle and mental health of 50,000 folks. While both men and women benefitted from attention to music, literature and painting, it was the men who ended up sunny and optimistic.

This can’t be right, I thought. I always figured depression was an equal-opportunity condition. Then I started thinking it must be the men who were under-reporting their depression. Just yesterday, for example, I painted a particularly lousy painting. Feeling myself slipping into my usual post-painting depression, I quickly phoned a couple of friends and told them I had just painted a dandy. They believed me, and I was soon back on the sunny side of the river.

Later, with the help of eggnog, I was reading an interview with Garrison Keillor in a recent edition of Time. Keillor is a guy who always picks me up and makes me feel the universe is a benign and pleasant place to hang out. Asked, “How did you master both writing and oral storytelling,” Keillor replied: “I didn’t. There’s no mastery to be had. You love the attempt. You don’t master a story any more than you master a river. You feel lucky to canoe down it.”

Speaking of canoeing down a river, have you ever taken part in the creative act of couple-canoeing? Ninety percent of the time the woman gets to be in the bow, “for the power,” while the man is in the stern, “for the control.” So there you have it, the woman is up front taking in the first mouthfuls of mosquitoes, while the guy sits aft just happy to be there. But then again the guy has control. He can point that Grumman anywhere he wants. He can even shout over and tell the other canoeists he knows what he’s doing.

Apparently, one of the great anti-depressants released by art is the feeling of community–of being part of a greater whole. One would think with all the sophisticated networking going on with women artists in North America, they’d be the most under-depressed on the planet. Are Norwegian females defying the trend and working alone in snowbound cabins? And why do North American male artists insist on paddling their own canoes?

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “There is less depression among men who participate in cultural activities, although this is not true for women.” (Professor Jostein Holmen)

Esoterica: I’ve always held a secret belief that men are more prone to self-delusion than women. When push comes to shove, most of the male artists I know are legends in their own minds. Contrary to the conventional wisdom they’re losing their marbles, the condition may be the glue that keeps them together. I’d appreciate if you would keep my secret belief under your mosquito net, as I’m just about to go into the studio and paint another dandy.

 


Depressed canoeing
by Jeffrey Hessing, Nice, France
 

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“The Lovers Bridge”
original painting
by Jeffrey Hessing

Regarding canoeing, it is my profound belief based on observation and experience that men and women, when in a couple, should never get into a canoe together. Separate canoes is my motto. For the same spills and soakings that friends will laugh about couples will fight tooth and nail. As for depression, and I assume we are using the term lightly, women have hormones that men, thankfully, do not. They will always have swings of emotion much greater than men which are often difficult to understand. Well harnessed, these intense emotions could be powerful painters’ tools, painful as they may be.

 

 



There is 1 comment for Depressed canoeing by Jeffrey Hessing

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

Couldn’t agree more. That’s why my husband and I each have a kayak.

 


The valued woman canoeist
by Betty Lantana, Tampa Bay, FL, USA
 

You have missed something if you haven’t experienced canoeing with a woman who has learned to partner in a canoe and not be a passive passenger. I trained in a group where we learned to work with a partner. While the backseat driver controls the direction of the canoe, there is nothing like having his partner know how to respond and assist with turns, dodges, escapes involved in traversing a rough river with many branch and rock obstacles, eddies and such. A lot more fun for both. None of that “me Tarzan — you Jane” stuff.

 


Paddle your own kayak
by Cathy Harville, Gambrills, MD, USA
 

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“Kayaks”
original painting
by Cathy Harville

I got a kick out of your letter about non-depressed men. I especially liked the canoeing part. My husband and I have kayaks. At one point, we were going to get a two person kayak, but after trying it out and almost ending up in the drink and divorced, we opted for single kayaks. My husband was in the back, and said that he could power us along and steer, and it would be easier for me. (I mostly just laughed at our ineptness at coordinating our efforts!) It is a lot less taxing when we both can go our own ways, which is usually what happens. He fishes, and I take photos, or just watch the wildlife.

I think our culture teaches women to be more responsible for relationships, and relationship issues, which can lead to depression when things aren’t peachy keen. Men, on the other hand, distance themselves from matters of emotion, by going to work, or out with their buddies, and let the women figure it all out. I have come to this conclusion after reading a few books by “experts,” and watching my own family. My science background often has me looking at the world as a Petri dish.



There is 1 comment for Paddle your own kayak by Cathy Harville

From: Steph G. — Jan 08, 2010

I agree – social conditioning is probably more significant here. Everyone has varying degrees of emotional control. Men with emotional turmoil tend to express it as testosterone rage directed outwards; women tend to express it inwards as depression, through tears, etc. Men are conditioned to funnel their emotions into competition with others. Women are conditioned to funnel their emotions into social cohesion. But we’re all prone to emotional and hormonal roller coasters, to one degree or another.

 


The wondrous value of wives
by Cathie Harrison, Roswell, GA, USA
 

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Untitled, original painting
by Cathie Harrison

This is no mystery. It is the missing “wife” (not necessarily a female). Most male artists I know have a “wife.” A wife is someone who holds the list of when the bills are due, which kid needs what, what nutritious food needs to be purchased prepared and put away today, what was it he wanted me to pick up for him at the store, when is his mother’s birthday, when was that repairman showing up to fix the toilet, did we send the thank you note to his Aunt Susie for the ham we got at Christmas, what time of day would be best to call and check on our credit report, does everyone have clean clothes for tomorrow, when did the dog last have his teeth cleaned, did I make that appointment for him to have his teeth cleaned, wouldn’t it be just as easy for me to ship the painting because the UPS store is next door to the grocery, am I making too much noise cleaning up the kitchen while he’s trying to paint? Gee what he’s doing looks like fun, maybe I’ll go to the studio and paint a painting after I finish my list and before I awaken to a new one tomorrow. Oops, I forgot to make his reservation to go to the workshop in Maine where he will wow a group of women who think he’s just the cat’s meow.



There are 16 comments for The wondrous value of wives by Cathie Harrison

From: tom black, arizona — Jan 01, 2010

stop complaining.. i’ll bet you also let your dog jump upon you!! it will until you teach it not to.

tom

http://tomblackart.com/

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

Cathie – I laughed when I read what you wrote! It is so true and Tom sounds like a typical male response (blame the woman).

From: Mary Bullock — Jan 01, 2010

Oops, I forgot to add my name! Sorry

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

Yes, there are wives who do all of that. I am blessed to be a woman artist whose husband shops, cooks, cleans and takes care of business. When he retired, he became the main caretaker for our family. I became a full time artist. We have a partnership and work on things around the house together. Will I sign my name? Heck no! Bessie Smith sang “Don’t advertise your man!”

