Do you have a creed?

Dear Artist, Model-making artist Joe Fig has produced a remarkable book, Inside the Painter’s Studio, in which he visits and photographs the studios of dozens of well-known New York contemporary painters. He also records each artist’s answers to a number of set questions, many of which are practical ones concerning studio layout, painting processes, work hours and habits, clean-up times, unique tools, titling, the use of assistants, and advice for younger artists. His second-to-last question, “Do you have a motto or a creed that as an artist you live by?” picked up a range of answers, both predictable and insightful. Many of these painters didn’t want to admit having a creed. Alex Rockman, Ryan McGinness, Mary Heilmann, Eric Fischl and Inka Essenhigh gave a flat “no.” Chuck Close defined the attitude a little more closely: “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Dana Schutz said she couldn’t remember any of her mottos, while Joan Snyder just laughed at the very idea of having them. Some of the answers were lengthy. The word “truth” was prevalent. Steve Mumford admonished, “Try to be absolutely truthful to yourself and almost try to flout popular taste in seeking out what it is that you really are interested in doing.” Billy Sullivan said it was important “to be honest in the work and to have fun.” Malcolm Morley used only one word: “Fidelity.” “Do what you want to do,” was the advice of Fred Tomaselli, while Matthew Ritchie said, “Remain interested in what you’re doing.” Will Cotton said, “Ask yourself daily if you’re excited.” Julie Mehretu felt her motto was, “to really put everything into my work so the work returns that to me.” And Amy Sillman observed, “You’re going to die so you may as well make the most of it.” Barnaby Furnas said it was important to realize, “there are no mistakes,” while Bill Jensen said, “You have to let the paintings lead you.” April Gornik told us, “Great art should be vulnerable to interpretation.” And James Siena said, “Your success will come out of the work you do, not who you know, what parties you go to, or what you wear.” Ross Bleckner also took the high road: “Bring something new, something beautiful and something filled with light into the world.” Best regards, Robert PS: “If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.” (Chuck Close) Esoterica: “I’m very happy that I’ve had the chance to be a painter,” said Philip Pearlstein. Of all of them, Gregory Amenoff seemed the least narcissistic: “Artists need to support other artists,” he said. “When younger, you’re part of a community, when older you need to create opportunities for the younger ones. In the meantime you have a responsibility to work fiercely in the studio in exchange for the privilege of making things the world doesn’t necessarily ask for.” And Joe Fig, the guy who compiled all this? He has a sign over his door that reads: “Focus, Discipline and Faith.”   Apologies to Joe Fig

“Steve Mumford”
oil painting
by Joe Fig

(RG note) Thanks to everyone, including Joe Fig, who wrote to tell me that Joe’s book is called Inside the Painter’s Studio, not Inside the Artist’s Studio. There must have been some dirt in my scotch. The excellent book is available at Amazon, here, and Joe Fig’s personal website is here.           Crossing the sea of canvas by Marion Boddy-Evans, Isle of Skye, Scotland  

acrylic painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Marion Boddy-Evans

My motto is derived from a line by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. His original says, “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” I read it as, “You can’t create a painting merely by standing and staring at the canvas.” Wishing for something won’t make it happen, I have to try. While there aren’t any guarantees I’ll get across the sea of canvas as successfully as I’d like, or at all, if I don’t try then I’m guaranteed failure.         There are 2 comments for Crossing the sea of canvas by Marion Boddy-Evans
From: Loretta West — Jan 07, 2011

Oh, I like this quote, Marion. I have a slew of paintings in my head which may never see light of day. This is good inspiration to get them out there. Reminds me of a Wayne Gretzky (hockey player) quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

From: Anonymous — Jan 07, 2011

As an art teacher to Pre-K through 8th grade, my motto for them was: “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be.” For myself as well, I use this. It gets me over the fear of not doing it just right and gets me into “going ahead and trying.” ssmith1373

  Studio dreams by Jenny Adams, Sechelt, BC, Canada   Reading this latest letter I am reminded of how far I may have to go…all this great commentary from established artists. I am new to painting. I struggle with inspiration which makes me an amateur, which by Chuck Close’s definition I am an amateur. Ironically after reading your Dec 31st letter Robert, I printed this line from your esoterica on a sheet of letter size paper and posted it on the door to my studio; “The studio is a place of dreams, and dreams, though always vulnerable, are good for us.” I guess you provided me with my ‘creed’ — thanks. There are 2 comments for Studio dreams by Jenny Adams
From: Anonymous — Jan 07, 2011

Jenny, we are all beginners in some way. We start out as beginners and if we are smart, as artists, will always enter our studio with a “beginners mind”. The key is to keep on getting in your studio and paint…paint…paint!!! Being a new artist only means you have joined the most wonderful gig in the world.

