The Artist’s Passion


Why have so many well-known artists been plagued with depression or addictive personalities? Sometimes the strain of living with artistic sensibilities in a world that may seem better suited to pragmatism or materialistic reality can lead one to feel isolated, an outsider, never “fitting in” with normative expectations. Some might say if this is not a necessary outlook for an artist, it may at least seem helpful for the artist to be true to her/his own unique viewpoint.

Painters, writers, musicians, dancers, actors and others who center their lives around their Art contribute so much of beauty and insight so that others might grow from  absorbing the Artist’s perspective.  They fulfill an immeasurably valuable human service in this capacity.


Each of us also contains within our Psyche our own ARTIST persona Archetype, which is informed by the history of Artists we have known.  As such, the ‘melancholy’ aspect we might culturally attribute to Artists in general can also affect the development or inhibition of our own artistic nature.

As all Archetypes have both positive, light-bearing or Strength facets as well as potential Shadow forms, let’s celebrate the ARTIST in others and in ourselves this month by embracing the totality of the ARTIST Archetype.

Think of one artist whose art (whether by painting, sculpture, music, dance, photography, writing or other forms) has been influential to your thinking or to your appreciation of life. What about this person allowed his or her art to reach such a heightened level as to become shared worldwide (if it is)? For example, on Sunday I mentioned Vincent Van Gogh, whose life certainly exemplifies the dynamic tension of “an artist”; his outlook helps us all to perceive life beneath the mere surfaces, striking at the vibrancy and passion of perception.  Whatever other factors may have been influential, such as possibly lead in the paint he used, Vincent ultimately sacrificed his very life for the sake of his artistic passions.


A better ending envisioning for an Artist’s solitary life might allow for his or her sensibilities to be embraced rather than marginalized. Integrating one’s artistic tendencies with other archetypal outlooks may also be beneficial.  Be that as it may, for now let’s just accept and appreciate the artists in our own lives, in our Culture, in our Selves!


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I invite YOUR Comments and Stories!

Your Artistic Vein


May is associated with the Archetype of the ARTIST. We each have artistic tendencies, whether or not we have developed these talents for our profession or as hobbies.

Your Inner Artist brings a sensitivity to form, color, texture, vibrancy, and style.  S/he helps you to appreciate symmetry, balance, and holistic design.


Certain sorts of life experience may evoke or stimulate your ARTIST Archetype Ally. For me, spending time at an art museum or strolling through an art show allows my ARTIST to surface, center stage.

I love the sense of heightened appreciation of light, beauty, and form that infuses my senses when I step out from a museum after having absorbed myself in the artworks inside.


When I was first in college in Buffalo, New York, the Albright-Knox art museum was just across the street from the campus.  For most of the time I was there, the museum hosted an Impressionists Hall that included one particular original painting by Vincent Van Gogh called “The Old Mill.” I had read Vincent, by Joost Poldermans, and I was (still am) fascinated by Van Gogh’s brilliant art. I became mesmerized by this one painting every time I visited the exhibit. There was a bench opposite from the painting, and I would sit literally for hours in front of this dynamic, folksy tableau of color, texture, and human passion. I would journal about the painting or about life. I would watch the museum patrons as they approached, viewed, and left or stood to discuss Vincent’s work.


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(Notice in this one how the clouds are reaching forward like a hand over the landscape!)

I felt that the color of the rivulet flowing across the scene in “The Old Mill” painting mirrored Vincent’s own eyes of blue, placing his presence as centrally positioned, eternally embedded in the Southern French landscape portrayed.

This week, I invite you to give yourself an Artist’s Date, such as Julia Cameron describes in her excellent book, The Artist’s Way. This is  a time out, a chance for you to do something differently and pay attention to your environment. Maybe it is taking a walk along a lake, or a different road home. Or, simply engage in art in some form for its own sake. In fact, I encourage you to read and engage with the exercises in The Artist’s Way all this month.

I welcome your Comments and invite your Stories about your relationship with your own ARTIST Ally.



In exploring (the) twelve universal, primordial archetypes this year, it should be clear by now that all twelve of these persona figures exist within each of us. No matter your profession or lifestyle, you have within you an inner ARTIST.  Are you well acquainted with yours?


The ARTIST within you can bring a special form of balance to your overall outlook on life. S/he can magnify and heighten the colors, tone, and passionate feel of your existence.