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

Maybe your assisting isn’t as important as you want to believe it is–give someone a chance to take action; it may be not as important as believed–you’re the one who can change to make your life what you want. Lots of well known artists, actors, et. al are not superior talents but their ambition is evident. They made manifestation of their desire number 1 in their life. Nothing guarantees fortune for effort but when all is said and done, taking a chance to go where your happiness lies instead of blaming others, circumstance or the fate of being born female is a way to use your anger wisely.

From: Mary Bullock — Jan 01, 2010

Holy Cow! I am really surprised by the responses Cathie is recieving. When I read her comments – I did not feel she was “complaining”, or “angry” or “Blaming” anyone. I thought she was saying something that is the reality in most artist’s lives and she did it in a funny and light hearted way. Lighten up people!

From: Bea Gonzalez — Jan 01, 2010

I agree with you Mary. I don’t hear any complaining or anger. I think Cathie’s comments apply to many situations- not just partners of artists. My husband and I wish we could have a “real wife”. Happy New Year!!

From: Victoria Witte — Jan 01, 2010

Cathie, you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

From: Merilyn — Jan 01, 2010

I agree with you Mary. I thought Cathie’s comment was light hearted and funny with seeds of honesty. I find responds tend to come from one’s own state of mind .

From: Anonymous — Jan 02, 2010

mary, i’m sure you can’t say too much, you may loose your allowance.

From: Anonymous — Jan 02, 2010

The male responses here are rather pathetic. It simply never occurs to them to give back and reciprocate and they resent the notion that there ought to be some semblance of equality, and that women’s time on planet Earth is just as valuable as men’s (at least to them!). Astonishing, really. Power corrupts, and millennia of it really, really corrupts. And damn oxytocin! We women are afflicted with a surfeit.

From: Madeline — Jan 02, 2010

In the third phase of my life, I’m so aware that I have been the enabler for the success of others. This is what women do. I also have had a successful career as a teacher. But now that I am retired, I am definitely retiring from the enabler role, and I’m going for things I want to do/learn, and painting is one of those things. Out of my way, I have a #10 filbert in my hand and I’m heading for the easel!

From: Carolyn Watson — Jan 03, 2010

Working as a professional artist by myself, I’ve always been jealous of male artists who have a wife to help them. They can concentrate on painting and can produce more because they don’t have the distraction of grocery shopping, cooking, keeping house, etc.

From: Douglas O Smith — Jan 04, 2010

I thought I would add my two cents here since I am an artist, guy and husband. Well in 53 years I have discovered a few things along the way and hopefully will continue the process. First off I would like to state that my life trajectory if described could be summed up in this simple equation. I create delusional bubble..bubble gets popped..I create another delusional bubble…another gets popped….you get the idea…Kind of describes whats going on around us too huh? Well I met my wife Carla a little over 9 years ago in the bowels of Brooklyn. At the time I was a very sad and embittered man. I still painted up to that point but had given up on a career as an artist in the business sense since I did not think my work had any relevance to the outside world at that time. I have since rediscovered my love and appreciation of the natural world due to the influence of my wife and also the wonderful discovery of meditation. I have also rediscovered that there might be a need for well crafted lovely work in this crazy world after all..( could be another delusional bubble..time will tell on this one ) Well, reading about the emotional ups and downs described by folks here has compelled me to respond because I know all too well the emotional roller coaster that sensitive creative people ride. I still have my seasonal pass believe me. I am having a better go now due to having learned how to observe the sensations that are occurring all the time in my body. I know..I know.. sounds a little flaky huh? Well this is something I have learned and has brought me more peace and equanimity especially when I paint. Instead of the mind rolling in despair and exultation over and over while making art, I now try to observe my mind rolling in despair and exultation. The sensations that would come up and take over my mind, I now try to observe. We often are taught that we need drama to create..My experiences tell me otherwise. I have been working at my craft for over 40 years and I do not need the drama any more. This world is becoming more of a drama. I want to gain more peace…I create my best when I am peaceful. Also I want to say something about my wife Carla, when we met I was a sad fellow and self involved. We have become best friends and have been learning to care for each other. I have become I hope a little less self centered and more helpful to her and others. Life is so short, is it not? When I paint a cherry blossom now I appreciate the fact that this time will never come again and that I will never ever really capture all of the splendiferous wonder set before me. Just a someone with a stick with hairs stuck on one end trying to dab some color around ..love this craft ..isn’t it grand? Best to ya!

From: Jean Crow — Jan 04, 2010

I’m a female artist, 3 times divorced. Now I am retired and have the time to paint as much as I want (especially since I don’t have to be a “wife” anymore!), but, boy Cathie, I sure do NEED a wife!!

From: Mary B — Jan 13, 2010

I found this letter to be simply humorous. As a single person I could relate by having to be wife to myself. There are always a hundred things which I need to remember and which prevent me from feeling I have the freedom to fully express my own creativity. How much I do hate having to think about and do everything myself.

 


Percentages of peeved people
by Sharon Sedeen, Berkeley Springs, WV, USA
 

This answers a lot of questions for me about differences between Men and Women painters, sculptors, drawers: It seems the UPSIDE of the “self-delusion” men have is THEY can KEEP THEMSELVES HAPPY, which I think is a real plus. If the odds are correct, only 1 out of 10 people write in only to complain about any given subject. Therefore if mainly people only write when they are peeved — and then, only 1 out of a group of ten who are peeved — then It follows — I — represent even MORE people who have been helped by your article! Because so few people will write when they APPRECIATE something. Odd, isn’t it? I RUSH to tell people when I like what they’re doing because, WE NEED MORE OF IT IN THIS LIFE, eh?

 


Confessions of a depressed artist
by Tracey Gibson, Greensboro, NC, USA
 

I suffer from post partum creative project let down. Often I have to tell myself and or others that things I have completed are or were just “dandy” as well when I know they could have been so much better but somehow those “parts” that were good when affirmed to be good to another human can get me over the hump – thank God. His grace is sufficient to help me speak up….. I must get out of the snowbound cabin in the head. I also have the undone list in my head of all things I should and could be working on (my jackets, website, house, organizing me, etc, etc ) that are WAITING for me too ( furniture collections yet to be designed ) and that too can be so depressing to know I have this totally complex rich inner infinite creative source of potential but lack discipline and that I will undoubtedly need a righteously crazy deadline to get myself moving toward a fabulous outcome… often when I get going and I am in “the zone” where it’s all coming together I so wonder why I overtly consider yet constantly resist getting started. What is up with THAT????? Why do I drag myself to the creative feast as if I were digging ditches?



There are 6 comments for Confessions of a depressed artist by Tracey Gibson

From: susy@susyboyerart — Dec 31, 2009
From: lori — Jan 01, 2010
From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jan 01, 2010
From: Marti Meyer — Jan 01, 2010

I took a workshop from a famous artist and he shared that he had the same problem……….so we are all in good company. Something that has helped me this year is (believe it or not) using a timer to get started. I say to myself…I don’t have to do anything great….I will just draw for 15 minutes…….and then I set the timer. Often, when the timer goes off I am immersed in the drawing and cannot quit………If not…I know that I have started something to come back to. Just a thought.