From: gwen fox — Jan 07, 2011

I forgot to put my name on the above comment. Just wanted you to know Jenny…I am on your side!

  Following your bliss by Deborah Strong, Langley, BC, Canada  

“Saddlebred Stallion”
original painting
by Deborah Strong

Having struggled with making the leap from part-time wannabe artist to full-time somewhat-struggling-but-finally-at-peace-with-myself artist, I subscribe to a quote by Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.” I interpret this to mean that if we are true to ourselves, then the universe will unfold as it should. It’s been 18 months since I stepped off the cliff from gainful, boring employment to the uncertainty of an artist’s life, and I have never felt so good.         There is 1 comment for Following your bliss by Deborah Strong
From: Lynn — Jan 07, 2011

Beautiful work, hopefully you won’t be struggling anymore because you’ve got the talent.

  We are not alone by Virginia Urani   Wow, How do you do it? I feel like you sent this to me personally. My dream of having an art studio in the woods away from my house has come true but I haven’t yet moved in. Along with the joy of having my own little 12’x12′ space came unforeseen angst; how to set things up, how to structure my time, and sudden feelings of pressure and fear that I won’t be creative and productive. YIKES! I simply can’t believe that I opened my e-mail and found a supportive voice saying you are not alone and here are some ways that others think and work. Perfect. I’ve ordered the book, printed this post and I’m starting to enjoy the curiosity of seeing what happens.   Happy accidents by Carol Lyons, Irvington, NY, USA  

“Sharper Image”
ink on paper
by Carol Lyons

“Less work for Mother” is my creed and motto. As an experimental artist devising methods, water-based on paper, I go with the flow, and fast. I find the most efficient and economical result using accident in art. It works for me and I am comfortable joining those in art history who have done so. As Lionel Lambourne, curator of Victoria and Albert Museum, London, wrote to me “the history of “accident” in art is a fascinating story — from Leonardo recommending people to copy stains and cracks on a wall right up to Cozens, Victor Hugo, Sam Francis, Jackson Pollock… and now you!” There are 3 comments for Happy accidents by Carol Lyons
From: Sally Trace — Jan 07, 2011

Carol, I absolutely love your motto “Less work for Mother”. It resonates with me on so many levels. Please elaborate! How did you land on this gem? Did it come to you unbidden while painting, or is it an old saying that you have applied to painting? I am intrigued.

From: Shari — Jan 07, 2011

Your painting is awesome and intriguing! Would love to see more!

From: Shari — Jan 07, 2011

Correction, I should have said “happy accident” instead of “painting” maybe… But it still takes control to get the results you do; more of a controlled happy accident. Would love to see your method. Do you have more work out there to view?

  I did it my way by Lynda Davison, Covington, TN, USA  

original painting
by Lynda Davison

I believe that every artist shares at least one creed… “I did it my way.” No matter how many other art experiences we have, reading art books, attending art exhibits, taking art classes, observing life, etc., when we face that canvas or whatever, the end result is the blend of all these experiences; but they all combine differently through the eyes of the artist. No matter how many times the subject matter has been done, for us artists, each one was done “my way.” Every artist has followed this creed and it’s always there whether we admit it or not.     All art is a gift of the Holy Spirit by Bill Skuce, Sooke, BC, Canada  

