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The Painter’s Keys Letters Archive


The archive is a rich resource of art information and advice for artists and creative people looking for meaningful content. You can access every one of the Robert Genn Twice-Weekly letters since the year 2000 and Sara Genn letters since 2014, including shared responses from the worldwide creative art community. This is a timeless collection of material formed by the brotherhood and sisterhood of artists, where all flags fly.

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2003 Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

  • Resolutions anonymous
      December 30th, 2003
  • It's all very confidential of course, but this is the time of year when artists send us their New Year's resolutions. The idea is that we send them back to you in 365 days. Read On

  • Boxing day
      December 26th, 2003
  • "How does one keep from becoming discouraged with one's style of painting after a long dry spell with no sales, and no interest from new galleries?" Read On

  • A Christmas Carol
      December 23rd, 2003
  • Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of the most popular writers of all time. During the social upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, more than any other novelist he helped bring about change.In A Christmas Carol the message is clear. If a miserable miser such as Ebenezer Scrooge can remake himself into a nice guy, then anything is possible. Read On

  • Staying high
      December 19th, 2003
  • The "Harvard Mental Health Letter" reports a recent study concerning mood swings and artists. The study found that about a third of the artists suffered severe mood swings, and 25 percent underwent long periods of elation. Read On

  • Two solitudes
      December 16th, 2003
  • Yesterday Stephen Quiller was passing through and we invited him to come over for lunch. Stephen is what I call a "field" artist. These days up in Creede, Colorado, he straps on his cross-country skis as well as his paint box. For the most part I like to stay warm in the studio. Read On

  • A Bouguereau in the basement
      December 12th, 2003
  • I'm willing to bet that lots of artists have never heard of William Bouguereau(pronounced boo-grow). One of the most celebrated artists of his time-his fortunes reached a low ebb about 1970 when his work could be had at auction for under a thousand dollars. Read On

  • A wonderful line
      December 9th, 2003
  • Anyone who takes a lingering look at the work of Egon Schiele can't help but be impressed. A brief, bright star in Austrian art (he died in a flu epidemic in 1918, age 28), his drawings, his painted drawings, and his drawn paintings are electrifying. Depraved subject matter aside, his is a line to behold. Read On

  • Negotiating depression
      December 5th, 2003
  • I've come to realize that my take on depression may not be typical. Just as an alcoholic is a depressed person self-medicating, we tend toward what is available to us--some in a healthy, some in an unhealthy way. My take, and my admission, is that life is depressing. It gets this way precisely because it's potentially so darned wonderful. Read On

  • Emily (1996-2003)
      December 2nd, 2003
  • When I returned from my recent trip, Emily, our Airedale, had a small cough. She was a bit sluggish. Yesterday morning at 8.30 Emily went in for an exploratory operation and small nodules were found throughout her abdomen. Her spleen was removed--and while coming out of her anesthesia she went into cardiac arrest. She died in their hands. Read On

  • The Orientalists
      November 28th, 2003
  • The 19th century artistic imagination saw the Orient as a land inhabited by folks in fez or turban who spent their time reclining on luxurious couches in clouds of incense, surrounded by semi-naked slaves and languid odalisques. This was the mythical world of the Orient as depicted by Western art. Read On

  • The Devil's Paint-Box
      November 25th, 2003
  • Somewhere among the warrens of the Fes medina you enter a dark, unmarked doorway, bump your head climbing narrow stairs and then pass through corridors hung closely with leather products. Spread below, covering about an acre, is what looks like a giant's paint box. It's the tanner's souk. Read On

  • Travel dazzle
      November 21st, 2003
  • I took a four-wheel-drive out into the Chebbi Erg. This is about 50 clicks east of Erfoud in central Morocco. It's a bump or two across a roadless gravel mirage until you come to the beginning of the Sahara dunes. From there you're looking at about fifty days by camel to Timbuctu. Read On

  • Jacques Majorelle
      November 18th, 2003
  • Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) was the son of a celebrated furniture designer of Nancy, France. Suffering from heart problems, he came to Marrekesh for his health in 1919 and immediately saw the painterly potential of southern Morocco. Read On

