Can a Woman Paint and Be a Writer? And do it with the same hand?

I received a comment recently on my blog about this issue.  Apparently this was a rather new concept for this man. I in no way think he was trying to belittle me, but raising this question really made me think.  Once Again.

I thought I had put this  on the back burner, but I see it creeps forth from time to time.  A few people have commented on this issue on my blog, and more in private email.  Someone mentioned Judy Chicago.  I thought of Hildegard of Bingen.  Both women, both artists and both teachers and writers.  There are many more women out there who do the same thing. I know a lot of them.  And beyond just these two artistic mediums.   But I still can’t understand this issue of ‘can one be more than one thing??’  Is it an issue of gender?  Would a male raise this issue if it was about a male artist?  Do we expect men to be more….multitalented?  Are women expected to be any less?  What is the supposition here?

Years ago, I lugged some oil paintings and a few pieces of sculpture to the Highland Gallery here in Atlanta.  The woman owner asked me: “Well, are you a painter or do sculpture?”  I was rattled and shocked.  Then I realized I was angry.  Why in HELL did I have to choose?  I was both.  I didn’t get a showing, and her gallery closed a year later. Quel dommage.

Well, I am standing up for artists, especially women, who are writers, poets, painters, dancers, singers, and in any and all combinations.  Why do we limit ourselves?  Why should we?  My mother does this , and I have had to fight an attitude and behavior for 5 decades. My oil paintings are ‘sketches’ in her eyes, and my poetry? “Too many Winter poems”.  LOL!  (not ENOUGH Winter poems, I say)

This is just mean-spirited quibbling, something I have come to expect from certain people.   I am just beginning to explore my ‘limits’ and frankly??  I haven’t come to any boundaries yet.  I think that death will be the final frontier for that, but I’m not dead yet.

With many thanks to the women  (and a few men) who pushed me on to write this.  Sometimes you can get cowed by cows.  The point is to push them aside because they just take up too much room in your life.  And I don’t drink milk.

Lady Nyo



(Italian Dusk, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2008)



Stuttering winds blow across

Clouds tinted by the failing sun.

Brittle air softens,

Now a faded blue–

Shade of an old man’s watery eyes.


A late flock of Sandhill cranes lift off,

Pale bodies blending in the

Twilight with legs

Flowing dark streamers,

Their celestial cries fall to


A harsh, chiding rain.


The trees in the valley

Are massed in darkness

As waning light leaches

Color from nature,

Creeps from field to hillock

And all below prepares for the

Rising of the Corn Moon.


Even frogs in the pond

Listen between croaks

For the intention of the night.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-2016, (from “White Cranes of Heaven”, originally published with, 2011. Hopefully soon on, but might be there already)



(Italian Dawn, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2012)


Bhava Yoga


Morning’s roseate sky

Has been blasted away,

Branches now whirligigs

Swirl with a fierce southern wind

As windows rattle in frames.


A tattered umbrella

Shades from a relentless sun.

I listen to Bhava Yoga

The vibration of Love,

Where imagination meets

Memory in the dark.

Yet surrounding these soothing tones

The world outside this music

Conspires to disrupt, sweep away

All thought, reflection.


The fierce wind gets my attention.

I can not deny its primal force.


Still, the pulse of Bhava Yoga

Draws me within,

Feeds imagination with memory,

Calls forth something as enduring as the fury outside,

And I feel the pulse of the infinite.


We are like birds,

Clinging with dulled claws to

The swaying branches of life.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014 (from Pitcher of Moon,, 2014)


((Song Book cover

(Painting for cover of Song of the Nightingale, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2015)




“My heart, like my clothing

Is saturated with your fragrance.

Your vows of fidelity

Were made to our pillow and not to me.”

—-12th century


Kneeling before her tea

Lady Nyo did not move.

She barely breathed-

Tomorrow depended

Upon her action today.


Lord Nyo was drunk again.

When in his cups

The household scattered.

Beneath the kitchen

Was the crawl space

Where three servants

Where hiding.

A fourth wore an iron pot.


Lord Nyo was known

For three things:



And drink.


Tonight he strung

His seven foot bow,

Donned his quiver

High on his back.

He looked at the pale face

Of his aging wife,

His eyes blurry, unfocused.

He remembered the first time

pillowing her.


She was fifteen.

Her body powdered petals,

Bones like butter,

Black hair like trailing bo silk.

The blush of shy passion

Had coursed through veins

Like a tinted stream.


Still beautiful

Now too fragile for his taste.

Better a plump whore,

Than this delicate, saddened beauty.


He drew back the bow

In quick succession

Let five arrows pierce

The shoji.

Each grazed the shell ear

Of his wife.


Life hung on her stillness.

She willed herself dead.

Death after all these years

Would have been welcome.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted , 2013-2015 (Song of the Nightingale, published by, 2015)


What was the argument again?  Can a person be a writer/poet and an artist?  Is this ‘unusual’?  I think not, and I think there are no Chinese walls between any of these things.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017








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12 Responses to “Can a Woman Paint and Be a Writer? And do it with the same hand?”

