A new book


Dear Artist,

It finally happened. At 10 this morning we heard a truck backing up toward the studio. Two hefty guys put down the tailgate and laid several tons of books at our feet. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining.

The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters, 960 pages — 10 years of over 1,000 unabridged letters including an 82-page index. Six by nine inches and more than two inches thick, it’s hardbound Red Cayenne with a separate dust jacket, a red ribbon, and a protective book box. I wish my mom and dad could see this.


Ten years in the making, ‘The Letters’ is a remarkable resource of information and inspiration.

While the pallets were being brought into the studio I took two copies into the house, one to give to Carol, the other for a quiet look-over. Three thoughts ran through my head as I leafed through: “How did I know all this?” and “That part could have been written more clearly,” and “It’s heavy.” When you look at something like this in a new format, it’s spooky.

Apart from that, it’s a beautiful book; the sort of thing you might take to bed and read here and there before turning out the light.


Masterfully printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba, the book has a sewn, ‘lay-flat’ binding.

During the lengthy editing process, it seemed like 960 pages with 20 typos on every page. Right now it looks as clean as Whistler’s mother, although I’m sure some careful readers will point out a few boo-boos. The index alone took our brilliant helpers more than two months to compile and sharpen.

Actually, most of the books are being shipped to a warehouse in Blaine, Washington. Sarah Garland is managing the distribution, and will cross the border every day, put the labels on and take them to the good old US mail. Orders placed in the next few days will certainly arrive at your home before Christmas, even overseas. Bulk orders will be shipped from my studio in boxes of eight.


Weighing almost two pounds, it’s 960 pages and contains 1042 chronologically ordered and unabridged letters.

The individually pre-sealed book boxes will see that the books arrive in consistently perfect condition. I will, of course, sign and dedicate for anyone who comes by the studio, attends shows, demos or book-signings. From time to time we’ll post locations where this will occur. In the meantime, I’m going back into the studio to help out in the labelling department.




The 82-page index gives quick access to areas of interest as well as valuable quotes and personal connections.

Best regards,


PS: “What I have to say about this book can be found inside the book.” (Albert Einstein) “The covers of this book are too far apart.” (Ambrose Bierce)




The book is shipped in a sealed-at-the-factory box that guarantees safe arrival anywhere in the world.

Esoterica: The new book is $30.00 plus shipping. It’s my sincere wish that you get real and lasting value from it. It’s your book, really, and I’d like to thank everyone in our Painter’s Keys Community for the inspiration that makes these Twice-Weekly letters happen. And thanks for more than once giving me the benefit of the doubt when I was just exploring and might have passed something off as wisdom.



Don’t over-think
by Terry Wynn, Jefferson City, MO, USA

As I read your letter this morning, you were concerned about some things not being clear. I think that is why I like your letters. They have a sense of discovery. Words written by someone with a passion for his subject may be a bit above my level presently but by working and continuing with my art I may “discover” what it is you are talking about. Often I don’t want a clearly charted path but a push onto the path with the chance for my own discovery along the way. Don’t over-think it. I love your writings. I am so looking forward to your new book! Thank you and all who have been a part of making it happen.


Help with the struggle
by Kay Keyes Farrar, Columbia, TN, USA


Healing light”
oil painting
by Kay Keyes Farrar

I feel blessed to receive your words of wisdom and questions from all the readers and artists. There have been many days that your words have helped me struggle through and validated the journey I seek to travel through my own creativity to my own art and truth. Thank you for creating such an insightful network! I hope to get your book soon!


There is 1 comment for Help with the struggle by Kay Keyes Farrar

From: catherine robertson — Dec 01, 2009

Kay, you don’t have to “struggle” at all. I just looked at your website and your work is wonderful ! I love both your colors and your light !


