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No fish today?

April 17, 2012

Dear Artist,

Last Friday I was pacing the studio, bumping into doors and walls, tripping on canvases, knocking over cups of pre-mixed acrylic. "What to do?" I was asking myself. In my panic I briefly impaled myself on a brush I had forgotten to wash the day before. Like my head, it was hard and thick but still held a good point. Some days there ain't no fish.

I had a look in my near-gridlocked inbox. I searched "what to do" and got 14 returns from recent incoming emails. They were asking the same question, and I, in my flimsy guruness, was stuck for answers.

I decided to consult the Brotherhood and Sisterhood via the Resource of Art Quotations on our site. It's a place like no other--enriched by the great artists including our own subscribers. My eyes caught on the words of New Zealand painter Beverly Claridge: "Inspiration is a byproduct of discipline."

I realized I had fallen prey to my own fatal error. The day before I'd finished a painting--even signed it before I went to bed. Big mistake. There was nothing left to do on it. I knew it all along. It's always best to sign things early in the day. Then I dug up a faintly remembered quote from Ernest Hemingway: "I learned never to empty the well, but always to stop when there was still something in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."

The quotes were getting me as hot as a firecracker. "Inspiration," said Henri Matisse, "comes while one is working." "I write only when inspiration strikes--fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp," said Somerset Maugham. "Inspiration exists," said Pablo Picasso, "but it has to find you working.

That's when my line started bobbing up and down. Up until then I had been looking for fish in the sky. My line hadn't even been in the water.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "When inspiration doesn't come, I go to meet it." (Sigmund Freud) "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it." (Jack London)

Esoterica: I put the previous day's effort to the wall, went quietly to my workstation, set a virginal canvas on the easel and squeezed paint. I turned up the music, breathed deeply and settled into my routine. "Routine," said Twyla Tharp, "is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more." It was a serene rebirth--a happenstance event loaded with calm desire and gentle optimism. "Inspiration is not born of 'the eureka moment,'" said subscriber Sharon Knettell, "but in the quiet spaces we allow ourselves to be in--whether in a beautiful part of nature or in a peaceful meditative state of mind." My enthusiastic and energetic stroking came later in the project. It builds up. It's the action itself that generates the inspiration.





Thrilling scenes to paint
by Roger Davis, Aspen, CO, USA


I just finished a painting of brown trout in an imagined naturalistic setting Buddies, 16" x 20" Buddies<br>oil painting<br>16 x 20 inches by Roger Davis Buddies
oil painting
16 x 20 inches
oil. The older I get the more I seem to want to paint images which evoke feelings of mystery I had about nature as a boy, e.g., coming upon a fish hovering in a shadow and rising now and then to inspect a possible floating insect. Painting imaginary scenes is difficult but when one works out, the thrill is worth the effort and keeps me going. Each step presents a new beginning: What's the angle of view? Where is the light? color?, tones? Waiting for a key idea. It can be a relief to turn to concrete topic, a still life, or portrait, where decisions seem simpler.



There are 4 comments for Thrilling scenes to paint by Roger Davis

From: Sylvia -- Apr 20, 2012

Nice painting! I have just made the big leap from photos to painting from my imagination. At first I found the challenges frustrating; now, like you, I'm finding the problem-solving rewarding. And I think it forces me to focus on why I chose the subject in the first place: that feeling of mystery, awe and/or delight in nature's spaces.

From: Sally -- Apr 20, 2012

well said Roger. It can be so rewarding when imagined mysteries of childhood become the key idea in a painting; it's definately more complicated to implement. But a confirmation of the soul when it works.

From: madsci51 -- Apr 20, 2012

Great painting for Earth Day. After I mow I will paint an imaged painting.

From: Anne -- May 18, 2012

I was so glad to read this posting. I started painting a few years ago and although I try to practice and follow my various teachers lessons and good habits, i.e. paint from life, look to nature, use reference photos, still life setups in studio, etc....I have always found myself painting from my 'head' during my daily painting sessions--sometime with excellent results if I do say so. When presenting my work in class, I have been chastised-even embarrassed by the instructor. The first question I am asked is where are my reference photos like what I did was a big no-no. When I start a painting from my imagination, I find myself getting lost-the hours flying by and when I finally finish, the level of self satisfaction is much greater for some reason. Thank you all for validation--can't wait to pick up my brushes today!


