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Image by Justin Mott

Tell me, doesn’t your painting interfere with your writing?

Quite the contrary: they love each other dearly.

They’re very different.

Very: one is painting and one is writing.

But your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.


Of course — you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.

I never met him.




Sometimes people ask me what my paintings mean. If you have to ask, they elicit nothing in you, except maybe your self doubt at not being able to “understand” art. That’s not the point though. The point is emotional. Some onlookers identify easily with the emotions depicted, and some don’t.

Because the image I chose here is representational, the emotion expressed is more accessible, no doubt. The vocabulary of an abstract piece of art registers everything from tactile qualities to color to pressure and speed of the marks, as well as to a satisfying sense of structure and scale. When someone asks what the piece means they are either not listening to the work or the work itself is not communicating.

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I always test everything I paint with my wife, who has a preternaturally sensitive eye and who is dead honest. I couldn’t ask for a better and more fair critic.

The poetry of E.E. Cummings is playful and muscular, among many other things. My writing looks pedestrian in comparison. His paintings look like a talented beginner to me. I like their eccentric character. He’s willing to try things, and his strong personality often manages to come through.

I’m an amateur writer. I don’t have a body of knowledge when it comes to writing. I don’t possess an educated sense of craft that could aid me in communicating with more variety and color, so to say. I’m going on basic instinct and a little talent with language.

There is a certain kind of person who does all the arts at an acceptable level of mastery. My father was a writer who couldn’t sing or paint his way out of a paper bag, but I’m the opposite type. I want to try them all.

I’ve met some interesting writer/painters here on Medium. It’s fascinating to note how common it is, and how much variety there is in that simple designation “writer/painter.”

We’re all probably introverts, so we won’t be organizing a club, but I will admit to feeling a kinship. I’m starting to call myself a painter who writes.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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