Signed copies
by Ann Kynion

I would like to have a signed copy and don’t see how I can get one without a personal request. I understand that you will sign at book stores, etc. However, I am sure that you will never darken the door of a bookstore in Springfield, Missouri and I don’t know that I will ever be traveling to a city that you will be signing books or can make it by your studio…. Is there any hope for a signed book…

“Given an equal amount of intelligence, timidity will cause a thousand times more problems than audacity.” (Carl von Clausewitz , 1780-1831)

(RG note) Thanks, Ann. We rationalized with the secure mailing boxes sealed at the factory that everything would get through the mail perfectly this time. The downside is that we’re not opening the boxes and signing the books. We will however make exceptions for those who absolutely need to have their books signed. There will be no extra charge, but the books may take a little longer to get to you.


Local book-signings
by Esmie G. McLaren, Vancouver, BC, Canada


“A Tonal Study”
watercolour painting
by Esmie G. McLaren

You made this happen and it couldn’t happen to a better man. Thank you for all the years of wisdom-sharing and more importantly, your companionship as an artist. I hope there are many more to come. I hope to come and tell you so in one of your book-signings. Please do let me know when and where.

(RG note) Thanks, Esmie. The first signing is at the White Rock Gallery, 1247 Johnston Rd., White Rock, B.C., Canada, on Sunday December 13 from 1 to 3 pm. We will announce further signings in these clickbacks as they come up.




Good advice
by Heather Caldwell


oil painting
by Heather Caldwell

Congratulations on 10 years of dedication to giving! I’ve enjoyed reading your letters and admire you for the time you take to offer your wealth of knowledge to the art community while maintaining your successful art practice. I remember well, many years ago, when you invited me to your studio to see my early watercolours and encouraged me to go off and paint fifty more. I did. I have lived and worked in the south of France for the past three 1/2 years and am currently teaching at Emily Carr University for the term before I return to Nice.




A gifted writer
by Helen Tilston, Toronto, ON, Canada

Congratulations and as we’d say in the West of Ireland, “Maith an Buachaill” directly translated would mean “good man yourself.” This is a very high honour. I truly appreciate what you are putting into this twice-weekly letter. Someone commented “Oh ’tis easy for him, he is a gifted writer” and my response was “There are many gifted writers but there are not many passionate writers and passion does not come easy.” You clearly love your life and your work and I wish you continued happiness, peace and love. I spend my winter in beautiful Indian Rocks Beach Florida and summer in Toronto and Ireland. Getting ready for 4 exhibitions in 2010 — I love my life too.


Making a difference
by Ann Hardy, Colleyville, TX, USA


“The Isle of Capri”
original painting
by Ann Hardy

Roberto: You need to know while still alive and kicking with such fervor that you have been on my “Five Greats” list (five gratefuls that I write at the bottom of my “to do” for the next day list), soooooooooooooooooooooooooo many times that it would give you goose bumps! How much a difference you are making in this old world. We love you and appreciate you for all of the astute sharing. Your book will become a part of my library.




Expression of the creative mind
by James Quist, New York, NY, USA

As an art collector I read magazines like Modern Painters, Art in America, etc. I also read the Twice-Weekly Letters and the Responses. A lot of art writing makes little or no sense to me, but these letters have an honesty, self-effacing humor and clarity that is lacking in many others. I have come to understand art and artists better by reading this material. Making art seems to be a balance between passion and hard work, and I am more and more coming to honor those who take their vocation seriously and are not in the mode of hoodwinking the public and profiteering thereby. I respect the dedication and willingness to share. The Painter’s Keys site is unique. It is currently the best written expression of the creative mind.


Book on CD?
by Bobbo Goldberg, Orlando, FL, USA


original painting
by Bobbo Goldberg

When the time is right, how perfect it would be to publish this vast resource of thought and feeling as a fully searchable book on CD! Your 83-page table of contents would be only a beginning, as a reader looking for, say, “projector,” could simply type the word in and get the word. No rush. But it’s a sure-fire. Could even be offered at a small discount as a downloadable, fully-searchable .pdf.

I’m a book kinda guy, myself. I love not just the content, but the feel, smell and portability of a book. However, for such a treasure as TRGT-WL, searchability could be a huge plus. And, since the book was no doubt compiled as word processing files, most of the work has actually been done. What next? Bob reads the Audiobook version?