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Confused by letter
by Tina Bos, Crofton, BC, Canada


I love reading your emails but this one just didn't make a lot of sense. You said it was a big mistake signing the painting late at night--yet it was finished and you were happy with it. Was your signature poorly done? Sorry, I was just trying to figure out if later you weren't happy with the painting by you say you hung it up and started another one. Soooooooo????

(RG note) Thanks, Tina. Sorry, maybe not clear. My signature was fine. The idea is to leave a painting just a bit unfinished when you quit for the night. Then, with something left to do, there's something to get the juices flowing in the morning. Easier to move on to the next painting, too.



There is 1 comment for Confused by letter by Tina Bos

From: Anonymous -- Apr 20, 2012

When I was exclusively doing illustration and design as a freelancer, I hated finishing thelast job in the queue. That getting up in the morning with no prospects was a killer. I heartily agree: [tidy up the studio and] go to bed; finish the painting in the morning.


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Ideas need time to mature
by Adrienne Moore, Vancouver, BC, Canada


As a teacher I was fortunate to work with a group of talented teachers to produce a musical production Figurative #4<br>watercolour painting by Adrienne Moore Figurative #4
watercolour painting
that involved a lot of our Drama and Music students. We tried to be inventive and use our skills to produce a production that would make us proud. We allowed the students a lot of input on how we could interpret the theme so that their ideas were considered as they helped write the script. We improvised on a lot of rewritten music. I was in charge of the production so I learned to allow ideas to germinate without forcing them. Some days there were ''no fish on the line'' and often it was a kind of no show. I ended up with much more stimulating and sound ideas when I left an idea to mature quietly and test it out later. This kind of rational seemed to me to work far better than lamenting on how the ideas will not flow. I often woke up in the middle of the night with a firm concept of how the next scene would work using all the available materials at hand. It seems that we have to trust our creative instincts to guide us on the right path. When now applied to my art studio I am rarely at a loss for ideas. I seem to need to hold back and lose some of the impulsiveness of youth that drove my earlier work and plan a little more carefully.



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Daytime and nighttime work
by David Clinch, London, UK


Been there done it and got the T shirt! That's why it is so important to keep more than one painting going at a time (for example Lucien Freud worked on a nighttime painting and a daytime painting, both at different stages of development). Your letter mentioned 'cups of pre-mixed acrylic' - I am intrigued. Have you explained your painting method anywhere? How do you keep them from going off?

(RG note) Thanks, David. On larger acrylic paintings particularly I premix some of the colours in small yogurt cups (Tip: Put your kids on yogurt). The cups with lids keep the paint wet longer. Generally I go off before they do.



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Constructive boredom leads to inspiration
by Bill Kerr, Courtenay, BC, Canada


When wanting to paint but having inspirational challenges, I went to the household job jar. I selected Eventide at Dockside<br>acrylic painting<br>30 x 24 inches by Bill Kerr Eventide at Dockside
acrylic painting
30 x 24 inches
an excruciatingly boring job that requires no thought whatsoever, power washing. Dressed in wet gear, wearing hearing protection, armed with a device that precluded interruption, I was in a near sensory-deprived state. I day dreamed for sometime but then quite unconsciously drifted to thinking about painting, and of old challenges never fully met, how I might attack anew, new challenges and so forth. It soon became evident I had to write ideas down--they started to flood me as I flooded the deck. Jotting down ideas was impossible immersed in one's own storm.

Must go back and finish the deck some day. Did well to get the machine put away. A little selecting, sketching and so forth thinned the ideas out to a nice little list. Ideas at the head of the list spawned other ideas. I suspect there are several jobs in that jar that could create an inspirational environment simply because of the overwhelming desire to escape the clutches thereof. But of course there is the deck to finish.



There is 1 comment for Constructive boredom leads to inspiration by Bill Kerr

From: Jackie Knott -- Apr 20, 2012

A lovely still mood is evoked in your painting. Great handling of light ... nicely done.


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Keeping a line in the water
by Jacqui Chapman


My College tutor used to say, "You can't think a painting, you can only make a painting" – I have been Swimming pool<br>oil painting by Jacqui Chapman Swimming pool
oil painting
in my studio all day yesterday after a long absence and had a few unruly paintings to tackle and made a start on two more which I am not happy with... but my line's in... hoping for a sardine run soon!

