Dear Artist,

My dad had a close friend, a titan in business, who also shared a love of art. Even more striking than this friend’s achievements were his understatement, sincerity, fairness and friendship. Everyone he knew felt enriched for knowing him. After quizzing him on his secret, Dad’s friend said merely, “Life is relationships.”


“Artist’s Patio, Cafe Novedades, Seville” 1915
oil painting by
Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923)

My dad soon passed along to me a purpose-built advice nugget. “Like life,” he said, “art is loving and connecting with others.” And like the old-car collector, who on a Sunday drive attracts fellow travellers, a painter has the chance to make intimate beings of strangers. Truth is paramount. Content and passion connect, as do the universal poetry of colour and the jewel of specificity. Quality counts. It all amounts to something deeper than any transaction. And, if the word “business” is part of your art equation, it’s like every other business. Art is relationships.


“Children on the Beach, Valencia”
oil painting by Joaquin Sorolla

A friend called and purged a recent, disheartening experience. As an active member of the local art community, he’d observed up close an art dealer use and lie her way through more than a decade’s worth of loyal artists and supportive collectors. Now, out of people, this dealer is closing her doors. While other gallerists build lifelong friendships, one bad apple can spoil the good vibes for the artists, the art lovers, the galleries, and what can feel like the whole town — but it’s temporary. An indomitable community of compulsive creators and their tail-wagging dream keepers, determined to do it better, will morph, re-invent, adapt, grow and find one another again.


“Beneath the Canopy” 1910
oil painting by Joaquin Sorolla



PS: “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Esoterica: The development of painting skills and people skills are lifelong and complementary. “No one cares how much you know,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “until they know how much you care.” Put love into it. Be true. Understate cleverness and overstate commitment. Embrace the happiness of win/win. Leave things better and more beautiful. Be a sharer of the joy of your path. Feature outstanding partners. “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce,” wrote Zig Ziglar. “If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”


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

“My friends are my estate.” (Emily Dickinson)




  1. If we practice integrity in our relationships I believe it should also foster goodness in our art and all we do. Sara good article about connections and keeping love in it all: “content and passion connect as does poetry of colour”
    Could you please explain or elaborate on “jewel of specificity”?

  2. This is so true, Sara–Life and business are a two way street. To initiate a relationship of any kind, I need to reach out first. Even a relationship with an artwork requires this. If painting is about anything, it’s about relationships. Life and friendship is exactly the same. My friends and my work, may I always hold them in the highest esteem. Thank you for this message, so timely.

  3. I truly appreciate this letter. I have always seen art as a means of communicating…of discussing ideas and sharing feelings. When you start painting and evaluating everything through sales, you lose the sell

  4. Nancy Butler on

    Such a great letter Sara. I appreciate these letters very much. If only my colours looked as rich and
    lovely as Sorolla’s!

    I do feel a connection when I am painting; whether it is with the paint, the texture, or the subject matter have
    not figured out yet.

  5. Dear Robert certainly lived this in his internet connections. Such as shining example of ‘anti-flame’!
    Thanks for this Sarah. If I may add: integrity isn’t just in business relationships but also in how with treat our fellow artists.

  6. I love this article, especially since I’ve been a witness to this myself. Some of the people I enjoy the most are those who’ve either purchased, encouraged or shared my art experience. As artists, we’re businessmen/women, but also appreciate the value relationships bring not only to our business but our lives. Your father sure was a master at both, and obviously, you’re following in his footsteps. Regardless of how one earns a living, integrity is paramount. Thank you!

  7. Shirley Britsch on

    Thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking letter. In art as in life it is truly relationships that count.
    Shirley Britsch

  8. gerald prueitt on

    I’m such a fan of Sorolla that it took me a while to get to the essence of your letter. Truth is true. Thank you for the words. Friends, Vivacity gin and Tartine bread keep me going.

  9. gerald prueitt on

    The murals by Sorolla at the Hispanic Society at Broadway & 145th on the upper west side used to be in the library but they were taken down, cleaned and restored
    and went on tour around the world seen by millions. Before they went on tour they had only been seen by a hundred thousand or so in the hundred years at home in the Societie’s Library. New York’s best kept secret!

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