For the love of it


Dear Artist,


Just a few feet away there’s a small stage where seven seasoned musicians, including Woody Allen, are energetically belting out a Dixie version of “Midnight Train to Georgia.” We’re getting the moisture from their instruments all over us.

I’m laptopping you from Table 6 in an intimate restaurant in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City’s Upper East Side. We’ve just emerged from the adjoining bar; a genuine period piece if there ever was one. Here are the murals and decorations of Ludwig Bemelmans — the adventures of Madeline — a character from seven of his books written for children. Bemelmans, born in Austria, was a restaurateur and gourmet. He had a compulsion to decorate every bar and restaurant he ever entered. This one, right down to the table lampshades, was a commission executed in 1947. The dark corners of the Bemelmans Bar has become a crossroads for the literary and artistic glitterati. Decades of smokers have not dulled the charm of his decorations.


“Madeline loves animals”
original painting
by Ludwig Bemelmans

Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) took to writing children’s stories rather late in life. The Madeline books, first published in 1939, all began with, “In an old house in Paris, that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls, in two straight lines. The smallest one was Madeline.” Propelled by love and as an entertainment for his daughter, Bemelmans parlayed his passion into green feedback. Plays and movies followed. He became a serious painter and was represented in both public and commercial galleries. The rich and famous sought his childlike fantasies.


“In the Bemelmans Bar”
original painting
by Ludwig Bemelmans

Bemelmans was not attached to any of his works. Like food, they were to be enjoyed in the making and eating.

Creative people often build their steam in a private and current world of their own devising. Complexity and difficulty demand focus and attention, modifying personality. Passion is the coal that becomes the greater part of talent. The locomotive is unstoppable when powered by love.


Best regards,


PS: “I don’t keep my books around… they would embarrass me. When I finish writing my books, I kick them in the belly, and have done with them.” (Ludwig Bemelmans)

Esoterica: Woody Allen and his colleagues are swept up in the joy of Dixieland. Living a lifelong passion, Woody is a picture of humility and vulnerability. With charming internal repartee and knowing glances among band members, he toots his clarinet tolerably well. Why is he here? He certainly doesn’t need the money. In a way, it’s a private jam with a few chosen guests. The room feels his love.


For the love of it


Ludwig Bemelmans


Group of girls attending carnival
tempera painting by Ludwig Bemelmans


“A little sunshine, a little rain”
mixed media by Ludwig Bemelmans








This ‘all-star’ group offered a complexity of building motifs, solo tradeoffs and general wild stompin.’ High concentration, I’d say.


Allen has a peculiar, hesitant, pointillist style with lots of air and paucity. He often opens a song in this manner to the obvious delight of his bandsmen.


When the set was over he methodically cleaned his clarinet, put it away,put on his sweater, and, looking at the floor, let himself out.








Always about love
by Debbie Baer, Hunlock Creek, PA, USA


“Background music”
original painting
by Debbie Baer

Painting is always about love. We love a subject, landscape or person and then are driven to try to replicate it on canvas. If we’re lucky, our viewers will pick up on it as well. This piece depicts my husband and his favorite guitar. His playing has become the background music of my life. This was also the last painting that my father saw, half completed, before he passed away in June. He always enjoyed seeing my work and he also enjoyed hearing my husband play. This painting will be sent out into the world just like all the others. And, very much like raising a child, no one will love it as much as I… but hopefully someone will love it enough.


There are 4 comments for Always about love by Debbie Baer

From: Sarah Madsen — Oct 22, 2009

Avid sketcher …done for the love . Certainly not ever appreciated in the sense of reward of money. All my children and people in cafe from life. Would love the time for plein air .. that a luxury to look forward too.

From: jeannine — Oct 22, 2009

I’d keep that one, Debbie!!!!

From: Jean — Oct 23, 2009

This looks exactly like my boyfriend holding his favorite Martin. Is this sold yet?

From: Debbie Baer — Oct 23, 2009

You have a keen eye Jean, that is in fact a Martin guitar. I’m sure that your boyfriend loves his as much as my husband does. The painting has not sold yet. Which Martin does your boyfriend own?