PS: On Facebook this afternoon at 5:15 I posted the painting I had struggled with and finished yesterday and it sold 15 min later! Sardine run it is! Whoopee!



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Ambushed by delight
by Warren Criswell, Benton, AR, USA


Yes, I have a lot of days when the fish aren't biting, muse not singing. The fish, the muse, the mermaids Conjunction<br>watercolour painting<br>30 x 23 inches by Warren Criswell Conjunction
watercolour painting
30 x 23 inches
are indifferent to our creativity--and yet, for me anyway, necessary to it. As you say, you have to work while waiting for the tide to change, but work on what? The same thing over and over (apparently the secret to success for some artists) unfortunately doesn't work for me. This is the advantage of working in several different media. OK, I have no new image, so I'll make a print of an old image, or a sculpture of an old image, or animate an old painting. Those are semi-inspirations in themselves, and sometimes, in the middle of this quasi-repetition --WHAM!-- the muse will kick me in the head.

A few weeks ago, when Venus and Jupiter were in conjunction, I came home late from working on a sculpture at a local foundry. I wasn't thinking of painting, hadn't painted anything for a while, let alone a landscape, and was preoccupied with bronze women. When I got out of car to close the gate, I was ambushed by a sky full of stars. The two bright planets nailed me to the spot, and then the stars multiplied as my eyes adjusted to the dark and became an overwhelming presence. Gradually the trees became visible against the glow of the eastern horizon. Orion was up high, Taurus the Bull, the Pleiades--and then up the road to my left a car came over the hill, headlights sweeping through the trees --WHAM!-- a painting. It was like I had never seen the night sky before.

The problem was that what I was seeing as a painting filled a much wider angle than what you can see without turning your head. Orion was up 45 degrees or more, and the span of the road I was seeing as the base of the composition was about 90 degrees! So this was definitely not a Giotto-perfect moment with one vanishing point and linear perspective. My composition was actually a kind of animation, a record of the journey of my gaze, up and down and back and forth. This moment of unexpected amazement led me to a new kind of skyscape (new to me anyway). This is the way inspiration often comes for me. It's usually something I've seen hundreds of times before--this was my front yard after all!--but yet have never seen in that way.



There are 7 comments for Ambushed by delight by Warren Criswell

From: Jane A -- Apr 19, 2012

This painting is exquisite - I love that feeling when the night sky ambushes you like that.

From: Anita Stephenson -- Apr 20, 2012

I agree with Jane. It is stunning!!

From: Sylvia -- Apr 20, 2012

Exquisite painting, and wonderful description of your painterly process - thank you!

From: Anonymous -- Apr 20, 2012

Very nice magical feeling with the tie to human reality. Well done, Warren!

From: Peter -- Apr 20, 2012

Yes, this painting is exciting. Something that really got me was how long I could stare at it and thinking that every time I did I would wonder if the car kept going straight or went up the driveway. Part of me wanted the car to go up the driveway. Of course, that's what makes a great painting.

From: Michael McDevitt -- Apr 20, 2012

Sweet! I love the fact that it works as small image (thumbnail we get to view), even though you painted on a close to full sheet. Curvilinear perspective solution makes me think of M.C. Escher. It doesn't read as distorted-just intriguing.

From: Sarah -- Apr 21, 2012

Love this painting. You've captured what is so compelling about the evening sky. Do I see Mars as well as Venus and Jupiter?


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A feast of insights
by Miles Patrick Yohnke, Saskatoon, SK, Canada


As always, I sure do appreciate your bi-weekly letter and the insights that they provide. That YOU provide. You're special. Yes, this world states that we are all 'special,' that we are all children of God. But most are too lazy and do little with their lives. Pity. Pity them. Though you sure don't. A blueprint to a man, this is what you could be called. I thank you for including me in your quotes. An honour indeed. Humbled I am.

(RG note) Thanks, Miles. Many of the insights that come from this site are the direct result of our Resource of Art Quotations. That's where many of us get our power. In case readers might not have gone there, please do so. If you have ever written to us, or placed a note in the live comments on the clickback pages, you may find that you are already quoted there.



