Are you lonesome this morning?


Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Mary Catherine Jorgensen of East Bay, California, wrote, “A side effect of being a self-employed artist is occasional loneliness. Not everyone works alongside other artists, and many of us work alone. The privilege of being able to choose between music, radio news, or silence, and between working early in the morning or starting at noon — in short, being one’s own boss — has a downside. It’s lonely. Any suggestions? I’d love your input.”

Thanks, Mary. When art students are welcomed here for a second opinion on their work or future, I often ask them how much they like working alone. Used to being in busy, stimulating environments like art schools, they sometimes look at me as if I’m out to lunch. Fact is, with the exception of various forms of team art, most of the functioning professional artists I know have come to terms with the strengths and weaknesses of keeping their own company. Although less of a problem for introverts, this art can be learned.

The art of effective aloneness includes the understanding that solitude is necessary for creative gain. “Most progress,” said self-improvement guru Bruce Barton, “comes out of loneliness.” Creative people need to dream and contrive on their own. “Dreams,” said Erma Bombeck, “have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.”

At the same time, there are human connections to be won. Connections with like-minded fellow travellers are best. The right companionship, at appropriate times, can actually give courage to solitude as well as sharpen creativity. Just knowing that others of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood are out there is part of it, but sharing on a one-to-one basis — both the good stuff and the nasty — is best of all. Fortunate are those who train up to exemplary friendship.

Companionship, for many of us, takes the form of a spouse or significant other. Generational relationships are also particularly rewarding — father-son, grandmother-granddaughter, that sort of thing. Professional associations, occasional clubs, informal gatherings, crit groups and coffee klatches can further the illusion we are not doing this on our own. “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone,” said Orson Welles, “Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

Best regards,


PS: “An artist is always alone — if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness.” (Henry Miller)

Esoterica: Another source of equanimity and joy of solitude comes with an appreciation of Nature. Even the most crowded cities evidence other forms of life. Animals and birds, as well as tiny, struggling plants, provide a rich metaphor that can sustain a thoughtful loner. Needless to say, the heart soars in wildness and in wilderness, and the great cosmos is both comfort and inspiration. Like a close and intimate friend, it speaks to you. “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” (Rachel Carson)


Mingling schedule
by Cherie Blackwell, Fairfield, CA, USA

You are so right. Going from art school to the solitary studio is a shock — even depressing. I have to counteract this by setting up a schedule that forces me to get out and mingle. I created an art group with several other artists. We get together for trips to the museums, for lunch, and rotate among our studios to view and provide critiques on the current works. We feel this is absolutely necessary for sanity.


Side effect
by Sara Spanjers, Tucson, AZ, USA


“Port Lobos chicks”
oil painting, 24 x 32 inches
by Sara Spanjers

I actually enjoy my solitude that comes with being a self-employed artist. I find my concerns come with being with others in larger groups. I find it particularly difficult to focus when there are others around me now. For instance recently while camping with a large group of friends and family, as the camp host I was unable to socialize and prepare meals at the same time. I felt uncomfortable and a bit of anxiety in this situation and others that are similar. I have a feeling that it comes with the territory of working alone and having the luxury of focusing/creating by myself. Just an additional side effect I find working as a studio artist.


There is 1 comment for Side effect by Sara Spanjers

From: Anonymous — Dec 19, 2009

You sound like me. If you aren’t familiar with Meyers-Briggs ideas go look up what David Keirsey says about introverts. None of us introverts are good at socializing and doing something else at the same time. Best wishes from an INTP!


Perfect companion
by Linda Blazonis, Lisbon, ME, USA


original painting
by Linda Blazonis

I happily spend a great deal of time painting and doing all the myriad tasks involved in art making and production. I live alone and work alone, yet I am not alone in my endeavors. My constant companion, my dog Acadia, provides the perfect companion I need for these times. She is patient; she is quiet, she is happy to be my attentive assistant while I paint. When I take a break from my work I take her out for a quick walk. We enjoy the few minutes in the fresh air of Maine. This is a great way to live, indeed.

There is 1 comment for Perfect companion by Linda Blazonis

From: Jim Blazonis — Sep 15, 2009

it sounds like your one happy camper and with a companion that just happens to be your dog…sounds like your all set.

I am a past jewelry craftsman and for the past 20 yrs have been in the family entertainment biz.

interesting painting fellow blazonis person……PEACE

Jim Blazonis in Haverhill,MA


Online forums
by Morag Walsh, Beaver Harbour, NB, Canada


“Herring Weir at Low”
watercolour painting
by Morag Walsh

I am an artist living in rural Eastern Canada, and understand your writer’s situation. To balance that necessary loneliness of creativity, I have joined an online artists’ forum where we discuss each other’s work, provide teaching, news, and demo links, and just generally share our artistic ups and downs, often with great humour. I, also, find participating occasionally in group shows or artistic fundraisers provides me with real live contact with fellow artists which is very stimulating and as necessary as the alone time for me, an extrovert type.

There are 2 comments for Online forums by Morag Walsh

From: Louise Lemay — Jul 17, 2009

RE: online artists forum. Would you mind sharing the site info? Thank you. Louise Lemay, B.C.

From: RB — Jul 22, 2009

While I agree with other writers… and am, myself, most happy as an artist working alone… lets not forget the arts that are social… for example. glass blowing., . pretty hard to do solo, may even require an entire team working together. there is a place for artists who don’t want to work alone, who crave the interaction, collaboration and team expression of either a solo vision, or group vision.


by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA


“Under The Crape Myrtle”
pastel painting
by Paul deMarrais

Your message speaks to a question that many would-be artists need to answer. Why become an artist anyway? If the answer is to become popular, and to have a fascinating social and romantic life, then these folks are likely to be disappointed. Art making is not an extroverted activity. You will be spending many hours with your best human friend — yourself. My little dog does sit by me on the floor to provide support. As you say, it’s not all that bad. The beautiful sunshine comes in my window looking out to a garden in bloom and a gentle morning breeze graces my skin. I’ll have time during the day to talk to my wife and to write emails to various friends I may never meet. As an introvert, I need my alone time. It makes me more appreciative of socializing when I have that opportunity. I never feel lonely when I am by myself. Put me in a big crowd, however, and I am quickly alone!


Get active and blog
by Kelley MacDonald, Tiverton, RI, USA


“Perfect day”
oil painting, 11 x 16 inches
by Kelley MacDonald

There are two things I might suggest to Mary Catherine: First, find a local art association and get active — give classes, take classes, volunteer to help with shows, be on the board, etc. You will find likeminded people and eventually find people at approximately your level who will give comfort and support when you need it, and outlets for fun which are needed as well. I am lucky to have forged some really strong bonds with other artists doing this — and we now have a core group who are ‘thick and thin’ type friends. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll get there.