original painting
by Bill Skuce

As a new Baha’i back in 1966, it was something of a jolt for me to learn that according to the Baha’i Teachings, “Work is worship.” Later I came across a few quotes from the sacred writings which began opening my mind to the concept of art as “worship.” These have become increasingly meaningful, stimulating and encouraging to me in more recent years. Two of the quotations follow: “I rejoice to hear that you take pains with your art, for in this wonderful age, art is worship. The more you strive to perfect it, the closer you will come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when your fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if you were at prayer in the temple. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, in a letter to an artist) “All art is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When this light shines through the mind of a musician, it manifests itself in beautiful harmonies. Again, shining through the mind of a poet, it is seen in fine poetry and poetic prose. When the light of the sun of truth inspires the mind of a painter, he produces marvelous pictures. These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose, when showing forth the praise of God.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha)   The door is open by Betty Brooks   Here is my creed without a studio, just a place in the garage. “The door to art is open.” Enter and bring your cat or your dog, a canary or a radio, some pen and ink, oils or watercolors, paper, canvas, materials of any kind, old memories, a friend, a critic, your quirks and foibles, dreams and realities, limitations and frustrations, breakthroughs and break downs, idols and Achilles heel, your blind spots and your sore spots, the dream you had the night before, your happy dance and sad sack stance, a cast of butterflies to fill the air, some hanging out in your stomach, your stretch and reach etc et etc Bring all you have which is to say bring yourself. There are 3 comments for The door is open by Betty Brooks
From: Cynthia Wilhelm — Jan 06, 2011

Betty, you are also a poet! Thank you for your uplifting words.

From: Susan Holland — Jan 06, 2011

Betty, your “garage creed” is going up in my garage studio. This is really the spirit of any place one creates if one loves the company of other artists. Nourishing, and full of everything. Thanks for this …yes, POETRY. Susan

From: Andrea Pottyondy — Jan 07, 2011

Love it…I have an “artarage” a very messy studio above my garage…it’s where I can be myself!

  Inspiration an old fashioned concept by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada  

“Hiker’s Dream”
acrylic painting, 20 x 24 inches
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

I think that a “creed” or those vision/mission things sound old fashioned nowadays, so no wonder some artists didn’t respond. But the essential question “what are you about” must have an answer. I often think what artists might be about and I see the most prominent types as those who are (too?) seriously committed to their own truth, the playful lifestyle lovers, eternal seekers, fatalists, and money-grabbers. I am sure I would come up with a different list if you asked me tomorrow, though — I like the Amy Sillman’s — that’s what I would answer when my mind goes blank, funny answer, but it doesn’t really reveal anything about her. Fred Tomaselli’s goes down to the essence, it’s obvious that he thought about this thoroughly. But what I find most interesting is our obsession with “studios.” When did this trend start? Is it a sign of the good life in the western world? I am reading the Georgia O’Keffee’s biography, and this famous artist who lived and breathed art, made most of her paintings either outdoors or in a modest apartment. She managed to be very prolific, respected, exhibited and sold regularly, and lived a long healthy life. She was obsessed with her painting subjects, quality of materials and presentation of her paintings, but I didn’t find that she was at all concerned with the comforts of the studio layout. So, it sounds a bit funny to read about all these studios that (millions?) of us are furnishing and at the same time read about O’Keefe. Maybe we are missing something more important, and investing into something unimportant. There are 2 comments for Inspiration an old fashioned concept by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki
From: Karen Finger Alldredge — Jan 06, 2011

I fully agree with the question of the need for a studio. When I had one, little was accomplished. Stolen moments work better for me. My most productive painting years were those when I didn’t have a studio. I had to ‘live with’ a work in progress to see if it would be comfortable in my space. Plein Air is the only exception. Some of my best work was done at the kitchen counter after the babies were asleep. More recently, in my living room where my eyes can move from the TV or computer, to a work in progress. If it is comfortable in my space, I know it will be at home in someone elses.

From: Loretta West — Jan 07, 2011

I think that having a studio is a matter of personal taste. I’ve worked in the garage, the kitchen, all manner of spaces. I now have a bright and lovely studio where I can really spread out and get things done without having to move things for dinner. It’s especially handy for big works and before a show when I have to do matting and framing. Even with the extra space, I have to spread out onto the dining room table.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Do you have a creed?

From: Kris Preslan — Jan 03, 2011

A graphics friend made me a sign which hangs in my studio and is my creed: “Paint With Passion”. It’s what makes my life bubble over with joy when I paint, and alas, which makes me miserable and grouchy when I am not in the middle of a painting. Kris Preslan

From: Lynne Schlumpf — Jan 03, 2011

“It doesn’t matter what other people are doing.” I used to worry more about how much better other people were than me. This caused me a lot of time being “stuck” and feeling awful about my own work. Letting that go and not looking at other people’s work has released me from my demons and allowed me to be my own kind of artist. That is all any of us can really be because when we copy others, we’re not us.

