Love made visible


Dear Artist,


“Valdelarco in the Sierra de Aracena Spain” 1999
acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches
by Robert Genn (1936-2014)

Although some artists may put me down for this, I’m pretty sure that the production of art has to do with a sense of well-being. I’ve found that art is at its best when the art more or less takes over your life. It’s great if you happen to be a fan. Other specifics contribute as well, like the ability to access both sides of your brain. I call this “bicameral wobbling.” Sometimes “BW” is automatic, at other times you have to put a cattle-prod in your ear. We all know about taking the time to half-close our eyes, but do we always remember? There’s also proper planning, a knowledge of the basics, and the surety of the rightness of each project. But there’s more to it than that. Effective work includes the whole artist: health, mind, family, self-esteem, intuition. When your machine is hitting on all four, you can feel it in the whole chassis. “Our body is a machine for living,” said Leo Tolstoy. And while living in our work may at times be difficult (you may even hate your work) we are thankfully given a lifetime to search for the warm and fuzzy to guide our hands. And I’m here to tell you that in life and art you must learn to love.


“The Eagle Returns” 2005
acrylic on canvas, 30 x 34 inches
by Robert Genn

“Thou shalt love thy work,” is a commandment that artists have long taken for their own. Other professions have seen the wisdom of the idea. Love is deadly because you can look at your work and see when there isn’t any. When you’re loving your work, you know what you’re doing. Where does it come from? It’s a cricket you keep in your pocket. It’s a state of evolution, a double-mindedness, a giddiness, abandoned control, controlled abandon, it’s supercalifragilisticexpeialidocious.

And it’s all such a beautiful mystery.



“The Tumult of Thy Mighty Harmonies” 2007
acrylic on canvas, 36 x 40 inches
by Robert Genn

Best regards,


PS: “When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s innermost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran)

Esoterica: How did I come to be so blessed? What miracle has led me to this easel? How daring of me to flirt with the gods and to take part in these marvels.

This letter was originally published as “Love made visible” on May 24, 2002.

robert-genn_scottys-point-lotwDownload the new audio book, The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one.” (Robert Genn)



  1. OMG talk about love…I absolutely love that painting The Eagle Returns! I’ve not seen it before but found I could not take my eyes off it. Very powerful.

  2. Yes I agree with Lin , I could not take my eyes of “The Eagle Returns” just love it , first time i’ve seen it .!
    We are burried in 24″ of snow , no reason to go outside , spend the day in the studio ,maybe it will be gone when I wake up tomorrow!

  3. Thank you for this insightful love letter, it spoke to my heart. It so beautifully expresses how heart, mind and body can work together to create our own unique visual love letter. Thank you for this Valentine.

    • My favorite is “the tumult of thy mighty harmonies” love the color and perspective. And such an inventive title. I can hear the water flowing down. Thanks for posting the love letter Sara.

  4. Seeing as how the theme is about love, I wholeheartedly agree with Lin and Rae above when they say they love “Eagle Returns” I’d go one more step and fall in love with “Mighty Harmonies” and send you roses for posting it.
    As a lurker, I must admit that I’m not qualified to comment on styles etc., I would imagine that it is not a big step from one style to the other and, I’m sure your father loved his work and it shows.
    The difference between the 4 paintings shown is in essence the sign of a painter who knows what he likes and loves his work.

  5. Thank you for this post today. Your father’s words and for the quote from Kahlil Gibran rang true for me. I discovered Gibran’s writings around the same time I began painting…50+ years ago. Now reading the quote again I realize how my life and art work was, although unconsciously influenced by the words of Gibran. And why at times the simple act of dragging a paint filled brush across a surface has felt glorious or when the right colors or curve of a line in design will create an almost audible “click” in my brain “…for work is love made visible.” Yes!

  6. Perfect for this Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017! Love the Kahill Gabrin quote, as I play Native American flute as well as paint. Although the world seems very dark, art and creating shine joy and light and this is one of my favorite essays ever! Happy Love Day!

    • Mary…… good to hear that another painter also plays the Native American flute. Good music on CD’s to listen to whilst painting and nice to take occasional flute breaks FROM painting.

      Lee in 10aC

  7. Val irene VanOrden on

    Im so happy to have a hubby who is creative and mechanical, he made me a couch for Valentines day. Work i0s love made visible.

  8. Afonso,just a brief comment regarding your theory about the US trying to encircle Russia through the Iraqi war: if there’s a seed of truth in it, the only thing left is a deoosntratimn of how to fail miserably. Besides, I should credit the neocons with some intelligence, which would be in disagreement with reality.

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