Lessons from a shopaholic

Dear Artist, Last Sunday, Dr. Jack Dalhousie dropped by my studio. He’s a guy who collects art from coast to coast and stashes it in his pad in Toronto. “Over two hundred now,” he said. “Dealers love me. I’m a shopaholic.” Jack’s a specialized shopaholic; he wears beat-up clothes and drives a second-hand Mercedes. I told him I’m a workaholic. “Good on ya,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that. Without compulsive painters there’d be no compulsive collectors.” Dr. Jack is a professor in a Faculty of Medicine. We talked briefly about “Memantine” — an Alzheimer’s and OCD drug now found useful in controlling compulsive shopping. “I never touch drugs,” said Dr. Jack. We talked about compulsions and how they might be useful to people who invent and create. With Scotch-aid we came to a few conclusions: People who love their work tend to work compulsively. People who don’t love their work consider compulsive workers to be confused at best and, at worse, ill. People who love their work feel a bit sorry for those who don’t. Compulsions can’t be bought or sold. Compulsions are useful to society. I asked the doctor if he thought people might be taught to be compulsive. “It’s contagious,” he said. “When you’re around others who have it you tend to get it. But you have to feel it’s your own possession, your own thing. It’s possible, I guess, to fall crazy in love with any darned thing. But you’ve got to make the first move. “I can’t control my compulsiveness and I sometimes feel a bit of buyer’s remorse,” he went on, “but it goes away because I love the stuff I collect. I love art, but I also get off on my accumulation of what I think is the best stuff. What about you workaholics? Do you feel worker’s remorse?” I told him most of us feel remorse when our work is not as good as it could be. I told him the desire to do better contributes to our compulsiveness. I told him many, if not most, creative folks have experienced some sort of compulsion and surrendered to it. “No drug, he said, “except occasional satisfaction, can arrest desire.” Best regards, Robert PS: “Most artists work all the time. Especially the good ones. I mean, what else is there to do?” (David Hockney) Esoterica: We are drawn to our labour of love because it fills our cups like no other nourishment. The making of art is a private puzzle and working out the puzzle is beguiling. Let the folks who don’t love their work look forward to their retirement from it. We creative folks (and some others) have a different mind-set. “Work cures everything,” said Henri Matisse. “I need to work to feel well,” said Edouard Manet. “Work is more fun than fun,” said Noel Coward. “Work is the ultimate seduction,” said Pablo Picasso. “I work day and night without sleep,” said Jules Olitski, “The paintings keep me fired up.”   Your Self as most blessed tool by Carolina De Medina, North Caldwell, New Jersey, USA

“Venice Roof”
original painting
by Carolina De Medina

I am a serious, ecstatic Painter (carolinademedina.com) and I am a serious extremely and intensely involved psychologist/psychotherapist. But — I know that I have to preserve my body and my mind by having healthy boundaries. Otherwise I don’t do first-class work with either, and then I get depressed. The effort involved with either and both sometimes feels Herculean, but the payoff is Divine. Consider your Self as your most blessed Tool, my friends, and keep You in Good condition. (Dr Carolina — obviously an Apollonian.) There is 1 comment for Your Self as most blessed tool by Carolina De Medina
From: Genevie Henderson,Winnipeg,MB — Jun 12, 2012

Caroline,thank you for your infinitely wise advice. As a long time social worker and therapist who gave herself fully to work for many years,I can attest to the hazards of poor physical and mental health that can result from an imbalance in work/family/personal life.Since finding joy and a sense of peace through painting,I wonder now why I foolishly did not allow myself the personal and private time to replenish and rejevenate.Burn out is not pretty.

Your painting is divine!!
  Non-remunerative work by Aleta Karstad, Bishops Mills, ON, Canada

“Winter Refuge”
watercolour painting
by Aleta Karstad

My husband, Fred Schueler, who is also self-employed (he’s a non-salaried biologist and we do a lot of field work together — me painting and he exploring), said as I read him your letter, “The trick with work is to find some way to be paid for it so that half of your work doesn’t consist of fending off bill collectors,” and “Our conceptual discovery is that the work that most needs to be done is the kind that’s not conventionally remunerated.”   There are 3 comments for Non-remunerative work by Aleta Karstad
From: Michael — Jun 12, 2012

Fred’s second statement seems to me to be profound. I have often thought this myself, but he has put it very eloquently.