  1. Brian Says:

    Either we allow others to label us or we let our creative muse dance among varied disciplines. I have no talent for art and I enjoy every single piece you present on your blog. I honestly have no idea why this would be an issue for anyone. That type of closed mindset is utterly foreign to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    I know, Brian…It’s alien to me, too. It’s a throwback to something I just don’t understand. My mother….a great supporter of this mentality…and she practices it on everyone she can….said : “I can never be truly proud of you because you didn’t allow me into your artistry.” Well, Hell, Mother, there won’t be any ‘artistry’ as you call it IF I had. LOL! That statement from her is the leitmotif of a narcissist.

    But you are right. We can’t allow others to label ourselves. Especially inferior people. Jealous people who think they have to compete with everyone. I say compete with yourself. No one else counts. I really appreciate your words here, Brian. It seems to many, and many of these folk are chiding women….that when a woman can do these things….they are immodestly flaunting themselves. LOL! You live under that and soon you won’t be doing much. It’s such fossil thinking. Thank you, Brother Brian.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can a Woman Paint and Be a Writer? | Kanti Burns, Book Reviews and more ... Says:

    […] via Can a Woman Paint and Be a Writer? And do it with the same hand? — Lady Nyo’s Weblog […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dr. Crystal Howe Says:

    Well said. I’m not a painter or visual artist, but I’m a singer/songwriter, poet, writer (articles, etc) speaker… Limitations are something society tries to impose on us. It’s up to each of us whether we let them limit ourselves, our thoughts, and our work.


  5. petrujviljoen Says:

    The question is a no-brainer. The answer is yes, she can. Of course. She can also be a sculptor, dancer and performer if she (or he) liked. Simultaneously. One is often advised to visit other creative disciplines while working in one of them. I’m advised to dance when I write. I’m advised to draw when I sculpt and so on. Lovely post. There should be more of this kind of thing. As the election of Trump proved: the fight for freedom is ongoing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Absolutely. that this question is even asked today is ridiculous. I believe that misogyny is behind this. How on Earth can one ask this in light of what we see women do? And….as I said in this post, there are no Chinese walls between these disciplines. Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ladynyo Says:

    Excellent! Unfortunately, sometimes it is women who dare to limit our abilities. Whether this is plain jealousy or something else, we have to walk over this. Just yesterday, I broke relations with a woman I knew for 25 years. Her passive/aggressive mentality and behavior made too much ‘second guessing’ on my part: I never really knew what she really thought and it became too much expended energy with no return. Narcissists, regardless man or woman, can wreck havoc on our energies and abilities. We need to learn when to pull the plug. Rollo May speaks very well on this issue in his book: “The Courage to Create”. Thank you, =


  8. petrujviljoen Says:

    This brings to mind a fellow blogger and multi-talented artist. Ann Isik at She writes, poetry and prose, sculpts, paints, cooks, edit manuscripts, does eco-printing – the list goes on.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Petru~ I’ll look her up. It’s still fantastic to me that in this day of age, this question can be asked.
    But we limit ourselves when we give a notch of concern to this one. I have spent so much of my life apologizing for what I can do…and trying to appease folk that weren’t worth it in the doing. And that is what I have come to realize over the past few years: we have to pick carefully, who we allow into our lives….and not be passive about this. Yesterday I walked away from a ‘friendship’ of 25 years…with a woman who was passive aggressive and not a friend….though she relied on this just for …what? She used to be a good poet….but in the last few years, she’s rather gone insane: all her poetry are sermonettes…and they are not readable. They just fuel her particular obsession. She never critiqued or read mine…and I would have to call her and ask if she ever received them. This has gone on too long. Some people don’t deserve the strokes. Also, I have realized that these poetry groups on line are very limited. Some moreso than others. And how we engage is important. I have found that no one is interested in anything that smells like formal critique….and I wonder…how does a new poet develop? Well, thank you, Petru, for sending this poet’s web address. I am heartened that this issue is being taken up, responded by other poets. May we never forget that the walls, limitations are only bad choices in people and bad choices in ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Says:

    Do not let anyone make you decide in choosing of what kind of artist are you. You my friend, are you. Your gifts bring beauty, smiles, and inspiration.

    I’ve had experiences like this…it saddens me. 😦


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, Charlie. Many people have carried the burden of ‘diminished expectations’ of others towards them. Family, religion, society, misogyny all conspire to corral the natural abilities of many artists. and the fact that today, someone (a man….) can say that ‘it is unusual for someone to be a writer and a painter’???? LOL! But men aren’t the only ones who do this: women can be as bad in this. My own (uneducated) fundamentalist Christian sister in law and my brothers all….are blind to my (7) published books and to the paintings I have used in these books to illustrate, and continue to declare that I am incompetent. In their ‘christian’ eyes, I am. And glad of it, too. Their standards are NOT mine. I repeatedly write or mention Dr. Rollo May, (now dead) and his seminal book: “The Courage to Create”. It blows away these mindsets and many people, blocked in their creative endeavors…find the courage to create has been deep inside them all along. Bypassing these nay sayers, these roadblocks, etc. is not only possible…but necessary for survival. These avenues, these things we create, are not just ‘nice’, pretty, astounding stuff! but the very life blood of our beings. I have ‘evicted’ a lot of people in the last few years from my life: Quibble with what I am creating, and out you go!….LOL! Thanks, Charlie…the struggle always continues…..but the most important aspect of it all is not the argument….but the creations.


  12. petrujviljoen Says:

    Well said!

    Liked by 1 person

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