I was out of town for two weeks and in that time I smoked a total of 20 cigarettes - which equals 1.48 cigarettes a day. Now that I'm back in the studio that is exactly how many cigs I want to puff each hour. So there is obviously a direct correlation between me, painting and cig smoking. I'm a little embarrassed to be such a cliche. I have done minutes of tireless Internet research on this topic and here's what I've found to explain the artist-cigarette phenomenon:
Nicotine Improves Memory and Brain Repair.
Don't believe me? Scienceagogo.com says: One recent study has found that one of nicotine's metabolites, cotinine, may improve memory and protect brain cells from diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Find out morehere
I've heard this before and discussed it with a musician friend of mine who thinks that in the swirl of creative activity the artist is apt to reach for a cigarette because we instinctively understand that it will enable us to tap into our short term memory which will thereby enhance our creative expression.
It's About Knowing You'll Die
Jonathon Jones of the Guardian speculates that artists understand that smoking represents death and that's why we love it so much. He goes on to say, "Puritans and do-gooders have never been associated with creativity. It is no coincidence that one of the most prominent pro-smokers in Britain is David Hockney; and he is just one of many artists who can't do without nicotine. Some, such as Sarah Lucas, have made a virtue of it, using cigarettes almost like a signature."
Read more about this fascinating theory here
According to Chinese medicine the lungs are associated with feelings of sadness and grief. I personally believe that when people smoke they are attempting to suffocate those rough feelings. The creative process opens up some of those emotions and the best way to keep them at bay is to light up.
It's just a thought.
Does anyone have a light?