From: patti — Jun 12, 2012

Love your very sweet bird painting!

From: Lana Hart — Jul 02, 2012

Such a sweet painting!.. Isn’t it the truth – the mose satisfying paintings are the ones that don’t fit the marketable category.

  Partners in collaboration by Fleta Monaghan, Asheville, NC, USA

oil painting, 48 x 48 inches
by Fleta Monaghan

The artist and collector are collaborators. The artist’s job is to filter and record the moment in time that is now, to channel the creative spirit and to deliver it in tangible form. The collector is the caretaker of this activity, ensuring that work goes on. The history of our times is recorded in visual form and is the preserver of the work. Each needs the other to continue the tradition of creating art that began with the first humans. The human race needs this team so that our steps on earth are remembered and understood.   There are 2 comments for Partners in collaboration by Fleta Monaghan
From: Diane Overmyer — Jun 12, 2012

I never really enjoyed the study of history in school until I took an art history course in college….I had to work so hard for each of those courses, but LOVED them! Art brought history alive for me, because rather than just reading a bunch of facts and dates, I was able to connect with the emotions of the artists. I also was surprised to find out how enjoyable ancient history was to me. Those people did such amazing feats for the time period that they lived!

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jun 12, 2012

I like your optimistic analysis!

  From large to small by Alex Nodopaka, Lake Forest, CA, USA

“Cosmic egg”
bronze sculpture
by Alex Nodopaka

I’m addicted to art. My obsession is with art that I can afford, thank god. It is bought in thrift stores, auctions & estate sales or worse, bartered with my artist friends. I progressed from large pieces to smaller pieces paralleling the shrinkage of my real estate walls due to banking shenanigans, which had a silver lining, forcing me to focus on art the size of a business card. Its smallness is compensated by my shrinking stature due to age, which in turn makes the art big as my cerebral perspective allows it. Digressing, I remember when art used to be big and overstuffed with things to be deciphered. But with time progression, the bigger the art the smaller its meaningful content became, proving Einstein’s concepts of the interconnections of time and real estate space. There is 1 comment for From large to small by Alex Nodopaka
From: Andre Kamille Satie — Jun 12, 2012

Love this!

  The power of passion by Margot Comstock, Santa Rosa, CA, USA

“Ellie Wading in the Mediterranean”
original painting
by Margot Comstock

Well, I generally have called them passions, and I wish every kid a strong one, because I believe having a passion is the best thing in life. Some of us fight it — not usually because we don’t want it, but because of other stupid obligations or needs or “thinking of others” or whatever. I encourage everyone with even the inkling of a passion to put it ahead of absolutely everything. I believe that following your passion and creating what you are meant to create is the greatest gift you can give to the world and to mankind. But you don’t have to think it that way. Just do your wonderful thing and you’ll be achieving all the “good” the do-gooders want of you, and more than most. And, of course, stay kind. There is 1 comment for The power of passion by Margot Comstock
From: Ken Flitton — Jun 12, 2012

Amazing- or not, I once did a painting almost exactly the same of my son in the water at Ogunquit, ME. Don’t know what happened to it. Beautiful job!!

  Compulsion by De Gillett, Australia

“Discovering the Fauve within “
original painting
by De Gillett

This compulsion is what sets us apart from those who are not artists! It would be mean-spirited indeed to be possessed of a world-enriching gift, yet leave it languishing without ever getting to be the best we can be. This is why, at age 50, I have now almost completed my Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Australia. The camaraderie of like-minded people who condone my obsession makes my life complete (well, that and all the easel time :)). The attached self-portrait amply celebrates my joy! There are 5 comments for Compulsion by De Gillett
From: Sarah — Jun 12, 2012

Love that painting!

From: Rose — Jun 12, 2012

What a lovely spirit….