In addition, the blogosphere, believe it or not, provides a way to cultivate company and makes friends you will eventually count on for their comments, support, humor and vision! Set up a blog (blogger has a free one with easy templates) and spend the 5 minutes a day posting what you’re working on. Visit other people’s blogs and surf from their safe links. You’ll find art you LOVE and people’s personalities are right there, and you can tell who you’d like to get to ‘know’, and post comments on their blog. That usually causes them to check back on your blog and comment and then the friendship begins.


Happy as kings
by Katherine Harris, Bracciano, Italy

Of course it’s a given that when we are creating art, we usually need to be alone. But being alone isn’t loneliness, by any means. Those two words may look alike, but they are very different. In fact, we can be in a crowded room, and be mentally feeling alone. Conversely, we can be in our studio with only canvas, paints and brushes, and be mentally at yesterday’s party with friends. Loneliness is a state of mind, and, as such, is mostly controlled mentally. In other words, it’s mostly under our own control. Unless panic, fear, or some surprise happens to take over, we can always begin to focus on something we choose to “get going.” I sometimes think of this childhood ditty: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!” (Robert Louis Stevenson)


Abby from NCIS
by Russ Henshall, Pulham Market, Norfolk, UK


Abby from NCIS

Have you ever watched NCIS on the television I wonder? The forensic scientist (Abby) is played by an actress who really lives the part. She prefers to work alone with all her various instruments in her laboratory. When she arrives in the lab every day she speaks to all her favourite instruments wishing them all good morning! This is something I have always done myself. All my tools are there for my use and at my convenience. They all do a vital job in whatever work I am involved with. I know each one intimately and there is a happy needful relationship between us.

I did try working outside of my life once. Misery really. Am I lonely? No, not in a million years. I find creative peace in my workshop together with all my many friends who line the walls and live in drawers. Let me introduce you to some of them: Brushes and paint, vice and drill, planer and saws, spanners and thinners, and oh so very many more. How could I ever be lonely with such good mates?

There are 2 comments for Abby from NCIS by Russ Henshall

From: Angie — Jul 17, 2009

I love Abby. She is the quintessential artist in style, attitude, and personality. I hope we see her for some years.

From: Kate Jackson — Jul 27, 2009

ditto that on Abby…somehow she looks like a visual artist, yet has the mind of the scientist…I wonder what the actress who plays her is REALLY like?


The closed door
by Charles Peck, Punta Gorda, Florida, USA


“Don Sharp”
pencil on paper
by Charles Peck

This is a subject with depth for those who aren’t aware of the lifestyle, otherwise just everydayness. Rachel Carson’s comment in the Esoterica I found to be what I know as my experience. I have been alone much of my life by choice and it seems I always have something in front of my eyes or in my mind which is engaging me to the point I feel tired at the end of day whenever that occurs. When I have visitors everything stops as I focus on them and respond to their input, so no painting, reading, thinking, drawing or just observing gets done. I enjoy people and do seek them out when I step out and go downtown, but I enjoy closing that door as much.


There is 1 comment for The closed door by Charles Peck

From: Kate Jackson — Jul 27, 2009

Ahh, Charles, would that I could CLOSE the door. My “studio” is in the space that would be a dining room in an open floor plan home. My husband is a musician, and DOES have a door to his office/studio. I find being out in the middle of the house is quite a challenge because I’m not by nature a loner. So it is a balance all the time. I sometimes put a sign on the back of my chair…ARTIST AT WORK, so my household sharers will get the hint not to speak to me just because they can see me! Doesn’t always work! :)


Balance in life
by Olivia Alexander


“Solar birth”
mixed media painting
by Olivia Alexander

Being an artist who works from a home based studio, I too have found at times it’s very lonely and isolating. But I have come to recognize that the need to create is far greater for me than the need for company! Also, my best creations come out of being by myself. Only then can my true creative thoughts really freely flow. So I try to embrace and accept these times of loneliness as opportunity to create what I have found to be often my best works. To help keep balance in my life I have found the following helpful:

— I have set aside a day of the week where I catch up with fellow art friends, we visit galleries (have a coffee of course) and just discuss our ideas and what we’ve been up to. Time spent with likeminded people is invaluable even if just for an hour a week.

— I have also just joined Twitter (I resisted for a long time) and also Facebook. I can advertise my art on these sites but also social network with other artists from all around the world.

— Local art societies are also a good place to get involved. They often have demo days and exhibitions running that can help build contacts and friendships.

There is 1 comment for Balance in life by Olivia Alexander

From: Barbara Reid — Jul 16, 2009

I agree with your comments, Olivia. I participate in the same kinds of activities to stay fresh. I have work hanging in a local gallery and posted photos over the weekend; someone from another state viewing the pictures on Facebook bought one of the paintings today! But it’s not just the sale; it’s the networking and exchanging of ideas that I enjoy. By the way–love that painting!


Quiet moments
by Kittie Beletic, Dallas, TX, USA


“Joy fairy”
mixed media painting
by Kittie Beletic

When I have been alone for long periods of time, I sometimes conjure the scene in “Castaway” where Tom Hanks is sitting by the fire, talking with the soccer ball head he created out of his need for contact with someone. It always makes me smile. While I was raising my children, I struggled to find time to do my art! When they moved into their own lives, there I stood, paintbrush/pen/keyboard in hand and the quiet literally stopped the creativity. I felt stagnant and couldn’t seem to get started again. I sold my home in Texas and moved to upstate New York. Aaaah, the sound of the wind through the trees, long walks with the dogs, infinite time to create! The change was good but I found I was putting most of my creative juices into making my studio ‘just right.’ The short version of this story (I’ll save you the angst) is I discovered I need a balance of human interaction and aloneness to be my best self. In times when there was so much activity I had no time for myself – I made time for quiet moments to dream, to read, to fill the spirit so empty from spending all of that energy. When I found myself alone, day in and day out, I joined local art groups, a book club, volunteered to be on committees and helped neighbors regularly so I could pour out the extra energy stored from all of that time alone. Interacting with humans also gave me insight for my writing, ideas and subjects for my artwork and always connections to some sort of new way to share what I do with the world. Now if creativity stops, I think about what is lacking: people, ideas, rest, dream time, exercise? Finding what works for you can be a dramatic and life altering experience. Travel is my greatest muse! Nothing moves my spirit more than seeing the ordinary with new eyes!


Find artistic friends
by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA


“A day to herself”
oil painting, 16 x 20 inches
by Diane Overmyer

Make yourself get out there and meet other people who understand art. I have felt the most alone when I am in a crowd of people who don’t care one bit about art. One good artistic friend is worth hundreds of people who don’t have a clue about art or an artist’s life.

