The Painter's Keys Community For Artists

Search the Painter's Keys:

« 'Denial of digital?'

· previous clickback ·

The stress of relaxation »

· next clickback ·

Join the world's largest art community and get the twice-weekly art letter.
Subscription is free.

Absolutely free, no strings. You'll get the valuable twice-weekly letter and be joining the world's most active art community.

Robert's worldwide gift that artists love to get.


Drunk painting

November 16, 2012

Dear Artist,

Most of us, at one time or another, have tried a shot or two while painting. Joe Blodgett does it all the time. He says it steadies his hand and helps him to be more confident. A shaky hand is what I get--my confidence becomes both deceptive and temporary. Disappointment arrives like a mobile doctor with a stomach pump in the cold grey light of dawn.

There's no question that some sort of altered state is useful during the creative act. Speaking of altered states, Washington State has recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Will the northerly waft of secondhand smoke improve our work up here in British Columbia?

After a lifetime of studying these matters, I think the idea is to cook up the intoxication without imbibing or inhaling substances. Fresh air is okay. A few quick charges around the driveway often does it. You feel heady--kind of aired out. Fact is, unless your work thrives on negativism, misery and error, artists need to be drunk on life--and cardiovascular exercise helps. Then there's that wonderful return to the creative distillery--the studio. Many emails that come my way tell of euphoria in the home studio. For many among us, every studio hour is happy hour.

With any sort of inebriation comes self-deception. Both mental and medical opiates have been mankind's enablers for millennia. Theoretically, as mankind evolved, so did his enablers. The "Art Spirit" that Robert Henri talked about was a form of self-medication superior to the intake of liquid spirits. Here are a few self-medications you might consider:

I can do this.

I have a remarkable imagination.

I am a perennial student.

I have the patience to overcome.

I have the capacity to work.

I get high on my work.

Yep, it's the work that lets you know you're alive. It's the work that makes you brilliant. It's the work that gets you better and better. It's the work that gets you silly. "Work," said Noel Coward, "is more fun than fun."

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "When the artist is alive in any person... he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature." (Robert Henri, 1865-1929)

Esoterica: Robert Henri advocated a clear vision and a steady purpose. Face down in the broadloom didn't cut it for him. In my experience, vision and purpose come from the state of being aware. Vision and purpose can come naturally and intuitively--but in most cases they have to be coddled and developed. Habits are both masters and servants. Positive habitual self-guidance requires sobriety. The result is a wholesome and rewarding kind of inebriation. "The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." (Robert Henri) "Bibens post opus" said Kjerkius Gennius (36BC), "Do your drinking after your work."





High on art
by Lorine van Voorst, Pemberton, BC, Canada


I have the privilege of being in Paris right now, on six week classic drawing study programme, with nine other students from all over the world.

We are charged with drawing sculpture and had been in the cast hall drawing Michelangelo's statue, The Bound Slave. When we found out that the hall was established as a teaching tool in 1668, we both had shivers, thinking of the many and talented students who have studied in this space, just as we are doing now! What could be more intoxicating than saying "See you at the Louvre" and going there to draw four days a week.

I will always remember the first three-hour life drawing session I attended in Vancouver, after doing the two-hour sessions in Whistler for about a year. I had been so intensely in another world that when I came out, it took ages to "come down" to reality again. Yes, I know it is possible to be high on your art. The universe gives us wonderful gifts if we have the time to accept them.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


The Morning After
by Alex Nodopaka, Lake Forest, CA, USA


Drunk art sessions I remember only through hazy memories of another long ago time. That's how I got Timebound<br>mixed media sculpture by Alex Nodopaka Timebound
mixed media sculpture
engaged 37 full moons ago after such a Vodka-photo-session performance.

During the shoot every single shot was a masterpiece... until I saw the results the following day when everything went in the trashcan! Though, I must say, during the event the feeling was divine as I floated on cloud nine fanning myself with a stiff Nobel Prize certificate. The only thing left from that photo-shoot was my model-fiancée of then who became my wife to this day.