An artist out of his medium
by Jack Kirkwood, Washington, DC, USA

I have attended Woody Allen’s sessions myself. As a professional musician, I know what an anguish it must be for him. Passionate for the music, for whatever reason his clarinet is not quite as good as he and others would like it to be. This does not stop him from trying and enjoying. In that sense he is a fortunate man. Your letter is a brilliant invitation to all who might engage in any art form, without fear of appearing to be less than they might wish, simply for the love of it.


Burning to get started
by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA


original painting
by Rick Rotante

That’s what’s missing with many artists today from what I see. Many are looking to paint or draw or create work to either get into a gallery or make a buck and little thought “for the love of it.” I consider myself a professional artist, not because I sell or have work in a gallery, but because it’s who I am. It’s in my blood. Without painting I would shrivel up and die. I think it every day, even the days I’m not painting. I do demo’s whenever I can to pass on the joy of painting. If you don’t enjoy the process, live every day for the journey of discovery, are willing to take risk and fail, you are missing the greatest part of creating art. If you are only painting for the galleries and not for the love of it you are just making pictures and you have missed the point and I believe have little to show for it in quality and output. This may sound like the words of an idealist and maybe I am, but if you don’t get up in the morning burning to get in front of an easel or start another project with relish, you are just doing a job. Quality art will be noticed. Art that is expressive and from the heart will be noticed. Art that moves people will get noticed and payment isn’t always monitory. Do it primarily for the love of it and you will get more out of it.

There are 2 comments for Burning to get started by Rick Rotante

From: Lorna White — Oct 23, 2009

Rick, the middle part of your letter is wonderful. But why the first and last part? Whu are you directing this to? I paint for the love of it – not just for galleries. Maybe the people you are writing this to are not reading these letters…

From: Noa — Oct 24, 2009

Rick, you are so right!


Connecting with what matters
by Jane Hinrichs, Blunt, SD, USA


I loved seeing you highlight Ludwig Bemelmans’ artwork and comments today in your letter. Bemelmans is one of my favorites, and I have quite a few favorite illustrators because of my six kids. Often, I send a few prayers up and try to inwardly stumble upon a character like Madeline or like Harry Potter, a creation who comes into my mind fully formed like Harry waltzed into J.K. Rowlings’ mind (this is what she writes anyway). I am more a writer than an artist these days (newspaper writing is the job that brings in regular cash). And because of recent family changes, I had gone for months without even picking up a brush. Recently, I realized how wrong this has been. I painted Sunday, and it wasn’t “real” painting, just painting a pumpkin for a local pumpkin contest. But while painting this silly pumpkin (named Wilma) I lost myself in it and all my crazy emotions left. I wanted to kick myself — I should have been painting regularly through all our troubled times. I love it when people love my work, but more than that, painting is a way to get back into connection with what matters.


Attitude of the hobbyist
by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA


“Antique Barn”
pastel painting
by Paul deMarrais

You are describing the passion of the hobbyist. The hobbyist has a pure attitude. He cares not whether he makes a dime. This is a good attitude to have. It is best to do things that spark a deep interest in you. In the professional arena, there are different external pressures at work. You can bet Woody Allen thinks of these when he is at work on a movie. There is the funding, the marketing, casting, etc. The director must put effort into all these areas whether they are of interest or not. Artists must play the same game. They must apply themselves in areas that do not interest them or they will soon be back in the hobbyist mode. For many, the hobby mode is a good choice. A hobby painter can concentrate completely on what his interests are. This focus can lead to steady improvement to the acquisition of genuine skill. Some professional artists lose their ability to play and to enjoy their work like they did when it was just a fun hobby. Renoir was once criticized as a student by his instructor. “We are not just doing this for fun,” the instructor fumed. Renoir responded, “If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t be doing it!”