There are 2 comments for Book on CD? by Bobbo Goldberg

From: Chris Everest — Dec 01, 2009

…and every Art college, University Fine Arts Dept. and artists group in the world would purchase the CD. Brilliant Idea. Really looking forward to getting the book.

From: Jim Oberst — Dec 01, 2009

How about an edition for the Kindle? It would be searchable, and MUCH lighter than the printed book. Really… please consider it.


Drop shipping books for you
by Mary Susan Vaughn, Charlotte, NC, USA


“Horses on Mount Rainier”
oil painting
by Mary Susan Vaughn

I’d be more than happy to drop ship for you. I would just need to know what your drop ship rate would be. I would like to advertise your book in my December newsletter too which is going out on December 1st. Please let me know if we can have a drop ship relationship and I’ll even write a story about how inspirational and enjoyable your letters have been in the years I have been reading them — in addition to being the inspiration for my own site Red Easel! You’ve had a tremendous influence on my career.

(RG note) Thanks, Susan, and others who asked about this. Our drop ship remuneration is $8.00 per book. All you need to do is forward the full price (35.00 (US sales) to us by any method — even direct from the buyer) by PayPal, cheque, etc., and then clarify with Sarah Garland that it is a “drop ship” and that you are the beneficiary and we will mail you a cheque for the accumulated amount after 30 days of the first claim including any subsequent ones in that time period. We will then look after all the mailing etc and your buyer can expect delivery within eight days of us receiving the request.




Fall Saltmarsh

oil painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Carol Jenkins, Ward, 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 Gulnar Sacoor of Portugal, who wrote, “Congratulations. Felicitations for the publication of “The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters.” I have truly enjoyed reading them and have grown in many ways with them.”

(RG note) Thanks, Gulnar. And thanks to everyone who wrote to offer congratulations. With a little study of this inbox, we have emails like the above from 56 countries.

And also Deby Adair who wrote, “I’d really like to say that your words have shed real value over the years and that, for an artist, you ain’t a bad writer!”

And also Paula Timpson who wrote this poem:

Believe in Love and Art
Art is Life!
Art is Nature!
Art is
a way to help others find
GRACE in their lives…


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for A new book



From: Gail Harper,NY — Nov 27, 2009

having ordered last week I am SO looking forward to the book….thank you to you and your hardworking crew!

From: Carole Mayne — Nov 27, 2009
From: Darla — Nov 27, 2009

Congratulations, Robert, on the collection and publication of your thought-provoking and inspirational letters!

From: Patty Cucman — Nov 27, 2009

Bob, I am exhausted just thinking about how much you accomplish. I feel inadequate. I look forward to late night reading.

From: Nancy O’Toole — Nov 27, 2009

Dear Bob

Congratulations & what an accomplishment! I have just ordered the book for myself and will be ordering more I know for sure. i love the idea of picking it up without having to go online all the time. It’s a BEAUTY..and good on you! Can’t wait to get it & browse at my leisure. There is nothing quite like reading a good book, and yours will be that I know from past experience!

Sincerely, Nancy

From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Nov 27, 2009

Kudos, Mr. Genn! The work involved must have been mind-boggling, not to mention time-consuming. Thank you for finding the time. Now you can rest and paint…unless of course, you are working on Volume #2!!! :) Take Care.

From: Doug Key — Nov 28, 2009

I am really hoping for another 10 years of letters from you. I only started a couple of years ago, and I really enjoy them. When I read one that could apply to a songwriter/musician as well, I forward it to my son in Brooklyn, who is pushing his way into the music business. Thanks for sharing your common sense and inspiration!

Greensboro, NC

From: Ann Fullerton — Nov 28, 2009

Congratulations!! Your book will certainly fly off the shelves I’m sure. I have never replied to any of your twice weekly letters, but I have certainly enjoyed reading them and find them thoughtful and with great insight. I am an artist and instructor at Visual Arts Mississauga, Ontario, and I have been able to relate to so many of the letters, especially regarding teaching art. Thank you for your words!