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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty workshops  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
John Hulsey and Ann Trusty workshops

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Sharon Cory, Winnipeg, MB, Canada



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 Claudio Ghirardo of Mississauga, ON, Canada, who wrote, "I once read that the best way to keep motivated is to have three projects on the go or in the back of your head-- that way you realize there is always something to do."

And also Deborah Ridgley of Cincinnati, OH, USA, who wrote, "A quote in the studio: 'Just begin... and your mind will be heated...and soon your tasks will be completed .'"

And also Redenta Soprano , who wrote, "If I wait overnight for the well to fill I've forgotten my inspiration by morning!"


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for No fish today?...

From: Nancy O'Toole -- Apr 16, 2012

A quote from a friend !
Making art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!
I am inclined to agree!

From: valerie norberry vanorden -- Apr 17, 2012

I am finding quite a bit of inspiration in encouraging others! My husband completed 2 houses in art class last week, and it cheered us both up (after attending an Amish viewing earlier in the afternoon)... The bible says "He who waters shall be watered himself". Refreshed. That is it. No doubt you get refreshed from inspiring others to go on, Robert.

From: Daniela -- Apr 17, 2012

We are muti facetted beings, more than a cerebral pinball machine hoping that a certain quote will send the inspiration through the slot and thus move the brush in the right direction. I used to get those emails from friends where supposed words of the wise rattle on until you are supposed to be equipped for everything........ You would be better of going fishing. Think, feel, taste, smell, brush with life. Emotion = life.

From: ReneW -- Apr 17, 2012

Start it!
Don't look at it....Start it!
Don't imagine it is too difficult....Start it!
Don't put off another day... Start it!
Don't look for someone else to do it___ Start it!
Don't pretend you must think it over___ START IT!

From: Robert Sesco -- Apr 17, 2012

Robert, thanks for taking us into your home for a snapshot of reality; Pressfield, in his book, "The War of Art", addresses the concept of opening a window to The Muse through the activity of work; Tolle, in his book, "The Power of Now" posits that until The Thinker can be ignored by The Knower, inspiration is not possible. I would assume that for many artists, time compresses while working, as it does for me. This compression of time implies a presence, a being, in the Now, from whence inspiration flows!

From: Jenny Adams -- Apr 17, 2012

Thank you Robert. I have borrowed one of your quotes for my email signature, "In art, everyone who plays wins. (Robert Genn)" to which I receive much positive feedback.You just gave me the push I needed to get a brush and get in the game! Checking out the art quotes link I discovered one to post in my studio along side the others ...Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us. (Roy Adzak)hmmm...good to remember. Happy painting!

From: Marvin Humphrey -- Apr 17, 2012

Inspiration is always there when I START a painting. Later, when it needs to be finished, the inspiration appears and gradually builds only AFTER I resume work.

From: Joy Anderson -- Apr 17, 2012

Splish splash...my line is going back in the water today, after a long dry spell. Thanks, I needed that!

From: Sheila Tansey -- Apr 17, 2012

Robert, thanks for making me chuckle! Yes inspiration just "is"...Just recently through the internet I saw an interview with Chuck Close. His words: " Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." I love this...and the get to work part...well that is self-motivation and intention...then comes the inspiration! Thanks!

From: Jack McLachlan -- Apr 17, 2012

I am stuck!! And have been since my last painting in October. Can you give me a kick of some kind?

From: Shirley Erskine -- Apr 17, 2012

I am so glad to hear that you too have "no bites" days. Inspiration has a way of jumping ship just when you are ready to cast your line. I take these days to mean that it is time to sit quietly, just drift and enjoy the scenery. Inspiration will come through relaxation and not through stress. When it does show up you are rested and ready to haul in the big one!

From: Tony Angell -- Apr 17, 2012

I've employed the Hemingway words, or a variation of them, to my own motivation, but like your collection of quotes, there are several "keys" available to put into the ignition.

From: Joy Hanser -- Apr 17, 2012

While I appreciate the point that inspiration comes through work, I also have to stand up for my own contrary Muse, who is likely to pop her grinning face in the unlikeliest locations. Recently I was begging "the Universe", or whatever that grand organizing principle might be called, for a clue to "my own" art. Having been a commercial artist for 30 years and loving it, I now find I haven't yet glimpsed a certain uniqueness which has always both lured me and caused me great dismay for the searching of it. "Maybe it's an illusion!" I have tried to tell myself, and yet, something always denies that, and the search resurfaces with the longing. But then, disappointment with the results when I have tried to express that elusive essence. A sticky wicket!

