By Sal Maccarone
A good imagination, careful contemplation and personal interpretation are just a few of the ingredients that go to define artistic creativity. The ability to produce something from virtually nothing requires a myriad of skills. Sometimes what appears to be haphazard is really the result of very long consideration. Studies of highly creative individuals have shown that they are deep thinkers, and flexible with their work. Throughout history many artists have shown themselves to be multi-faceted. Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, painter, sculptor and musician. Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor, architect and poet. Both seemed to move from one challenge to another with the utmost of ease, always searching for new venues to serve their purpose. This pair of luminaries existed more than 500 years ago so it is hard to know what really drove them, but the point is this: Creative people must express themselves; regardless.
Here are three contemporary examples of creative genius:
Anthony Quinn (1915-2001), was a very gifted individual. He was a painter before, during and after his time as an actor. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, there is now a statue of him in the town square posed for all time as, “Zorba the Greek”. During his acting career he won two Oscars for best supporting actor (1953 & 1957), and was nominated two more times along the way. After winning an architectural contest as a young man, he was privileged to apprentice under Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Wright helped to give his prodigy a foundation in art, and also encouraged him to take acting lessons. Quinn’s paintings and sculptures, which has been exhibited in every part of the world, are considered as “Modern” although, he was always exploring different styles. While on location during the filming of his many movies he was influenced by the art of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and of course, the Americas.
Red Skelton (1913-1997) was a gifted actor, comedian, painter, musician, and writer. Beginning his show business career during the 1920’s as a clown in a traveling circus, he graduated quickly through the venues of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and film. He approached his artwork with the same vigor as his show business career. His paintings of whimsical happy-faced clowns remind us of his comedy. These canvases now grace public and private collections all over the world. Known to only sleep a few hours a day, he was also a prolific writer credited with hundreds of short stories, and musical compositions.
Then there is Jonathan Harshman Winters III (1925-2013), one of my personal favorites, and the inspiration for this article. He was a marvelous comedian, actor, recording artist, author and painter. Through many different careers which spanned seven decades, he contributed much. His comedy, bestselling books, and children’s albums are all classics.
Mr. Winters also spent a lot of his time drawing, and painting as a way to relax. His demanding schedule always had him appearing here or there, so he would always relish his time alone. His art studio in Montecito, CA. was carved out nine feet below ground, and only measured four foot square so as to not attract crowds. But somehow, he managed to crank out a lot of wonderful images in that small work space. Jonathan Winters was the conscious of our country, the voice of Papa Smurf, a wonderful artist, and a reservoir of creative genius.