Musings on Being the Artist of Your Day

Category: Books (Page 1 of 4)

22 Notes from The Art Spirit

The Cycle, created using the Harmonious app, by Mary Gow

The Cycle, created using the Harmonious app, by Mary Gow

The book I chose to name this blog after is The Art Spirit, which is a collection of lectures and notes of Robert Henri. (And the 7 on the end represents me, I’m number 7).

I’m going to practice a bit of bibliomancy, and open The Art Spirit 22 times and share whatever my eyes land on.

Cheers to this open book method!

1) The living model is never the same. He is only consistent to one mental state during the moment of its duration. He is always changing. The picture takes hours – possibly months – must not follow him. It must remain in the one chosen moment, in the attitude which was the result of the sensation of that moment. (p. 81)

2) If a man has the soul of an artist he needs a mastery of all the means of expression so that he may command them, for with his soul in activity he has much to say. If he refuses to use his brain to find the way to signify the meaningful depth of nature on his flat canvas with his colors, he should also refuse to use his hands and his brushes and his colors, and the canvas itself. (p. 53)

3) A GESTURE that embraces space. Every picture should have one big controlling gesture. Things should all be moving toward the expression of a great idea. (p. 252)

4) The pernicious influence of prize and medal giving in art is so great that it should be stopped. You can give prizes justly for long-distance jumps, because you can measure jumps with a foot-rule. No way has been devised for measuring the value of a work of art. History proves that juries in art have generally been wrong. With few exceptions the greatest artists have been repudiated by the art juries in all countries and at all times. (pgs. 214-215)

5) We are all different; we are to do different things and see different life. Education is a self-product, a matter of asking questions and getting the best answers we can get. (p. 170)

6) In considering lines as a means of drawing, it is well to remember that the line practically does not exist in nature. It is a convention we use. (p. 113)

7) I am not interested in color for color’s sake and light for light’s sake. I am interested in them as means of expression. The eye should not be led where there is nothing to see. (p. 130)

8) A weak background is a deadly thing. (p. 44)

9) Technique is to me merely a language, and as I see life more and more clearly, growing older, I have but one intention and that is to make my language as clear and simple and sincere as is humanly possible. (p. 147)

10) Art has relations to science, religions and philosophies. The artist must be a student. The value of a school should be in the meeting of students. The art school should be the life-centre of a city. Ideas should radiate from it. (p. 105)

11) There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge. (p. 13)

12) If you want to be a historical painter, let your history be of your own time, of what you can get to know personally — of manners and customs within your own experience (p. 218)

13) If in your drawings you habitually disregard proportions you become accustomed to the sight of distortion and lose critical ability. A person living in squalor eventually gets used to it. (p. 89)

14) Do whatever you do intensely. The artist is the man who leaves the crowd and goes pioneering. With him there is an idea which is his life. (pgs. 262-263)

15) The signature on a picture should be modest, should be readable and simple and should enter into, not interrupt, the composition. (p 263)

16) People say, “It is only a sketch.” It takes the genius of a real artist to make a good sketch – to express the most important things in life – the fairness of a face – to represent air and light and to do it all with such simple shorthand means. One must have wit to make a sketch. Pictures that have had months of labor expended on them may be more incomplete than a sketch. (p. 96)

17) A great artist is one who says as nearly what he means as his powers of invention allow. An ordinary artist often uses eloquent phrases, phrases of established authority, and if he is skillful it is surprising to see how he can nearly make them fit his ideas – or how he can make the ideas give way to the phrase. But such an artist is not having a good time. A snake without a skin might make a fair job of crawling into another snake’s shedding, but I guess no snake would be fool enough to bother with it. (p. 89)

18) 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. (p. 199)

19) Strokes carry a message whether you will it or not. The stroke is just like the artist at the time he makes it. All the certainties, all the uncertainties, all the bigness of his spirit and all the littlenesses are in it. (p. 71)

20) The only sensible way to regard the art life is that it is a privilege you are willing to pay for. (p. 228)

21) I refer you again to Rembrandt’s drawings. In them Rembrandt seems to have drawn states of being. He expressed with the flow of movement through forms which are in response to states of being. Hence the intimate life of his work. (p. 51)

22) TO BE an artist is to construct, and to whatever degree one shows the genius for construction in work of any sort, he is that much an artist. The artist life is therefore the desirable life, and it is possible to all.