Here are some other ideas:

–Take a workshop, either in your field, or just for fun in a totally different field.

–Form a painting group that meets once a week for a set number of weeks. After that time period is over, decide if you want to continue with the group or discontinue it.

–Volunteer. Docent groups are often made up of people who are artists or who at least have a deep appreciation for art. The docents from our nearby art museum often go on outings to places of artistic interest. This not only is education for the group, it also provides opportunities for people to get to know one another.

–Get involved with some other type of group such as a theater league, book club or faith-based group.

–Get a part-time job that does not burn your creative juices, but rather stimulates you as an artist.

–Get a pet. (I have two dogs and think they make wonderful company!)

–Join an online community


Artistic companionship
by Abbie Williams, Nobleboro, ME, USA


original painting
by Abbie Williams

My mother used to say, “Life is a lonely business” and she wasn’t an artist and didn’t live alone! Life is a lonely business and we have to learn how to be successful at being alone, especially women who tend to be “clan” beings. I spent about 15 years working and living alone ( except for my 2 boys) in a small town on the coast of Maine and the winters especially brought on intense loneliness not to mention Light Deficiency Disorder. The LDD was eased by putting up color corrected lights and turning them on whether I needed them or not. What helped also, was making plans so I had things to look forward to. By Wednesday my whole weekend had to be planned or I’d get nuts. When I got really desperate I would hop into the car and go to the supermarket to see living beings. Invariably I would meet someone I knew, but it was other artist’s company I really wanted. One of the hardest things about being a self employed artist is the freedom of time and not differentiating between week days and weekends when almost the whole rest of the world works 9 to 5 during the week. That makes it impossible to call up and suggest meeting a friend for coffee. I learned to schedule my painting time so it fit better with the rest of world, leaving more free time for the weekends and holidays. The other thing I did was to write a letter to as many artists I could find in my area and asked them if they felt lonely too. I then asked if they would be interested in a once a month pot luck get together to talk about art, critique what we were working on and eat food. I got about an 85% yes response. That helped to create art friendships and added one more thing to look forward to. After 15 years of battling loneliness and my kids growing up and leaving home, I decided living alone in Maine was too much work so made plans to move to Taos NM (where artists abound) to spend the winters to paint. I was sure to meet likeminded artists. Just before leaving I met a lovely man who is now my husband who moved to Taos with me. We spent 10 years there, had a wonderful time and surprisingly I never got to be friends with many of the artists. They too spent most of their time alone. So now I am back on the coast of Maine and have found 3 wonderful artist friends who I paint with once a week year round and in the summer we go out together twice a week to paint, laugh, critique and eat lunch. After moving all the way across the country looking for artistic companionship I found it in my own home town in Maine.

There are 2 comments for Artistic companionship by Abbie Williams

From: Lee Brewer Mcgee — Dec 12, 2009

Trying to send you a E-mail but unable to get it to Send. Keeps giving me Error on page. Would like to have a chat, we have E. Boothbay and Frances Hook in common. Trying to collect your art on plates of children.. My E-mail is

From: Marlene Loznicka — Dec 15, 2009

I don’t think I could make it through the week without being able to look forward to our once or twice a week painting get-togethers. Thank goodness we all found each other!




Black Birds

watercolour painting
by Frances Knueppel, TX, 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 Elizabeth Symons of Victoria, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Family and friends sometimes guilt me out by saying, ‘You spend too much time alone.’ My reply is, ‘I’m not alone, I’m working. See you later.'”

And also Paol Serret of Mullumbimby, Australia, who wrote, “How can you feel lonely as an artist when the world is at your feet and all the answers are on the tip of your nose?”


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Are you lonesome this morning?



From: Bunny Griffeth — Jul 14, 2009

This is an interesting subject matter for me……most of my childhood, despite having a large family, was spent in ‘alone time’. My father had a children’s encyclopedia and I would spend hours and hours looking through the “things to make and things to do” sections of the books.

I go with a group of artists plein air painting to Block Island once a year, and we spend a lot of time alone…..long walks along the beaches, exploring the beautiful scenery, wild life, etc. Even when we paint each afternoon, we all go off into our own special area we select…. I also do some plein air painting with the watercolor society in our state and it’s the same…..we just paint and hardly socialize at all.

It’s not that I don’t want to socialize, it’s just all about the painting……

I think most artists would agree with the quote from Henry Miller:

“An artist is always alone–if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness.”

From: Rene Wojcik — Jul 14, 2009

For the better part of the past 20 years I’ve attended our local community college. The college offers watercolor classes in the evening and for the majority of us “students” it is just a nice workshop. Its nice to socialize a bit and see what others are working on. The major draw-back is it can get a little too much socializing until the instructor steps in and takes control. Humans are social animals. We have companions, spouses, friends, significant others, etc. Without interaction with people life would be pretty dull. My alone time is usually in the morning. From about 5:30 to 8:30 in the morning is my time. Three hours is just about all the time I need for my art work when I am along.

From: Gene Martin — Jul 14, 2009

When I am lonely I go to Barnes and Noble. The interaction with people, and the people watching, are enough for me. I will however admit to being part of a sunday morning plein air group composed of 6/7 of us. An ecclectic group of interesting personalities and abilities. We share art news, books and opinions about such, as well as darn good coffee. This weekly inter-action has somehow become important to me and I find it curious.

From: Ron Unruh — Jul 14, 2009

I spent an entire working career in service to God, Christ, and his church. No apology. No regret. All of that was very public. For half of that time we lived in parsonages owned by the church. One was located beside the church. It was the proverbial goldfish bowl. I did all of the public duties and did them effectively. I was a diligent and creative pastor, crafting words that developed a reputation for predictably good ministry. That required concentration and private time. I received some criticism for the amount of time that required yet I relished such time.

Now as I try to paint, I love being alone. I need to be alone. This is the true me. I train myself to tolerate intrusions. I have struggled to be like most people I know who live to be with people. I have been self critical. Now I understand that innately, my creative DNA has shaped me for loneliness and that’s OK.

From: Rick Rotante — Jul 14, 2009

Orson Wells and Henry Miller hit the nail on the head. I would like to add for those who need the company of others to work. Take an uninstructed workshop once ot twice a week or start one yourself but keep it to a minimum and remember great work won’t result from this only the need to share. For me when I work on a personally inspired piece, I need to be alone, to think, experiment, work out the details and have room to try and fail. A group situation forces you to “perform” to a degree. You are less willing to risk in front of other artists. I done seen this and done it myself. If you need others, create a social network outside the studio. Invite trusted like minded artists to view your work, but you must paint alone to discover your true self.