In the zone
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada


“Castle Mountain and Bow River”
acrylic painting by
Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

I used to shake my head at the talks of ‘the zone,’ meditation, ‘sleep working’ and such, and I think that I am starting to understand why. I think that I spend most of my life in the zone. I am an only child and was left alone for the most of the time when I was a kid. I did what I wanted and practically lived inside my head, with my arts and crafts all the time unless someone talked to me and I had to talk back. After the years of early adulthood when this concept went through major disturbances and excursions out of my zone, I feel in the last few years that I am slowly slipping back into it. This means that most of times I am in conversation with myself and in the space and time impenetrable by others. I used to ignore this whole thing since it feels so natural for me, it’s not really a zone but being left alone and undisturbed by anything external — it happens instantly as soon as I can break out from any eyes, ears and expectations, luckily many times in any given day. I can differentiate it by not seeing a point of discussing things that I do in that state, not wanting to explain them and not hanging on to them. Those things move smoothly and joyfully and are of no real importance as objects. I guess, I either figured it out or I am losing it in some more serious way.

There is 1 comment for In the zone by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Oct 24, 2009

Hi Tatjana,

You are not “losing it”…much like Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz), “you’ve had the power all along! :)” and I understand completely what you are talking about. Congrats and embrace it!


Laptop for the love of it
by Clare, Isle of Man

Great to receive. Very interesting. Windy here on Isle of Man. Just off to Manx Museum Auditorium power point lecture “Rescuing Zeugma from the Floodwaters of the Euphrates.” The Irish sea wearing white cuffs, hurling seaweed and stones onto prom. Lecturer Louise Schofield, B.A. (Hons) Dip Class Arch. (Decorative & Fine Arts Society of Isle of Man, Member Society of NADFAS) a great organization for visiting lecturers, also History of Old Churches recording all the details for archives.

So it will be Roman mosaics and ancient Rome. How about a group trip or at least an aerial view. Google ‘Euphrates mosaics’ and there is a huge back up biblical. Sending daughter in Sydney Oz cutting re William Morris wallpaper. Sanderson exclusive rights to the Willow Boughs pattern, £38 per roll fabric £37 per metre (gt value..) Nowadays 1,800 rolls and 3,00 m. are sold a year. So very keen full on interest today in “pattern” textiles and execution… All those Gods still alive for us in little coloured squares, crafty (pun) for future generations to re-discover. So your interesting (as usual) full package arrived safely. Thanks for the dedication and genuine endeavour… in appreciative regard. Take a towel next time.

There is 1 comment for Laptop for the love of it by Clare

From: Liz Schamehorn, Canada — Oct 23, 2009

HaHaHa! Wish I was there!


Jamming for the fun of it
by Dave Casey, Las Vegas, NV, USA


original sketch
by Dave Casey

How cool is that, seeing Woody on stage like that? Reminds me of the night, here in Vegas, when I went down to the old Continental Hotel for the Monday night jam session with one of the local blues bands. I had been there for about an hour when there was a small commotion at the back of the room and in walked Ray Charles and about six of his entourage. Seems he was friends with the leader of the band onstage and had accepted an invitation to come down and sit in for a few songs. So, for the next thirty minutes or so, the couple dozen of us in the lounge were in heaven as Ray did his thing. Woody is truly an artist at the top of his game and Ray was, well, Ray was the Da Vinci of the R&B world.



Didn’t believe it
by Mary Susan Vaughn, Charlotte, NC, USA


“Cow in field”
oil painting
by Mary Susan Vaughn

Serious fun you are having there, Robert. I’d have to say you are having a grand ol’ time out on the town. When I read that Woody Allen was tooting his clarinet, I have to admit I shook my head and thought, “You’re kidding, right? Woody Allen in a bar on the Upper East Side jammin’ on a clarinet? Sure enough, your pictures proved he was there. What fun! I enjoyed the story about Bemelmans as well. Madeline is our daughter’s favorite childhood story.


