Art Spirit #5 – Quotes for April

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Art Spirit #5 – Quotes for April

“Do not require of your work the finish that anyone may demand of you, but insist on the finish which you demand.

It will not do to have your fine thought yesterday, and paint your picture today.

Good painting is a result of effort to obtain order, and the order must go to all the sides of the canvas. Thus serene dignity, static repose, vitality, action, variety and the various states of life can be suggested.


In America, or in any country, greatness in art will not be attained by the possession of canvases in palatial museums, by the purchase and bodily owning of art. The greatness can only come by the art spirit entering into the very life of the people, not as a thing apart, but as the greatest essential of life to each one. It is to make every life productive of light—a spiritual influence. It is to enter government and the whole material existence as the essential influence, and it alone will keep government straight, end wars and strife; do away with material greed.

What you need is to free yourself from your own preconceived ideas about yourself. It will take a revolution to do it, and many times you will think yourself on the road only to find that the old habit has possessed you again with a new preconception. But if you can at least to a degree free yourself, take your head off your heart and give the latter a chance, something may come of it. The results will not be what you expect, but they will be like you and will be the best that can come from you. There will be a lot more pleasure in the doing.

When you have made a sketch, close your box—walk away—then open your box. Maybe you will see that you have deflected from your original idea. What you have painted is not what seized you in the beginning—a vital impulse has been lost—go back and go after that first seizing idea—and refuse to be mastered by material things.

It is a mistake to think that spirituality is seen only through a mist.

There are some painters who deal with the play of light as the most graceful thing that exists.

The difficulty for us is to know what, or how we see material things, when we are seeing beyond material thing. If we could only know what we see, and paint what we see!

After all, the goal is not making art. It is living a life. Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives.

The great revolution in the world which is to equalize opportunity, bring peace and freedom, must be a spiritual revolution. A new will must come. This will is a very personal thing in each one.

No line or form or color must change until you are compelled by the necessity of the structure you are making to change it.

Your questions are, “What is essential?” and “How shall the greatest economy be practiced?”

One of the curses of art is “Art.” This filling up of things with “decoration,” with by-play, to make them “beautiful.”

When we have attained a sense of the relative value of thing, we will need fewer things.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be young, to continue growing—not to settle and accept.

The most beautiful life possible, wherein there is no sordidness, is only attainable by effort. To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through sacrifice of many common but overestimated things.”

from The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

Art Spirit

By | 2017-04-06T13:14:41+00:00 April 6th, 2017|Art, Quotes|3 Comments


  1. MaryLou Rosato-Caine April 12, 2017 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Nancy, your words are like music 🙂

    • Nancy April 12, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you MaryLou. If you haven’t read the book these words came from – The Art Spirit by Robert Henri – it’s fabulous and continues to inspire me.

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