From: Rene Wojcik — Jan 04, 2011
From: Sue Rowe — Jan 04, 2011

Wake up. Stay amazed.

From: Lyric Montgomery Kinard — Jan 04, 2011

Find Joy, Be Inspired, Create Beauty. I want to make the world a better place and art is one of the ways I seek to do so.

From: Norah Bolton — Jan 04, 2011

Rob Voyle, a west coast consultant, suggests that rather than a creed, an individual needs a statement of purpose. He says you get one by answering the question, “Without being humble, how would you describe yourself?”. His own is “I am helpful, humorous and healing”. This is a good exercise because it is both based in reality but also points to how one should be at one’s best. I spent the better part of a week coming up with my own. The words don’t all have to start with the same letter – but that can provide a structure if you need one!

From: susan canavarro — Jan 04, 2011

“Chuck Close defined the attitude a little more closely: ‘Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work.'” I belief inspiration is for everyone, for the moment you put brush to canvas you ARE inspired. You can’t not be inspired. You can’t escape it. To say inspiration is for amateurs is wrong. But Close is correct in adding that “just showing up and doing the work” is the important thing. This part of his creed could also be applied to the art of writing. Hanging in there, not getting discouraged – which EVERY artist goes through – is also crucial. If you feel your life is missing something, it is time to get busy with some kind of creative project, no matter what it is. Once you get started, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this all along. You may feel frustrated and discouraged at times, but, for the most part, you will feel happy, productive and purposeful.

From: Aleta Karstad — Jan 04, 2011

I have not really seen a thing until I’ve drawn it.

From: Nicole Hyde — Jan 04, 2011

Yes I do. On my easel I have written the phrase “Just Paint” where I can see it clearly. Those two words keep me out of a lot of trouble.

From: Marvin Humphrey — Jan 04, 2011

For me, doing a painting is simply an expression of the joy of seeing. I feel a sense of love, in varying degrees, toward the visual subject. The connection is made tangible, by hand-mixing paints to re-create my relation to the particular tones, colors, light and shade that move me.

From: Marilyn — Jan 04, 2011

I have a “chicken sign” that hangs by my studio door: “Come on in. My day’s fowled up anyway.”

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin TX — Jan 04, 2011

It is all about beauty, dark and light.

From: Pamela Poole — Jan 04, 2011

I was very taken aback when I saw that many artists simply said NO to having a motto or creed. Generally, people who don’t have a motto, creed, or guideline in life are living with no direction, swaying in the wind of peer or cultural opinion. In fact, I can only wonder if they refused to have a creed because they are afraid of being categorized, preferring to appeal to everyone. Regardless of a reason, how sad to be lacking such an important part of oneself. I prefer to be follow artists who have personal life guidelines and convictions, whether or not I agree with them.

From: Tinker — Jan 04, 2011

I’ve 2 “mottos , . “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”(Eleanor Roosevelt) and “Conformity and creativity don’t hang out together”, (Betty Dowdal.

From: Jean Blatner — Jan 04, 2011

I used to paint with a VERY specific idea of how my painting should turn out and 9 times out of 10 I was extremely disappointed. Now I use my ideas as a general guide and stay open to what happens on the paper. I’m much happier and I’ve discovered new looks and new directions for my work. I paint in watercolor, gouche and acrylic — right now I’m focusing on watercolor batik.

From: Priya Drews — Jan 04, 2011

It’s all practice!

From: Shelby Keefe — Jan 04, 2011

Here’s one of my favorite creeds: “You get more done when you have more to do!”

From: Tatjana M-P — Jan 04, 2011

I would like to thank Luann Udell and Daniel Andre for their kind comments from few weeks ago. Thanks very much and happy New Year!

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Jan 04, 2011

I believe in personal inspiration and in my perception of things around me where I drew my composition in my art. I am touched looking at a child struggling to walk on his own and a bird attempting to fly out of the nest. I believe in the intangible spirit that unifies people to their world. How do you portray these in art is a challenge that I would like to reveal in my art. I believe in the rugged beauty of nature untouched by bulldozers and builders changing the skyline in the name of progress.