Abuse by Woody Allen
by Susan Burns, Douglasville, GA, USA


original painting
by Susan Burns

At one time I enjoyed the music and art of Woody Allen, but he crossed that line, you know, where you have sex with your own child, and then you marry them. Your letter is a slap in the face to any woman or man that has ever been sexually or physically abused by an adult. So much for the theory of evolution! I can only imagine that you mention him and his “humble” way and your “intimate” evening because you hold some belief about him or his past. Well, please just say it then. I think you are naive here about the amounts of people that have been abused at the hands of guardians. Woody Allen is the poster child for the very common abuse that we call sexual. In order to change our awareness, we must speak plainly and openly.

(RG note) Thanks, Susan. A significant number of subscribers wrote to protest my inclusion of Woody Allen in these letters. I apologize if I have offended people.

There are 9 comments for Abuse by Woody Allen by Susan Burns

From: Bobbo Goldberg — Oct 22, 2009

With all due respect: How easy it is to judge those whose circumstances we know nothing about. Robert, your column made no mention, quite rightly, of Allen’s personal life, only that aspect of it that fit with the message being conveyed. His love of music was one tone in the “palette” of your article. I understand the desire to protect abused children; I have been a guardian ad litem, representing abused or neglected children before the court system. I am also old enough to know that life is not as simple as the “judges” among us would have it be. Mr. and Mrs. Allen are together still. We have no idea of their personal life. Soon-Yi was Mia Farrow’s adopted child; there was no blood relation. When Michael Jackson died, Facebook lit up with both name-callers (despite his acquittal on the charges against him) and defenders who refused to see Mr. Jackson that way. What we say about others shines a sharp, uncompromising light on who *we* are, not who they are. We should all remember the power of projection in human interaction before passing judgment. Frankly, Ms. Burns, the Allens’ history is only the business of those who could use more business of their own.

From: Gentlehawk James — Oct 22, 2009

Each of us is like a diamond….a diamond with many facets. If we only observe one facet, then we don’t see the rest of the “gem”…..hmmmm, just a different perspective.

From: Jean Reese — Oct 23, 2009

Wikipedia states the following:

Allen and Farrow’s only biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, said of Allen: “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent…. I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children.”

From: Anonymous — Oct 23, 2009

Dear “Bobbo”. Woody Allen was a father figure who turned himself into a lover. He crossed the line. This brings out many ugly memories in thousands of people out there. They have plenty of “business” to occupy them, too much in fact. For you to suggest otherwise is insulting.

From: William Dolmage — Oct 23, 2009

I agree with Bobbo Goldberg. Genn stayed clear of the man’s personal life and used him only as an example of out-of–his-familiar-territory-passion. Goodness knows what would happen if we started to reject the legitimate virtues of tarnished celebrities.

From: Maya — Oct 23, 2009

This is a talk about art! We all admire paintings by old masters, ancient architecture and literature. Does anyone have a clue how moral those creators were? Art is beyond the mortality and all it’s dirtiness.

From: Dave C — Oct 25, 2009

I wish people would lay off Woody about this. Too many people are getting caught up in what the media portrayed him as instead of the facts. While I don’t condone what he did, he did NOT marry his daughter. He didn’t even marry his step-daughter. Woody and Mia were never married, they never lived together and Woody never adopted Soon-Yi. How come people are so quick to judge him as a child molester (she was 22 when this all happened), but they don’t seem to jump into the Anna Nicole Smith – J. Howard Marshall relationship? He was 63 years older than her. I’m more worked up about what Roman Polanski did than what Woody AND Soon-Yi did. If she isn’t old enough to make up her own mind about a relationship at 22-years-old, then what age would suit these critics?

From: Barbara — Oct 26, 2009

I used to love Woody Allen movies. Although better than many movies, I don’t know that they are art. They are commercial movies. But I cannot look at them anymore because of his actions. I have to look at the comments by his son as the one who certainly “knows about it” as the most reliable. I’m sure many artists did abominable things and we treasure their art. Mostly we don’t know what they did or did not do, but this event we know about. To completely disregard his actions take an act of compartmentalization that I don’t know how to do, for better or worse.