  • Morocco bound
      November 14th, 2003
  • In Morocco we have the farthest western reach of the historic Arab world. With it came a brilliant culture, learning, architecture, laws, and one of the world's most involving religions. Read On

  • Islamic art
      November 11th, 2003
  • Here in Tunis, portraiture is virtually non-existent. People are depicted as types rather than as individuals. In the early days of Islam, paganism was a threat. Arab theologians feared that the faithful might come to venerate pictures of Mahomet, as the Christians had done with effigies of Jesus, Mary, etc. It would, they thought, be an insult to try to accurately depict the Deity. Read On

  • The layered day
      November 7th, 2003
  • The minaret calls five times a day: dawn, noon, mid afternoon, sundown and dinner. Here in Tunis it's the eighth day of Ramadan and most good Moslems are fasting. Apart from the ideas of purification charity and sobriety, there's the concept of resolve… taking control and managing personal habits. Read On

  • Dream factory
      November 4th, 2003
  • At the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt there's a spectacular collection of Soviet Art. Massive oil paintings, posters, grandiose architectural renderings, and soviet propaganda films. The show is called "Dream Factory." Read On

  • Universal artist
      October 31st, 2003
  • Goethe is one of my favorite guys. He is, of course, a universal hero--celebrated in books, festivals, plays, conferences and websites. This is in part because he loved connectivity and understood the viral nature of culture. Read On

  • Faith, Hope and Charity
      October 28th, 2003
  • Near the entrance to Roberts Bay on Lake Joseph there are three small islands known as Faith, Hope and Charity. It's making me think about the artist who wrote a month ago: "Faith," she said, "is what you have when you believe in something that you know isn't true. Hope is all you have left when everything else fails. And Charity is good to give but requires filling out too many forms to get." Read On

  • Off season
      October 24th, 2003
  • On Roberts Bay on Lake Joseph in Ontario's cottage country there's hardly a soul to be seen. Except for the call of a solitary loon, the place is silent. There's something about the off season. I'm painting in a sewing-room attached to a boathouse. Read On

  • The West-East convention
      October 21st, 2003
  • Particularly in landscape art there's a tendency to plunk down the easel where the good stuff just happens to be. But often, not always, a westward look and feeling can be well depicted with a right-weighted, left-facing composition. The reverse for an eastward look. Read On

  • Restless brush syndrome
      October 17th, 2003
  • Restless brush syndrome is where the brush tends to move too much. It covers more ground than it needs in order to convey its message. We're not talking about legitimate blending and brushing out--we're talking about going over the same place. Read On

  • The creative obligation
      October 14th, 2003
  • Through art, and through the collective art spirit, there's opportunity to reduce the effects of fear, ignorance, poverty, prejudice, even hatred among our human family. Read On

  • About fire
      October 10th, 2003
  • Several artists visited my studio today. With each friend I came around to asking a similar question: "What’s firing you up these days?" The answers were as wide and varied as their artistic personalities—-from concerns of ecology, health, failed relationships, teachers, clubs, joy of painting, and just plain joy. Read On

  • Latent inhibition
      October 7th, 2003
  • Psychologists from the University of Toronto and Harvard University have identified one of the biological bases of creativity. The study seems to show that the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli. Other people's brains might shut out this same information through a process called "latent inhibition". Read On

  • Illusionary structures
      October 3rd, 2003
  • As an artist your job is to explore the potential that your imagination prompts. Don't lock yourself into one palette. Art, as well as being an examination of truth, is also catharsis. Read On

  • Hunting and gathering
      September 30th, 2003
  • On Saturday I was looking for something to paint when I noticed a commotion near at hand in the bush. A bear, I thought. Then the hook of a walking-cane stuck out. A man's voice and then a man emerged. "Lookin' fer an' pickin' choke-cherries," he said. Read On

  • Studio Definitions
      September 26th, 2003
  • Yesterday, after some friends had left my studio, I realized that I'd been bumbling around and lacing the atmosphere with some odd words and phrases. While gathering up the empty glasses, I also reminded myself that, as individualists, we all have the right to "name and claim" our own terms. Read On