Bibliomancy is like shuffling a card deck and pulling a card.

Have you ever picked up a book and randomly opening it, and finding a message that was just what you needed that moment?

Two Ideas for Creative Business Plans

"A Cycle of Completion," painting in progress by Mary Gow

“A Cycle of Completion,” painting in progress, by Mary Gow

Want to summarize your business plan and put all its highlights on one page?

There is a way and a website that will help guide you through the process.

I’ve discovered a highly helpful book written by Tim Clark, in collaboration with Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, titled Business Model You, and the website is

In a previous post I mentioned Emilie Wapnick ( who coaches people on how to smoosh their many talents into a career path.

I like her idea and I’ve used the one page business plan in Business Model You to find a way to create my own smooshy inspiration sandwich.

The book gives over a dozen examples of people who have gone about the defining of the career path that fits them.

There’s another approach too, from the Right Brain Business Plan, by Jennifer Lee, that’s worthy of investigating.

In fact, today and tomorrow you can watch Jennifer Lee free at Creative Live as she teaches her Right Brain Business Plan workshop!

Scoot on over there to for helpful ways to put words and images to your dreams and ways to concretely illustrate them.

Day 21 – Resources for Diversitarians

Multi-Resourceful, by Mary Gow

“Multi-Resourceful,” illustration by Mary Gow

Have you noticed I don’t paint just “one” way? I like to create work that captures a sense of energy and aliveness whether it’s with watercolors, acrylics, a camera, a scanner, monotypes, or cameraless photography.

Do you thrive on variety and diverse systems?

In other words, are you a “diversitarian?”

I heard the term used by Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, when Charlie Rose interviewed him recently when he asked Bezos how he would identify himself.

Bezos also said brainstorming is his favorite activity! And that he loves being at the white board working out ideas!

I resonated with those two things Bezos revealed about himself and his delight for ideas.

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Sher calls multi-resourceful folk “scanners,” in her highly useful book “Refuse to Choose! A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love,” Rodale Books, 2006.

Along those same lines, I found Emilie Wapnick’s site that deals with modern-day Renaissance-types at Puttylike. Wapnick wrote Renaissance Business. She provides lifestyle design for what she terms “multipotentialities” and specializes in “how to smoosh your interests together and set yourself apart.”

Wapnick helps point the way for multipotentialites in a recent post: “Help! I Want to Combine My Interests Into One Business, Where Should I Start?.”

Happy smooshing!

Inspiration From the Work of Master Scribe Thomas Ingmire

Calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire

“Everything is For Sale,” by Thomas Ingmire, 23 x 12

A few months ago I blogged about seeing a rock star in the World of Intuitive Painting, Michele Cassou.

Now, I want you meet a rock star in the World of Calligraphy you may not know about.

He was the first American elected to England’s Society of Scribes and Illuminators with a craft membership status. He lives in San Francisco and his work is in public and private collections around the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Stiftung Academy of Art in Berlin, Germany.

A friend from the Capital City Scribes (of Austin) referred me to Thomas Ingmire in 1996. I met him briefly, long enough to get his beautiful book, Words of Risk: The Art of Thomas Ingmire, written by Michael Gullick.

In the Kalligraphia 13 show of the work of the Friends of Calligraphy you can see one of Ingmire’s pieces on display at the San Francisco Public Library’s 6th floor Skylight Gallery (last day is August 26th).

During a walk-through of the art on display, Ingmire flipped through a book he has in the show which was a collaboration with Robert Sheppard. It’s called Afghanistan: a Visual/Verbal Book by Thomas Ingmire and Robert Sheppard and it’s open to a page (see previous post) that gives you a glimpse of Ingmire’s work.

You can see more of his creations on his website or more at Scriptorium St. Francis, and some of his works are for sale.

I still get inspiration looking through the book Words of Risk. Fortunately it is in print.

“Thomas Ingmire writes pictures. He is a visionary artist whose work resonates with warmth and passion….Ingmire has turned words into images, and combined words with images, to make potent visual magic.” – Michael Gullick, author of Words of Risk.

You might also enjoy:

3 Things to Like About Gerhard Richter Painting
3 Discoveries About Intuitive Painting
Celebrating Cameraless Art

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