I notice that most of the comments that have been received where this compartmentalization is most evident is from men. Many men I know and have spoken with about sexual or domestic abuse are more able than women to go through the mental gymnastics required to say “Well, that’s his business.” Or “We don’t know.” Or, “It’s okay because he is a good football player.” As long as these attitudes prevail, it’s difficult to fight sexual and domestic violence abuse.

From: Anonymous — Nov 02, 2009

The last writer, Barbara states her opinion so succinctly and I agree with everything she says. I will not put money into Woody Allen’s pocket any longer by watching his films, nor will I condone his actions. Thank you Robert for your apology.


For the love of it
by Camille Ver, The Philippines


oil painting
by Camille Ver

I’ve been reading your letters for I think more than 4 years now. The last time I wrote you was when I was about to have an exhibit with a friend and asked your opinion which was two years ago (yikes!). I do abstracts and it was my first time to show my figurative paintings. I never got to thank you for giving me encouragement. Well, thank you so much. I’ve actually shown more after that and people seemed to appreciate them as well.

Your letters keep me updated with the art world and give me inspiration to continue my passion to make art… to just keep on making studies and painting. Unfortunately, my hometown was one of the places that got flooded here in the Philippines last September 26. Most of the houses in our neighborhood were underwater and a few of the houses that have 2nd floors were just lucky that some of them were saved. We were one of them. At least we didn’t have to lose our clothes and we still have our beds unlike our neighbors. It’s been almost a month now and we still haven’t recovered yet. We’re still cleaning and repairing our homes. Actually, there are still a lot of places in Manila and other provinces that are still suffering. We’re just thankful that we’re still alive.

I’m also writing to share that my studio which is on the ground floor of our second house (an old beside the main house where we have boarders staying) was destroyed, too, sadly. I haven’t even had the time yet to check it out because we’re still busy cleaning our main house. We tried to open the door of my studio but my big shelf and paintings are blocking the door. I’ve lost my books which I bought through the years and Art in America magazines that I’ve been subscribing for the past two years plus other magazines that I use for reference. I know I lost my paints and brushes, too, but the books are what I’m worried about. I can’t afford to buy all the books I like so all the ones I have are my treasures. What hurts, too, are my paintings, especially the ones on paper. I just have to check what I can still save.

One of these days we will be able to open my studio and assess the damage. I just want to help my family with our house since we don’t have that much manpower. I guess I just have to be patient and be grateful that I still have my hands and brain… my knowledge and imagination… my passion… to create ART! Please keep the letters coming. You are a blessing not only to me but all our fellow artists as well. For the love of it.

There are 3 comments for For the love of it by Camille Ver

From: LKPerrella — Oct 23, 2009

I can’t imagine how you must feel, but I’d like to add one comment. This past year, when I was writing a book about artist’s studios, I met with one of the seminal illustrators of the 70s and 80s, Mr. Fred Otnes. He has been an inspiration to me for ages, and I savored the opportunity to meet with him and learn more about his process. (in recent years he had changed his direction, and moved into the Fine Art arena, after his strong success in Illustration) When I asked him what lead him to cross over to the fine arts, he said, quite simply: “The fire.” When he lost all of his reference books, and (more to the point) his vast archive of visual collage fodder, he decided the Universe was providing him with a second act, and he began doing large “collage paintings” using mostly papers that he creates himself. Although he was a master of using IMAGES before, now he is the master of SURFACES. His work is still undeniably “Otnes”, but it relies on more serendipitous discoveries and “chance” compositions. I know the fire that destroyed his home and his important visual archives will always be considered a tragic calamity (quite understandable) but he has seized this new opportunity and it is leading him to “what is next” in his artwork. I knew that the opportunity to meet him was going to be singular – but I had no idea how much inspiration and tenacity he would provide that special day. I think of him every day when I enter my studio.

From: eleanor steffen — Oct 23, 2009

on march 3, 1978 my artist fiancee lost his house,studio, and life,s work in a fire. he said he had always wanted to make sculpture so he took the charred tree remains and made some. he never missed a creative heartbeat. he had no insurance. during his decline to lou gehrig,s desease he worked differently and doggedly until his death. He continues to be my inspiration.