From: De Gillett — Jun 12, 2012

Thank you ladies- paintings that celebrate joy and positivity are my favourite kind :)

From: Joyce Callaghan — Jun 12, 2012

I do like this painting! It shows your wonderful spirit for life and for what you love doing most. You expressed yourself well in this painting and I wish I lived close by you. We could have some great conversations.

From: Pete — Jun 13, 2012

I’ve always said when you have a beautiful subject, it’s much easier to make a beautiful painting. I think this painting is beyond that. It’s awesome!!

  Criminal act by Roger Barnard

“From Les Baux”
acrylic painting
by Roger Barnard

I just came across the post by Henryk Ptasiewicz while Googling paintings by Graham Sutherland and felt I had to comment on a number of points, even though the thread was started in 2003. Mr. Ptasiewicz writes, “For years we had seen, and were familiar with, the photograph of Churchill by Karsh, which captured his personality totally. So there was a great expectation that a painting would be even better.” Was there expectation that a painting would be even better? How do you know? Is a painting automatically better than a photograph? “However the final portrait just couldn’t compete with the public image we all had. Sutherland had painted a grumpy old man…” Well, probably he was a grumpy old man. But the painting (alas, only in reproduction) shows a grumpy old man with tremendous character and charisma. Are you saying that the painting should have depicted ‘the public image we all had,’ even if Sutherland felt that wasn’t the truth? It’s very likely Churchill didn’t get on with Sutherland, as he made no secret of his antipathy toward ‘Modern Art’ (i.e. anything after the Impressionists). “…and despite lots of pressure otherwise, it was so despised by Lady Churchill, that upon Winston’s death, she destroyed it.” Yes, that was unforgiveable. A selfish, philistine act. “There was a tremendous public relief; the masses hated it.” Was there really? Who showed that relief (apart from Mr. and Mrs. Churchill)? And who exactly are the masses? The taste of the masses, even if they exist, is not the best guide to quality in art. “We were told that this was great art, and it wasn’t.” Told by whom? Very few artists deserve to be called ‘great.’ Sutherland probably isn’t a great artist, but he’s a very, very good one whose reputation is rising once more after a period of neglect. The Churchill portrait was probably his best commissioned portrait (although it was said that he couldn’t get the feet right and decided to paint them out) and, in my humble opinion, it was a criminal act to destroy it. There are 8 comments for Criminal act by Roger Barnard
From: Henryk Ptasiewicz — Jun 12, 2012

Dear Roger,

Surely the feelings of Clementine Churchill trump everything?
From: Anonymous — Jun 12, 2012

Interesting… “It was commissioned by both Houses of Parliament” but lady Churchill got away with destroying it? Unless it was gifted to her, it really was a criminal act.

From: Henryk Ptasiewicz — Jun 12, 2012

My Great-Grandfather certainly had a way with words.

The painting was without a doubt one of the greatest insults to an international hero who had, in his lifetime, saved the world from the worst kind of evil we have ever faced in our history. Any artist, no matter how amateur, knows that you never paint a portrait depicting the truth. But even is Sutherland didn’t know this, he certainly knew you don’t paint a lie. The painting was destroyed, and rightly so. Sutherland should have been ashamed to have taken the money from the tax-payers for such a monstrous waste of expensive canvas and paints. Jonathan Sandys
From: Henryk Ptasiewicz — Jun 13, 2012

Dear Roger

Graham Sutherland was a great War Artist, and what he did with Coventry Cathedral was wonderful, but his portrait of Churchill was lacking. Two years after the Churchill portrait, Pietro Annigoni painted a portrait of the Queen. There is no comparison. Annigoni understood what it takes to make a lasting image. Put another way, if John Singer Sargent had still been alive and working, what would he have produced? You grew up in Britain, despite losing the election after the War, Winston Churchill was the most memorable person in the Country, he deserved better.
From: Anonymous — Jun 13, 2012

I wrote a reply (very polite, I thought) to Henryk yesterday, but it seems to have disappeared. Did I say something I shouldn’t have?

From: Roger — Jun 13, 2012

Sorry, I didn’t mean that last post to be anonymous. Failing computer skills – maybe that’s the reason the other message is missing?