From: Teresa Hitch — Nov 28, 2009

A true harvest of one’s life, that brings together so many people in meaningful communication!

From: Debra McGuire — Nov 28, 2009

Much respect, and congratulations on your book…can’t wait to write mine.

From: Jonas Pilkington — Nov 28, 2009
From: Bette Anderson — Nov 28, 2009

Good for you, I just love your enthusiasm. Your Mom and Dad would be so proud and I am sure their energy is with you.

From: Jan Rosgen — Nov 28, 2009

Robert, it must be the stars! It was this morning that my own book, “You ARE an Artist!”, became sort-of public. Many of your sentiments repeat what has been going on in my own mind today!

From: Sheila Swanson — Nov 28, 2009

I have been receiving your twice weekly letters for several years now and continue to look forward to the next one. I have enjoyed, learned, and been inspired by them. Keep up the good work.

From: Ruth Payne — Nov 28, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS on your new book! Bravo…you are unstoppable and an icon in the art community. You have become a walking and talking art-info reference library.

From: Peggy Small — Nov 28, 2009

Now, maybe, I can get rid of all those sheets of keepers on my desk, and letters on my computer.

From: Ann Jones — Nov 28, 2009

Now I see why I didn’t copy and save all your letters. I fretted that I had never done it, not knowing that you would give us this second chance – along with an index! Thank you.

UK tedann@zetnet.co.uk

From: Madeline M. Allen / SmudgeArt — Nov 28, 2009

“The covers of this book are NOT too far apart.” I love your letters, and your book is on my “Christmas Wish List”

Happy Holidays!

From: Anne Parker, — Nov 28, 2009

So good to hear that beautiful books are still being published–Long Live Beautiful Books.

From: Kay Christopher — Nov 30, 2009

You have made an amazing difference in my life with your letters and this is true of so many people around the world. Thank you for your consistency and generosity. You are beyond inspiring!

From: Elena — Dec 01, 2009

Can you make it available on Kindle?

From: Deanna Johnson — Dec 01, 2009

That is I as I read about FASPS. You put into words exactly how I sleep and work in my studio. Thank you for verbalizing that condition.

From: Marni California — Dec 10, 2009

Late congratulations on the publication of your book – nice to see the Bierce quote, even though I’m sure it doesn’t apply in this instance!

From: Ron Wilson — Aug 01, 2010
From: Tim Russell — Nov 29, 2010

This is absolutely the best, most comprehensive book for any artist to have. It has a huge index that makes for easy access to the considerable information. Robert’s approach is holistic; he understands the whole process, motivation, technique, work ethic, habits, everything an artist needs to understand himself and succeed.

From: Tracey — Jul 08, 2011

I am a brand new follower of yours, Robert, and I love your voice. Thank you for being there. And your parents DO see the book. Congrats!

From: Ted Martinez — Aug 06, 2011

One of the things I have found is when I paint to please other people I tend to lose the free spirit creative edge that comes only with total freedom to explore different techniques in different mediums. Once I get locked in as a portrait artist or landscapes it is almost like being put in a cage.

I used to be a commercial artist and illustrator and sometimes felt like a prostitute and making things look better than they really were for money didn’t seem right after a while so I quit doing that but some of it still hangs over. My paintings sell fairly well but I am at the point that I really don’t care if they sell or not and I am no longer chained to what other people want.

From: jeannie bliss foye — Sep 24, 2011

love receiving your emails on art

you realty help me to get on and start

creativity has been in me for a long time it is true

but when younger was not aware of the inner pleasurable resources too

But love your letters and know friends who do also renew

there love of art with the help of you

regards and thanks for your sharing too

From: Sidney Chambers — Feb 18, 2012

Dear Robert, I have kept every e mailed letter you sent me since I joined some years ago, I have them in a file on my AppleMac. I had no idea you would turn them into a book, I think I shot myself in the foot on that one….doh! Kind regards,





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