From: Maya — Oct 23, 2009

That is so sad. At least you have access to a computer in this age when so much information and images are available in Internet. Imagine losing all the books in those days past when they were all we had. I know it’s not the same as your precious books, but it’s next to best.




Orchid and Turquoise from New Paintings

oil painting
by Susan Schiesser, CO, 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 Natalie Italiano of Philadelphia, PA, USA, who wrote, “I have marks on my bedroom ceiling from a leaky roof that remind me of a rabbit… like Madeline.”

And also Judy in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, who wrote, “There you go, you did it again, right on target, and how come I keep opening your letters… I am leaving so many queries behind… thoughts that used to buzz through my head… you have to live the answers to things and I am doing that and the buzzing departs.”

And also Beth Mahy of Dallas, TX, USA, who wrote, “Love — not the money thing — is clearly the answer to valid work… and guess what? I hate knowing that. It’s such a conundrum!”

And also Ray Masterson who wrote, “I am a stained glass artist and have been receiving your letters for several years and find them inspiring even in my field.”

And also Frank Gordon of Giggleswick, UK, who wrote, “I can’t believe you were tapping away on your laptop while a group of musicians were doing their damndest to play well and entertain you all just a few feet away. How rude! Robert, I’m surprised at you!”

(RG note) Thanks, Frank. Not only that, but we were all eating as well.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for For the love of it



From: don — Oct 20, 2009

This letter reminds me that I wish you would explore other art possibilities instead of just staying safe with your own thoughts on plein air, watercolor and oil teaching.

The worlds of children’s illustration, storytelling, sculpture and fabric art are just a few of the fascinating environments to explore…..I’m sick of reading about how much perspiration it takes to be an artist and the mental games we play as creative souls. It all reminds me of Art 101. No more head games.

As an artist who’s painted and collected works for over 30 years, it would be nice to expound upon the larger world. Thank you.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Oct 20, 2009

I’m going to agree with Don’s suggestion here- Robert. Why don’t you ask some questions that get all your fiber artists to respond- and then all your sculptors- and printmakers- and cartoonists- and illustrators- and folks who do hand-dying of textiles- and- and- and- The list is long!!!

From: Tulip Panikovsky — Oct 20, 2009

Robert, this one nailed it. Loving it is the whole enchilada. Anything else is secondary.

From: Sen Huong — Oct 20, 2009

Don, I don’t find that venting helps at all. Actually, it seems to facilitate the recurrence of similar feelings and reactions. Meditation helps, if you are so inclined. Sometimes just taking a deep breath and moving away from the computer for a moment…. Please, be well.

From: Jim Fillipi — Oct 20, 2009

I adore traditional jazz, and find that for almost everyone involved it is a labor of love!

From: Jamie Lavin — Oct 22, 2009

The love of one’s own paintings is not enough. I think the enjoyment of creating is close, but it is far behind the joy of watching people enjoy my artworks. Besides the earnings, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Like spiking the ball in the end zone, or enjoying the trot around the base paths, after a home run.

From: Rosemary Dodd — Oct 22, 2009

The Carlyle was where Jack Kennedy liked to “hang out”…so sorry I can not remember the great pianist who was there for

oh so long & loved….when you go back to Table 6 you might inquire….you would have another column about NY pianists….and Sunday brunch at

CAFE’ des ARTISTES, ONE W. 67th is surely another great artist story and good food…and NOT so famous but IF he is still performing – a guy named

“HUNTERBLUE” bills himself as a “Teacher of Spirit” entertaining on the piano – at MIMI’s Piano Bar @ Restaurant, 52nd and 2nd Ave. Eastside ManhattanTake not only your camera but a sketch pad!!!! and HAVE FUN!!!

From: Terry Waldron — Oct 22, 2009

Rosemary, I think you mean Bobby Short who played piano and sang with such style and effortless verve for nearly forever there. And I think even my favorite, George Shearing, played there once in a while.

