Success Syndromes


Dear Artist,

Success in art is the approximate realization of potential.

Success requires effort, often on unpredictable levels. You may have noted that the feeling of success breeds self-esteem and quickly heals the wounds of previous failures. Right or wrong it’s the need for these little regular fixes that keep a lot of us going. Set up right, studio life can give a supply of these injections. It’s a matter of pacing your true self and coming to an understanding of your own metabolism. You find success when you are able to answer regularly the question, “What shall I do now?”

Being able to ask this question and to answer it directly and truthfully with action is the glory of art. A friend phoned the other day and said “I feel so damned lucky — I can do what I want.” It’s not a selfish, self indulgent way of being. It’s natural. It’s the other stuff that’s unnatural.

Success is being able to part with your finest hour. Success is falling in love with daisyness. Success is approving what you yourself do. Success is becoming an expert in minor items. Success is forgetting the names and even the faces of your critics. Success means taking more pains than necessary to do the job. Success is when you can inhale the mystery of our world and interpret it on your own terms. Success is when the mail-person, bearer of checks, is unheard, unnoticed and unnecessary.


“Coast Scene near Dunbar” 1847
by John Ruskin

Best regards,


PS: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours; ” (William Wordsworth, 1806)

“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it.” (John Ruskin, 1851)



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