  • Interlude
      September 23rd, 2003
  • Last night as we were arriving at a friend's home for dinner, a taxi pulled up with a strange man carrying a strange metal box. Not one of our usual group, I thought. We were all surprised when our host's guest took an oud out of its box."The oud is the ancestor of the guitar," he said, "played in Mesopotamia before 3000 BC. This one was made in Turkey; it is the voice of my work." Read On

  • Anxiety creativity
      September 19th, 2003
  • At exam time in university I used to notice a curious burst of wild creativity. When I ought to be buckling down and attending to study--my mind somehow overflowed with inviting new projects. It was at that time that I invented a method of applying paint to canvasses from great distances with the use of a hot-air balloon. I call this phenomenon "Anxiety creativity" or "AC." Read On

  • Join the Union
      September 16th, 2003
  • Recently there's been a lot of publicity about the benefits of a short, brisk walk. Have you noticed that your creative imagination and resolve are strengthened when you get the old heart pumping? Or that a brisk walk can help you to get unstuck from a sticky situation? Read On

  • Changing standards?
      September 12th, 2003
  • This morning I was cruising my collection of old art magazines. In The Artist (Britain) from March, 1938, in "Readers Queries Answered" there was some fun stuff. Read On

  • The order of things
      September 9th, 2003
  • Yesterday, hanging over the shoulder of a friend, I watched him put in the sky, then the barn, then the grass in front. Thinking about my friend's relatively simple subject, I realized that I give a lot of thought to the order that I'll put in my various elements. Read On

  • Fire duty
      September 5th, 2003
  • Stew Turcotte is the owner-operator of the Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Kelowna had been struck by a huge forest fire that resulted in the loss of 250 homes. At times 30,000 people were on "evacuation advisory." Officers banged on doors and told people to be out in two hours. With water-bombers and helicopters overhead, Stew's van could be seen in and out of smoky driveways hurriedly picking up art for safe storage. Read On

  • Goethe
      September 2nd, 2003
  • For two hundred years Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) has had something to say to creative people. Goethe was a German poet, novelist, playwright and scientist. Some things he didn't get right. Going against the findings of Sir Isaac Newton who had determined that colour came from white light, Goethe figured colour was merely a form of darkness. Read On

  • Fall Fair
      August 29th, 2003
  • In a community hall on a beautiful, rural island, Margery Brown is polishing her gravenstines and her summer squash. Up-stairs, in "Art," Margery's painting of a rooster has taken second in the Watercolour category. All this will win her "points." Margery is coming close to being overall trophy winner. Read On

  • Subliminal art
      August 25th, 2003
  • In 1980 a university media professor, Wilson Bryan Key, wrote a book that caused quite a fuss. It was an inquiry into the use of subliminal images--mostly in advertising--but also in fine art. Read On

  • The art of Robert Lenkiewicz
      August 22nd, 2003
  • Robert Lenkiewicz is one of my favorite painters. He died on May 5, 2002, age 60, of complications arising from heart problems. Born in north London, the son of refugees who ran a hotel, Lenkiewicz went to St Martin's College of Art and Design at the age of 16 and later the Royal Academy. However, he was largely self-taught. Read On

  • Just for today
      August 19th, 2003
  • Just for today I'm going to try to make a better painting. We're not talking Sistine Chapel here, just a piece of joy begun and ended between sunup and sundown. Read On

  • Sabbatical
      August 15th, 2003
  • Yesterday my friend wrote, "Next year I'll be taking 6 months off work. During that time I want to get better at painting and develop my own style. How do I best do this?" I've got a system for anyone with a week, a month, or even for the big sabbatical at the end. Read On

  • Sir Winston Churchill's art
      August 12th, 2003
  • In 1915, after the debacle in the Dardanelles, and with an ugly war transpiring across the English Channel, Winston Churchill was let go from the British Admiralty. Anxious to relax his mind and emotions, he purchased a box of oil paints. Read On

  • Art picking
      August 8th, 2003
  • Yesterday I was an art picker. My fellow pickers were art instructor Victor Arcega and popular sculptor Craig Benson. I don't know about them, but I think this was the biggest show I've ever juried. There were 852 works entered. The organization asked for 450 finalists, but we erred on the side of what we thought was quality and selected 320. Read On