From: Terry Honstead — Jan 04, 2011

Do at least three things related to art each day. (Doesn’t matter the size. Large or small if you persist, you will get there!)

From: Jim Cowan — Jan 04, 2011

Fanny Cullen, my music teacher in Heriots School had something on the wall that could be applied to a lot of ventures. “Sing what you mean and mean what you sing.”

From: Jane Wood — Jan 04, 2011

Thank you for your cool emails. I need the inspiration….especially today.

From: Cristina Monier — Jan 04, 2011

A few years ago I made a very difficult change from 10 years of painting realism to abstraction, I felt I needed to escape the model and create my own world. It has been most satisfactory and successful but I think the hardest thing is to keep it original, study the masters but create your very own image, this is where I think your Featured Premium Artist Marie Martin has failed, at first glance I said to myself “This is a Mark Rothko”. I love your letter, I love painting and you inspire me.

From: Marion Barnett — Jan 04, 2011

My creed? The creation of joy, and the creation of meaning. It must be that time of year, I was writing about this on my blog… Wishing you joy and meaning this new year…

From: Ric Swenson — Jan 04, 2011

“…then fiery expedition be my wing, …” -Wm. Shakespeare, RICHARD III, Act IV Scene III

From: Marti O’Brien — Jan 04, 2011

I need to organize my work and yes, get me a Creed…I’m thinking maybe mine should be: ‘Just because I am retired, does not mean that I have nothing left to say with my art.’ A quote of R.W.Emerson speaks to me: “I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.”

From: Mark Sharp — Jan 04, 2011

Here’s my motto’s. Pay up. And Its all Bunk anyway.

From: Jill Kenyon — Jan 04, 2011

I think “Discover your Passion” pretty well sums it up for most artists. At least it works for me.

From: Paula Timpson — Jan 04, 2011

Writing is great ‘There is Always An Open Window~’

From: Ian Semple — Jan 04, 2011

“Science and art make good bedfellows. They both seek to explore the unknown.” Ian Semple

From: Peter Kiidumae — Jan 04, 2011

So much to paint, so little time.

From: Nicole McClue — Jan 04, 2011

This is so inspiring and even soothing. It’s really getting me to think more in a sense of being aware and ready for a whole new year. Especially since my birthday is the 5th and I’ll be turning 37 and I’m in denial.

From: Susan Holland — Jan 04, 2011

“Teach your eye to see…your hand will know what marks to make.”

From: Dorothy Keller — Jan 04, 2011

On MPR there was a guy who said you could describe who you were in only 6 words. (kinda a challenge) His Dad redefined himself every day. For me: “If I don’t paint I’ll combust.” So that’s my creed. I am no longer able to say things like …”Keep your eyes & mind open and when the time is right you will be ready to produce.” Perhaps the time was yesterday.

From: Jen Casad — Jan 04, 2011

In an art theory class we had Paul Plant come in and speak to us. Paul Plant has had his birds eyes on the cover of the Smithsonian, 3″x3″ works in oil pastels. He said to us, no joke or pun, but you must ‘JUST DO IT’ and he said that the whole inspiration part was an excuse and one must simply get to work. He told us about his very rigid schedule of doing art each morning before he did mass. I never forgot what he said. He makes one to three pieces of art each day!! Also that he wanted to make art affordable to the ‘average’ person and so I am lucky to have an original Paul Plant in my studio. I am blessed to have his strength and his ambitious attitude toward the making of art in my memory forever.

From: Sharon Cory — Jan 05, 2011

What a great list you’ve presented us with, a Who’s Who of the New York art scene. It was interesting to Google all the names to see what kind of work they’re producing and, no surprise, most of it was wonderful. I was familiar with some of the artists like Chuck Close and Eric Fischl, but there were others, Amy Sillman and Matthew Ritchie, whose work I loved and hadn’t seen before. I spend a lot of time looking at other artists’ work, just because I like to keep up on things. Has the level of competence risen around the world? I know that people everywhere are better cooks and know more about what makes a good restaurant, due to the influence of the Food Network. Are we all better artists, too, for the same reasons, i.e. availability of information about what makes good art?

From: Maureen Millar — Jan 05, 2011

Mostly I write, and paint only a little. My creed is; ‘Hey, we are all in life together.’