From: Jackie Knott — Jul 14, 2009

I can’t concentrate with people around. I feel the need to interact and talk with them, my back to my work, brush laid aside. It’s an either/or choice. I can’t combine the two and have difficulty turning the light switch on and off quickly.

Mary Catherine, if you desire companionship, haul your French easel or Pochade down to the local coffee shop and try painting at their patio entrance (customers linger to watch and the shop loves it. Ask permission, of course). After a day or two, I guarantee you will have so much companionship you will pack up and seek a quiet place.

Being “alone” working is simply being without distractions. My husband will poke his head through the door briefly asking if I want coffee or water, or am I ready to break for lunch. If he comes in to see my progress he does so silently. We’ll talk later. I appreciate the respect.

My cat is my only companionship in the studio. She sometimes will preceed me anticipating when I’m ready to work. It is comforting to see her curled up on the chest with her paws tucked under, purring, waiting on me. We’re alone together.

When we held public jobs, we didn’t bring our family or friends to work with us every day. After all, the workplace isn’t a social venue and neither is a studio, unless you’re hosting a party.

In general, I think people would benefit from a little solitude. We are inundated in this world with noise, information, and distractions. It is a good thing to be alone with oneself on occasion.

Art is a wonderfully lonely pursuit and I recognize I need that.

From: m.s.p — Jul 14, 2009

I find myself inviting collaborators into my studio when I get cabin fever, but then work doesn’t get accomplished. You would think that by having like-minded people working in parallel, perhaps even more brilliant ideas would come to you by the inspiration of a talent bank. But, I quickly become impatient with the others, I ask them to stop talking and to please save their opinions until the work is complete, so that the creative process is free to happen without getting self aware. I realize I prefer the company of my dog, who I can talk to and he is there to listen. It is easier to hear my own thoughts when I am telling them to someone else, out loud. If my dog is busy then, I talk to myself by name, as if I were a professor or master. When you can inspire yourself for hours, there is no one who can do the work for you better than you. And when you get to know your inner artist, you will find it to be very entertaining! When you get lonely, say to yourself, “this is an imagined feeling. It is not a real feeling, there is too much going on in me to feel lonely.” If that doesn’t work , take a walk around the block and get back to it.

From: Cora — Jul 14, 2009

Actually it is a learned experience to be comfortable with yourself and “aloneness”, to coin a new phrase. I actually am a person that has always been comfortable by myself just because of a negative upbringing, I have always had to depend on myself, so for me group settings were things I had to learn to deal with. We all have our ship we have to steer through life. If you aren’t comfortable being alone, develop a connection with a painting friend. There is also the I POD loaded with your favorite music or poetry to keep you company. I have found myself many times bopping along to my music only to turn around and find I have an audience. Most disconcerting at times cause though I can carry a tune, I don’t like to be exposed like that personally. If you have a local art association, there may be like minded individuals that will join you for a day. It can mean the start of lasting friendships. What it comes down to mostly in my point of view are you comfortable in your own skin for the times you are alone? Suggestions like painting in a public place is good, but in those times I would rather have a companion, then being the only one on display. The option about looking for someone can mean you are stuck with someone you may not get along with or are uncomfortable with. So be sure to take your time. Using a large group to work with like a workshop gives you more security and safety in numbers. In time you may find one in the group you connect with and can work with one on one.

From: Sell Owen — Jul 14, 2009

Alone at the easel eh? well, if that does not suit you: working at a fast food location, should confirm pretty quickly which environment and vocation is best for you. I think that this useful , and informative newsletter is hosting too wide a criteria: but then what do I know as I read with dismay about someone with too much time on their hands.

From: Suzette Fram — Jul 14, 2009

Loneliness, what a great topic. Being an artist who lives alone, I get more than my fair share of alone time. While being alone is better for serious work, one still needs some balance in life, and that means some time with other people. That is where the art club and the painting group are invaluable. I need those connections, I need to spend time with others; I spend enough time alone as it is, without those friendships and connections, I would surely become quite depressed and hopeless.

As usual, it all comes down to BALANCE. One needs both solitude and companionship to feel happy and fulfilled.

From: Gail Harper,ny — Jul 14, 2009

….the mystery is over heh heh ….as to why so many of us have wonderful pets

CHEERS, Gail Harper

From: Mars — Jul 14, 2009

Well said! One paints best when alone—that doesn’t mean I am lonely–how can I be– when my mind is on painting & creating etc. Still go to group painting once a week- but find can’t concentrate– as well- so never take the same painting -there- as I paint on at home. Always have several on the go anyhow- depending on what mood I am in -that day!! besides I wish this -stigma- of being alone– would go away– nothing wrong with it–those with a -guilt trip- on this– should examine there own life style. Happy Painting!!!

From: Catheirne Gutsche — Jul 14, 2009

I loved this article. I love my solitude when I work but occasionally I choose to paint with a friend or take a workshop. I also get my “companionship” via my online friends and various arts groups. I’m not sure if I could work in a group or open studio all the time. I like choosing my times for “company”.

From: Frederick Ross — Jul 14, 2009

Genn; You are as good a philosopher and psychologist as you are an artist. I’ll bet the subject of “loneliness and the artist” gets a lot of feedback. As a family physician I listen to people’s problems all day. After a while I feel a sort of existential loneliness in spite of a strong religious faith. I find that I paint well during those times especially at my cottage surrounded by the closeness of the natural world and God’s creation. But after a while I need to be with people again and to meet others needs. Solitude can be quite tolerable’ loneliness is often depressing. Sometimes I’m not sure which is which. You could probably write a thesis on this subject. F.J.Ross

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Jul 14, 2009

Being alone and being lonely are 2 very different things. It is quite easy to be lonely in a room full of people. Obviously- everybody’s different. But a not/alone state that is required emotionally because an individual is co-dependant and can’t emotionally handle being alone is a self-destructive path. And it screws up everybody- not just the lonely person.

I was forced into an alone state in childhood in order to protect my creative self from the social and cultural peer group abuse I experienced growing up. And early on I was taught that for a very peculiar reason- that being that I am a male carrying a heavy connection to the Feminine- (a STILL despicable thing in our current social sphere) I was more likely to be NOT liked- than liked. So early on I got ok with the idea of only having a very few friends. Some people actually do like me.

But even isolating myself did not stop the overall psychic damage. That damage required an enormous amount of psychological work to get beyond- work which in truth was a waste of time that never should have even been necessary. The problem isn’t with/in me. It is in our judgmental patriarchal male-god-dominated- often religious based- misogynistic/homophobic culture.

In the end I found that my early hermitage was really a normal state for me- having experienced many past lifetimes as a artist/mystic/monk/priest. Please understand- I don’t care if you believe me.

