Even Michelangelo Needs Advice

Even Michelangelo Needs Advice

Reprinted with permission from: http://painterskeys.com

Dear Artist,

The following is part of a letter from an artist to an architect friend: “I asked him for some of the money I need to continue my work. He told me to come around on Monday. I went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and there was no money. On Friday someone else came to the door and threw me out. I’m discouraged about getting paid for this job.”


“The Creation of Adam” 1512
fresco 280 cm × 570 cm (9 ft 2 in × 18 ft 8 in)
by Michelangelo (1475-1564)

Sound familiar? The date on the letter is May 2, 1506. The artist was Michelangelo and the patron was Pope Julius II. The “job” was a three-story tomb with forty bronze and marble statues. Michelangelo never completed the job because he was never properly paid. Julius, who never got his big tomb, died. After two short-lived popes, Paul III, equally ambitious, took over. He got Mike to finish a ceiling. Then he told him to paint the end wall. This is the Sistine Chapel we’re talking about. Virtually a prisoner for four years, Mike applied what Thomas Craven called, “the compacted fury of twenty years in which the artist’s vision compromised with the world of fact.” This job was “The Last Judgment.” It’s been called “the greatest single work of art that man has ever produced.”


“The Prophet Ezekiel” 1510
by Michelangelo

We artists are often asked to do something along the lines of somebody else’s ideas. If the subject matter turns your crank, I recommend that you should say “yes.” You should never say “when.” Commissions tend to bend your mind into dimensions where you may not at first be prepared to go. This is good for you. If the job or the patron starts to make you angry, you should pretend the job is for someone else. Even for some higher power. Popes are only popes but art is pretty darned permanent. And another thing, it doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with, get a decent deposit.


“The Last Judgment” 1536–41
fresco 13.7 m × 12 m
(539.3 in × 472.4 in)
by Michelangelo

Best regards,


PS: “Poets and painters have the power to dare, I mean to dare to do whatever they may approve of.” (Michelangelo) “Art is made noble and religious by the mind producing it.” (Michelangelo)

Esoterica: The pope wanted The Last Judgement to be done in oils. Mike thought it would be better in fresco. “Michelangelo did not say either yes or no. He did not lift a finger for several months. He let it be known around and about that oils were suitable only for women, the rich and the slothful. He quietly had everything plastered over in preparation for fresco, and then Michelangelo set to work.” (Giorgio Vasari)

This letter was originally published as “Commissioned artwork” on November 12, 2002.


The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are now available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” (Michelangelo)

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

A work of art

Cool advice for hot burns

Cool advice for hot burns

I usually write about art and books and the craft of writing but I have something far more pressing at hand. And speaking of hands, I burned mine.

This week was burn week, and that’s not a holiday. Yup. It happened and I couldn’t type very well for a couple of days.

Burning yourself when baking or cooking is usually not part of the recipe, but it’s inevitable if you hang out in the kitchen long enough.

The other day, I removed a cover from a hot frypan and placed it out of reach. I accidentally touched it with my forearm, and sizzz, I scorched myself. A few days before I touched a toaster not realizing it was still hot from making toast and burned four fingers of my left hand. And a few days before that I sizzled when steam from my  Michael Graves teapot attacked my right hand. I don’t usually have these issues . . .

The solution is to Be Careful, but accidents happen. I learned long ago as a Girl Scout: Be Prepared.

Magical burn ointment ‘Foille’

So here’s my advice: Foille Medicated First Aid Ointment. I found this product more than fifty years ago, it’s a treasure. I keep it handy in a drawer by the stove, if I burn myself, I take it out of the drawer, the quicker, the better, and slather it onto the burn even if it hurts. Then I just let it do its magic. It will begin to sting, but it’s pulling the burn out. But that goes away quickly. Don’t touch it, let it sit on the burn. Depending on how bad it is, like my hand, second degree for sure, I slathered more on then didn’t touch it for an hour while watching the red disappear. Really. After an hour, maybe a little longer, it was no longer red. Then I wiped away the ointment. My hand was good as new.

Here’s a couple of Amazon five-star reviews. I didn’t know it could be used for sunburn too. Wow, that’s a biggie.

Amazon Review 5 Star
This is an amazing product and so difficult to find in the stores. It truthfully does almost everything first aid wise. It takes the heat out of a burn instantly and they never blister for me afterward. I use it instead of all the other wonder antibacterial products and sores, cuts, scrapes, bites … clear up in half the time. I think the reason the stores don’t carry it is because it works so well and you use so little of it that a tube goes a long way, like a year or so, so it doesn’t generate a lot of repeat sales right away. I bought the three tubes because the price is so good I can share with my friends and family by giving it away!

Amazon Review 5 star
If you get sunburn this product really works better than anything I have ever used! You put it on the day you burn if you are using on a a part of your body that has clothes on it wear something you don’t mind getting stained because it will stain your shirt, but it is well worth it.You won’t have blisters and you will get a tan in the end. I have used this for forty some years now. I’m using it on my grandchildren now. You used to be able to buy this in the store and in a can but this is the only place I have been able to find it to buy.

Here’s the amazon link for the ointment: https://amzn.to/2vKxn0v

Until next time – I hope you stay cool. xo Gail.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the fall of 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.



What is a Point of View?

What is a Point of View?

If you’re a writer of fiction, you’re familiar with these three letters, POV. My character’s point of view often eludes me. I make the silliest and most obvious POV mistakes, but my editor is swift to point them out. Trust me. I’m  biting my nails just thinking about POV.  POV can jump from character to character, called “head-hopping.” Enough to confuse the best reader. Some famous authors get away with it, mostly because they know what they’re doing. Or the POV can stay with one character for several paragraphs or a whole chapter. In my story, POV is divided between the heroine Allie Baldwin and the hero Peter Harrison. When there is a switch between characters, I can leave a space, or use asterisks to show the change. But make no mistake, Allie is my star. I would love to be Allie, she’s a powerhouse, and she’s real.

Guess I don’t have to say the story is about Alli. It’s not that she has red hair, but what’s unique, even challenging about her hair, if you can find something unique about ‘hair.’ That’s putting it in simple terms. Every characteristic must be important and unique. Do you like reading about Tom Cruise and his antics? Do you read the social columns? Do you watch Extra on TV? It’s sort of like a biography, what foods does she like, where was she born, what kind of music does she like? What are Allie’s goals? What does she want the world to know? I don’t have to write the book as a biography. I need to know these qualities to write the book. And all this will give my readers a glimpse of how Allie and these great women lived and put up with poor treatment in the late1800s in America. In their day, there were women heroes like Allie fighting for their vote and freedom.

Allie writes for a newspaper in New York City. There were journalists then, heroes indeed. What does she write, is she the Dear Abby of the nineteenth century? Is she a chef and writes about food? Imagine going to a picnic and then writing a critique about the food. How about politics, do you think she would be permitted to get involved with that heavy duty subject? Allie’s has a passion for change. Can she balance her desire to make positive changes for women and her life?

The writing of my book is taking longer than anticipated, if I could only get that POV right, but I’m having a good time with this historical romance set in 1886 New York, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, Book 1, The Gilded Age Heiresses Series.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the fall of 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.


Pin It on Pinterest