Posts Tagged ‘No Chinese Walls between these pursuits’

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

February 7, 2017

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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