From: Roger Barnard — Jun 14, 2012

Dear Henryk,

This is my second attempt to comment on your posts. I hope this one gets through. No, actually, I don’t think Mrs Churchill’s feelings trump everything. The painting was commissioned and painted in good faith, and the Churchills should have respected that. (There’s a very interesting page on Sutherland at .) Their hatred for the painting was apparently based not on a question of quality, but on the fact that it didn’t reflect their own view of Churchill’s reputation. The sad fact is that destroying the work tarnished that reputation in the eyes of many (well, me anyway). Another of Sutherland’s subjects at around the same time was Lord Beaverbrook. His staff commissioned the portrait, and when he received it, he said, “It’s an outrage, but it’s a masterpiece.” Certainly a more tolerant reaction, but ironically, the Beaverbrook painting is nowhere near as good as the Churchill portrait (in my opinion). You quote Jonathan Sandys, who I was blissfully unaware of until now. Perhaps his Great-Grandfather (Winston Churchill) had a way with words, but it’s clear that Jonathan doesn’t. And his opinions are mind-boggling: “Any artist, no matter how amateur, knows that you never paint a portrait depicting the truth. But even if Sutherland didn’t know this, he certainly knew you don’t paint a lie.” Finally, if John Singer Sargent had still been alive and working, he would have produced a portrait by Sargent. But it would have been by a 98-year-old Sargent, so probably a trifle wobbly. If Picasso had been asked to paint Churchill, what would he have produced? Now there’s a thought.
From: Roger Barnard — Jun 14, 2012


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Lessons from a shopaholic

From: gail harper — Jun 08, 2012

The one thing that remains faithful is the work.

From: Dwight — Jun 08, 2012

Why call it “work”? I’ve been told I can’t possibly retire (even at 80?) since I never worked in my life. I did OK apparently without “working”, actually better than just OK. So why stop painting now?

From: Jan Corcoran — Jun 08, 2012

I find it interesting that all the artists quoted are male. Perhaps the female artists of that time had other priorities such as kids and families and therefore, as much as they may have wanted to spend all their time painting…

From: Allan Carey — Jun 08, 2012

I should do more work than I do. I like these artists’ comments.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jun 08, 2012

You’ve made me think today, I now realize the way I approach my art is not only a passion but also compulsive. If I am not painting and painting well, I can be grumpy and irritable. If I traveled with family over a long weekend away from my studio, I am not a content person until I get back to work. When not painting I am doing other things related to it, reading, planning, looking at art, blogging, etc. Paintings I am working on are never far from my mind, even when with friends. And friends don’t want to be bored with arty chit chat.

I was never this way about any other job I have had. Of course, being an artist is not like any other job, it is a life. I was recently talking with a young relative, a dancer, living in New York waiting for her big break while working at part-time jobs. She said, “I’m happy, dancing everyday, I have good friends and we help each other out, It’s all good.” You choose to follow your passion and it does become compulsive.
From: Nancy Oppenheimer — Jun 08, 2012

You are a piano tuner to my piano. Each of your letters touches and tunes the strings of my heart and soul; you speak so directly to me! The “puzzle” is, indeed, “beguiling” and until it is solved (which of course will be never) the desire remains fired up.

From: Mike Young — Jun 08, 2012

Excuse my semantics. Work is what I do when I’d rather be doing something else. I am at play when I sculpt or paint. Maybe there should be a word between work and play for the compulsive pleasurable activities we engage in. How about a hybrid “Way”? As in, way to go.

From: Robin Pedrero — Jun 08, 2012

I am a compulsive painter and love this letter.

From: Valerie Kent — Jun 08, 2012

I have been painting non stop for over 40 years. I have now moved into a condo from a house with a roomy studio and adequate storage space. I could not bear to let my supplies and easels and paintings go. I brought them all here. What to do? I am dying to sort out some kind of system so I have room to paint. This is presently nightmarish. I am sure somewhere there is a solution.

From: DebraAnn Salat — Jun 08, 2012

I feel remorse when I am not working. Maybe the other side of the same coin.