From: Russ Hogger — Oct 22, 2009

It’s a comforting thought to know that there are some of us creating art purely for the love of it. Cheers.

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Oct 23, 2009

Jamie, you got it so right. Besides the joy of creating — I think watching other people look at a painting and smile, talk about it and remember something, and look again — this is the stuff I thoroughly enjoy. I always hang back and let them enjoy before approaching them to ask what they enjoyed so much. People enjoying art is so rewarding — and especially when it is my own. It is almost better than the creating! Almost, but not quite.

Robert, I can’t wait each Tuesday and Friday to read what you have for the day and what others have said about the previous letter. I might not always agree, but you make me think! Thank you!

From: Bev B. — Oct 23, 2009

Art History 101-I must have been absent.

Not being an artist but enjoying the creative process would someone please explain why Sargent’s work is described as “contrived”? Isn’t all art contrived?

The painting in the bottom left corner, shipboard, is described as having “strong graphic pattern.” I agree with this but have a difficult time expressing what makes it this way. Thanks! B

From: James DesRosiers — Oct 23, 2009

Robert’s material cuts through all the BS written about art.

From: Evie L. — Oct 23, 2009

For Rosemary Dodd:

Just in case you haven’t, yet, recalled the pianist at the Carlyle in NY– it was Bobby Short.

From: kells — Oct 23, 2009

I wonder which of the two artists was impressed with the young boy lying on the wet beach, Sargent or Sorrolla?The subject matter is so similiar, one would almost believe they were aware of each’s painting. I think it would be an interesting to note which painting came first? Sargent painted a sketch for further study, I suppose, but since these two were near each other, it causes me to wonder a lot .

From: sittingbytheriver — Oct 23, 2009

The Sargent pieces are marvelous. But for crying out loud, Robert, it makes me crazy when you reproduce paintings on your site and don’t include the media and/or size.

From: Judi Howard — Oct 23, 2009

I’d love to hear your thoughts on 17th century Spanish still life artist Luis Melendez. I would love to see his works at the L.A. County Museum of Art but will miss it by two days in my travels. What struck me most about him was that his magnificent still lifes were not what he preferred to do for his career but what he fell into in order to earn a living. Who knows what, if anything, of our own work will survive and what will be appreciated??

From: Terry Waldron — Oct 23, 2009

Robert, your last paragraph is exactly right… You put into words what my truth is! Great passion plus love plus the best workmanship I am capable of brings me bliss. If the piece intrigues someone else, too, that’s good, but not necessary………. but it is good, surprisingly good!

From: Frank Gordon — Oct 23, 2009

If you look carefully at pictures 6 and 7, it’s clear that the composition is identical in each case. Variations on it crop up here and there but these two, if looked at as simply organized forms and tones, are the same. I’m not sure any of Sargent’s work is haphazard.

Giggleswick, England

From: Kittie Beletic — Oct 24, 2009

Marvelous! What a fun evening! I used to live in NYC and upstate. Those nights are works of art colored by elements of the evening to hang in the gallery of the mind!

I think of my artwork … and more and more, everything created … as a gift. The thought of this came to me when a particular piece seemed inspired. I noticed the best pieces were created with someone special in mind. I started making each new piece, imagining it as a gift for someone I love. If there is a lot of work to be done – that is, many pieces to be made at one time – most often, once I’m in the groove, the love of the person transforms into the love of the making. The activity then becomes making Love.

I have artist friends who paint best when there is drama in their lives; writer friends who seem to need an urgent deadline to get to the heart of it. There are as many reasons for finding passion as there are people making art. Mine lies in the light that shines in the eyes of my receiver. When I am inspired in this way, it shows!

From: Grant Larsen — Oct 24, 2009

Gallery goers are not now the mindless sheep they previously were. As individual seekers, they seem to be more interested in mastery, technique and noble ideals. At least some of the credit for this change goes to powerful websites such as The Painter’s Keys and The Art Renewal Center.

From: Mary Miller-McNutt — Oct 26, 2009

Robert, thank you. I love reading your letters. It is like food for my soul.

Again, thank you.





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