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

All of us create our own prisons. As artists, we have discovered a well of intimacy within ourselves. Whatever we do with it, we are fortunate to allow deeper meaning and appreciation than the majority are aware exists. Michelangelo wrote of the time he wasted on emotions instead of being involved with his creative work. This was at a late stage in his life, and his main regret for he understood he had lost valuable time for exploring his creativity. Disregard thoughts and sinking emotion into them. They are more fleeting and forgettable than evidence of your creative efforts.

From: Anonymous — Jan 12, 2010

Hi Tracey! Wow! I always thought this was a “condition” I suffered from alone. I (like Michelangelo I suppose) often regret the time I spend dealing with emotions instead of creating. I will spend hours forming ideas in my head that I “can’t wait” to create, even writing about them, but then an entire day will go by and i can’t seem to get the water in the bowl and the paint on the brush. I have spent so much time creating a beautiful, sunny, studio to inspire and welcome creative activities – yet it’s the room I avoid most. I can’t describe in words the joy and freedom I feel once I’m creating and in that zone, yet I’ll find any excuse not to get started. what is wrong with me? Thanks everyone for advice and comments!

 


Driving creativity with ego
by Janet Morgan, Brooklyn, NY, USA
 

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“Kali”
acrylic painting, 90 x 90 inches
by Janet Morgan

I’ve always thought that women artists needed more of the sense of entitlement and mission that many men artists have. Even heroics. As you say, that bit of delusion can drive one to great things. As Gertrude Stein said, in order to be a genius, you have to believe you are one. I read the long and detailed biography of DeKooning, and by the end of it I was saying to the author “He’s just a painter! He’s not god!” But maybe that powerful self-importance, when channeled into making art, can drive some powerful creativity.

 

 



There are 5 comments for Driving creativity with ego by Janet Morgan

From: Anonymous — Jan 02, 2010

The key word in this excellent post for me is “entitlement”. A sense of entitlement is lacking in just about every woman I know. Down to the history, I guess. Entitlement is socially conferred, is it not?

From: Den Blahan — Jan 03, 2010

I’ve seen this before in writing about art. Many painters will assert their significance to the world of culture, but much of what we read, I believe, is the author’s puffing it all up to lend importance to the material. I’m not minimizing great art, or great artists, or even great writers on art, but merely saying that we are susceptible to ego inflation, and some of the most successful people are even more so. A quick look at pop culture figures and the current media mania surrounding them is sufficient evidence of the problem. Some folks, because of talent, or income, or delusion, believe they are extra-special and that they of of universal importance. This is rarely true. We should, of course, thank them for the art and the literature, but it’s not unfair to wish they would install check valves and let off a little of the ego inflation every now and again.

From: Kat — Jan 04, 2010

Hmmm… I wonder if it’s a weird, canny variant of what’s commonly called “marketing”?

From: anon — Jan 06, 2010

Women lacking sense of entitlement!? You should meet my mother in law!!!

From: Anonymous — Jan 07, 2010

So your mother-in-law is an artist with a husband who takes care of the tedium for her so she can get on with her work?

 


Control by powering down
by Bill Hibberd, Summerland, BC, Canada
 

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“Orchard Patterns”
original painting
by Bill Hibberd

I have to laugh at the memories of my young wife and myself paddling our Grumman canoe (a bloody aquatic brick) for years through numerous lakes and sounds. She in the front, me in the back, controlling our destiny. Years later I converted to the elegant design and efficiency of home built sea kayaks. On our first outing we encountered weak off-shore breezes and my (powerful) wife in her single kayak exhibited zero upper body strength and instantly transformed into a completely out of control liability. It became apparent to me that in all those years of paddling from the front of our canoe she had perfected the art of placing the paddle carefully into the water and letting the momentum of our travel float the apparently cosmetic stick back to where it could be gracefully drawn from the water with élan. So, I now wonder, who was in control?



There is 1 comment for Control by powering down by Bill Hibberd

From: linda mallery — Jan 02, 2010

I can’t comment on your wife’s canoeing, but your painting knocks my socks off! It is intriguing. Very lovely.

thanks for sharing.

 


Gender and depression
by Sandy Davison, Lansing, Michigan, USA
 

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“MSU Beef Operation”
pastel painting
by Sandy Davison

The definitions of depression are heavily gender weighted with diagnosis relying on symptoms like “feels like crying” rather than “wants to beat someone up.” At least that’s the case in the US per the diagnostic bible used in the psychiatric field. “Feels like painting” isn’t a diagnostic direct hit, but is probably more frequently assigned to women. Unless one looks at very early nineteenth century philosophies of creativity, women didn’t have enough feeling to make great paintings, only men did. It might be hard in the twentieth century to find men who admit to having feelings in paintings or out.

Interesting to note that while the traditional diagnosis of depression using a close-to-tears criteria nearly doubles the number of women categorized as depressed compared to men, there are nearly double the number of men who commit suicide or are incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals or prisons. Maybe they could be a little bit depressed and paint themselves a piece of artwork instead. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that a book was even published in the U.S. on depression in men. Done by Terrance Real, it’s a thorough look into the subject at that time.

Studies show that in a culture that so strongly trains women to believe they are incapable, math and otherwise, the mere act of requiring a woman to indicate gender before taking a math test lowers the score while indicating gender after the math portion is completed reflects a higher score. So it looks like the idea of self aggrandizement and lies — everything being a dandy, a whopper, the big kahuna, making a million and other tales would benefit women while the loan of a few feelings and a paint brush to men might get them outta trouble-making and social wreckage. Meanwhile, I’ve got to go back and paint my eleventh dandy of the day, conquer another Adonis and beat the pants off the stock market.



There are 2 comments for Gender and depression by Sandy Davison

From: wes giesbrecht — Dec 31, 2009

Actually suicide rates are about 4 men for each woman.

I don’t believe for one moment than men suffer less from depression but I definitely believe that they’re much less likely to tell anyone.

Hey…. it’s a sign of weakness dontcha know? And we don’t talk about our weaknesses cause it’s like…. weak.

From: Anonymous — Jan 01, 2010

Furthermore to the previous comment is the wider acceptance, including women partners/wifes of accepting and being with men who have depression where the society norm and conditioned acceptance of women is for men to be strong and providers.

Things have to change men need to start looking after themselves and for this to be seen as acceptable. After all women have quite rightly benifeted from the women’s movement in doing this for themselves. Men should be allowed to catch up in this sphere whereas women shoul;d continue to catch up on the access to workplace fulfillment too.

