The Art Spirit

ART when really understood is the province of every human being.

It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing.

When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. He is interesting to himself and he becomes interesting to other people. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.

The world would stagnate without him, and the world would be beautiful with him. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and he opens ways for better understanding. He does not have to be a painter or a sculptor to be an artist. He can work in any medium. He simply has to find the gain in the work itself, not outside it.

Museums of art will not make a country an art country. But where there is the art spirit there will be precious works to fill museums. Better still, there will be the happiness that is in the making. Art tends towards balance, order, judgement of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of living – very good things for anyone to be interested in.

Robert Henri  1865-1929
Artist, painter, teacher at The Art Students League, New York City

Can a Painting Save the World?

Can a painting, song, or a play save the world?  A silly question?

I like to sit down in front of the paintings at my studio. I’ll spend an hour just looking…giving in to the paintings to see where they take me, just delighting in the color relationships, shapes and textures: their intricacies. I look at the paintings as an observer; like I’m looking at them for the first time, with fresh eyes, seeing new things.

After spending time with the paintings, I leave that world and come back to our physical world in an altered state of mind. If I go home and my kids are noisy and teasing each other, instead of getting upset I find myself (as I was in front of the paintings) in the role of observer, delighting in the colors and textures of their relationships with each other. I find myself able to tactfully and joyfully interact with my children and redirect their energy in a meaningful way. We spend time enjoying each other’s company. Our relationship increases in love and understanding.

What if parents, workers and politicians would spend time with a good painting or some great music every day? If a world leader could take that same spirit of the delighted observer instead of one advancing a biased agenda to the negotiation table, what might be the outcome?

Perhaps a painting can save the world.