Website Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Stay clear of debauchery
by Garry Gray, Ganges, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada


At 38, I have been painting and selling paintings for just over 20 years. As a painter of watercolour Coastal inlet<br>watercolour painting by Garry Gray Coastal inlet
watercolour painting
I have to say that yes, I have tried a 'shot' before painting. But I can assure readers that drinking only leads to sloppy work. Never will I consider a drink before painting. Part of our uncanny ability to do what we d, I believe, comes from our natural ability, most of which was nurtured and developed as we were nurtured and developed while growing up. Our subtle skills and co ordination are a gift - not to be muted by alcoholism. As for the follow up on Marijuana - my opinion remains the same, don't do it! Robert we should always be promoting a safe and healthy art form. Druggies and alcoholics will always find their own way to debauchery. Let's keep our art form pure - as we like to keep our watercolour brush-water clean and clear, untainted.



There are 2 comments for Stay clear of debauchery by Garry Gray

From: Phil -- Nov 20, 2012

I paint watercolor and it has almost driven me to drink several times!

From: sjensen -- Nov 20, 2012

your style looks very similar to Joanne Thomson's very interesting


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Stupefaction or spontaneity?
by Brian Care, Toronto, Canada / San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Since alcohol is a depressant and tends to dull the senses rather than enhance them, it would seem La Mano 1<br>watercolour painting by Brian Care La Mano 1
watercolour painting
rather counter-productive to our goals as artists to even consider trying to be creative while "under the influence." My intent has always been to try to move into a state of heightened awareness in the hopes of being able to be inspired to express an idea or represent an image in a highly-intuitive and original manner. I have always attempted with my students to raise their levels of perception to a point where creative problem-solving becomes a natural and fluent behavior. It would seem that the stupefaction that comes with imbibing would hinder attaining that state where originality and more in-depth "seeing" could occur. On the other hand I have seen some very uptight attempts at painting that might have been improved by a looser hand. Perhaps we should not rule out the use of alcohol altogether if it would help some artists experience a spontaneity and lack of inhibition that might result in something more innovative and expressive than their usual highly-controlled efforts. I'm not purporting this as a natural way to paint... just saying. As far as other drugs go... they may result in amazing things created in an altered state. I'm just not interested in experimenting.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


High on creative self
by Barbara Davis, Charlotte, MI, USA


I served 24 years as a "coordinator of programs for the talented," also known as education of Sun on the storm<br>oil painting by Barbara Davis Sun on the storm
oil painting
"gifted, talented and creative." During that time (1989), I once took a week off to try to finish a novel I had been working on for years, bit by bit. I wrote 100 pages in five days! I had rented a cabin by a small lake, during the fall. Not a drop of alcohol! Not a cigarette or mind altering drug. I was high on my own creative self.

Now, after having retired, I draw and paint, write, play piano, and listen.

I am just starting on my artistic journey and I cannot imagine boundaries, other than physical. Now, with fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, and the debilitating pain that accompanies these conditions, I have a way of lifting myself higher and higher! I am alive! I am growing and changing! I am learning!



There are 2 comments for High on creative self by Barbara Davis

From: Darrell Baschak -- Nov 20, 2012

Barbara, your beautiful painting perfectly expresses your sentiments. Good on you!

From: Anonymous -- Nov 20, 2012

that sky is gorgeous


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Drunk self-portraiture
by Susan Holland, Bellevue, WA, USA


If an artist does paint drunk, I encourage him or her to paint a self-portrait, or two or three. Self portrait<br>mixed media painting by Susan Holland Self portrait
mixed media painting
First of all, as long as you don't err and drink the medium instead of your chosen alcohol, you will have a great time messing with the paint, and you may, if you are like me, think you are having a deep and significant experience. But the best thing about this practice is that you will present to yourself a pretty memorable souvenir, or two, or three.