 


Depression not a lifestyle choice
by Dave Robinson, Seattle, WA, USA
 

As always, you allow me to send my thoughts off in new directions. What do men, canoes and depression have in common?

Many years ago I noticed that at the end of a big project I would feel like a runner who has just tackled a big mountain. As I near the top a feeling of dread settles over me, as if I don’t want the mountain or the project to end. I know that at the end there is an abyss that can’t be avoided. The thrill of completing the project, reaching the top of the mountain, drives me on to certain doom. I know I won’t be able to stop running in time to avoid the abyss.

Sure enough, the project ends and the mountain top is reached. In my moment of celebration, running and dancing around on the top of that mountain, I always come to the realization that I’m dancing on the edge. Into the abyss I plunge.

The abyss has a bottom and when I emotionally hit it I lay there with my eyes closed feeling alone and empty. When I do open one eye there always seems to be a river and a canoe waiting to carry me down stream and back into the open. I’ve learned to enjoy the ride because I know that I’ll always come out at the base of a new and more challenging mountain to tackle.

The highs of creation always make the journey worth taking. The lows between projects are a time of rest and recharging. The depression is always short lived and, knowing that it will soon be over, I never give it much thought. I know that I have control of that canoe and that I will pick a direction that will be creatively satisfying.

I think you’re onto something with the canoe metaphor. As a man, it is about control and the realization of a certain outcome. True, occasionally I will fine excuses not to finish a project or dread it’s completion but I think that it’s fear of falling into that depression. It’s in the knowing that the depression will be short lived and that new and wonderful things lie just on the other side of it that allows me to move forward into the abyss.

Sure, depression happens. I just don’t make it a lifestyle.

 


Paddle your own canoe
by Ellen McCord, Grass Valley, CA, USA
 

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“The flirt”
original painting
by Ellen McCord

Look back at your letter of December 11. There is the answer to your own question. You wrote about the percentage of female artists to male artists in art groups, graduating, on this list and in your classes. The first statistic was 80% women to 20% men. The second set of statistics hovered around a 65/35 split. You then presented statistics about the percentage of women represented by top galleries, noting that it is currently about 27%. Men are represented at approximately 3 to 1.

We could attribute this discrepancy to politics of the marketplace, confidence, sexism, and even the extent to which many female artists idolize their male mentors to their own detriment. Perhaps women are simply not taken as seriously as men in our profession. We may be seen as hobby artists while men are more often considered professionals. This folly is perpetuated by both men and women. I don’t accept that men are “better” as artists, especially at a 3 to 1 ratio. Regardless of the reason why these statistics exist, isn’t it pretty obvious why women artists tend toward depression? Wouldn’t many people with superior work who can’t get serious consideration by “top galleries” get depressed? Many of us take more workshops looking for something we think we are missing. We may experience male peers getting more attention and greater validation for their work, not necessarily because it is better, but because we are socialized to believe it is better. We may not have the confidence to market ourselves. Depression for some of us is inevitable. I applaud the women artists who continue to work regardless. Let’s value the quality of our own work and not be so quick to dismiss it. Take a page from the playbook of some less talented, overblown male artists and step out in the market place with confidence. Get a smaller boat and guide it with your own paddle.



There are 2 comments for Paddle your own canoe by Ellen McCord

From: Janet Morgan — Jan 01, 2010

Exactly! I agree!

From: Anonymous — Jan 02, 2010

Great post. Linked to the above post about the extreme benefits of having a wife, I think it just about says it all.

 

Comments

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woa
 
122909_adrian-gottlieb-artwork

The Parisian

oil painting
by Adrian Gottlieb

 

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Andrew Bray who wrote, “I am very happy to learn that I am less likely to be depressed. Given that, according to research, I was happy before, and now I am even happier, I can’t help but think that this study is having an exponential effect on both sexes. Oh well, I’m not about to let that ruin my day!”

And also Paula Cravens of Canal Flats, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Oh thank God, I was just having one of those days when I figured I should quit painting altogether and take up something useful, like making potholders, when I saw the quote, ‘There’s no mastery to be had. You love the attempt.’ If Robert Genn and Garrison Keillor can have low days of self-doubt, then so can I. I am not Norwegian but happily, I am less depressed.”

And also Linda R Bray of Eugene, OR, USA, who wrote, “You have confirmed what I’ve secretively believed. That most men are ‘full of it.’ And further, most women need ‘more of it.’ ”

And also Suzanne Frazier of Longmont, CO, USA, who wrote, “Men are lazy and women are probably more verbal about their feelings.”

 

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The mystery of the non-depressed men

 

 

From: Ron Unruh — Dec 28, 2009

According to the World Health Organization, over 450 million people world-wide suffer from some mental illness with anxiety and depression being the most common of these. World wide the situation is similar. In the UK one in 4 women will suffer depression compared to 1 in ten for men. The statistics are similar in other parts of the world. So why do men seem to be less affected? One of the main reasons this would appear to be the case is that men are less likely to report symptoms of depression than women. In addition to the above, depression is growing at an alarming rate and is expected to be the largest killer after coronary disease by 2020. As to how one feels after painting a loser, your egg nog will be even more effective with some brandy.

From: Sharon — Dec 29, 2009

Loved this article- really interesting to see another door opened into the minds of men. That’s probably why we(women) love ya(guys)!

Or that could just be me.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Dec 29, 2009

Men often have women taking care of them, especially artists.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Dec 29, 2009

Men aren’t less depressed, their depression just looks like anger or excessive work or sometimes alcoholism or domostic violence. They don’t know they are depressed. All that other stuff you said Robert, I agree with that too. Especially the Grumann canoe, we have one and it weighs a ton, made from old WWII airplanes I think! I like the stern too because you get to be in control. I have to get two of my grandchildren in the bow to go with me to hold it down.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Dec 29, 2009

lol, a canoe with the heavier person in front only goes in circles.

From: ELEANOR LIPKINS-STEFFEN — Dec 29, 2009

MY DEPRESSION IS ALLEVIATED WHEN I PAINT A WORK THAT I AM PROUD OF.UNLIKE ROBERT,S COMMENT ABOUT SENSE OF COMMUNITY, WHAT WORKS HERE IS A FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT BETWEEN ME AND ME.

From: Martin — Dec 29, 2009

Maybe it is because women deal in emotion, I just paint what I feel, and men are more linear, dealing in facts and information, thereby understanding the process and being able to re-produce their process time and again. Understanding has set me free. I do agree about the being social part in that I am a member of a small group of plein air painters. This social interaction has become very important to my well being as an artists and painting outdoors has accelerated the development of my process. I am off to the studio now. Hi ho, hi ho.