From: Louise Cass — Jan 05, 2011

Actual title of book is ‘Inside the Painter’s Studio’ and it looks interesting so have just ordered it online.

From: Dorenda — Jan 06, 2011

“Your work is to discover your work, and then give yourself to it.” -Buddah

From: Linda Saccoccio — Jan 06, 2011

I appreciate some of these creeds very much. Chuck Close has something there, and Ross Bleckner is inspiring, wink, wink. I used to work for Gregory Amenoff. What he offered as a creed was great, and I can imagine it’s truthful. It’s time artists do support each other. I also appreciate the perception that we are fortunate to work at something that makes us tick, but is not necessarily asked for. It’s not personal, it’s not even yours, so enjoy the unfoldment of what you are discovering in each piece, and grow with your courage to face the unknown regularly

From: Shelley Ross — Jan 06, 2011

Two things came to me from my childhood The Golden Rule and the Brownies motto: Lend a hand. Strange, I hadn’t thought of those for a long time, but both are values I live by, pretty much by instinct now. Although credit goes to my mom for instilling them in me. Which reminds me, one more she instilled in me (thanks, Mom) Use your initiative. And the final two are my choice as a mature adult: Do what you love. Keep learning.

From: Dean Wilson — Jan 06, 2011

I really found your posting ” Do you have a creed?” to be a significant question that until a couple of years ago I was unable to answer honestly. Your twice weekly blog has been a great help in my finding what I strive for… “I am – I accept – I do not know – be deliberate.”

From: Amy Higgins — Jan 06, 2011

“Life is hard. Wear a helmet… It reminds us, with a smile, to be tough and push through. Tenacity is a gift! Thanks for letting me share. I love your letters!

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 06, 2011

Personally I don’t have creeds or motto’s. I just show up for work every day. I do tell my students some things like – “Don’t fall in love with a work until it’s done”. “Never be judgmental of what you’re doing while your doing it.” “There are no mistakes, only miscalculations either in value, color or drawing.”

From: Patrick Matriscino — Jan 06, 2011

Follow your heart, and do the best darn job you can….and always paint for yourself first….If someone else likes the end product….that’s all the better.

From: Rita Elaine Elkins — Jan 06, 2011

Here’s my creed: I need the gift of reflection. If I give that to myself, my work will be true to myself and that is all I need.

From: Jackie Fyers — Jan 07, 2011

I have never improved on ‘water on the right, coffee on the left’!

From: Maryam Ohadi — Jan 07, 2011

Thanks very much for your help.Thanks a million.I wish all a happy new year…

From: Ann McCarty — Jan 07, 2011

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Action has magic, power and grace.” Goethe This is my favorite quote and also my kick in the butt. Just begin it. Sometimes the hardest part is getting rid of the distractions and just doing it. My, now passed on, teacher and friend, Nina Connor, said “Showing up for the work is the win that counts.” Love the process as much as the end result. Thanks for a great article and all the support you give us as we struggle on.

From: Joseph M. Jahn — Jan 07, 2011

Bought the book (thanks for the recommendation). After 30 years of painting I find that my motto is always in constant change. Today it’s just words in a list: Foundation Time Repetition Keep on Truckn’

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — Jan 07, 2011

My studio has a blackboard and on it are my “Rules for Painting” Rule #1 – There are no Rules, just really good advice!

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Jan 07, 2011

Last year I had a solo show of over 100 paintings and the name of the show is actually my creed, “It’s the Journey!” I have always told my students the same thing and one night they kept whispering among themselves until I finally said it once again. Then they presented me with a small collage three of the students had made which had all kinds of things on it about “journey” and time. But they had made a pact that they would only give it to me the next time I said “remember, it’s the journey.” They hooted and hollered and we had such a good time. But, I know they all believe what I have been telling them. Unless you enjoy the journey, then what is the purpose of what you are doing. You must enjoy the processes to keep you going. So, I have “It’s the journey, not the destination” that is my creed!

From: Judith Prager — Jan 07, 2011

When I start doubting my work, or “thinking” too much, the thing that helps me is “Follow your brush!” Thanks so much for all your inspiring and interesting letters!

From: rainy burns — Jan 07, 2011

I love what Gibran had to say about work. “When you work you are like a flute, through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.”