One simple tool to evoke your ARTIST, whenever you wish to bring Her forth (or Him), is to go to an art museum or to an art show. Immerse yourself for a few hours in the realm of Art, then when you step back into the normally lit world outside the museum or show, pay attention to how your sense of Vision and your appreciation of color, tone and form have been enhanced!


When I first attended college in Buffalo, New York, my university campus was across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Museum. I would quite often spend full afternoons at the museum. During the time I was at the college, the museum housed a special Impressionists exhibit including several of Vincent Van Gogh’s original oil paintings. I had read Vincent by Joost Poldermans and I was very taken by Van Gogh’s life and his dynamic, passionate, visionary form of art. I oftentimes spent several hours at a time sitting on a museum bench just opposite Vincent’s “Old Mill” painting. I studied the painting and contemplated it deeply, journaling about how the blue of the creek cutting across the composition matched the blue of Vincent’s eyes, and reveling in the brilliance of the colors and the comforting vibrancy of the natural panorama there revealed.  But more than just absorbing and bathing as it were in the art itself, I watched the people who walked by, themselves watching the painting.


Some viewers walked past Vincent’s “Old Mill” swiftly, hardly pausing to notice. Others heard the call as I had and they stood transfixed for several radiant moments. The pure Artist’s ART calls forth the dormant ARTIST.  We are transformed by the experience of sharing the Artist’s gaze. It blends with our own Artistic sensibility, raising our awareness of Form, Balance, and Vibration to a more holistic level of awareness.

Sunset watter as liquid gold

So, in leaving the museum or Art show, try to maintain your newly blended perspective that integrates your archetypal ARTIST viewpoint with whatever other energies you are holding. This can help you to jog your emotional sensitivity and rekindle your ideals.


My Parallel Life as a Nanny


I was 22; it was the summer before my senior year at college in Buffalo, New York.  I had been working as an usher that summer at Artpark, a then newly established performing arts center in my beloved home town of Lewiston, New York.  This summer I was serving as head usher.  Somehow connected to that role, I met the world-renowned conductor of a visiting symphony orchestra.  After chatting a bit with him and his wife, they invited me to come with them the next day (!) to New York City, to become a nanny for their two young boys.

There’s a backstory to relate.  I had long wanted, since my early college years, to go to live in New York City. I wanted to be a writer there, hanging out in dimly lit coffeehouses, writing poetry and stories on copious napkins while sipping tea and tuning into the folk music scene of emerging NYC artists. The sudden offer to move to NYC as a nanny to a famous conductor’s family seemed like manna from heaven; a golden ticket to the life of my dreams.

I didn’t go.  I told myself it was because I needed to finish my last year at college and to go on from there to graduate school; both of which, I did.  But for several years I wondered, what might have happened, if?  If I had answered ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ to that once-in-a-lifetime offer? So let me imagine now, in this Better Endings blog, what might have followed if I had been adventurous and brash enough to ‘seize the day’ back then?

Johnny and Marcelo grew up to become a folk musician and a chiropractor, fulfilling their own personal ambitions and well supported by their loving parents. Though they had been privileged as youngsters, their parents’ values and my own as their nanny had taught them the value of self-reliance, hard work and altruism. They matured to become not only well mannered but also kind, considerate, thoughtful human beings who were also quite generous, each in their way.  Johnny married a songwriter and formed a musical family of his own; Marcelo moved to San Francisco with his longterm partner, a ballet artist, and he established a thriving chiropractic firm.

Through the years as the conductor’s family nanny I was able to travel to many wonderful cities and countries around the world. I finished my B.A. in English by taking night classes at Columbia University. Eventually, after the boys were grown, I earned an MFA in creative writing. I became a journalist and a part-time writing teacher and coach, author of a regular column for over a decade in The Village Voice that promoted and researched the offerings of up and coming NYC writers. I published a small book of poetry of my own when I was thirty, and I landed quite a few stories in The New Yorker and in the Atlantic Monthly magazines, among others, over the years. I never wrote the Great American Novel, although I reviewed quite a few promising young authors aiming to succeed in that direction. I never discovered my now seemingly inherent passion for science fiction or quantum physics, nor for anthropology or linguistics, much. I did explore spirituality and discovered the very approach that I practice today. I never lived in Arizona or in Zuni, New Mexico or Colorado, so I never met the friends I have been close to there.  But I improved my fluency in French and in Italian and I aim to retire to Arles, where Van Gogh found such vibrancy in the quality of light and in the interconnectedness of a community from which he himself, however, felt removed.

It was a good life, one parallel to the life I might have lived had I answered ‘No’ instead of ‘Yes’ to an offer to be a nanny.


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