From: Tina — Dec 29, 2009

Thanks for this timely article, Robert. I had no idea you do battle with the “black dog” because you seem to accomplish so much – churning out paintings in addition to this terrific blog. How do you push through the despair? I ask because I suffer from depression and it’s impossible to work under its terrible weight; motivation and excitement about any visual imagery just goes out the window.

From: Karen — Dec 29, 2009

The reason more women artists are depressed is because they aren’t in the back of the boat…meaning that they aren’t in control. It’s control that makes you less stressed. Women artists have more home and family responsibilities that pull them away from their art. It’s much more frustrating to be a woman artist and have society respect what you do. A man who paints is automatically respected. His wife accommodates or even supports his passion. Society assumes he’s serious, not just playing around with his art. A woman who paints is assumed to be a crafter, a hobbyist, not serious. She’ll stop to raise children, to care for sick parents. It would be a rare husband who would clean the house, grocery shop, and cook meals so his wife with a day-job could spend time on her “hobby.” This is why women artists are depressed!

From: Libby in south Florida — Dec 29, 2009

Look for non-artist stats on depression in men vs women. I think you will find that we women have a higher percentage, whether artist or not.

From: Gregory Downs — Dec 29, 2009

I realize that you are using the canoe as an analogy, however I must point out that in most circumstances weight is the practical decision making criteria in deciding positions in a canoe. Only when the woman is heavier than the man and is still in the bow do you have a reason to question the role of gender bias. Perhaps when gender bias is assumed without considering obvious practicalities it points out another more contemporary problem.

From: Dwight Williams, Idaho — Dec 29, 2009

An old art professor of my acquaintance, when often asked what was the best thing he ever painted, would always say, “The last one”. Is this the ultimate cure for depression?

From: Bonnie Hamlin — Dec 29, 2009

Maybe it is the illusion of control both in the canoe and in the studio that affects bouts of depression. I paddle in the front, but often take out a single kayak for that control fix. The lakes are presently frozen here, so rum and eggnog replaces the kayak. Cheers

From: Rosalie Bianchi Hein — Dec 29, 2009

This year I had a little extra money and decided to buy myself a Christmas present. I chose to purchase your book: Robert Genn The Twice-Weekly Letters. I have been trying to save the e-mails from you that have affected me the most. Although I saved them, I never went back to re-read or apply them to my own needs.

The new year hasn’t even started yet and I am well on my way to using your book to launch me into 2010 with new resolve. Thank you for giving me such a gift of yourself. You have made my life much more directed through the creative process in my own studio.

By having your book, I have your words at my fingertips. I am reading and contemplating what you have said. It is making a difference by putting painting in the foremost part of my mind.

I have never met you. I feel you are an extraordinary man who gives encouragement to even those you have never seen. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

Remaining forever your student.

From: Richard Smith — Dec 29, 2009

Maybe it’s because women think more than men. I get an idea and I go for it. My wife/business manager, thinks about it, analyzes it, dissects it, ponders about it, worries about it, examines it, scrutinizes it and generally views it from all possible angles. Sometimes it easier being simpler.

From: Doug Key — Dec 30, 2009

Don’t undervalue your sense of humor either! It definitely comes out in your writing.

From: Michael A. Spronck — Dec 30, 2009

I am neither a psychiatrist nor MD; but as a management consultant, I worked with thousands of men and women over a period of many years, and observed that almost invariably men see “the glass half-full” whereas women see it “half-empty”. That is to say men are optimistic. Women, if not pessimistic, tend to be watchful or fearful of the potential for problems to arise. (“Soon the glass shall be empty; and then what will we have to drink!”)

In the score of art workshops I have attended, women tend to be far more self-critical than males. They also tend to be humble about their artistic results; even pointing out the flaws they see. Men are more likely to hold up their painting, smile, and ask “How do you like this?” (Note, “like”, not “think about”.)

From this, I conclude: Women seek affirmation by setting a low self- judgement and wish you to reassure them that in fact their work is quite good. Men start with the expectation that in fact their work is good and you will confirm that.

I suspect there are many causes of depression. And I believe a higher percentage of women suffer from it than males. If so, I think it is because they assume or have placed upon them greater responsibilities than men. Until recently they were considered “the weaker sex”, had fewer educational and employment opportunities, carried the burden of pregnancy and child rearing, did most of the house work, and suffered the most from our growing rate of divorce. That would depress me too.

Thank goodness that so many women and men have escaped or significantly reduced their level of depression through artistic expression — painting, poetry, music, and theater. MICHAEL

PS: We all need to do more to help people who suffer from mental illness. Please.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Dec 30, 2009

You are onto something here, Robert. But…I like to sit at the back where I can slack and not paddle (and not listen to comments about my paddling style). Also it’s so much fun to yell commands at the guy in front!

Joking aside, I did notice that my depression always follows unhappiness about losing control. Every once in a while, from some reason, something seems very important to be in control of, and when that goes south, so does my spirit. I am lucky to be able to bounce back before it get’s too bad, but it would still be nice to somehow harness that beast. I don’t think that I have ever been depressed any other way.

I read somewhere about an experiment where two rats who have been in a fight were left to dwell where they can see each other. The losing party always died very soon. But, if they are separated so that they can’t see each other, the loser recovers. I don’t know if this is true, but I know that my health was at it’s worst when I worked for a “boss from hell”.

Why men are less depressed? They either tend to be the winner rat more often that women, or they are smarter losers and get out of sight.

From: Lynn Maderich — Dec 30, 2009

Perhaps one contributing factor toward more depression among women who participate in the arts is that we women still run into gender discrimination that doesn’t touch our male colleagues. I have two artist friends, both women, whose first names are easily confused as male: Cyd and Dale. Both have had the demeaning experience of a painting of theirs judged with strong positives until the gender mistake was revealed, at which point the opinion of the art’s quality was unaccountably downgraded. Interesting. Often subtle. But very real.

From: Nancy Butler — Dec 30, 2009

Yes, men generally are at least somewhat if not a whole lot deluded vis a vis their “greatness” and maybe it is the glue that holds them together. Is it the old male ego? Does it come from women being honest with each other about their anxieties etc, feeding the feeling of inadequacy.? Hmmm. Love to hear what others say. YOUR letter picked me up!

From: Edie Pfeifer — Dec 30, 2009
From: Ellen McCord — Dec 30, 2009
From: Pat Solem — Dec 30, 2009

I read your letter with great interest today because I have long noticed that women artists have much less confidence than male artists. Consequently, they are more prone to doubts and depression about their work and worth. For almost 40 years I have tried to improve my paintings because I find them inadequate. I figure I don’t have enough years to live in order to make those slow improvements that usually come with time. Certainly, I am one of those female artists who lacks confidence and gets depressed. For a few years I have been teaching watercolors and spending time with more accomplished painters. I have observed the almost universal lack of confidence exhibited by beginning, intermediate and advanced female painters. At the same time, it is glaringly obvious that men don’t take classes. I have never had one male student. Most of my students seem to need much more encouragement than actual painting instruction.

