Married to my Muse. Let’s call him Doug.

A tricky relationship with my life’s purpose.

Mernie Buchanan
3 min readOct 27, 2022

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Me and the good muse Faun in 2014

Where did my fickle muse go? I stare at a half-finished painting going nowhere. Several others very much like it are stacked against the wall. This painting started out promising, but had drifted in yet another mundane direction — like I’m trying to find a freeway on ramp, but keep driving in circles of cul de sacs — an endless maze of dead ends on the boring side of town. I toss the paint brush into a jar of muddy water, splashing brown drips along the bottom of the canvas. An improvement? Yeah… no.

I am stuck in a difficult relationship with my life’s purpose — a purpose I first met as my childhood sweetheart sixty years ago. It was an abiding love that grew stronger and more passionate over time. Let’s make my life’s purpose a Muse — a muse who appears as quirky, talkative guy who is a lot more charming than he is attractive. Let’s call him Doug.

Doug first showed up with my earliest and cheapest art supplies… colored chalk, gummy paint that washes out of clothes and the small box of crayons. That was all mommy would buy. Other girls who couldn’t even draw had the more glamorous 64-pack of colors — the box with a sharpener on the back. I learned to make do and Doug was always there.

In my twenties I tried leaving him to find men who weren’t imaginary. I dated guys who were practical and might offer me a more stable life. They never worked out, but Doug was always patiently waiting with a sly grin and the familiar reassurance, “Well that sucked, but what if…?”

And there would be another intriguing idea. Doug was full of ideas. Doug is sexy and fun and he has been keeping me entertained since I married him thirty years ago. But the problem with Doug is he never does any actual work. I have to support him and his expensive tastes.

Doug would demand, “How about you buy linen, and French Sennelier paint and sable brushes?”

“Sorry dude. Until you feed me a genius idea we get cotton canvas, acrylic made in the USA and nylon bristles.”

We got by. There were glorious feasts of important commissions and frightening famines of credit card debt. Together we created everything from portraits to elaborate murals…

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Mernie Buchanan

Originally from CA & Las Vegas, I now paint and write in Woodstock NY. All images are my original art & photos. Links to more at mernie.com