If only I had the patience to be an artist…

I posted this on Twitter this morning:

Since my Tweets automatically post to Facebook also, Kathryn responded there with this:


… explaining that it was “A painting I have.”

I responded that the painter and I had the same impulse — but mine was easier to indulge. Kathryn responded, “True, but she got paid for hers….”

Ah, true enough. But there’s something lacking in me that prevents me from engaging in such fruitful work. Things don’t interest me long enough.

I see something like that, and for a moment I’m fascinated. In fact, I was being quite rude taking the picture at all. I was interviewing Micah Caskey, checking in to see how his election campaign is coming (I’ll write a short post about that later) … when I said, “Excuse me,” and took this picture.

But then, I’m satisfied to capture it and move on.

I sort of have the same problem with other things.

Take the Power Failure project I conceived and directed at The State back when I was in the newsroom. Just putting the plan together took a couple of months of work. I had to get the full project in my head, as one holistic thing, before I could start. Then, I closed myself in an office and spent a day writing the “budget” — newspaper term for a list of stories — all at once. In that budget I gave short synopses of a planned 92 stories spread over 17 installments.

Then, in the initial installment, I set out all the major points that would be made in the other 16. And then it was VERY hard for me to do the second installment. Because once I had it all in my head, and had explained the basic concepts, I was ready to move on to something else. I had lost interest, and doing the hard work of fleshing out all those other installments just seemed overwhelmingly tedious to me. I’d said it. Why say it again?

Anyway, the thought of turning that iPhone shot into a painting feels the same way.

I like to see something interesting, point it out, and move on. Which is why I was suited to newspaper work. Or blogging, I guess.

OK, I’m bored with this now (and you were several minutes ago). Let’s move on…

13 thoughts on “If only I had the patience to be an artist…

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    One can cultivate persistence….

    I briefly enjoyed your photo, but the painting has brought me joy many times over the years. It reminds me of a place I ate many lunches at in a small village in Germany. I think it’s of somewhere in Vienna, though, or at least that’s what the artist intended….Jonelle Summerfield is the artist.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I actually like the perspective on mine better — the dramatic angles, the depth, the sense of apartness created by all the empty tables. There are people, so it’s not lonely. But there’s privacy, too, because they’re not too close.

      I also like the openness, the airiness — the ceiling fans, the old-fashioned ceiling panels.

      The reflection in the picture at the center left is what drew my eye. I wanted to photograph that, then I perceived the rest as I aimed the phone, and positioned it to capture the rest of what I saw…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author


      This is also why I don’t read nonfiction books that set out ideas. I can read and enjoy biographies and narrative-style history, but if the whole book expounds on an idea, well… I grok the idea by the time I’ve finished the foreword. After that, it just seems redundant. I’m like, “Yeah, got it… what’s next?”

      It’s the intuitive thing, I suppose. Part of being an INTP. Once I’ve grasped and appreciated (or rejected) the forest, don’t keep showing me trees…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I’d love to know how many judges (and to a lesser extent, juries) are like that. I feel like I have a lot of hearings where the judge gets the main point of the case in the first few minutes, and the next thirty or so minutes of argument isn’t entirely necessary – i.e. they make up their minds quickly.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Which is why I LOVED an experience I had once when called for jury duty.

          It was in federal court in Florence. Cam Currie was the judge.

          We all spent the day there. The entire jury pool sat in the audience seats, and all the attorneys for the upcoming term of court — six or so civil cases — gave presentations on the main points of their cases. Then the judge ran us through the questions to see if any of us had conflicts, case by case. (“Everyone who is acquainted with the plaintiff, please be seated.”)

          Very interesting, even enjoyable.

          All but one of the cases were open-and-shut, and the plaintiffs didn’t have a credible case. Some were basically “Slippin’ Jimmy” cases, and it was disgusting to me that they were taking up time in a federal court.

          Only one was difficult to judge from the synopses. That was a case in which a couple living next to an old gas station maintained that a leaking underground storage tank had tainted their water and harmed their health.

          The brief presentations we got were inconclusive. I foresaw a long, difficult case with expert witnesses on both sides.

          Of course, of course, I was picked for THAT jury.

          Fortunately, they settled before the trial date…

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          Are these cases with briefs?
          I certainly know that I was sunk a lot of the time doing juvie cases–more than once I had to remind Donna Strom, as she started to rule, that I had not presented the defense….
          As a more seasoned lawyer advised me to say, “For the record, your Honor…..

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Funny how Professor Fenner is also an INTP and he sticks things out for a very long time. That’s actually a P characteristic. He does not flit.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          The thing about being an N is that I get it and I’m ready to move on.

          The thing about being a P is that once I’ve reached a conclusion, I change my mind if new data comes in.

          But I’m way N, and just slightly P.

          I had some major trouble with a boss once who was INTJ. He and I would see the same things, leap to the same conclusions, and really be simpatico. But he would believe in that conclusion forever, whereas a week later, I’d say, “You know what? We were wrong. This doesn’t work. I can see that now.”

          Boy, did he hate that…

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Brad–first off, the Myers-Briggs is mutable–people get different results on different days. Second, it’s mostly validated for vocational stuff, not attention span. Prof. Fenner is off the charts N–if it has a practical application, his eyes glaze over.
            Extraverts are more likely to flit from thing to thing, btws. Introverts are not so much.
            Your issues are some combination of ADD, too much caffeine, and a soupçon of self-indulgence….

Comments are closed.