ARTICLE: On Artists and Alcohol


Pablo Picasso “The Absinthe Drinker”

Raise a glass to this informative article.

Click on the Link: Drinking Scenes: The Relationship Between Artists and Alcohol, by Matthew Sperling

A key quote from the article, which amuses me on many levels:

“Toulouse-Lautrec’s pictures were described by Gustave Moreau as ‘painted entirely in absinthe’; he would stop at every bar in Montmartre in order to étouffer un perroquet (choke a parrot), in the slang of the period; and he had a specially made hollow walking-stick which held an emergency half-litre stash of absinthe and a tiny shot glass.”

At the Cafe La Mie

Choke a Parrot

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec  “At the Cafe La Mie”

For me, drinking and art making don’t mix too well. These days, I might have a beer while painting at night, but it’s a rarity.

Party Painting

Multitasking: Painting at the Bar

I have been to some of the art parties that are currently popular, where wine and paint both flow. Wikipedia calls them “The Paint and Sip Industry:” group painting lessons where adult beverages are served. I’ve had wonderful experiences at events like this. It seems to be a great way to get newcomers to art lose their tentativeness and really enjoy the process, without worrying too much about the results. These inclusive, sociable painting parties really fit the Remodernist dynamic that art is for everyone.

It’s a lot of fun, but a very different vibe than the slip into the state of intuition I work up into in the studio.

Something I have learned is moderation in drinking is wonderful; however, moderation in art is a travesty.

“The artist should be intoxicated with the idea of the thing he wants to express.”

-Robert Henri

1899c Sidewalk Café oil on canvas 81.6 x 65.7 cm

Robert Henri “Sidewalk Cafe”

8 thoughts on “ARTICLE: On Artists and Alcohol

  1. That walking stick that was mentioned…I ran across one on an auction site that I frequent. The sight didn’t know what the secret compartment was for so I had to research and find out for my own satisfaction. They were called “tipple sticks”! Antique ones can still be found today and some cane makers still make them. You can even get one with a compass, I guess so you can find your way home after one too many tipples. Ladies even used them. Hmmm…I think I’m developing a limp. haha

  2. Very interesting commentary. I often wonder at how talented people try to claim that alcohol or drug abuse, excessive partying and general misbehavior somehow fuels their creativity and should be excused for them because of their talent! I agree with what you have said. Nothing wrong with a drink now and then to relax but over indulging is bad behavior and should not be encouraged or tolerated even for (maybe especially for) great artists.

  3. Something I have learned is moderation in drinking is wonderful; however, moderation in art is a travesty.

    I love that. Meanwhile, writers aspire to “write drunk and edit sober.”

  4. Thanks! I’ve read so many artist biographies where they destroy themselves with drink or drugs. I like to believe it does not need to be that way.

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