Painters Who Write

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Painters Who Write

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Rubik,

As you probably know, I am a painter who writes also, so what I said bears on my own situation as well as on Miles. I wasn't really intending it to reflect on you, as you aren't calling yourself a writer. I don't consider e-mails in a forum to be really writing, as in for a broader audience. It is more in the realm of conversation than actual writing. I'm reasonably sure that in your first language you are every bit as articulate as any of us are in ours. But as regards artists who write, they usually become known primarily for either their painting or their writing, and whichever it is in each individual case, it is most frequently to the diminishment of the other capacity, regardless of how well the latter is done.

The ability to write well is, in my view, perhaps as rare as the ability to draw and paint well, and is becoming more so with each successive generation, at least in the U.S. I'm old enough to remember when just about everyone played a musical instrument, in addition to whatever else we did. History provides quite a few examples of artists who were also musicians. The penmanship of ordinary people when I was young and before was artistically exemplary compared to the norm today, as was the general command of the English language in English-speaking countries. It all relates to mental discipline and artistic sensibilities, which have been in general decline since television became a factor in modern culture, or so it seems to me. Thus it is that fewer and fewer people are willing or able to acknowledge the possibility that a person could actually be a master of more than one discipline, while the presumption is much more common that if a person excels at one thing, that that is the only mentally challenging endeavor he or she should attempt. While it is tempting to theorise that evolution of human intelligence has ceased, based on much of what is readily observable, I know that the potential of the human mind today is every bit what it was in the days of Leonardo. People just do not work as hard at developing it these days, at least in as great diversity as was once the case. There is no legitimate reason why people cannot master more than one thing. The fullest potential of the human brain is seldom realized.

Virgil Elliott