From: Jock McGuire — Jun 08, 2012

There are all kinds of people in the world. Understanding this fact gives artists more pride and an understanding that while we are not unique, we do march to a different drummer. Glasgow

From: Ken Hrivik — Jun 08, 2012

I think the reward of satisfaction, however occasional, is the main force that drives us. In my case it is certainly not cash flow or even peer appreciation. You get most of the “bang” when you are on the job. Some bangs are bigger than others.

From: Eric Maisel — Jun 09, 2012
From: Susan Holland — Jun 09, 2012

Valerie, your comment describes my puzzle exactly, except that I have sixty years of treasure to deal with. I am unwilling to just deposit my “life” in a thrift store or whatever, but what shall I DO with it all? Yes, I have sold many paintings over the years, but there are those that the sold ones are built on. They have value to me.

I’m going to try to open my old portfolios online as Rafter-Hangers.. “bare naked (unframed) paintings for a price.” I have no idea whether it will work, but it will at least make a sort of inventory for me, and document where I am coming from for anyone who is interested. Then I can stash my stuff with tags in racks so they can be retrieved and ID’d easily. My son is building a storage rack in his shed, which is dry and has some heat. That’s where it’s going…now I have to do the work to get it there i.e., photograph it, slide it into an acid free protector, and then tag it so I can find it easily. Takes a little production line…ugh. Let me know how you end up dealing with it.
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 09, 2012

To Jan Corcoran:

You want to believe that woman were forced to marry men, change their names, become property, have 20 children, and then do nothing but take care of everybody till they die, and therefore, never get around to painting. Because that’s the only way no women got quoted here. The past is the past. As a gay male I have no idea why any of you women ever put up with it, but you put up with it for millenia, so there must have been some perks, like letting somebody else work their asses off to make money to support ‘their’ families (YOU), even painting, so you ladies could stay home with the kiddies and cook and clean and do the laundry. So guess what?! It is ONLY you ladies that could ever have changed it, and it took you (enter swear word here) forever. But you keep on complaining about the past. When will that end? What I was going to post before reading your letter was this… I work virtually every moment because I am compelled by god forces more powerful than my ability to resist to keep creating every day with the totality of my being till I’m dead. Yet because I love what I do, it’s BOTH play AND work, which I take deadly seriously, unlike someone who has a hobby, while having a fabulous time doing/playing. I signed a piece I’ve been working on for several months this morning, its fraternal twin is also almost completed, and I’m very happy, as I’ll get the final payment shortly!!! Compulsive? Workaholic? To be plugged into god? Whatever. A-MEN!
From: Patty — Jun 11, 2012

Bruce, you hit the nail on the head. I used to feel guilty for not having children, until one day I realized that children are NOT on the endangered species list – quite opposite! Unfortunately neither are paintings. But at least I can make my paintings be unique and beautiful and I can destroy the failures so that they don’t overpopulate the world, or god forbid procreate!

From: Faith — Jun 11, 2012

Bruce! Until quite recently being gay (or rather, being known to be gay) was a criminal offence.

Unfortunately the subjugation of women continues apace. It came about when strength counted for more than brainpower. Then official religions came along, most or all of which saw “God” as male – which does not confirm that their brainpower was higher quality, but that they had already formed an old boy network that functions marvellously in Christianity and other world religions. That put women firmly in what the “gods” decided was their place, and it is still the case, especially where religion and politics interact. So servitude continues today, e.g. in the Roman Catholic church. Woman, with their ability to produce children connected with bleeding and other nuisances, are considered unclean vessels created for the convenience of the male species. Where single child families are the rule, it’s the female offspring that is destroyed. The fight goes on, but not with enough conviction to overturn the disgraceful subjugation of women through the centuries. Women are lucky today if they live in a country where a woman’s body is respected and considered her own, where she is not condemned to being a possession with few or no rights (women are fighting to be allowed to drive a car in some countries). Here in Germany ritual murdering of wives, daughter and sisters still continues in orthodox Muslim families where the girl “promised” to a future spouse goes her own way and thus offends the family honour. And it is unfortunately also the case that the mother of that girl, who was herself “sold” into marriage to someone she is forced to live with, whatevewr she thinks of him, supports the killing of her own child. Mind-boggling, that! The role of the female species was defined by males and it would be highly inconvenient (for those who designate women to be 3rd class citizens and worthless except for hard work and the relief of male sexual urges) if women were one day to exercise the power they ought to have, but usually don’t. To connect back to art – in earlier centuries women took male identities so that their artwork would be accepted. In answer to your last question? I think you are probably plugged into your own higher self when you paint. I can’t see where a “god” comes into it. I’ll get a beating for that last statement, but thanks to anyone who thinks about it and about the connotations of religious conviction.
From: Peter Eedy — Jun 12, 2012