From: Curious Art — Jan 07, 2011

My motto is painted on my studio wall. It comes from a poem by Deena Metzger: “..There is time only to work slowly There is no time not to love.”

From: Carol Elliott Smith — Jan 07, 2011

This quote from Flannery O’Connor came to mind thinking about Norman Rockwell’s approach to painting or “illustrating” if that is what he preferred. It also might be a good “creed.” I haven’t decided yet. “Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing.”

From: H Margret — Jan 07, 2011

A creed is the “motive” that Cezanne spoke about. Creative people need an engine to produce and be interested in the process. For myself, it’s mining the unconscious and then creating my own myths. Of course, there is lots of meaningless art out there….but if you look at what people stand in lines to see, it’s always art that holds meaning. The shallowness of the present art world reveals its enslavement to money. Artists think that the billionaires are the best collectors, but the real collectors are the discerning public.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Jan 07, 2011

Chuck Closes quote “Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work.” is a great sentiment! I tend to work in sculpture and functional ceramics and honestly nothing gets work done faster and draws inspiration into the mix that just showing up and getting to work.

From: Maritza Bermudez — Jan 07, 2011

I have a plaque that I painted myself that says “Grandma’s Studio” on the wall, one on the door for my students, that says “if you can write your name, you can draw”! and one on the little refrigerator door that says “No Rules, Just Fun”.

From: Tara Macolino — Jan 09, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 7pm at 209 East 23 Street, 3rd-floor amphitheater (NY), Artist and SVA alumnus Joe Fig (BFA 1991 Fine Arts; MFA 2002 Fine Arts) explores the working life of professional artists in diorama-like miniature reproductions of their studios, including those of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Fig’s book Inside the Painter’s Studio (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) includes his interviews with other artists about their creative processes, alongside images of his sculptures documenting their studio spaces. Presented by the BFA Fine Arts Department. Free and open to the public.

From: Dem Roellenbarger — Jan 10, 2011

I use the pithy saying attributed to poet Jane Hirschfield: “Everything is connected; everything changes; pay attention… She wasn’t referring specifically to art, but the applicability is universal.

From: Barb Alexander — Jan 11, 2011

I have my motto (in calligraphy) hanging in my studio: “The work will teach you how to do it.” It has always been true for me!

From: Walt Schumacher — Jan 13, 2011

My “creed” for life is borrowed from Edmund Bok, who erected Bok Tower and gardens in Florida “Make you the world a little bit better or more beautiful, because you have lived in it.” My observation from art is, “The picture is teaching me what I need to do with it, if I am patient enough to listen.”

From: Bob Vorel — Jan 24, 2011

Thanks so much for the recommendation of Joe Fig’s book. I really enjoyed the vignettes of all the artists covered and thought his use a series of same questions to each artist most enlightening. I, frankly, jumped on this book as I don’t live in a metropolitan area where there are a lot of artists to share info/thoughts/motivations with, and this book gave me some up to date glimpses into other artists’ lives. Thanks for doing what you do.

    Featured Workshop: Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos
010411_robert-genn Tatjana and Sinisa Mirkov-Popovicki (left) and Gaye Adams at Anniversary Peak (right) Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Secretary of State Colin Powell

oil painting, 20 x 18 inches by Bart Lindstrom, Atlanta, GA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Gwen Fox of Colorado Springs, CO, USA, who wrote, “I have two sayings on my studio wall that keep me grounded and on track. “Embrace the hand that is dealt you” and “Be Ruthless with Your Time.” There are times I need to remember what to do about situations/paintings when they are not working out as I feel they should. Embrace it! Don’t fight it… Embrace it! The other is my time, a very valuable commodity and one I feel we all take for granted. This year I have decided to be respectful of my time and how I use it.” inda Powers who wrote, “As an artist is creating from instinct built on a foundation of good art principles, thinking is too often counter-productive. Taking one’s self too seriously is the stuff of comedy. My motto is an anti-motto: ‘Don’t should on yourself!'” And also Judy Sims who wrote, “I love Joe Fig’s ‘Focus, Discipline and Faith.’ I shall hang it as a sign in my head. Along with, SHOW UP, and be gentle. I love that everyone struggles no matter how brilliant their work with the purpose and the energy.” And also Todd Bonita who wrote, “KISS, Keep it simple stupid.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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