From: Bren Nichols — Dec 30, 2009

In a general sense; it’s truly not a mystery why more women artist (or most women of any field) tend to struggle more with depression. The demand of the nurturing gender forces women to spread their energy around to everyone and everything except to themselves and ultimately their craft. The sense of responsibility and often feeling juxtaposed to personal commitments can affect both male and female of course but unlike the male, the female will tend to put herself last – hence, a lack of self-expression and self-fulfillment. The plight continues.

From: Bill Stephenson — Dec 30, 2009

But shouldn’t all artists paddle their own canoes?

From: Jan Canyon — Dec 30, 2009

I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that mens brains start shrinking at age 40 and womens don’t. This according to a doc I worked for at one time. They continued in the “less worried” path…

From: Marina Petro — Dec 30, 2009

I suspect the ratio of depression is higher in women artists than men because women artists (among others) are probably serving the egg nog, shopping for it, washing the glass, putting dinner on the table…..shall I go on or do you get my drift…? How about a study asking the happy artist men if they have a woman taking care of their basic needs and allowing them the freedom to pursue their art…

From: Eleanor Blair — Dec 30, 2009

As a rule, boys play more sports than girls, so early in their lives they get lots of practice losing games. There’s a theory that practice and familiarity with defeat helps boys to become more emotionally resilient, willing to take risks, able to roll with whatever punches life hands them. Now that there are more opportunities for girls to get involved with sports when they’re young, female artists might be as cheerful as male artists in the future. I just paddled my kayak 115 miles down the Suwannee River with Paddle Florida with 54 other people. Cheered me right up.

From: Laurie Henthorne — Dec 30, 2009

In regard to the research about gender-differentiated depression in those engaged in cultural activities: Your canoe analogy is wonderful. I think the traditional marriage is that way, too, with the man in control, and the woman providing the impetus. Speaking for myself, when I was a wife, my creativity was definitely inhibited or out-and-out prevented by my sense of obligation to my wifely duties and by my husband’s attitude. I was too busy propelling our lives to direct them or to create. In a completely different relationship now, not playing the “wife” role, my creativity directs my canoe, with the motivating power often coming from my partner. We take turns in the bow, sucking in the mosquitoes! Thanks for all the wonderful food for thought, throughout the year.

From: John Ferrie — Dec 31, 2009

Dear Robert,

Artists are always trying to have their voice heard.

While we are generally happy people, artist can have some damage and issues.

MOST artists will tell you that when they are painting, they are their absolute self.

This is where, when all else fails we are together and happening.

This is also where there is a flow of our inner self. There is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings.

It is just sometimes our feelings are sad.

I was told once that I would cry my tears in my paintings. I have painted about friends who have passed away from Aids.

And I have celebrated through painting, this thing we call life.

I find the mixing and colours and the glide of a pigment loaded brush across a canvas very soothing.

The worries of the day seem not so tangled when i am painting.

While the tears are less these days, there is always water in the well.

Maybe that is just me.

John Ferrie

From: karen gillis taylor — Dec 31, 2009

Painting in the studio is like being with a good friend. It’s not considered an escape, but it sometimes is solace. I rarely finish a painting in one day, so I am in the habit of being hopeful that the painting will turn out well eventually. I have had my share of painting through tears, but there’s even a strange relief in pushing through, and concentrated work eventually shuts out sad thoughts. There is wonder in the act of creating something out of paint; and there is joy in color. I would only be truly depressed if I had no paints or brushes. But then I suppose I would find some other things to make art with. I am thankful my brain steers to the beauty side of life, and try to help others seek that way if they can. -Karen

From: anon — Dec 31, 2009

It is so good to know that some people don’t distinguish between the normal, healthy sadness and deep disturbing depression. May it stay that way for you John and Karen, and I hope that there are many more of you blessed that way. I cheerish my sadness and I fear the black whirlpools of depression, which is an illness that takes many lives.

From: Toni Ciserella — Dec 31, 2009

I agree with the concensus that woman are more likely to get depressed (sad, frustrated, etc…) because of all their additional responsibilities. (and I do understand the difference between depression and sadness -the word is used so frequently for any unpleasant feeling)

When my children were young and I was married my art was considered a hobby to fit in whenever I wasn’t doing all my other duties. I also worked outside the home. Not being able to create made me a very frustrated person. (I imagine a man would be as frustrated as I was if they had had all those responsibilities.) Now with my children grown and no longer having a man to take care of, my art is my life and frustration is almost nonexistent…

And I am not one of those man haters, in fact, I realized that the best way to address my frustration was to ‘act like a man’. In other words, ignore housework, let the children figure it out for themselves, take time for myself and avoid emotionally draining relationships. The ‘trick’ is to not care what others think (a tough thing to do for a woman).

From: jim — Dec 31, 2009

Hey there, I live in Ottawa, and I do not not know this Thelma….I want some cookies and coffee too…..link me up please…thanks

From: Gordon Sonmor — Dec 31, 2009

This study seems to speak broadly across the arts, sampling those who participate in artistic/cultural activities. The conclusion “… artistic men are less likely to be depressed than artistic women…” means that statistically more participants in all the arts who were also survey subjects tended to be females. Survey subjects were not necessarily working artists or writers just arts participants and likely not screened for depression before or after arts participation. This demonstrates absolutely no cause and effect relationship between artistic activity, gender and/or depression. Nor would the study likely be able to differentiate participants who had been prescribed artistic endeavour as an uplifting way to combat pre-existing depression (that could certainly skew results as women are more prone to join both arts and help networks than men). Hence the survey could easily be showing that more women are doing something about depression than men). The actual difference in percentage was not given (was it 51% more women or 55% ?). Now, since more men are found in sports arenas than in arts arenas … if the survey had a sports participant focus one wonders what gender bias towards depression might emerge. In any case, statistical conclusions should never be allowed to affect an individual’s personal journey, so treat it lightly everybody. I can definitely see that since serious women artists (as other Genn letters have revealed) are under represented in major galleries that might be a bit depressing as it curtails careers and deeply affects egos. However, in “art club/guild” galleries that ratio is rather the opposite but less prone to be hard on egos because generally fewer men join most clubs and, in any case, genders should always be represented proportionally in these things … anything else would be unfair. One cautionary note: do not mistake your justified feeling of disappointment at a days sub-standard work in the studio for “depression”. It may be pique, anger or the blues but it is not “depression”. Clinical depression is a specific condition not one or two days of feeling sorry for yourself or mad or disappointed. This jump to invoke the term”depression” (and medicate for it) at the drop a hat … or paint brush … is all too common in today’s interplay of societal and medical realms. {e.g. To be offered anti-depressants because you just broke your leg is stupid … of course you feel bad, you have a broken leg and it hurts and it is not going away that is not being “depressed”. This happened in our family.} We have to remind ourselves that feeling bad about being battered by circumstance or inability to perform up to your best at every outing is natural and not to be taken seriously unless it persists. No olympic high jumper in history (or herstory) has ever jumped higher with each subsequent attempt. No, they just jump high (impossibly high to us non-jumpers) sometimes clearing the bar sometimes not. Once in a while they outstrip their best often they fail but in any case, they simply prepare for the next attempt accepting that a record or a failed attempt is just part of the process, an inevitability to be expected in a lifelong endeavour. Not a bad attitude for artists. Sub-note: if you roll art sales into your equation, you may become depressed if too much is left hanging unsold. If you do not withhold your ‘faux dandies’ you may contribute to the problem and that could get … well … depressing. Better to think of the sub-standard work as a study and just get on with the ‘real’ painting tomorrow. If you are one who paints impossibly well in the eyes of hobbyists and students, the call between real and faux dandies may be more difficult, only you can say. My New Year’s resolution is to paint more. (Poorly still, but more often to seek improvement, and always, hoping like every golfer to hit a hole-in-one.) Happy New Year everyone, keep looking forward not back.