Hello Bruce and Faith: two interesting (whilst somewhat opposing) views — both offering food for thought. Thanks. Peter

From: Janet Badger — Jun 12, 2012

Valerie, I, too, have recently downsized. I had a queen bed made out of wood that covers four sets of flat files where I store my intaglio prints. I always knew my art would support me one day…

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Jun 12, 2012

Janet – you make me laugh! I have an artist friend whose entire house is her studio. She carves out a space for cooking and eating I don’t know where she sleeps. Her wonderful paintings are everywhere.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 12, 2012

Hi Faith- More later- I only have about 5 minutes right now-

Your letter is right on- but it was still up to the women to change this… so I don’t disagree with you. Yes- being gay was criminal till just recently- here- is still criminal elsewhere- but I came out early- no choice really because I got labled a fag long before I knew anything about sex- I’m ‘an artist’! And yes- I’ve been criminalized. But I’m done with that. You have to stand up and say no more. Most women get too much from being married to really challenge it. This group’s 80% women- Fiberland is 99% women- So ladies- how many of you are succeeding at your art because you’re being essentially ‘kept’? Because that’s what the women I know keep throwing in my face.
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Jun 12, 2012

A lot heartless, shallow and uninformed thoughts in this exchange. Masking pain with intolerance is so wrong…art links us all, as does this newsletter…let’s do better.

From: Odette Venuti — Jun 12, 2012

Bruce, most women I know have ‘kept’ husbands who spend their time painting while the women cook, clean, look after their children, and work outside the home. This allows some men the luxury of concentrating on their art.

As you state on your website, your art is often dismissed as ‘women’s work.’ Trust me, women are working hard for some equity in this world, including the art world. Change takes time.
From: Suzette Fram — Jun 12, 2012

Bruce, I am speechless at your comments. Yours is a very one-sided view. Women of previous generations had very few options and most of the time, their only way to survive was to marry. It wasn’t always by choice.

Your comment …do nothing but take care of everybody… is particular ignorant. Have you tried to take care of a husband, house and children? Hardly a holiday. And many of today’s women have to do this WHILE working full time in order to make ends meet. Please try to take that chip off your shoulder.
From: Brian Warner — Jun 12, 2012

Between work and fun is life… normal living… normal living is just great and embraces both work and fun. Why do we have to categorize everything???

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 12, 2012

Well- I like Brian’s comment here about normal living!

Normal living is what we all do every day just to take care of ourselves- and whatever we’ve CHOSEN as our family. And it should be a NON-ISSUE. But that’s not what I get from most of the people I’ve associated with in the past, and not the intent of Jan Corcoran’s comment. When will it become a non-issue? I’ve a friend here in Denver with a studio/gallery, single for many years but recently married, who turned her space into a co-op. She’s working hard to succed with her art, her husband is a framer. Last year she made more than he did. But the half-dozen other women involved all have well-off husbands. Frankly, I asked 2 well-known female artists that I know personally, one on the phone and the other in person, if they’d made any recent sales, what I though was a completely logical question, as sales are relevant to me. And they both looked at me and said: ‘Bruce, I’m a kept women.’ So do yourself a favor and don’t call ME ignorant. I know one male, both he and his wife work fulltime- but he’s also working fulltime on his art. She’s working because she wants to. I thought that’s where women had arrived at, but I keep finding out differently. I wish it weren’t true. I have the luxury of concentrating on my art. I have no familial support system. I have no wife- no husband- no children- all by choice. I’ve had a bit of patronage here and there over 40 years- but not now. My work is labor intensive and takes too long. I sell 2 to 5 pieces a year. I finish 8 to 10. I work all the time. I’m making less than $10,000 a year and living below the $11,500 poverty line. And I need $12,000 just to survive. Foolish? Absolutly, but what I’m doing, ONLY I’m doing. And that load of crap about what women had to do to survive!!! Really, can’t you all just see that if you’d wanted to change it- you would have? A REALLY LONG TIME AGO!!! The ‘men are big and powerful and stronger than us weak little women’ scenario is just such bullshit. And I’m sick of hearing about it in the 21st century!!! But it cropped up again today- didn’t it?!
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 12, 2012

