An artist’s world


Dear Artist,

On a boat there can be a cargo of wisdom. I’ve brought along some marvelous books. Ghanaian-American artist Samuel Adoquei’s How Successful Artists Study is an up-to-date, practical guide for the transition from art school to the professional world of art. In it he talks about the “Five worlds of artists”:

Notebook sketch by Samuel Adoquei (b.1962)

Notebook sketch
by Samuel Adoquei (b.1962)

1. The inner, personal world.

2. The real and practical world.

3. The outside, commercial world.

4. The future, aspiring world

5. The fantasy world of dreams.

Adoquei suggests budding artists need to get their worlds separated from one another. Mixing fantasy with practicality is a leaky proposition.

The Lucky Tree oil on canvas by Samuel Adoquei

The Lucky Tree
oil on canvas
by Samuel Adoquei

There is also a past world, a present world, and a future world. A highly literate artist with glowing optimism for the future is dead in the water if she’s not seeing her present world with clarity. She may have to buckle down and improve her work. She may have to make sacrifices. She may have to rethink her vision. She may have to reinvent her education. Her predicament may be further confused by the seemingly charmed life she likes to project. She may need to learn that the really charmed life is earned, and, according to Adoquei, it may not always be charming.

The charmed life is earned by attitude. Thriving artists remain curious, experimental, joyful, self-critical and driven by a state of perpetual studenthood. Work takes pride of place and is well above talk. Art is self-anointing, mainly self-taught and independent. Our profession calls for the ego force that keeps our sense of uniqueness in ship-shape condition. Perhaps there is no other way. Successful artists live in their own worlds.

A small ship brings out an independent creative spirit. Provisioned and fueled, we have reserves for a lengthy tour and ongoing self-sufficiency. A ship, like an artist, is her own world. Each day brings new horizons and navigational challenges. The human spirit needs to sail on its own terms.

The Legacy and Burial of Martin Luther King oil on canvas 68 x 68 inches by Samuel Adoquei

The Legacy and Burial of Martin Luther King
oil on canvas
68 x 68 inches
by Samuel Adoquei

Best regards,


PS: “Combine all your healthy wishes, dreams and hopes into investing in your talent and in the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. If your art contributes to society, or to the art enthusiasts around you, then you are rewarded honestly, and more so if you make yourself useful to the world around you.” (Samuel Adoquei)

Esoterica: When you start to see your art as a service to others, and you begin to believe in the societal aspects of it, you begin to thrive. It is a benefit for others to invest in the character you have nurtured and developed. Your world can be larger than the worlds of others, because you exact standards from yourself that others may not reach for or care to grasp. Our world is a privilege, an opportunity and an obligation.

This letter was originally published as “An artist’s world” on July 30, 2010.

sam adoquei age 15The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“Great dreams and great ideas play hide and seek or catch me if you can on your mind, catch one great idea, cage it in your mind’s prison, interrogate it until it reveals how it can become a reality.” (Samuel Adoquei)




  1. Robert’s words are so powerful and meaningful to me as a creator of my art; my world. His wisdom is so otherworldly in his written expressions. I am always in awe. Thank you, Sara, for reposting this letter. With appreciation as always.

  2. So eloquent and inspiring! Thank you, Sara , for continuing to share your father’s wisdom. So helpful, for me, in organizing the artist inside me.
    Thank You!
    Patricia Lynn

  3. “Success” is a weird concept in art. It implies financial rewards or critical acclaim, but still, I think Robert had it right when he wrote, “Successful artists live in their own worlds.” I would go even further, and simply say that “Artists live in their own worlds.” It sometimes seems like that is the purpose of doing art, to retreat into ourselves and enjoy the pleasure of self-expression. Success can be measured in a variety of ways.

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Watermedia Workshop in Greece with G. Politis AWS, RI
August 19, 2019 to August 26, 2019


Discover the majestic island of Santorini with George Politis AWS, SDWS, RI. Small and large format, painting in watercolour and other watermedia like watercolour pencils, acrylic inks and collage, learning techniques and how to see and find a subject (often far from the obvious). Boost the creativity by new inspirational ideas, winning techniques for an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Pure watercolour to mixed watermedia, realistic to abstract painting. All inclusive (course, hotel, all 3 meals per day, transportation in Santorini during the workshop).  Up to 12 artists, all levels accepted. Moment
oil on canvas
54 x 40 cm

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