I have some. There they are staring at me with certain looks on their faces, and with eyes that tell the tale. I'm keeping them. I am so glad I won't be making more!



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Happy hours making art
by Terrie Christian, Plymouth, MN, USA


I so agree with you that using substances to alter one's state is a form of self-deception. In 1984 Frog world<br>original painting by Terrie Christian Frog world
original painting
I was living with an actively using alcoholic. It was so painful that I almost did myself in. Instead, I got help, and quit using all such substances myself. He quit then, too, and we have been a sober house since. People in the recovery group that I was attending were recommending meditation. I could never seem to achieve what they were describing. I am sure now that it is because I have PTSD from childhood abuse, and was on alert all the time as a part of my survival. I did not know that yet. A couple of years later someone recommended a book, Original Blessing , by Matthew Fox that had a chapter in it called "Art as Meditation." I have always considered myself an artist and noticed that when I was making art, hours could go by and I would be so happy and the hours seemed like minutes. I had gone several years without making art and, since that time, I have been making sure that I get some of that time. I believe that it has been an important part of my recovery. We are both still sober 28 years later and helping others recover. Art is not my only tool, but it is a very important one!





Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Don't preach - all good work may not be sober work
by Jean Wilson, Des Moines, IA, USA


It is hard to picture any profession or pastime where being drunk enhances the experience or improves Untitled<br>mixed media by Jean Wilson Untitled
mixed media
the quality of the work being done. It is kind of you to offer art as a much better mood-enhancing choice. I completely agree that art is the best *drug* there is. I would even say that my *addiction* to making art sometimes lures me away from things I should be doing. So, the goal should be to find some balance, eh? What do you say about the artists, including writers and musicians, many of whom are notorious for being unbalanced but who have managed to put forth some very compelling work? It's entirely possible that some good work has been made while under the influence. We can't assume that the only *good* work is sober work. I agree that self-medication is generally self-destructive. It seems a little preachy to just announce... you shouldn't drink and paint.

Yes, artistic expression is a wonderful alternative... but, a person suffering with substance abuse usually needs help understanding what caused their situation. Then they need good coaching to learn some practical alternatives. It's a hard road. Life is complicated. Let's all be more gracious with those who suffer from addiction.



There is 1 comment for Don't preach - all good work may not be sober work by Jean Wilson

From: Karen -- Dec 11, 2012

I agree -- whilst drinking (or whatever the 'poison') and painting may not be for all/most; I'm sure there are stellar art works in public view that were painted under the influence.


Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


The best drug is 'brush in hand'
by Alana Dill, Alameda, CA, USA


I did a ton of art as a kid and into my teens. As I got into substance use, my creative spirit did Boys and Girls Come Out To Play<br>pumpkin carving by Alana Dill Boys and Girls Come Out To Play
pumpkin carving
not in any way dry up - but my confidence, motivation, skill, and my creative output sure did! I thought mind alteration would make it easier to feel comfortable with others, but the people it made me feel comfortable with... they weren't so good for me. I slowly died inside. Getting sober was a long haul. Really getting back to my art and making it a central part of my life was a longer haul. I'm now grateful for every moment and all the help I've had along the way. The detour was tough and I can't help wondering what I'd have done with my life had I "started" earlier.

If anyone reading this is stuck creatively, I warmly recommend A.R.T.S. Anonymous and the works of Julia Cameron, e.g. The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of 'Enough' .