But now I’m going to comment on Faith’s comment about religious conviction.

I have no religion. I am a religion. And I don’t care if you believe me. People like me, and there are many and more all the time, are not believers living on faith in the unknown. I am a KNOWER. I had to climb out of a hell-on-earth suicidal deperssion. Everywhere around me my friends were crossing over during the early years of the AIDS pandemic. I began using the tarot as a tool for self-growth. I relentlessly kept looking in the mirror that is a reading, of every spiritual system known to mankind via this tool. I assimilated dozens of systems and continue this self-work today, everyday. I also did a lot of book reading during this phase. It was the last half of the 1980s. One night I woke up in bed a radiant ball of light. A few months later I came in contact with someone who would do profound energy work on me. Through a series of events over 6 months I learned first how to call up the Earth Force, and when I got comfortable with that process, one day, after opening myself up, the LIGHT came down, passing through me, opening me up even more profoundly, and ran on into the Heart of the Earth. I became THE ONE. I did so by balancing my masculine and feminine energies, which I could more easily do because I recognize both within me, because I’m not a heterosexual and am not looking outside myself for someone to complete me. But I didn’t stop there. I then learned how to use the Universal Energy, and I became a shamanic healer and a Light-worker and I occassionally do Light-body activation on someone. But very few are interested in doing that work because it requires taking too much personal responsibility for the experience you’re having. So Faith- I’m not living on faith. I’m PLUGGED INTO GOD, and working that energy-field as I walk the Earth and make art. And I can prove it. My Higher Self? Sorry, not big enough…
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 12, 2012

And so to finish- I’m giving a lecture in the Denver area in August, on the 13th. And I’m nearly finished with the first 22 chapters of the book I’m writing about my CREATION Experience! Of course, it includes all the ridiculous discrimination experiences I’ve had working in an art field percieved by most to be feminine.

From: val norberry vanorden — Jun 12, 2012

What were we talking about? Workaholism, shopaholism, oh yes, and other compulsions… Well I used to be quite the little rescuer, yes, i went to Haiti for a year and worked my bum off for people who were very jealous of me, and came back and tried to repent of my prosperity and then finally gave into it. Yes, I like the idea of sleeping on your work under a queen bed, it must be quite the arrangement. I’m divesting of my works in the flea market each weekend and I love it. Love the dress code, the hours, could have a classier clientele, but the table rent is dirt cheap…I am considering another venue on Wed. nite, but it’s in the sun and may bleach out my work being out in the sunlight…In conclusion, i’m glad I don’t work as hard as I used to, either at rescuing or whatever. “A little folding of the hands and poverty will sneak up on you like a thief” the good book of Proverbs says. Maybe I’m a sloth.

