Art Spirit #3 – Quotes for February

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Art Spirit #3 – Quotes for February

… continued from More Art Spirit

I was searching for inspiration today to work on some drawing or painting – as a newbie art student – and I was resisting working on my blog. All I had to do was pick up this book and I got inspired to do both. First this, to share with you all, then I’ll do some art myself. There’s a blizzard outside today so it’s a great day to stay in, observe the storm of beauty raging outside, and tap into my creative spirit. I hope you all are doing something similar.

In life one eye always dominates the observer. In painting this domination must persist.

Four Chairs

Life and art cannot be disassociated, nor can any artist, however he may desire it, produce a line of “sheer beauty,” i.e., a line disassociated from human feeling. We are all wrapped up in life, in human feelings; we cannot, and we should not desire to get away from our feelings.

Lines are only beautiful to us when they bear a kinship to us.


What moves you is beautiful to you. To all men in a general way human lines have significance.

I think I am safe in saying, until you became an art student, you never saw an outline—you never took the outline into consideration. You saw forms and these forms had character and motion.

If you use lines now as a means of drawing, try to find the way to make them express what you see—forms of definite character and movement. Don’t become a victim of line.

Painting is the expression of ideas in their permanent form. It is the giving of evidence. It is the study of our lives, our environment. The American who is useful as an artist is one who studies his own life and records his experiences; in this way he gives evidence. If a man has something to say he will find a way of saying it.

The best art the world has ever had is but the impress left by men who have thought less of making great art than of living full and completely with all their faculties in the enjoyment of full play. From these the result is inevitable.

It is more the gesture of a feature than the feature itself which interests and pleases us.

The feature is the outside, its gesture manifests the inner life.

Beauty is an intangible thing. can not be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it.

Nor will a “pretty” face make it, for “pretty” faces are often dull and empty, and beauty is never dull and it fills all spaces.

There is no end to the study of technique. Yet more important than the lifelong study of technique is the lifelong self-education.

Technique can only be used properly by those who have definite purpose in what they do, and it is only they who invent technique. Otherwise it is the work of parrots.

You can do anything you want to do. What is rare is this actual wanting to do a specific thing: wanting it so much that you are practically blind to all other things, that nothing else will satisfy you.

Find out what you really like if you can. Find out what is really important to you. Then sing your song. You will have something to sing about and your whole heart will be in the singing.

When a man is full up with what he is talking about he handles such language as he has with a mastery unusual to him, and it is at such times that he learns language.

Don’t follow the critics too much. Art appreciation, like love, cannot be done by proxy: It is a very personal affair and is necessary to each individual.

Each man must take the material that he finds at hand, see that in it there are the big truths of life, the fundamentally big forces, and then express in his art whatever is the cause of his pleasure. It is not so much the actual place or the immediate environment; it is personal greatness and personal freedom which demands a final right art expression. A man must be master of himself and master of his word to achieve the full realization of himself as an artist.

In my understanding of color, there is absolutely no such thing as color for color’s sake. Colors are beautiful when they are significant. Lines are beautiful when they are significant. It is what they signify that is beautiful to us, really. The color is the means of expression. The reason that a certain color in life, like the red in a young girl’s cheek, is beautiful, is that it manifests youth, health; in another sense, that it manifests her sensibility.”

from The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

Art Spirit

By | 2017-02-09T13:50:32+00:00 February 9th, 2017|Art, Quotes|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Michael Levine February 9, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    “Don’t follow the critics too much. ” Makes good sense!!!

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