  • Colour therapy
      August 5th, 2003
  • Dr. Reuben Amber, in his book Colour Therapy says that proper attention to colour can control obesity. Colours may calm, excite, arrest, motivate, or even heal. In art they need to be understood and used with both intelligence and intuition. Read On

  • Confidence
      August 1st, 2003
  • In times of reasonable painting I often ask myself where my confidence comes from. Why is it that some days this goddess merely appears, seemingly unbidden, while other days I have to work hard to get a glimpse of her? Read On

  • Choose your attitude
      July 29th, 2003
  • Andrew and Debra Veal started rowing their 23-foot plywood boat across the Atlantic. After 13 days, Andrew bailed out. That left Debra. The 3000 mile journey that was supposed to take 6 weeks, took Debra more than three months. Through it all, pinned up in front of her rowing station, were the words "Choose your attitude." Read On

  • Time to choose?
      July 25th, 2003
  • When you are going in a certain direction, go hard. Give it everything you've got. Also, look at your focus work as exploration, not product. When your flame burns down, smile, start again on another. Leonardo knew that finding yourself is not one of the main things you have to do--it's the only thing you have to do. Read On

  • Form them up
      July 22nd, 2003
  • For many artists, form comes easier when it's not too well drawn--or not drawn at all. Form is "found." It's found by looking at the work in progress and patching together swatches of tone that go together to describe what you want to see. I often think of the old sculptor's advice: "Just chip away everything that doesn't look like a horse." Read On

  • The naive choice
      July 18th, 2003
  • "Naive," or "primitive art," according to arts writer Linda Murray, means "untrained artists in a sophisticated society." According to Murray it's "an unspoiled vision consistent with 'amateur,' or 'Sunday' painter, admired for its connotations of genuineness and purity of artistic impulse, and freedom from the trammels of professionalism, tradition, technique, and formal training." Read On

  • Sprezzatura
      July 15th, 2003
  • The Italians have a name for it--Sprezzatura--studied carelessness--works apparently done without effort. Vasari, Raphael and Leonardo were exponents. A great deal of contemporary work is blessed with sprezzatura. Picasso's drawings are a good example.For some artists, being careless is as difficult as undercooking the spaghetti. Read On

  • Your creative truth
      July 11th, 2003
  • I'm realizing that an artist's own creative truth is really all that matters. It's more than just looking for things to inflict your style on--it has to do with inhaling and exhaling. Getting it in depth. Read On

  • A Mutt decision
      July 8th, 2003
  • In 1912 Marcel Duchamp took a urinal, signed it R. Mutt and put it in an art gallery. Some at the time called it art--most everybody else thought it was--a urinal. As we speak, "Mutt decisions" are being made all over the world. Read On

  • High exaltation
      July 4th, 2003
  • I'm writing to you from the Tonquin Valley Trail near Jasper, Alberta, Canada. Three days walking, two nights tenting, in and out. Sara, Richard, Emily and Dorothy are up ahead. We're in high spirits. Read On

  • Cutting edgers
      June 27th, 2003
  • Recent worldwide studies undertaken by Co-Sight, a Paris-based media company, have uncovered some demographics that affect artists and the future of art. The study looked at what they called "cutting edgers"--the 15 percent of the population who are known as early adopters of technology, aesthetics, food, drink, personal care, health, etc. Read On

  • Silhouette
      June 24th, 2003
  • Silhouettes were originally profile portraits, generally in black. In the early days they were often taken from a shadow cast by a candle onto a sheet of paper. The word silhouette crept into the language after the unpopular Etienne de Silhouette, the French Minister of Finance in 1759. Read On

  • Black beauty
      June 20th, 2003
  • Renoir declared, "I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colours is black!" What he meant was that black works as a darkener because its near chromal neutrality does not sully the colour it grays. Read On

  • Captain Otto's Cello
      June 17th, 2003
  • Yesterday the painter and musician Guttorn Otto visited my studio. Born in Poland in 1919, Guttorn was conscripted into the German army. After the war he was billeted on a Bavarian farm where he worked for two sisters. In an attic room Otto found a dilapidated cello formerly owned by one of the sisters' dead brothers. Otto repaired the cello and taught himself to play. When he immigrated to Canada in 1952, the cello came with him. Read On