From: Faith — Jun 13, 2012

It’s OK by me if you want to feel, think, believe, behave like and even incorporate – or is it embody? – what you interpret as “god/God”. As far as I know, the word “god” is a linguistic invention used to label a being outside, beyond, somewhere else, in paradise, heaven, behind the clouds, or just merely invisible. It explains something about the individual who goes in for it. Getting strength from a pack of cards, however magical their effect on you, has nothing to do with mysticism in the metaphysical sense. But if it makes you happy……

This might be the wrong platform to preach, however. People involved in the arts are generally motivated by something or other within or outside of themselves. They express it through their creative output and usually save their energies for what they are creating. Inspiration followed by expiration, so to say.
From: Faith — Jun 13, 2012

My comment was addressed to Bruce. To Suzette I must say that you hit the nail square on the head:-)))))))))))))))))))))))))

From: Karen — Jun 13, 2012

To Bruce, Do you know where the old saying “rule of thumb” came from?? Because men were able by law to beat their wives with a cane, stick, or whatever but it couldn’t be any larger than the man’s thumb! That just might keep a woman “in her place” don’t you think??? Please, for the love of God, stop judging. The Golden Rule still applies even in the year 2012. We all have to do what we have to do.

From: Karen — Jun 13, 2012

And if you were really plugged into God as you say you are, and using the Universal Energy (which I believe IS God) then you would be able to be accepting of all people and the lives they live. Perhaps you are here on Earth to learn the lesson of non -judgement and acceptance. Being a Gay man, I’m sure you don’t like to be stereotyped, right? Well…neither do Women!

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jun 14, 2012

Faith- My ‘god’ isn’t male. AND IT ISN’T FEMALE EITHER. IT has no gender. IT’s all-gendered- if it’s gendered at all. IT simply is everything. All-That-Is- is god- it’s inclusive- it includes you- it includes me. And IT always has.

And I’m plugged into it. And it isn’t patriarchal. But people who aren’t- who can’t comprehend the level of self-work I (or anyone on a path like me) have done- love to judge what I’ve done as impossible. So- Ladies- I’ve a question!!! Why didn’t you all stand up 500 years ago and exert your individuality and demand your EQUALITY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1000 years ago? 1500 years ago? 2000 years ago? Any suggestion that all the men made all the laws as dictated by their god and they then used those laws to manipulate and repress the feminine- forever- it’s all just crap. Why didn’t you all stand up and say no more a long time ago. If the feminine had risen up and demanded equality a long time ago we’d all be living in a very different world. Have you heard the statement- barefoot and pregnant? If we evil dictator men (except I’m gay) keep women barefoot and pregnant- and ignorant and uneducated- then we can control them. Right?! So why didn’t you rule-of-thumb ladies head to the gym, become AMAZONS and beat those dumbass men up yourselves? If you’ve never watched the Susan B. Anthony documentary- you should. She travelled the country her entire adult life and she couldn’t get women to change anything. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your life to change something. It took forever. And she died before it actually changed Of course- she was a lesbian. Now please note- one week out of high school- at the age of 17- I got into an argument with my father. This was after 10 years of physical emotional mental and spiritual abuse by my male peer group- gay bashing- which everybody thought was just fine behavior. Less than a week later I moved out. Less than 2 weeks later I was on a bus headed to Los Angeles- where I spent the summer in Hollywood. I did return to Utah- move to Salt Lake City- and attend the U of U for 1 year- where I was not only AT the first Gay Liberation Event- I helped produce it. My dragqueen-performer friends were all on stage. So I’ve been an activist from the beginning- because I was never afforded the opportunity of being in a closet- repressed by a religion- or a patriarchy. Because I didn’t want to get beat up- or have my feelings hurt. Get it?
From: robin — Jun 15, 2012

What are you using as a support?

thanks, robin
  Featured Workshop: Donald Jurney
061212_robert-genn Donald Jurney workshops The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Screamin’ Geese, Napa, CA

oil painting 24 x 18 inches Greg DeLucca, Napa Valley, CA, USA

  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 Nancy Oppenheimer of Seneca, SC, USA, who wrote, “I need to paint and draw and study and dream and eat and sleep art. And I feel blessed, because I have a huge passion that fills me up. I’m always overflowing. The joys, loves, and challenges are boundless.” And also Michele Rushworth of Seattle, WA, USA, who wrote, “People who don’t paint don’t understand why I like to spend so much time doing it. I completely agree with this quote: ‘Work is more fun than fun.’ ” — Noel Coward    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

Subscribe and receive the Twice-Weekly letter on art. You’ll be joining a worldwide community of artists.
Subscription is free.