If you are motivated as an artist to produce singularly unique to you work- learning how to be your most happy- passionate- motivated self while totally alone with/in your own personal and direct connection to the Creative Spirit of the Universe is required. Along the way you become a Master. It is a spiritual path- much of which simply can not be shared.

Artists- whose focus is always out there- on whatever current distraction- but especially on personal validation gained through social interaction- rarely stop long enough to find the connection to their own INNER SILENCE. But art is a direct pathway to this connection.

You can not succeed as an artist without a certain amount of social interaction- even if like me- you’re somewhat misanthropic. But if you want to create unique work- you have to go it alone. The more you share- the more your work will look like everybody else’s.

I’m sure Robert could write a thesis on this subject. I’m going to- but it will have a different twist to it…

From: Sandra Taylor-Hedges — Jul 15, 2009
From: Richard Mazzarino — Jul 15, 2009

I think Mary Catherine may be suffering a different kind of loneliness because I can’t fathom feeling alone when painting. When I paint I get too wrapped up in what I’m doing, the idea of an interruption of an outside voice breaking my thought process would be terrible. Mary Catherine may be referring to when the painting stops. I could be wrong here unless I’m reading her reply incorrectly. As a general rule, I don’t ever feel lonely but I enjoy being alone. I enjoy my own company. My past life has been filled with endeavor that involved many others to accomplish things, so painting and drawing is a welcome relief from constant chatter and verbal nonsense. Being silent and sitting in silence is a learned experience especially in this age of multimedia bombarding us from every direction. Bruce Wilcox is correct when is says you can feel alone in a crowd. When I paint I connect completely with what I’m doing. So many pass the day making meaningless sporadic contact on a superficial level. Art forces me to experience my strengths and weaknesses and face them daily. Art is a free theory, a consultation with you, a facing of the truth that has to be done when alone.

We are afraid to be alone, for when we are alone we are forced to deal with our thoughts. We have only ourselves on which to rely. This is threatening to many who don’t take the time to discover who they are. Many live lives without introspection and go to the grave in darkness.

So Mary Catherine paint by yourself then celebrate with your friends in companionship.

From: Caroline Simmill — Jul 16, 2009

I believe this is one of the reasons we all signed up to the Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter, to have an online community of like minded artists all working quietly on their own at their paintings. My neighbour who comes from Canada said with glee that I had at last found my artist’s community! The world is a busy place everyone rushing here and there, while the artist has time to reflect and to be quietly creative. The important thing is to be aware of all the great things about painting on your own, to be able to have the quiet to concentrate on your artwork and to look at the birds flying by, the clouds drifting along changing shape and the beauty of each season. It is not always easy to be on your own for hours and days on end but I find working to a time table helps and in that I include time spent with friends. The internet has given us the opportunity to join hobby forums and make new friends; in truth we are not as alone as our artistic ancestors would have been in their studios. Keep a pet they are wonderful company!

From: Suzanne — Jul 16, 2009

What a wonderful forum. I have found a good balance with Art Therapy. Working part time in an Altzheimer Day Center and helping with Art projects that are very simple to me but very complicated to someone who has the disease. It humbles me and gives me that human connection that I miss when I spend too much time alone in my studio.

From: Ginger Whellock — Jul 17, 2009
From: Diane — Jul 17, 2009

My husband calls me a social painter and I find I need to learn the art of painting alone. I find being in a class with other artists energizes me. I love seeing others work and getting ideas from them, but not copying them. Painting and seeing others colors and vision is exciting. It helps that the class that I attend is one that allows for a variety of styles and approaches put to a simple challenge.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Jul 17, 2009

Deafness separates you from people, no matter what. There is no way to not be lonely, either if you’re alone or with one or many people.

From: Connie Miller — Jul 27, 2009

I deal with the loneliness by making sure I am out and about in the morning, before I start my painting. My usual activity is working out at Jazzercise where I have a lot of people to interact with since I man the desk a few days a week. There are plenty of friends and fun acquaintances to give me my fill of conversation and I can then look forward to having quiet time for my thoughts and my art all afternoon into early evening when my husband comes home.

If I get too busy with other things, I start craving my quiet alone time and the painting it produces, so the balance has to be a good one.

From: Ursula Medley — Jul 27, 2009

Recently I’ve discovered appropriate companionship to counter loneliness of working in solitude.

After a brisk doggie walk along a logged out area in Powell River, BC I pull out my painting stuff and sit down with my doggie walking companion Lenora Sattmann for a quick oil sketch of the fireweed blazing in the morning light. By the time I get back to the studio to make the finishing marks on ‘Fireweed’, it’s only 9am. The day has just begun, I’m all fired up and ready for solitude till the next morning doggie walk.

From: Dennis Marshall — Jul 27, 2009
From: Carolyn McFann — Jul 27, 2009

Being alone and being an artist seem to go hand in hand for me, and it’s been that way most of my life. When other kids were hanging out together on the playground, I was slogging in a nearby creek, checking out the minnows and other wildlife there so I could draw them later. Of course, I got in trouble for doing this but the habits stuck and at 45 I’m still out in nature alone frequently to research my illustration projects and to take photographs for reference. Being alone is when I do my best thinking and creating.

Some may think this introverted behavior to be odd, but it’s not, not to me. I am compelled to draw and paint with a passion that far outweighs worrying about what others think of me. It is no big deal for me to work from dawn to dusk on projects in my office and not bother going out among people. I’m not anti-social, I just have so much to do and get distracted by the ideas and thoughts in my head in regards to my art projects. When I want to socialize, I do, at the coffee house downstairs or in a nearby restaurant then it’s back to work for me. I’m not lonely usually, just inspired, motivated and happy.

Being committed to my career for my entire life, I’ve chosen to forego marriage and children in pursuit of my artistic passion. Marriage was a negative distraction, I did try it but it was too confining to a free spirit and independent thinker such as myself. I got a divorce with no regrets and never looked back, knowing that my true love was my artwork. This dedication has paid off career-wise for me, and payback also comes from seeing the happiness in my customers’ faces and their kind letters of praise.

We all have our callings in life and mine was established from an incredibly young age. I have no regrets and follow my heart for a fulfilling and rewarding existence, mostly on my own in my studio. My father is an artist too, and he is of the same personality type. My mother is social and doesn’t understand our introversion. It’s just who we are. Dad understands how I think, as he too, holes up in his office, classical music in the background, working on his projects. what may seem isolating to others is gratifying to us. It gives our sensitive souls time away from distraction, stress and other issues to follow our dreams.

From: Barbara Boldt — Jul 27, 2009

I am a single “well-seasoned senior” painter, who makes her living with her art and teaching.