  • The Blessing
      June 13th, 2003
  • It's pretty hard to describe something when you can't put your finger exactly on it. Some people just seem to be blessed with the ability to paint, others are not so blessed. Some never try, others work diligently at it. When you see it demonstrated, you know it, you can see it. I call it "The Blessing." Read On

  • Figuring it out
      June 10th, 2003
  • Stephan Stephansson was born in Iceland in 1853 where his formal education lasted one month. His family immigrated to Wisconsin, USA, where in 1878 he married his cousin Helga Jonsdottir. They re-settled near a place called Markerville in Alberta, Canada. Read On

  • White on white
      June 6th, 2003
  • There's a marvelous painting by John Singer Sargent called "The Artist in his Studio." It shows a balding man in obviously reduced circumstances, his canvas half onto his mussed bed. He's attempting to match colours from what appears to be a postcard. Read On

  • The art of matching
      June 3rd, 2003
  • There's a marvelous painting by John Singer Sargent called The Artist in his Studio. It shows a balding man in obviously reduced circumstances, his canvas half onto his mussed bed. He's attempting to match colours from what appears to be a postcard. Read On

  • The story of red
      May 30th, 2003
  • Cochineal is a red dyestuff extracted from the blood of a beetle parasite on Prickly Pear Cacti. Formerly used to make carmine and scarlet lakes, it was first imported from Mexico into Europe in 1560. British army uniforms were dyed with it. It's still in use today. As a colourant for Cherry Coke, beetle blood is known as "Colour Additive E120." Processed meats are full of it. Read On

  • Recovery
      May 27th, 2003
  • A player breaks away, speeds down the ice, then, in a confused dust-up, loses control of the puck. Somehow, miraculously, he manages to get it again--and goes on to score. It's called "recovery." Read On

  • Ultramarine Blue
      May 23rd, 2003
  • The original ultramarine blue was made from the semiprecious stone lapis lazuli. Processes for making the pigment in the West date from the 12th century, but it was being made six centuries earlier in Eastern countries. Its name comes from the Italian azzurro oltremarino, which means "blue from beyond the sea." Read On

  • Keeping records
      May 20th, 2003
  • Naturally, because of my extreme incompetence at keeping records, I'm fascinated with the subject of record keeping. Recently I was given a small device that hooks on my belt and keeps track of some of my daily activities. Yesterday, for example, I took 5034 steps, covered 3.8 kilometers and burned 143 calories. Read On

  • The short list
      May 16th, 2003
  • In the pursuit of personal meaning and purpose in art, gently and surely there's a short list that practically always applies to everybody. To my way of thinking the short list is a sort of universal truth. I like to think that its application results in being "highly realized." Read On

  • Wonder of line
      May 13th, 2003
  • Many of us pay a lot of attention to line. We find that the edges of things practically always need adjustment, improvement, emphasis or restyling. Read On

  • Triumph of the id
      May 9th, 2003
  • The id is defined as "inherited instinctive impulses of the individual as part of the unconscious." It's also generally associated with sex drive. What got me going on this was the recent observation by several friends that I had what they thought was an "instinct for art." Read On

  • Ego
      May 6th, 2003
  • Yesterday and today I did a bit of one-on-one mentoring. Reactions from those I mentored ranged from bristling to passive acceptance. Even though I tried my best to be diplomatic and gentle, egos were vulnerable. Read On

  • Rivalry and friendship
      May 2nd, 2003
  • Art historian Jack Flam has written a new book about the relationship between Matisse and Picasso. It's useful reading for any artist who has a close and competitive friend in the same business. Read On

  • Yellow
      April 29th, 2003
  • Traditionally, yellow has come from five main sources--mango, gamboge, orpiment, ochre and saffron. These days the pigment business is greatly synthetic. Colour-making represents the confluence of the art of chemistry and the chemistry of art. Read On

  • Avoiding the borinary
      April 25th, 2003
  • "Don't play what's there, play what's not there," said the jazz artist Miles Davis. His thought is one of the keys to avoiding the boringly ordinary--"the borinary." Read On

  • Nuances
      April 22nd, 2003
  • “With our calculated sensitivity we artists are able to see and to some degree reproduce nuances that others may know of but not be able to express.” Read On