So that is where the faith comes in. At last, the other day, after yet one more impassioned plea to the Universe for guidance, I finally let it go, to be whatever it's supposed to be, without my anxiety.
And bingo! Without touching a brush in my studio, (taking a sunny weekend break in Victoria helped, I think) there she was! With so many ideas, that yes, here is where the discipline comes in. I confess to having neglected my abundant Muse in the past, which is maybe why she hid for so long! Now I need to honour her, take up brush and paint and express those impulses, whether I like the results aesthetically or not. Faith, that something coherent is there to be developed. No more throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

From: Jacqueline Kinsey -- Apr 17, 2012

I find that if I draw out (start) a bunch of paintings, then come back to them later, I am free to look at it with new eyes and sometimes the lightning bolt hits and I know exactly what I want to say with that particular painting!

Other times...I have to just start applying paint to it and then it comes to me.

Then still, there are those that I just have to put away for more time to simmer on the stove until the time is right for that particular one; as if I know somehow that I'm not ready to do anymore on that one just yet.

From: Dianna Ponting -- Apr 17, 2012

I really enjoyed this letter. It was humorous and self depreciating coming from someone whom I always think of as 'in the zone" and in control at all times. I love this side of you.

From: Junardi Armstrong -- Apr 17, 2012

So, I had a day like that and I didn't pay attention to what was going on with me. I completely ruined a painting. Ended up putting gesso over the entire canvas to begin a new painting at another time. Some days it doesn't pay for me to paint. Am I the only one that has those days?

From: Rick Rotante -- Apr 17, 2012

So many times when ideas seems to not be forthcoming, I've gone into the studio, rummaged through my files and invariably found something to worthwhile to inspire me. Something that didn't strike me at first but now calls to me clearly. Inspiration comes in many forms, but we have to act on it when it does. Working, for me, inspires more ideas. It's lethargy and indifference, sloth that inhibits forward movement. It happens to anyone willing to give it to it.

From: Janice in Kelowna -- Apr 17, 2012

Good ole Matisse! Right on. No guilt here.

From: Andrea Pratt -- Apr 17, 2012

Your guruness is never flimsy.

From: Claudia Roulier -- Apr 17, 2012

If I have those days I simply go to my studio and clean or rearrange for some reason that allows my brain to perk under the surface without actually being aware, finding and going through things gets me thinking in a completely voluntary way.

From: Bev Rodin -- Apr 17, 2012

When in doubt or the fishing is poor.... Read a good book or novel. Read it voraciously and find one you can't put down. For me historical novels and mysteries do the trick. Books take you to another world and are refreshing and creative and visually inspiring.

From: Joe Faith -- Apr 17, 2012

Sounds like a Zen moment if ever I hear one.

From: Evelyn Dunphy -- Apr 17, 2012

This email will be printed out in large font size and put in my studio as well as given to all of my students! .

Thank you for sharing your painting experience. And I must also tell you that I have had very good results from advertising my watercolor workshops on Painters Keys workshop pages.

From: Carol Nordman -- Apr 17, 2012

Thank you for sharing this struggle. It is a powerful truth and, because it came from your own life, I found it even more powerful.

From: Patricia Dimsdale -- Apr 17, 2012

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm just glad that an experienced, famous Canadian artist can have "off" days. While painting for a school mural this morning, I couldn't get the acrylic to co-operate when painting the sky. The expensive acrylic paint was having a bad hair day. Several others were also having problems. I was worried that I had lost it as an artist. Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlet said, so tomorrow I will work on the sky until I figure out how to get along with it. There must be special techniques for it.

From: Jana Russon -- Apr 17, 2012

You spoke of "never emptying the well." I learned during the days of film to nevershoot the last couple frames - - I may need them. It saved me more than once.

From: Elle Fagan -- Apr 17, 2012

You quote all these sources but you are still better.

-Beverly, your first source is not as famous as you
-Hemingway was alcoholic and a suicide like his father in spite of being so smart
- Matisse suffered in health and marriage and is the only one on this list I keep for his relentlessness, taping large brushes to his arms when he could no longer hold them
- Maugham was a crotchety flamer with limited works and unhappy life
- Picasso was a drunk and a sociopath who sometimes sneered at life and the world thru his works

So what qualifies these people to give such advice? Yet we ask them for the path to the heavens they forged.

