Thursday, December 15, 2016

Revisiting Winston Churchill as Artist
and Some Christmases Past

Until I found this little book several years ago in a used book store, I had no idea that Churchill loved to paint as a way to give his brain a rest from pressing world affairs.  He painted for 40 years and first wrote about his "pastime" in an essay in his book AMID THESE STORMS in 1921.  The essay was later printed in Britain as a hardcover book in 1948.  I probably bought this book in the late 80's when I was working as a partner in a business that was often stressful.  I was also questioning whether I should pick up painting again. During the years my sons were growing up, I painted very little.  When I read this book, I realized I needed to get back into it because I knew my interest in painting was strong enough to be a release from work and other everyday stresses.

In regard to worry and mental over strain he says:  "Change is the master key.  A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring is not enough merely to switch off the lights which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest; a new field of interest must be illuminated."   He goes on to discuss his great interest in reading, including reading in a second language. But then he goes on to say that reading and book-love are "too nearly akin to the ordinary daily round of the brain-worker to give that element of change and contrast essential to real relief". Churchill discovered painting in his forties.  Until that time he had no experience with drawing or painting.  "...there is no subject on which I feel more humble or yet at the same time more natural.  I do not presume to explain how to paint, but only how to get enjoyment".  And explain he does from this point on.  I find this little volume so delightful (sometimes I almost find myself laughing) as he explains his entry into the world of art. The book is illustrated with several paintings, most of which were completed in the 1940's.  The images below are not from the book, but some that I found online.

Ladies in Sir John Lavery's Studio

Cairo from the Pyramids (he also looked behind him and painted the pyramids).

This painting and the one below are of rooms at Blenheim

I make most of my own greeting cards, including Christmas cards.  Sometimes I run out of prints or supplies and use ready-made, but usually I use my own images.  Here are a few favorites from Christmas past:

Santa I purchased from a local artist who made a series of artist Santa's--all different and with a different collection of mini paintings which he painted himself.

A pixie elf passed down in the family.  Here he's holding a set of mini colored pencils.

This and the next three are from a trip to New York City and an evening at Rockefeller Center.

Hope everyone is finding a way to relax a bit in this busy season.  Extremely cold weather is keeping me inside today.  I told myself this morning that today is a good day to warm up the house with some cookie baking.  I'm off to do that now.


  1. When deeply creating our brain begins to behave differently than it does during our everyday conscious state. For example when we paint or creatively write our brain waves begin to resemble those usually occurring when we are dreaming while asleep. Dear Old Winston was correct, we enter a conscious dream like state as we create. We may be unaware we have entered this state as our mind wanders to create the next brush stroke or story line. JT

    1. My son gave me some new paint brushes for Christmas😀. After November travels followed by a bad cold and then holiday preparations, I'm ready to let go with some brush strokes.