  • Tool kit
      April 18th, 2003
  • I was stuffing my basic travel-easel when a new friend phoned: "I want to be a successful artist," he said, "What do I need in my kit?" I told him he needed six items in his kit: time, space, series, media, books and desire. Read On

  • Timeless and timely
      April 15th, 2003
  • If, as Marshall McLuhan noted, "Art is a rear vision mirror," does one stick to the timeless, the traditional and spiritual qualities of the path, or should one record the place for what it is? Read On

  • Making adjustments
      April 8th, 2003
  • The more I go at this game the more I realize it's a business of making adjustments. Many adjustments are pretty darned minor--even trivial. It seems to me it's the trivial stuff that makes the difference. Read On

  • Creative peaking
      April 4th, 2003
  • We artists experience a phenomenon called "creative peaking." There are two main types: "macropeaks" and "micropeaks." The first are the big ones, the life ones--like Mozart was said to have peaked at age 16. Micropeaks are daily, even hourly. Where you are in your cycle is useful knowledge. Read On

  • In praise of supports
      April 1st, 2003
  • Supports. I'm not talking about the people who support you while you're having fun with art. I'm talking about the stuff we work on--canvases, panels, cards, papers--generally referred to as "the support." Read On

  • In praise of wild places
      March 28th, 2003
  • In 1934, Ansel Adams took a break from his work on the effects of the Great Depression on humanity and visited King's Canyon, near Yosemite. This event, and the photography that followed were to result in a refreshed commitment to parks and reserves. Read On

  • In praise of crazy
      March 25th, 2003
  • Some people think she's crazy. She's a bronco-busting, motorcycle-riding, video-making, sky-diving, giant-picture-painting kind of girl. Zoe has what appears to be irrational exuberance as well as private enthusiasm. Read On

  • Artists' requiem
      March 21st, 2003
  • On this dawn of another war most artists of our community are against it. Our "anti-wars" are higher than in international polls. Despite the silent majority, it looks to me as if many artists see war as a failure of creativity. Read On

  • Count your blessings
      March 18th, 2003
  • A friend, shaken by a personal disaster, phones to discuss "varnishing." We have an inventory of our blessings: The privilege of making with our hands. The joy of working things out for ourselves. The fun of winding one up. The anticipation of starting another. Read On

  • A strange business
      March 14th, 2003
  • You may remember a few weeks ago I wrote about a senior artist, E. J. Hughes, not attending a major retrospective of his paintings. Lately I've been reading an excellent transcript by Ian Thom of the correspondence that took place over a forty-year period between the artist and his dealer. Read On

  • The dealer-friendly website
      March 11th, 2003
  • Last week the most frequent questions jingling my inbox concerned artist's websites. Fact is, most of them don't work very well and artists often don't know why. Read On

  • The fine art of journaling
      March 7th, 2003
  • An epidemic of journaling and scrap-booking is threatening to overtake stamp collecting as a private and not so private pastime. Some are graphically fun, full of torn photos, sayings, intimate drawings, diary inserts, self-indulgencies and the poetic detritus of a life. Read On

  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
      March 4th, 2003
  • Apart from the fact that it was always a beautiful day in the neighborhood, Fred Rogers taught us a lot of subtle and valuable lessons. His place was generally tidy. He got ready for what he was going to do. He took his time. He showed us how to be gentle. He liked people and animals. He made it okay to be curious. Read On

  • The buddy system in art
      February 28th, 2003
  • If you're going swimming, you're better off if you swim with a friend. So goes the theory. Folks who get together and paint on Thursday mornings know what I'm talking about. There's something to be said for collective consciousness, shared energy, or maybe just the joy of like-minded companionship. Read On

  • The fine art of hanging onto dogs
      February 24th, 2003
  • Recently I've had my knuckles thoroughly rapped for recommending one of my favorite creative acts--burning bothersome paintings. Environmentalists have pointed out that it’s not only anti-social, in some places it's illegal. Chastened, I'm now turning your attention to the fine art of hanging onto your dogs. And what to do with them. Read On