Last night I went to an art jam. I'm a body painter and my model didn't show up, so I had to paint on canvas. This is fine, because I was working on a cartoon for a large piece. It's easiest for me to work when inspiration strikes, but sometimes inspiration gets shy or crabby. Frequently, before I work on art *when I've set the time aside for it* I get fraught with anxiety and will just noodle around trying to find the mood. I finally realized I just needed to put the brush in my hand. So I brushed the words "JUST START. DAMMIT." on a piece of sketchbook paper and laughed at myself, and that was the only loosening up I needed. All in all, it was a satisfying practice session, and I can certainly see what I need to do differently to make this project come out well.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Smoking while painting: a tough act to quit
by Bill Hogue, Dallas, TX, USA


There's an association factor you have to throw in with drinking or any addictive habit. The hardest Jacob's Ladder<br>mixed media painting by Bill Hogue Jacob's Ladder
mixed media painting
thing I ever did in my entire life was to quit smoking. At the time I quit, many years ago, I was smoking four packs a day. It was back when "everyone smoked" and I associated smoking with everything I did. It was so bad that a year after I quit, I was still addicted. As I recall, it took at least three years until I didn't think about having a cigarette.

I love red wine and usually have some every night, but never when I'm painting. But this is not a rationalizing for drinking and I admire those with a clear sober mind who never touch alcohol. I'm just not one of them... and neither was Picasso; no comparison intended.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


New method of categorizing art
by Doug Mays, Stoney Creek, ON, Canada


The big debate about what constitutes art has been recently raised in your letters and it comes up daily Carriage house<br>watercolour painting by Doug Mays Carriage house
watercolour painting
in the art world. There is never agreement, rarely consensus and certainly no solution. Until now. Why don't we all just agree that it's all art (of some sort) and do what Dmitri Mendeleev did in 1869 when he invented the Periodic Table of Elements in which he pragmatically reserved a spot for each element known in the 19th century based on their atomic number and electron configuration?

Ours would be "The Periodic Table of Art," composed of alpha/numeric squares unique to each other and based the tools, equipment and materials used. When an artist completes his or her work they would assign the Universal Standard alpha/numeric identifier to each piece of art. Also, invitations for juried exhibitions, etc., would define the types of art acceptable for the exhibition based on the alpha/numeric identifier.

Since this is my idea I would want the Table to be named the Mays Chart, of course, and I wish to reserve a square for my favourite medium – 'watercolour on paper.' I want it to be A1.



There are 3 comments for New method of categorizing art by Doug Mays

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- Nov 20, 2012

I mean no harm, but is it scarey or is it me? It reminds me of the red vines crawling over an Edvard Munch house.
It is definitely A1.

From: Anonymous -- Nov 20, 2012

A1 is a sauce, not a medium. If you had realized what was at steak when you came up with this idea, you would have picked another alpharomeo. BTW, do you come up with all of your ideas periodically?

From: Anonymous -- Nov 20, 2012

nice painting, but the red house seems to be screeming something


Website Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Got the free book
by Rose Desnoyer, Cornwall, ON, Canada


Today I received a wonderful gift in the mail: The Painter's Keys, A Seminar with Robert Genn. Untitled<br>original painting by Rose Desnoyer Untitled
original painting
What a pleasant surprise. I never dreamt I would be among the first one hundred to respond to your invitation. I read your letters every week and many of them I collect for further reference. Thank you for this gift of sharing .

(RG note) Thanks, Rose. We're still sending out the gift books by the hundreds. When you, our readers, regularly copy favourite Twice-Weekly letters on your own blogs or publications, and put our link logo on your sites, I feel the least we can do is to send you a free book. The posting of our link logo is particularly useful to all of us. Through the miracle of social networking, our logo on your site draws hits from the wider Internet to you. It's all about Internet connectivity. Free book or not, for readers who haven't already done so, please consider putting our link logo on your pages.



Email Add Instant Comment Share this with a friend


Gaye Adams workshops Held in Sorrento, British Columbia, Canada.  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
Gaye Adams workshops
Held in Sorrento, British Columbia, Canada.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Linda Jolly, AB, Canada



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 Merina Rael of Victoria, BC, Canada, who wrote, "Your readers should read Altered States: Creativity Under the Influence by James Hughes. It's a wonderful book on creativity."

And also Susan Klabak of Wild Rose, Wisconsin, USA, who wrote, "Wow! I received the free Painter's Keys book from you. Thank you. I just started reading it and there's lots of great info in just the first few pages."