When I paint, I am not lonely! as Rachel Carson said: I watch my garden grow, I feed many birds, cuddle my cat! I live in the country, surrounded by large trees and only country sounds.

I can look up into the maple trees, watch all the movement and colours, and feel a part of it all!

Yes, I can get to longing for loving companionship, and that is the time I take to my easel!!

the act of painting has helped me through many lonesome and sad times!

My students who demand my attention, who make me listen and give out, they keep me from feeling lonely!

Walking into the village, seeing familiar faces, hearing the cheerful “Hi, Barbara!”, that reminds me that I am not alone!

But – most of all it is the ACT of concentrating on my work, getting into the scene, the colours, the memories of the moment that particular object or scenery stirred me to want to paint it, that keeps me from being lonely! I cannot be lonely when I paint! My studio is my refuge, the freshly laid out palette my companion.

Yes – human fellowship, be it family, friends, students, fellow painters, they are all part of my life at times. I can seek them out when I need to.

From: Francine — Jul 27, 2009

I do appreciate what you have to say, I enjoy receiving and reading your letters. I just seem too busy to write these days. I am always preparing for a show. I do not have time to feel lonely because I have so many projects on the go. Even if I am alone I do always find something to excite my curiosity. I have been the only employee of my own company for many, many years now and I love it. I love people but I do love creating in my own sanctuary where I can communicate with my muses. I have always enjoyed my own company even as a child. I find much stimulation in all that is around me. I love reading in several languages and my books are some of my best friends. I do

make sure I get my walk with my dog, she does keep me fit and keeps me company so I am never really alone. I have also good friends I see almost everyday for a walk with their own dogs. There is so much to learn and to observe in nature one as to be always open to the muses calling. For me it is easier to create in the silence of my studio. I do listen to classical music after the main composition is done. I need to dream in my own space and reach across the bridge of my mind where the ideas reside. Eventually I do communicate through my works with the world outside my space.

From: Caroline Simmill — Jul 27, 2009

I believe this is one of the reasons we all signed up to the Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter, to have an online community of like-minded artists all working quietly on their own at their paintings. My neighbour who comes from Canada said with glee that I had at last found my artist’s community! The world is a busy place everyone rushing here and there, while the artist has time to reflect and to be quietly creative. The important thing is to be aware of all the great things about painting on your own, to be able to have the quiet to concentrate on your artwork and to look at the birds flying by, the clouds drifting along changing shape and the beauty of each season. It is not always easy to be on your own for hours and days on end but I find working to a timetable helps and in that I include time spent with friends. The Internet has given us the opportunity to join hobby forums and make new friends; in truth we are not as alone as our artistic ancestors would have been in their studios. Keep a pet they are wonderful company!

From: Linda Wright — Jul 27, 2009

I live 16 miles outside of a small Texas town, on 400 acres. My husband and dog are my daily companions, grown children live several hours away. My house is small, so no studio. The kitchen table is where I paint, which works out fine for my watercolors.

Our town has a Fine Arts League, a group of about 35 people, most of whom live in town. We have one meeting a month, taking off for the summer. These meetings and the programs that go with them, help with inspiration and are the connection we need with others.

This summer, I am taking advantage of a local artist’s art classes, four hours one day a week. It is a small class, with all levels of ability, and fun!

This also keeps the creative juices flowing.

Loneliness isn’t a problem for me. Because we live in the country and have a large vegetable garden, there is always something to be done on the place. My husband often needs my help with work as well. My largest problem is being able to spend as much time on my art as I would like. Who said retirement is boring? There never seems to be enough hours in a day!

From: MJ Cunningham — Jul 27, 2009

I’ve been receiving these letters for a year or two now and with every issue my mind stops with you for a moment and a good old fashioned “How in the world do you do it all?” pops up… Prolific writing, the obvious research that goes in to each issue, traveling, painting, teaching, expansive, knowledge of cyber technology….all done professionally and all done well. There are only 24 hours in a day! I may have missed the “letter” that answers all of these questions but this Robert Genn groupie would love to know more about you… what makes you tick….and how do you keep ticking at such an incredible rate? How did you begin this journey, how do you begin your day and, when do you write each one of these well-thought-out articles? What about family? When do you paint, research? Is there a huge staff that reads the ton of mail you receive and then puts this expansive newsletter together without missing a beat? Do you operate out of a huge complex or off of your dining room table? Of course finances come to mind since I receive this much anticipated gift free twice a week. Just wondering…so much!

From: Marie Hamby — Jul 27, 2009

I was filling the same way as Mary Katherine. I was having difficult time with a Portrait and called an Artist friend for HELP. She has a gallery and teaches. And met some other Artists there and found out they were Painting with her.

So with a small fee I could paint with them. It is not a class but we all help each other if we have a problem. Being around other artist friends my paintings and my mind is more creative and I’m not lonely. So my suggestion is to get with other Artists that share your PASSION of Art .I am so glad to have found these people to be with.

From: Marylu Dykstra — Jul 27, 2009

As a micro-business owner who I work out of my home for the last 10 years. I started out talking to the Microsoft paper clip animation on my desk top and realized an alternative was necessary. I have a 3 gallon fish tank with guppies, snails and shrimp. The don’t talk much, but give me an opportunity to change my focus, rest my mind and regroup.

My avocation as an artist (and hopefully my future, when I grow up career) relies on my being surrounded by nature. An environmentalist and avid believer in biomimicry, I enjoy living in my Disney movie…our beautiful five acres frequently visited by deer, rabbits, multitudes of birds, woodchucks and a few unseen glowing eyes in the dark.

I also control my calendar to ensure that I have working time on Mondays and Fridays and client and friend gatherings during the week. This creates balance and I almost feel like I have 4 day weekends.

From: Donna LaBeau — Jul 27, 2009

I have often wondered if all artists get this way. I thought most of my loneliness was because we had such a drastic move 5 years ago plus my daughter died 1 1/2 years ago. But I have sorted out the grief from the aloneness of being a artist. This is a feeling that has followed me around since I was a child, before I was a artist, or was I a artist at birth? I do something creative, paint, knit, dance, walk, write when it feels too much and certainly talk to my Higher Power.

From: Deborah Elmquist — Jul 27, 2009

I too suffer from working in solitude. What I do know now, through the Myers-Briggs personality testing, is that my personality in one of introvertedness which loves to live in the head which feeds and is energized from ideas, words, and images. Great for creativity. But what I also possess is a high need to make personal contacts to share my Feelings. My Myers-Briggs is INFJ. If I had a T instead of an F (which stands for Thinking), I wouldn’t have the strong need to make contact with people to share my feelings. I tried teaching but it drained my creative energy so I dropped that after a couple of years. What I learned from my reading was introverted people are drained from having to live outside their head interacting with people, whereas, extroverted people are energized by being out among people. Today I have engineered my day so I have some talk time early in the morning, then go to my studio, and then late in the afternoon stop for some more conversation with a significant person. If this sounds familiar, it could be just a “personality fault” that we were born with.