From: Claire Evans — Dec 31, 2009

In my group studio of mostly women artists, we often quote that old saying, “Every artist needs a wife.”

From: New Mexico Artist — Dec 31, 2009

I began to paint with knives this last summer… I painted almost every day and had a ball. It was almost a frenzy of painting. Not everything was a ‘keeper’ but I learned from them all in one way or another. We finished up the summer with a wonderful 3 day workshop and then… I surely lost my muse. I have had a great deal of trouble getting it going again. I even thought about putting it all away and doing something else… like quilting, which I do enjoy. But then along came Christmas and I was presented with two $100 gift cards for art supplies… sigh… so I suppose I will get busy and paint again. I even plan to sign up for the ‘Wednesday Art Club’ at the college. Who knows, maybe my muse is hiding behind my studio door. pat

From: Brian — Jan 01, 2010

I used to think I was one of the non-depressed men. Read all the above and now I think maybe I’m depressed too.

Happy New Year everyone. :)

From: Dorcas M. O’Reilly — Jan 02, 2010

I wonder if you had considered one reason for the differences noted between men and women is that women have so little time to devote to art, given their roles as wives and mothers. That can be depressing in itself, especially when you churn to do something but cannot manage a satisfying block of time to really devote yourself to creative expression. Our devotion to families does require most of our time for so many years. It is why I stand in genuine awe of women who have been able to manage two demanding pursuits simultaneously: family and their personal creative path.

I enjoy your letters immensely. Thank you for sharing so much with your growing community of artists and friends. When the day starts with one of your newsletters, it is inspired!

Happy New Year.

From: B J Adams — Jan 02, 2010

Maybe your reverse psychology you use on yourself will help us female artists. From now on when I have finished any artwork and I know how un-dandy it is I’ll call friends to let them know how great my finished masterpiece is and then see how ‘out of a funk’ I can become.

Garrison Keillor, being Norwegian, (I enjoy his Norwegian Bachelor farmers) may automatically be less depressed. He is a masterful story teller and innovative writer. He also has a very full life with many people who care about him, regardless of his commenting on his bad hair.

From: Robin d’Arcy Shillcock — Jan 02, 2010

Coincidentally, yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend and aspiring artist living in Wisconsin, in which she wrote the following:

“In the free time that I have, I want to create and improve. I need to find the balance of being a wife, friend, artist, daughter, sister, aunt, dog owner, teacher, traveler, gardener, reader and day dreamer.”

Now in some thirty-odd years of talks, debates and correspondence with artists, all professional, the majority male, I have never heard a man say (or write) anything like this! Men might admit having trouble finding enough time to do what they want to do, but they don’t seem to be juggling to balance the various demands on their time. Is it because they don’t find life complicated (because there’s a wife to take care of things so that hubby-the-artist can do what he needs to do) or because they simply don’t think along such lines? On the other hand, the Norwegian researcher may have simply misread their data! We all know examples of fallacious research results, so why not here?

Back in the days when I was feeling my way around in painting I could explode if I came up against a brick wall; breaking a brush or two or chucking the painting from my car probably dispelled possible depression. Since then I’ve learned to not judge too quickly nor too harshly, to close the studio door behind me, have a coffee or a short hike with the dog, before taking a peek at the painting. It happens that when I think I’m “going with the flow” and the painting is rolling along nicely, I’ll discover I was in the wrong lane all the time, while on other occasions a crummy bit of fieldwork turns out to have enough going for it to continue the work. You cannot often immediately assess whether the done deed is good or bad; a little time lets you see that it might not be what you thought you’d get, but that it’s actually better! Then there’s this: if you can’t get what you want today, there’s always tomorrow!

Groningen, Netherlands

From: Gayle Prevatt — Jan 03, 2010

I always enjoy reading your letters and save many of them to read a second and third time. This time I can’t resist adding something: I am a woman artist living with a man artist (my husband, Enzo). OK, going with your ideas on “he’s a legend in his own mind” just for fun here are quotes from my husband upon MY getting up one morning and stripping the sheets off the bed to wash them: ” what…they were just getting broken in, you mean we have to change them every week….” or about leaves piled up outside the front door so that you cannot walk in without crunching through them….”I didn’t notice”…..or when I walk in the door after working in town all day(he’s retired from teaching and is still a full time artist)….”whats for dinner?” innocently of course. Now, we women love these artist men and admire not only their energy and determination to get that piece done or have that show in that coveted space, gallery, museum or whatever but behind the scenes there are many long hours spent cleaning and organizing life so that the creativity has room to occur. Culturally speaking, it doesn’t matter how much skill in the arts a woman has, our western (and eastern)culture still manipulates her into the “keeper of the hearth”

and we watch our personal opportunities slip away as we clean the kitchen after cooking dinner (metaphorically speaking of course). all women know the rest of the story though the specifics may vary: if you try to stick up for your self, ie, ask for personal time or space, you’re selfish, if you are firm, you’re a bitch, what men and children want and demand is “be nice,” pay attention to me…..

Perhaps you can ask your readers to weigh in here? Is it only my artist women friends here that notice this? Or are there others?

From: New Mexico artist — Jan 03, 2010

This message is to Gayle… you hit the nail on the head. I do not like the looks I get when I announce that ‘I’m painting today’… it as if I said I was leaving town. So I usually back down… get frustrated and fret… vicious cycle. pat

From: stranger — Jan 04, 2010

Gayle — I understand you 100 per cent. Robert I was surprised that the ‘wife role’ didn’t pop into your mind. I do know men who are aware of Gayle’s (and others) point of view. Not many. And not many men who are aware of how needy they are and how much of our energy is expected to go toward nurturing of every description. I am a woman artist married to a male artist. I’m not whining– I guess it will be taken as that — but I’m pretty tired of the fight for time while at the same time, taking care not to damage the male artist’s self esteem. )Nobody likes to know they are so reliant on another.) And the compliments about how hard HE works on his art! I’m not giving up but just yesterday I determined to fight for my minutes!

