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An artist’s birth in darkness. (Book Review of David Sandum’s I’ll Run.. Memoir)

A memoir about Depression and Discovering Art by TwitterArtExhibit founder David Sandum
A memoir about Depression and Discovering Art by TwitterArtExhibit founder David Sandum

Four years ago, Sweden-born painter David Sandum came onto my radar promoting his “Twitter Art Exhibit” (TAE)  It was his philanthropic idea to put out a call to artists on Twitter for small postcard-sized works he could sell to raise funds for a local nonprofit based in his hometown of Moss, Norway.

The genius behind the successful TAE was a very simple, resource-light idea: broadcast the call to artists only on Twitter with a link to David’s blog, which offered more details about the charity organization and specs for artists’ entries. That first exhibit garnered works from around the world – a total of 264 postcards were sent from artists in 24 countries. It raised the money to buy 221 new children’s books for the Moss public library.

Cut to March 2014, when his Twitter Art Exhibit took the Orlando art community by storm. This time, there were more than 600 participating artists and the event raised $7,050 for the Center for Contemporary Dance Special Needs Program in Winter Park, Florida. Orlando is a short drive from my home and studio, so I not only contributed a pair of works to the cause, but attended opening night to meet David and his lovely wife, as well as the other directors of the growing organization and TAE fans and fellow artists from around the country and abroad as well.

After connecting my face with my twitter handle (@MoesseArtist), David learned about my first book – Empty Sky – and we discussed writing and publishing. He’s about to launch his own book and I daresay it is one very important work, because of its content and the person he is.

Though born in Sweden, David came to the States to attend college. Upon graduation, he was about to return to Scandinavia, he became deeply depressed. The condition defined his life for many years thereafter and he was hospitalized and institutionalized and spent more than a decade in therapy. David took to art as a form of therapy and in 2002 had his first exhibit.

He tells his story in a gritty memoir written about the healing process, the artists who inspired him  and how art ultimately saved him. I am a tightwad but have purchased an advance copy of the book  I’ll Run Till the Sun Goes Down: A Memoir About Depression & Discovering Art  because I was blown away by the advance chapter I was sent to read and review, and I know that David has jumped through a tremendous number of hoops to gain copyright permission to include 40+ images of the works of some of the artists he references in his tome. We’re talking Van Gogh here, people!

Speaking of Van Gogh, I’m an admitted latecomer to art and may be off base, but I think his brushwork reflects a strong influence from Van Gogh and Edvard Munch. See for yourself by checking out examples of his earlier works at this blog post by James Day. For more information about David’s book and to preorder it, visit his Publisher’s author page.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Leave a comment here or tweet about this post using the hashtag #SandumPreorder will receive a 20% off coupon code for an autographed copy of I’ll Run Till the Sun Goes Down AND all those who preorder a book will be entered into a drawing for a signed, limited-edition etching (below) by the artist/author himself entitled “Writing My Memoir.” A total of 10 will be given away.

Etching by artist/author David Sandum entitled "Writing my Memoir"
Etching by artist/author David Sandum entitled “Writing my Memoir”


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>Van Gogh "Diaries" read.

>I love Goodwilling it and consider it like treasure hunting.  One never knows what one’s gonna find there.  A week or so ago, starting on my collage tangent, I picked up a book entitled Van Gogh’s “Diary”: The Artist’s Life in His Own Words and Art. Edited by Jan Hulsker, it captures Van Gogh’s thoughts since they are based on letters written by the artist to his brother, and others.

Growing up attending Catholic elementary school and public high school focused first on religious history and later academic studies, I missed out on art classes and art history and the like.  And like a dumbass, in college, I decided to take Music Appreciation instead of Art Appreciation because roommates and friends were taking it.  (That I can’t read a single note despite being expelled in frustration after two years of lessons given by the widowed Packanack Lake piano teacher whose sole income was teaching the likes of me should’ve tipped me off to the lack of wisdom in that choice.)  So, I missed out on studying art and found visiting museums well, something to do just to take in the anthropoligical influences.  Until I visited Vienna a few years back.  There, at the Kunsthistoriches, my appreciation for fine art was awakened like a virgin’s hunger for more following a first orgasm.

But I digress…

I could not put the book down.  Not that Van Gogh is my all-time favorite, but I loved to read his words, discover little gems that sprung from his mind.  I even defaced this precious (1971 published) book with a few faint pencil asterisks and quote marks, envisioning including certain phrases into my art journal, and perhaps here too!  It was sad reading about his ever-increasing episodes into madness, and I was interested to learn that the bit about the cutting off his ear for the love of a woman, which I’d always heard, was nonsense.  He did cut it off, but after a big fight with fellow painter Gauguin.  I was struck by two things:  First, the diligence with which he learned and practiced his art, applying himself first to drawing for many, many months before ever taking up a brush and paint.  Second, his observation that the light and colors in the south of France are much different than in the north.  Oh, and the fact that in little more than nine years, he painted some 900 paintings, and countless drawings as well. 

The last entry before his suicide doesn’t hint at his intent to end his life though earlier entries do raise the subject of suicide.  Like most others in the book, his last words were in a letter to his brother, Theo, who passed away only months after Vincent himself. Theo had been Vincent’s supporter for years, both emotionally and monetarily and had been in poor health, often noted by Vincent’s words. Theo left behind a young bride and toddler.  Years later, she published Vincent’s letters and the words and recollections of Vincent’s mother too.  I’d love to read that down the road but am so glad I was the one right then and there at the Goodwill that picked up this precious gem of a book!

Next up, The Andy Warhol Diaries, Edited by Pat Hackett.  Another Goodwill find.   I love this universe!