From: Ross Colbourne — Jul 27, 2009

Coming from a family of 18 kids, I don,t think I will ever know lonely, I enjoy my quite time when I can get it, I don,t carry my Cell phone, because I don,t be reached,

have three grown children two out side Edmonton, and one in Nfld, plus three grandchildren, and 5 step grandchildren, so my quite time mean a lot to me, take care and please don,t be lonely

From: Becky — Jul 27, 2009

You are right that introverted people have an easier time being alone. I spent close to 10 years away from family and with fairly infrequent contact with friends and found I liked to be alone. Even as a child I would wander to the local fields and woods to ‘get away’. Without a chance to just be with my own thoughts I find myself less able to create and therefore much less happy. It is, for me, an essential requirement and, now married, I sometimes worry what will happen when my darling hubbie retires. I work best when he’s at work and we are going to have to make some adjustments in a few years.

I do belong to several art clubs and sometimes feel I should be less involved. I have two painting buddies and we do shows together at times but seldom paint together. We also critic each others work if asked to.

They are the connections I really value and while we don’t see each other on a regular basis we are comfortable with each other and can say what we feel about each others art and our own without letting ego’s get in the way.

I’ve actually had to learn to reach out to other people because I moved a lot while growing up. My Dad was in the Canadian Air Force and we lived across Canada and for four years in Germany. It wasn’t easy and as a child I didn’t like it much but you do learn to depend on your own resources. Joining groups was a good way to get to know people in a new community. Lessons learned in the past often come in handy later in life.

I still try to ‘get away’ to some less populated place on holiday and for me the holiday of my nightmares would be on a cruise ship with several thousand other people and no where to escape to!

I have always had the good fortune to live near some sort of ‘wild’ space where I can wander and reconnect with nature, even in the city. It saves my sanity and my creativity.

From: Anne Ryan Miller — Jul 27, 2009

I too enjoy the choices and solitude of working solo. But there are times when I really feel the need for feedback and encouragement. Sometimes I invite friends over to review and comment on the stages of a particularly difficult project. Because my work involves many steps in the process, there is always the chance that I can go astray. I use the eyes and input of my other art friends to help me see what I might not be able to percieve on my own. Often times this leads me to new ideas and fresh approaches to my work.

From: Laura Tovar Dietrick — Jul 27, 2009

Robert, you hit the nail on the head. Loneliness is something that, eventually, one comes to terms with. Eventually, you have to do your own thing, and that means putting in the time in the studio with only perhaps some music to serve as background. Surely, interaction with other artists and other like minded “creatives” can be helpful but that too, can be riddled with competiveness, pettiness and sometimes stereotypical weirdness. The internet can be a bit of a salve and one can easily connect enough here, but it will never replace real face to face interaction needed to combat loneliness. The best bet is to look carefully at how you spend your “people” time and with whom. Quality relationships that are the real deal, though difficult to find, are worth their weight in gold.

From: Susan Marx — Jul 27, 2009

There is a big difference between being lonely and being by oneself. Or alone with yourself. I am “by myself” and certainly alone with myself when I create. I think there is a need to be alone with oneself when one is creating. But I am not lonely. Lonely is a very pegorative word. If you like yourself, you can be happy by yourself the same way as you can be happy with people around you.

From: Teresa Hitch — Jul 27, 2009

Your letter gave me pause for thought this morning, contemplating it whilst slowly come back to consciousness over a cup of caffeine.

You made me wonder, “Am I lonely?..No… If I were more awake, would I feel lonely?”

Nature surrounds me in the beautiful area where I am fortunate to live. As Rachel Carson expressed, one is never alone in nature. Yet, as my neighbour’s horses come to greet me on this new day, my aloneness is jarred, and I reflect on times when communication with these magnificent creatures plays with my heart strings. Meaningful communication with others also inspires, and grounds me on earth when the aloneness takes one to another planet. Sometimes interruptions from others are valuable, but a quiet sanctuary is a precious commodity for this artist’s voice.

From: John Mullenger — Jul 27, 2009

Being alone all the time does not mean you need to be lonely. I disagree with Miller’s quote – being alone and loneliness are not the same thing. I know plenty of lonely people who are always with other people…

I balance my “alone-ness” by getting out of the studio to socialize with people, and I insist on hanging out with intimates. No cold hearts or egos…I don’t have time for them. There are plenty of them around, so my friends are few, but it’s quality versus quantity.

Also, it amazes me how so many great ideas come to me, about my art, when I am doing something else with others and not even thinking about the problem…

From: Linda — Jul 27, 2009

Mmmmmmm, alone time can be sweet, and is certainly sweeter for the time we have with inspiring creative friends. Also a meditation practice can build the understanding of what being alone can connect one with. There is a richness in silence, a vast depth in the universe within and around. When this relationship is strengthened by time meditating, being in nature or whatever and where ever one can experience themselves alone, then one can find great joy and company alone in the studio. I agree we are basically alone, but that also points to the fact that even when we seem to be alone we are not. Cosmic connection stirs wildly in the presence of one who is aware and awakening to consciousness. There is an exciting and tantalizing experience of creative collaboration available to those who seek to be more awake. This is always available and can be dynamic or subtle. Being alone can be being connected and supported creatively. Even the taste of inspiring human connection can support creative time alone. Discipline in this is key to success in it.

From: Sue Rochford — Jul 27, 2009

I was a bit worried your email was spam but after I got over that, I realised you were speaking right to me AGAIN. You sum up artist solace so well. Don’t under estimate the power of your letters which go a long way to breaking the “loneliness” in themselves. One other remedy not mentioned in your letter was the faithful canine curled at my feet and the gently purring feline hanging off the top of the computer. Oh and the bird bath just outside the window with the flashes of brilliant lorikeet calling in regularly. Glad I’ve chosen wildlife to paint!

From: Claudio Ghirardo — Jul 27, 2009

I use to have the same problem until, while working with other artists, I came to realize that I truly do like working alone and enjoy those moments. One way to deal with loneliness is if there is a place where you can meet other artists. Sharing thoughts and ideas is a great way to feel connected even while working on your own.

From: Gay Pogue — Jul 27, 2009
From: Rodney Cobb — Jul 27, 2009
From: Bev Aisbett — Jul 27, 2009

I have enjoyed your thoughtful insights over the past few years but I was particularly moved to respond to the writings on the above theme as it was quite timely as I was feeling a bit cut off myself.