From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Jan 04, 2010
From: Deloris — Jan 04, 2010

If women artists had wives, I doubt they would be as depressed.

From: Frank — Jan 04, 2010

I’m have a wife, and I’m depressed

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2010

I am so glad to hear of someone who appreciates Garrison Keillor! There was a time when he had a radio program here in the States and I agree with you, he lifted my spirits many a time after listening to his stories.

Alas, I can no longer find him and do miss his repartee and wisdom.

My two cents on the depression of women goes like this. Most (men) artists are a classic example of ignorance is bliss. Men are born and ingrained with the knowledge that they are going to experience hard knocks in life and are trained from an early age that rejection is part of the game, so buck up and shut up.

Being less verbal by nature, this is a perfect attribute and allows us to move forward knowing full well we will fail at many of the things we attempt and that failure is part and parcel of what it means to be a man. Along with this is also the knowledge that we keep getting up and trying again and again.

Women on the other hand don’t take failure and rejection well due to the unfortunate misguided teaching of parents who told them every day of their young lives that they are sugar and spice and everything nice and underneath little is expected of them. They are the apple of daddy’s and mommy’s eye and Oh! aren’t they the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen in that pink dress. When the fairy tale ends women find themselves on a precarious perch without a safety net. Real life is not what they were told life to be.

I don’t know if this has changed much and we do expect different things from boys than from girls. Some one somewhere will have to break the mold and we will have to rethink what we teach our young men and women. Until that happens, depression may remain primarily with women more than men

From: Richard Mazzarino — Jan 06, 2010

As with all sensitive subjects discussed here there is little time or space to cover everything well if at all. This is a situation of our own making.

The fact is women are nurturers by nature as was intended. Men were fashioned to be the protectors and hunters. I think this fact is very obvious if we take the time to look our physicality.

I know this concept has been torn asunder and reality today has things turned upside down and sideways with women taking a more dominant role.

If we are to continue to exist as a species, women still need to be the nurturers and keep the home in all that that may mean while men try and find a way to support the family women by nature must have.

I know in some “modern” households men stay home and women now hunt and gather. But this is a relatively new concept of the world we now find ourselves. If you listen to the modern women there is little reason for a man except to plant a seed and nothing more. This is a dangerous chauvinist attitude held by some feminists that demeans a man’s role as husband, father, companion and supporter. Because women have more exposure doesn’t mean men need to disappear from sight.

There were very valid reasons men dominated the work place in the past. When women were pregnant someone had to provide. When children needed suckling, men had to provide. Until nature decides men can have uteri, women will have to carry the staff on child bearing and nurturing.

Now that men have given women the liberty and freedom to be all they can be in life and the workplace, men get kicked in the teeth and are told we are codependent misfits who only want our laundry done and dinner on the table. There are and have been many men who produced art without a women by their side. Those who chose to become artist and mother pay a price. But it is by choice. Men are not given that choice. Come hell or high water, we have to provide and hunt in the best way we can.

So while women mother artists are kicking their husbands remember they provide you the luxury of being able to paint at all in a home that still needs to be paid for. This may not be the case in some homes but it is in many still today.

As I said at the outset there isn’t enough room in this blog to expound but I had to say this to feel good about myself.

From: stranger — Jan 06, 2010

My first comment was lost because I forgot to add up those numbers at the bottom. So here goes again:

Oh Richard, oh lordy lordy lordy. We are talking here about ARTISTS and why women artists just might be a bit depressed. We all know how we evolved from hunter gatherers and why roles were divided as they were. Anyway we THINK we know. I haven’t seen anything like a wild rant here, just a few women have tried to describe the difficulties specific to our gender. So, in your view, a woman who does this is a crybaby who isn’t grateful enough for the bread on her plate? And saying this makes you feel good about yourself? Oh lordy lordy.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jan 08, 2010

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Thank God I’m gay!

I do have a male roommate- but I don’t have to take care of him! And he doesn’t have to take care of me- either. We are both quite capable of taking care of ourselves- and we both clean and cook and do our own laundry- as well as work and everything else- and while we may both be living in the same house- there are no romantics involved. Some things we do together- many we don’t. And there are no wives and no children. Thank God!

The whines of hetero men who think ‘wives’ exist to nurture and take care of them and their children- please… spare me. Grow up. Some of those responsibilities are yours.

The whines of hetero women about how they are expected by everyone on the face of the planet to take care of everybody- really- if you want to change this paradigm- then change it. You are so totally bought into it yourselves you think it is what is. It isn’t. Get over it and make up your own damn rules for your existence.

If you all want to have children then do so- but assume total responsibility for that decision and negotiate a better sharing of responsibilities. And if you don’t want to have children- then don’t- but stop with the hormone defense. It’s way childish. And you hate it when your men try to use the same defense about their sexuality that you tend to have less and less interest in over time.

And for you women- many of whom work- I can guarantee that I can find you somebody’s ‘wife’ somewhere that thinks it is her God-given right to marry a rich man who WILL take care of her. This archaic belief structure is still being propagandized into little girls every day of our current 2010 lives.

I’m a nurturer and a caregiver- and a male- and I’ve been suicidally depressed over succeeding financially as an artist. In this day and age everybody gets depressed form time to time by unmet expectations. It’s time for it all to change. So change it. I did.

From: Toni M. Czechorosky — Jan 19, 2010

Thank you for featuring talented portrait artist Adrian Gottlieb’s work in your blog. I am the model who posed for this painting about 3 yrs ago. I have worked as a fine art figure and costume model in Los Angeles the last 10 yrs. I have worked with some of the most revered painters around such as Mian Situ, Jeremy Lipking, Morgan Weistling, Ryan Wurmser, Steven Assael, David Leffel, etc. Each journey with an artist is a collaborative experience of soul, passion, and spirit. I had the blessed experience of working with Mr. Gottlieb on three consecutive paintings (this painting “The Parisian” owned by private collector’s Jon and Kristin Barren in Los Angeles, CA was the 2nd). Mr. Gottlieb allowed me to share the experience with him and was atune to my abilities and artistry as the model. He shared my view that the model is vital to the creative process and allowed my personality to become part of the tapastry of his talented brushwork. The result was the stunning imagrey you see before you. I would have to say this painting and the 3rd we collaborated on “Nimbus” are the closest works I have posed for that represent me as a person. It is an honor to see you all share my praise of his talent and even more of an honor to be able to work with the artist himself.

Regards,

TC

 

 

 

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Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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