(RG note) Thanks, Susan, and everyone else who wrote to say they have now received the book. For those subscribers who don't wish to link to us via their own blogs or sites, or don't have an online presence, please consider sending us eight or more new people who you feel might get value from the free Twice-Weekly Letter—and we'll see that they start to get it—and you'll get the free book as well. Don't forget to include your mailing address as this is a hard copy.


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Drunk painting...

From: Mike Barr -- Nov 15, 2012

Only a social drinker by any standards I still had to give up the turps a while ago for medical reasons. However, recently I have discovered new inebriates associated with being an artist. One that was completely unexpected was attending two exhibitions in which I didn't have work although I knew most of the artists involved. I just enjoyed looking at the work and talking to other artists, some of which I have only nodded to before. To add to it all, one of my artist friends who I thought I knew quite well, was playing the guitar and singing before and after the official opening. I didn't know that he played and sang! I felt a high that alcohol cannot give and it lasted for two days. Sometimes, I think artists just need to get out and chew the cud with others of like mind to freshen-up their outlook and go to the easel renewed.
A very enjoyable letter Robert.

From: John Ferrie -- Nov 15, 2012

Dear Robert,
I find this subject of a drunk artist to be particularly egregious. As someone who has been clean and sober for over 30 years, there is NO WAY I would have any form of success if I hadn't quit all of that. The oh so romantic notion that we could all be drunk on Bourbon and off on a Hemingway-esque creative junket is something of a drunken pipe dream. Hemingway, just in case anyone forgot, was so tormented, he committed suicide. So did Rothko and Van Gogh, just to stack the deck. I recommend artists paint their demons, cry their tears and resolve the issues with their mother though their work. But to drink, even for medicinal purposes and then go to the canvas is irresponsible. Nobody wants to own a painting from an artist who claims they were "so drunk when I did that"...
There is nothing more exhilarating that finishing a painting and being happy with it. Being sober and clear about the vision is priceless.
John Ferrie

From: Carole Pivarnik -- Nov 16, 2012

Music and a cozy, pretty environment are my creative enablers, mainly. I sometimes enjoy a glass of wine while painting. But more often than not, I become so engaged in the creative process that I completely forget it is sitting there and hours later notice that I forgot to drink it. Thirty or so years ago when I was in my early 20s, I ran with a partying crowd. The only thing I remember about the effects of marijuana (first or second hand!) was that it made me perceive music in colors. While that was entertaining, it didn't get much work done. The drug made me too content to sit on the couch and think, rather than do. The older I get, the less time I have left to get things done in this life so I am not a big fan of any substance that interferes with my productivity. I don't need those things for creative inspiration anyway. Life is an inspiration, in every direction.

Speaking of studios: I love mine so much. I spend more than half of each day in it. Someone asked me once if I ever got tired of spending so much time in a single space. Not a chance. I love this space. I love the vibe, the colors, my beloved art stuff, my art and that of friends on the walls, my books, my dogs keeping me company, etc. It is not only my favorite room in the house, but in the world. And right out the door is a lovely garden patio and access to many lovely walks around our small farm. It is a perfect place.

From: rena -- Nov 16, 2012
From: Sarah Carter -- Nov 16, 2012

My mood elevator, brush loosener, and inducer of altered states is music! It's become an integral part of my work process. Maybe I've just trained myself like one of Pavlov's dogs, but when the music starts, I feel a shift to action and optimism - i.e. "play". And my work is always better, when I convince myself first that I'm "just playing"! And isn't it just plain fabulous when "work is more fun than fun"?

From: Robert Sesco -- Nov 16, 2012

"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." (Robert Henri)

I LOVE this quote!