I think that we as artists have a peculiar struggle. Whether we have chosen to tread the Road Less Travelled or whether it is part of the artistic hard-wiring, this path can often mean even greater loneliness not only because of the solitary nature of the arts but also because of an unconventional take on life in general.

This may mean uncommon or complex relationships resulting in the lack of the ‘normalising’ aspects of more mundane social interactions or the grounding influence of conventional family ties. The artist who lives and works alone may be particularly haunted and yet it is the same haunting which often drives the creative beast within, which makes it hard to surrender.

The line between solitude and loneliness can be a fine one and not always easy to navigate, especially for the finely-tuned sensitivities of the creative spirit. After all, artists need love, too, but they can also be notoriously prickly characters !

I, for one, would love to share more with likeminded souls. Please feel free to send an email, folks! I’m getting a bit sick of talking to my dog.

From: Doris — Jul 27, 2009

To work alone without any interference is definitely more productive. Women artists usually feel household and family duties interfere with their work when working at home (I am considering to rent a studio somewhere else).

Yet, occasionally we want company and be able to share ideas. I joined a bridge group (brain exercise and gourmet food once a week) and the Venezuelan Watercolor Association where I cooperate planning group activities such as painting outside, watercolor demonstrations and exhibitions. I also participate in the Caracas Drawing Circle, a group meeting once a week at the Fines Arts Museum to draw human figure, mostly nudes and sometimes poets, writers, musicians and other interesting people. It is stimulating and fun as long as you manage to keep enough time for yourself to work alone.

From: Terry Greenhough — Jul 27, 2009

Lonely, this is a feeling I do not feel too often. When I do feel it, it is usually when I have been working for several days and I have come to an end of a painting session. Then I am looking to have some social time, to be with people. Now my wife, a high school teacher would be tired and not wanting to do much on Friday evening or on any other evening she would be marking. So I find myself spinning my wheels and not wanting to sit in front of the TV. Because most of our friends are also teachers and in the same boat, there is not much chance that they are going to be any better that my wife. At least that is what I am thinking. So there I am spinning my wheels. I often go for a walk or do something different like work with my tropical fish and I manage to get past it and usually over a weekend we do run into some social time. I think it is to change the environment that takes the edge off those moments that seem lonely.

From: Sally — Jul 27, 2009

This one speaks to me. It is a balancing act….for a single person. Loving the camaraderie of sketching with a small group, especially when what you are producing has merit. But at 70 something, irritated by the “drive” and volume of words ABOUT art that seem to dominate the scene. Your letters seem to work for me, perhaps because I can read it all in silence!

From: Mark Davis — Jul 27, 2009

One thing I do to combat the loneliness is to teach some painting classes. This gets me out and about, and of course we always learn more from teaching than we expect.

From: Barbara McGee — Jul 27, 2009

You could have saved me time if you had written this letter a couple months ago. I started wondering if I was getting strange because I spend so much time by myself. My husband is great but he works really hard and many times he comes home and eats and falls asleep in his chair. After considering this issue for a while I prayed. He took care of my loneliness by sending friends from far and wide to visit at the studio. It was wonderful the first day but by the fourth day, I am going OK Lord I get the point, I have to be alone. I solved the problem by teaching a class one day a week for 8 weeks. It was great fun to be teaching again and it took care of the need companionship.

From: Jackie Ivey-Weaver — Jul 27, 2009

Nice subject ! It is lonely at times, but very good to get away from the busyness of the world, and there are times when it is imperative to create.

Then, there are times when a good friend who also paints, and I get together to paint. It’s nice when a group hires a model and practices the figure. Belonging to an art association, seems to lift up your spirits and gives you new ideas. (unless you get bogged down in responsibilities).

Thanks for your willingness to reach out to creative people.

From: ronit — Jul 27, 2009

i am glad to hear that i am not alone in my loneliness. i was always painfully aware of being different, that is, before i was aware that i am an artist. i knew that i functioned in ‘private time’ , in ‘private style’. but could not understand why this was so. i wanted to be like everyone else; i so longed to belong.

many years later, i know this will never happen. true artists walks alone and on a different plain. we have the gift of meta- look . with maturity comes a sense of kinship together with a celebration of ‘otherness’.

From: Edna Hildebrandt — Jul 27, 2009

I sometimes work alone but I am so concentrated in my work that I don’t feel lonely. I think that we should balance our life between work and being with our family and friends. Being with people not involved in art may even generate ideas for subject matter for our art. I find little children fascinating how their faces light up to see people they love or sad when they are disappointed. The changing expressions in their faces are so honest and not contrived. So if we find that we are getting lonely let us take a break.

Maybe do something else in between.Thanks for the letters, I enjoy them very much and give some insight into my own work.

From: Maritza Bermudez — Jul 27, 2009

I like painting both ways. I enjoy the company of fellow artists. Our groups gets together now and then, usually 4 artists. While we are painting we are in silence but we put nice music in the background and take breaks. Sometimes I can finish a painting when painting in groups, maybe its the motivation. We also help and critique each other. Sometimes we select a topic. When I paint alone in my studio I sometimes call on my husband to come and give me his opinion…but for some reason, when I paint alone, it takes me longer to finish a work. I guess I interrupt for things like lunch, phone, tv, yard work..always a little bit of here and there. When I am alone, I am challenged to try new things, because no one is watching.

From: Joan Brumley — Jul 27, 2009

I really enjoy your communications. I am a “never lonely” artist. I teach classes in my studio at least once a week. Also, the class I started about ten years ago on Thurs evening is still going after all this time. Most of the people who started with me, are probably better than I, and about four years ago, I told them we would no longer have a class, but a painting orgy on Thurs evenings. So everyone now comes, and we have a little libation, and paint together. Everyone critiques whatever is perplexing to one of us, and we love it, (in fact, they come whether I am there on not.). It has been one of the best helps to all of us, and has increased everyone’s sales, showings, etc.

From: Dan DuBois — Jul 27, 2009

Agree with you completely on the question of loneliness when producing something like art, any work, really, requiring a high level of concentration, and really only one pair of hands at a time. I feel lonely but working alone, freer than working with others, although I participate in paint outs and often paint with other artists — close friends — and enjoy the experience. What there is, when working on a piece over time, over the space of days, an intimacy with the developing work that can be disturbed by the presence of others, and feels like a loss. Some days, some mornings, after I’ve painted one dog after another, I could use somebody to talk me through the turmoil that can set in at those times. Mary Catherine Jorgensen writes of ‘occasional loneliness’, but like you say, companionship takes other forms, and I find the alone time enriches my discourse with the people in my life.



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