“At this time of my life–someone would say, the winter of my life, although I don’t feel cold,” Frederic Tuten, novelist, essayist, short story writer, and art critic, tells of finding a new joy in painting.  “Practically no day passes where I’m not either writing and painting or painting and writing, whichever comes first in the morning.” And Tuten’s art is not merely avocational, but has been critically praised, reproduced in a 2022 book, On a Terrace in Tangiers, and is shown and sold through quality art galleries. Moreover, in Tangiers Tuten creates an entirely new kind of art in which the images are accompanied by stories. Uniquely, the images do not illustrate the stories, nor do the stories explain the art; rather, they synergistically produce a third reality–a set of emotions and perceptions in the reader/viewer that are different and deeper than either text or image could alone.

With his natural story-telling skills, in this 2023 interview Tuten tells how he went from adolescent fantasizing about being an artist in Paris to this late in life success. “At 15 I just thought I would go to Paris and somehow I’d meet some artists, and they would all sort of like take me in as a fellow artist and I would get a little place maybe like in the film ‘American in Paris,’ a little atelier up above a cafe, and I’ll meet a great-looking beautiful woman like Leslie Caron in the film, and then she’ll become my girlfriend and my model.” After a failed attempt at figure drawing at the Art Students’ League he turned his focus to fiction  writing–but also to reviewing contemporary art shows in the U.S. and abroad for the New York Times and leading art magazines.

Today, it is Tuten’s art that is being shown and reviewed: “Not thinking about anything except the sheer pleasure of making the work, Tuten forges wondrous paths…(that) inspire us to be just as spirited and creative and capricious as the artist,” wrote Ida Panicelli in ARTFORUM. An example:


Enjoy many more in this video interview, and especially the story of how Tuten, having worked up the courage to show some early efforts to his friend, famed artist Roy Lichtenstein, got the encouragement he needed to persist, to transform himself from amateur to professional, to achieve his goal of making pictures that would give others pleasure.

Please check out The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers for more than 400 plates of artwork by great writers and the stories behind them.

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  1. Wallis Wilde Menozzi on January 26, 2024 at 11:03 am

    Wonderful Don. So joyful and beautifully put together. Thank you.

  2. mary ann caws on January 28, 2024 at 8:23 pm

    always love watching and listening to and being with Frederic great all of those right here
    i especially love the color in all the details

  3. Nicole on January 31, 2024 at 7:27 am

    what a wonderful interview – and so vivid and full of joy.

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