I agree with the sentiments of Carole Pivarnik, having had my experiences with marijuana. It can promote imagination and creativity, but it can also promote distractions in the way of eating an entire package of cookies or wandering out the door to take a walk in the woods (not that either activity is to be avoided, but your productivity goes out the door with you.) Great works can be, and have been, created under the influence of mind/mood altering substances, but very few of those artists could be said to have mastered the art of moderation in all things. In every sport the quality of balance is taught. You may swing for the fence as long as you maintain your balance. You may throw a roundhouse left hook but you had better be balanced in the event that you miss. The older I get the more value I intuit for balance in living life. I used to admire those stories of great single-mindedness of purpose, those who won championships and became the best of anyone. But I also began to notice that marriages suffered, children were ignored, and I realized that moderation and balance were more aligned with my values in life than winning at all costs.

How wonderful to be an artist, whose objective is not to make art, but to cultivate that state of mind and life condition from which art is inevitable! I LOVE that.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- Nov 16, 2012

Painting is already an altered state. Does this mean that newly altered states, Washington and Colorado will be producing more paintings? Oh never mind.

From: Marilyn Smith -- Nov 16, 2012

Putting marks on canvas and paper is my "high". The act of doing helps me endure much pain, survive cancer, and live with a chronic ilness. Nothing else matters except those marks. And if those marks go away, there are always more marks to do.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox -- Nov 16, 2012

Alcohol and Marijuana are not the same. Every person who drinks and every person who smokes are not the same.

Alcohol releases inhibitions, which is why alcoholics are so often found to be starting bar fights. I used to spin dance records in an alcohol bar. Before that I used to dance in the same kind of bar. I love to dance- so I couldn't believe the number of people who told me they couldn't get out on a dance floor until they'd had enough to drink.

Marijuana puts some people to sleep- immediately. But not everyone.

For some of us it allows us to FOCUS our creativity and work for hours on end uninterrupted by the ridiculousness of the outside world.

In my case- as a club DJ, music is also intrinsically involved in this process. Though I'm still working with a CD format, I can load up my player with more than 6 hours of music, randomly playing or mixed, smoke a bowl, as I have a SACRED PIPE, and go to work. Which is both work and play.

So don't confuse alcohol and marijuana. They are not the same.

We Coloradans just voted to make something ridiculously illegal- with a fail drug war to prove it- legal. Sorry if that doesn't make any sense to some of you.

From: Ian Semple -- Nov 16, 2012

A fine single malt Islay Scotch is one of the best painting mediums I know of for a painter, if not for the paint.

From: Leonard Skerker -- Nov 16, 2012

Somewhere Emily Dickinson wrote: Inebriate of air am I, and debauchee of dew...

From: Rick Rotante -- Nov 16, 2012

My work is always superior when drinking and painting! Until the next morning!
It's good to bring this up but to drink is to dull your senses not sharpen them. Being loose involves other motivators like: confidence, ability, will, self-assuredness, desire, calm. These are the drugs of choice for me. If I think I did well in the studio, then I can indulge in a a glass of wine or cocktail and enjoy the moment until the next workday. Painting needs one to be in the moment; needs concentration and focus. Anything that lessens that involvement is an inhibitor and I believe will not make your work better or give you insightfulness.

From: Lucy Bates -- Nov 16, 2012

Yesterday I was in my studio painting the powerful Otter Falls, in the Yukon, while listening to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole from Hawaii, very mellow. Quite the contrast but created a very euphoric mood for me. I was in place I seldom get to and loved it. My high for the day.

From: Elle Fagan -- Nov 16, 2012

Opiates make my lines go wavy and then I must stop. When it gets into the fine motor skills for artmaking, that's another thing. Especially when working with miniatures. I'll pour yours though. And enjoy a quality sip of something after the work is done.

From: Kati -- Nov 16, 2012

The more drugged up one is, the more easily one can be "led". A clear head makes for a more honest work of art.

From: Carol Taylor -- Nov 16, 2012

I will drink to that!

From: Tom Murphy -- Nov 16, 2012

A terrific letter on being drunk with enthusiasm! I don't have a problem with the other kind, but your avocation of the joy of creation is certainly enough to get me started today!