  • Shining path
      February 21st, 2003
  • For “toning up” the creative spirit, this is a worthwhile exercise. You need a fresh roll of film in your camera, twenty minutes, and an attitude. Before you start out, try to sit quietly, breathe deeply, close your mind to dull thoughts, and think intently on the words: “Observation mode.” Read On

  • Shining light
      February 18th, 2003
  • Photographers, unencumbered by a thousand years of process, have shone their light onto new levels of pictorial creativity. Read On

  • Erotic art show
      February 14th, 2003
  • Thirty of our local artists got together and put on an Erotic Art Show. They rented an extensive second-floor space, lined up the local media and threw an opening. Apparently the place was jammed. Read On

  • What should I do with my life?
      February 11th, 2003
  • After a day of one-on-one artist mentoring last Saturday, I realized that so many of us are asking the question: "What should I do with my life?" As I've spent a lifetime trying to figure this one out--I consider myself a bit of an expert. Read On

  • Body of work
      February 7th, 2003
  • What happens to an artist's “body of work" after death? How do artists deal with this issue? It seems so overwhelming to me to think about...or maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about it at all." Read On

  • E. J. Hughes
      February 4th, 2003
  • One of the interesting things about Ed Hughes is the deal he cut with his dealer fifty years ago. The dealer was Max Stern of Montreal's Dominion Gallery. Ed lives in a bungalow on the west coast of Canada. Ed and Max have only met four times. Their deal was done by mail. Read On

  • Our learning curve
      January 31st, 2003
  • Writing these twice-weekly letters and digesting the responses has been a tremendous learning curve. In so doing we both have gained a better understanding of ourselves--our goals, joys and self-images Read On

  • Word training
      January 28th, 2003
  • In my last letter I touched on the idea that your vocabulary might be responsible for personal happiness, effectiveness or creativity. Could it be possible that we are formed by the words we use? Read On

  • Your thinking words
      January 24th, 2003
  • I rather like the idea of "thought police." Many of us maintain our own precincts. The constable on duty stands guard against the moles that undermine our temples. He arrests those who would steal our potential. He runs surveillance on what comes out of our mouths and gives warnings to the unruly felons of our heads. The wise among us pay attention to his ticketing. Read On

  • How to be happy
      January 21st, 2003
  • Psychologist Martin Seligman has determined three levels of happiness--what he calls the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life. Read On

  • Golden obsession
      January 17th, 2003
  • For those of us with addictive personalities it's a matter of "bait and switch." The bait is the increased quality of life that you give yourself by being creative. The daily, hourly joy you get by making things. There is plenty enough in art to keep a person high for life. Realizing the weaknesses within ourselves we permit a "golden obsession." Read On

  • How to write a CV
      January 14th, 2003
  • In a Utopia, people would bring art into their lives because it moved their hearts. Because it made them laugh, cry, think better of their fellow man, or gave them joy, or understanding, or simply flooded their souls with magic. But ours is not a Utopia. Hence we have CVs. Read On

  • The art of Cuba
      January 10th, 2003
  • In this island of 11 million, a handful of chosen artists are the ones who are recognized, get the press and are hung in the public galleries. If taste and craftsmanship were criteria, there's not much going on. Read On

  • An artist of Cuba
      January 7th, 2003
  • Artists present a problem for the Cuban socialist bureaucracy. Down here artists are characterized as "independent manufacturers." In a quota-based economy the creative spirit, artistic effort and output are difficult to quantify. Read On

  • Serious collectors
      January 3rd, 2003
  • In my experience, collectors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are turned on by mystery and challenge, others by art that makes them feel comfortable. Investment, decoration, fashion, escape and pure impulse are factors in collectorship, but you have to know that collectors may respond to a variety of motivations that are often beyond an artist's calculation. Read On




TWL Letters

Be witness to Robert Genn's abiding faith in the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Artists and you will be informed, inspired, and motivated. On first publication of this book November 27, 2009, Robert wrote: "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."

Temporarily out of stock

"Thank-you for your friendship." (Robert Genn)

The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters, 960 pages--ten years of over a thousand unabridged letters including an 82 page index. Six by nine inches and more than two inches thick, this beautiful book is hardbound Red Cayenne with a separate dust-jacket, a red ribbon, and shipped in a custom protective book-box.

Last modified: Feb 26, 2017