Because I cannot work except in solitude, it is necessary that I live my work and that is impossible except in solitude. – Pablo Picasso
Many people around the world have had to isolate themselves for the past few months and have found it difficult to be alone. But solitude is a choice for many, especially many creative thinkers.
Research on both artists and scientists shows that one of the most prominent features of creative people is their lesser interest in socializing. There’s a serenity that solitude can bring.
Milton Avery (1885-1965) captured that feeling of serenity in his watercolor painting, Man and Sea. Though he painted alone in his studio, he was also a husband, father, friend, teacher and mentor and had a rich social life.
Neil Welliver (1929-2005) sought solitude in the woods of Maine.
He spent many hours alone in the woods painting studies for works that he would later take back to his studio, where he spent more time, alone, creating large-scale landscapes.
“Painting outside in winter is not a macho thing to do.” he said, “It’s more difficult than that. To paint outside in the winter is painful. It hurts your hands, it hurts your feet, it hurts your ears. Painting is difficult. The paint is rigid, it’s stiff, it doesn’t move easily. But sometimes there are things you want and that’s the only way you get them.”
Wolf Kahn (1927-2020) painted glorious, colorful landscapes of Brattleboro, Vermont, where he and his wife had a summer home, but Kahn said that he needed the solitude of his Manhattan studio to complete the picture. “The environment in which my paintings grow best is at Broadway and 12th Street.” he said. “I can see nature most clearly in my studio, undistracted by trees and skies. Art being emotion recollected in tranquility, I constantly find Nature too emotional, and Broadway very tranquil.”
Wolf Kahn died in his Manhattan studio on March 15, 2020.
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens and living in his SoHo loft since 1968, Alex Katz is the consummate New Yorker and often appears at social gatherings in the city. Yet his daily routine is to work out and then get to work in his studio every day…seven days a week.
For more than sixty years, Katz and his wife, Ada, have been spending summers in Maine, where the scenery has inspired him to paint landscapes.
Whether in the city or the country, 92-year-old Alex Katz likes the solitude that his studio offers.
The Works of American Masters at Surovek Gallery
Christine Ro. Why being a loner may be good for your health. BBC Daily News. February 28, 2018.
Solitude is an Important Part of Being an Artist. Here’s Why. SkillShare. July 29, 2019.