From: Margaret Bobb -- Nov 16, 2012

I have often thought about trying to paint while slightly intoxicated on alcohol. I’ve seen someone do that, and they were able to pull it off. It LOOKS like fun, however, I tend to agree with you. I fully need my wits about me when I paint, and I know that! I once took a pastel class from a lady, and she prescribed one of the same things you talked about in this letter—during the middle of your painting time, go out and take a 1/2 hour walk in the fresh air. It works for me! ...sometimes, just taking a break and getting a cup of hot tea accomplishes the same thing. I do love my work! Maybe, just maybe mind you, but maybe one day I’ll attempt an abstract after a couple of glasses of wine... maybe.

From: Fiona Robyn -- Nov 16, 2012

Love it. Especially the image of you charging around the drive. And as a Buddhist I'm with you on inebriation/self-deception!

From: Edna Hildebrand -- Nov 16, 2012

I cannot say that I have tried painting while drunk or using other substances. Perhaps something can be said about it. I can remember when I was working in a psychiatric hospital in the '60s. We had some young patients who were experimenting on LSD. They painted their hallucinations in the most vivid bright colors in interesting patterns. People used to give the term psychedelic art. Could these paintings have the same quality if they were painted while lucid?

From: Janet Butler -- Nov 16, 2012

I'll second your observations - almost said, "I'll drink to that!" Perhaps I will, metaphorically speaking. Could never understand anyone wanting to write/paint in an altered state. I love a clear, calm mind for either muse I'm courting, be it poetry or painting with watercolors.

From: Dee Poisson -- Nov 16, 2012

Although Drunk Painting is not advised, I recall a previous Twice-Weekly where people were buying “art” (framed posters) on a cruise ship for huge sums of money after a few. I suspect that substandard quality art auctions should always start with an open bar.

From: Doug Mays -- Nov 16, 2012

The big debate about what constitutes art has been recently raised in your letters and it comes up daily in the art world. There is never agreement, rarely consensus and certainly no solution… until now.

Why don’t we all just agree that it’s all art (of some sort) and do what Dmitri Mendeleev did in 1869 when he invented the Periodic Table of Elements in which he pragmatically reserved a spot for each element known in the 19th century based on their atomic number and electron configuration.

Ours would be the Periodic Table of Art, composed of alpha/numeric squares unique to each other and based the tools, equipment and materials used. When an artist completes his or her work they would assign the Universal Standard alpha/numeric identifier to each piece of art. Also, invitations for juryied exhibitions etc. would define the types of art acceptable for the exhibition based on the alpha/numeric identifier.

Since this is my idea I would want the Table to be named the Mays Chart of course and I wish to reserve a square for my favourite medium – ‘watercolour on paper’, I want it to be A1.

From: Gena and Bob Courtney -- Nov 16, 2012

An artist friend once asked me if I ever painted while drinking. “No! How can one work and drink?” I tried it. Nah, it made me sleepy. Cocktail hour should be celebrated at the appropriate time—Five PM, Nova Scotia time.

The new Fall Back time change has really thrown us off, lately. Did Nova Scotia Fall Back, too? Never mind, we don’t really want to know. I wish we had a friend like Joe Blodgett. Wait a minute, I think we do. We just don’t quote Eddie.

From: Gary Godbee -- Nov 16, 2012

The issue of using alcohol or any other recreational drug while doing an activity that most people do sober can be problematic in itself. I have a wonderful friend who years ago started drinking and painting on a daily basis. As his alcoholism progressed and the quality of his work declined, he was completely unaware of either situation. This is not to say that going up upstairs to work on your painting after having had a glass of wine with dinner on occasion is indicative of a problem, but thinking that you can only work while drunk is. It took my friend many years to discover and accept his problem, and has been sober for over two decades. It did, however take him over ten years to develop the courage to go back into the studio after quitting drinking and begin making art (and much better art) again. Just a cautionary tale...

From: Dan TE -- Nov 16, 2012

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

Emily Dickinson

From: Russ Hogger -- Nov 17, 2012

Wine, inspiration in a bottle. Don't get me wrong, I don't drink. I read this somewhere!!!

From: Russ Hogger -- Nov 17, 2012

I don't drink. That way no one can say that I'm a better drinker than a painter.

From: Terrence Dryden -- Nov 17, 2012

Drinking at art openings is acceptable. Drink helps to make people think the art is better than it is.

From: Peggy G. -- Nov 17, 2012

I really had to laugh as this was the first thing I read on your blog. Actually, I have done a bit of.......'drinking art'....and I have to tell ya, it makes for a wonderful evening. But, then, morning comes, and as I pass my studio door, I say to myself.....WHO made this MESS?????? Oh....me....hmmmmmm.....and then I have to go mend some things. It is like the first one steadies the hand, clears the head, and makes me get down to business. The second one mellows you.....and I think the problem is the third one.....heh heh heh......

From: Raymond Diamontain -- Nov 19, 2012

Previously drinking made my present endurable. Currently painting drags me into the future (or pushes me, I don't really know which). That the latter is superior to the other-- given my all or nothing approach to the former-- has made all the diffence to me.

From: Rick Rotante -- Nov 19, 2012

Carol Pivarnik- sounds like the perfect place. There is so much turmoil and distracting "noise" in the world. Being an artist and having a space with you "stuff" around is what it is all about. I love to go into my studio sometime to just read or sit and look at what I've done and wonder at it all.

From: Gwyneth Sleuth -- Nov 19, 2012

"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." (Robert Henri) When I read this, the penny dropped and I "saw" and felt the truth of being an artist.

I also applaud your advice about using natural means of levitation of the spirit to spur us on to making art by "being in that wonderful state" which involves no false frills.

From: Herasi -- Nov 19, 2012

I LOVE being sober and find it really hard to do. These 'libations' you suggest will help. I copied them all and they will be posted in the studio.

From: Jean Gauld-jaeger -- Nov 19, 2012

Thank you Robert for identifying the greatest high which is the creative process.

From: Rodney Mackay -- Nov 19, 2012

Painting is an altered state. Not necessarily a comfortable state. I am afraid alcohol leads to an uncomfortable one. Any painting I have attempted under the influenced, looked less presentable in the light of day!

From: Joanna -- Nov 20, 2012

I rarely drink and so it is interesting to read some of the experiences above. I did once think of trying it, to find out if I would be inspired, because Pollock and others were heavy drinkers.
However, reading the above posts I guess those artists such as Pollock were inspired drink or no drink.




top of page | « 'Denial of digital?' :::  The stress of relaxation »



BOOK OF THE TWICE-WEEKLY LETTERS--10 YEARS OF MORE THAN A THOUSAND UNABRIDGED LETTERS

$35.00(USD or CAD) plus $25.00 shipping in Canada, $35 in the USA, or $40.00 to anywhere else in the world.

TWL Letters

    To purchase with a credit card or PayPal, please choose your location from the list below and click Buy Online.

    |

    Here's a quote from Robert's letter on first publication, November 27, 2009: "It's my sincere wish that you get real and lasting value from it. It's your book, really, and I'd like to thank everyone in our Painter's Keys Community for the inspiration that makes these Twice-Weekly letters happen."

The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters, 960 pages--ten years of over a thousand unabridged letters including an 82 page index. Six by nine inches and more than two inches thick, this beautiful book is hardbound Red Cayenne with a separate dust-jacket, a red ribbon, and shipped in a custom protective book-box.

To correspond regarding your book order, please write: sarah@saraphina.com


Robert's worldwide gift that artists love to get.

Absolutely free, no strings. You'll get the valuable twice-weekly letter and be joining the world's most active art community.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FREE

Last modified: Oct, 21, 2014