From: Maureen Ward -- Apr 17, 2012

One of my favorite quotes is: It is easier to do yourself into feeling, than feel yourself into doing.

Does anyone know whose that is? I'd love to put a name to the quote and bless them when I think of it yet again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so honestly with all of us.

From: Carol Chretien -- Apr 17, 2012

You made me smile...after a year of NO painting for me, my Muse is spewing inspiration all over my studio. She has me taking dictation from her as I cannot possibly keep up. Some of her ideas are pretty interesting too!

I am looking to your quotes for the time when she takes a breath or vacation and leaves me to my own devices. Thanks for today's letter!

From: David Clinch -- Apr 17, 2012

Been there done it and got the T shirt!

That's why it is so important to keep more than one painting going at a time (for example Lucien Freud worked on a night time painting and a daytime painting, both at different stages of development)

Your letter mentioned "cups of pre-mixed acrylic" - I am intrigued - have you explained your painting method anywhere? How do you keep them from going off?

From: Nancy Hagood -- Apr 17, 2012

No artist should be without Murphy’s Soap! Mineral spirits also.

From: Gerald Dextraze -- Apr 17, 2012

But, have you cleaned that poor paintbrush?

From: Steve Randall -- Apr 17, 2012

Find inspiration in painting something you’ve never painted before. Like, ‘fish in a barrel’. Amazing how your acrylics will come to life on the curved surface of a rain barrel.

From: Polly Tonsetic -- Apr 17, 2012

Thank you. I needed this after a very disheartening morning of painting. I felt lost!

From: Violetta -- Apr 18, 2012

Elle Fagan, I love what you say. We ourselves place these people in a lofty position, we never knew them personally.

From: Doug Mays -- Apr 19, 2012

I’m convinced that inspiration is the product of man’s desire to entertain. Artists of all genres (visual, literary, musical etc.) seek a reaction from their audience and it’s this reaction that motivates/inspires artists to create more. If the audience’s reaction is positive, it is glorious and our inspiration goes wild, it if the reaction is neutral or negative then inspiration receives a set back. OK, so sometimes the public reacts negatively - get over it; you’ve got entertaining to do. Stoney Creek, ON

From: Kathy Gillis -- Apr 19, 2012

Thanks, Robert, for giving me this letter of hope...it's ok to have 'one of those days' while painting!! aka, not a great one!

From: Beatrice Ryan -- Apr 19, 2012

I am a newly subscribed reader, and after receiving your letter for the last few weeks felt compelled to let you know the following.

• Your messages are rich with well thought-out thoughts. I appreciate receiving quality emails – rare today.
• You help me sort out the mire of the creative process. Break it down to basics.
• I appreciate your wit and irony. Just makes for good reading. Forget about the subject matter.

Hope you have a really good day today.

From: Ruth Tubbesing -- Apr 19, 2012

This is such a good letter, with great images, quotations, humour and unity of thought. I printed this one for my binder of choice Painters' Keys. Thank you. It is fishing season.

From: Ronni Jolles -- Apr 19, 2012

I just want to take a moment to let you know how much I enjoy your letters. I put them in a file called"artist's wisdom." Yes, there is wisdom in what you write, & there is true prose in how you write. Thank you for the discipline YOU clearly have to write these letters!

From: Darleene MacBay -- Apr 19, 2012

Chaos is my middle name and I spent all day,Sunday trying to reorganize my studio and like you no fish today. But let me say. You are so blessed on being an accomplished painter but also a wonderful writer. I always look forward to your letters. If you ever get bored Google Darleene MacBay. On Paintings I Love. Have a great fishing day. Love In Art

From: Ilse Taylor -- Apr 19, 2012

Where we catch one fish, there are bound to be more.

From: Ted Lederer -- Apr 19, 2012

Inspiration without work is that series of great ideas you forgot.

From: Theresa A Henderson -- Apr 19, 2012

I like the comments by the other artists, and have one to add. I have a few unfinished works and find myself coming back to them and this thought always pops into my head "Did I do that!" I like what I've done and can't remeber the technique of how, until I go to "do it" again and it kind of flows off my brush. I'm a realist and i tend to go into, disappear into, a very wide open feeling while I am working. I cannot tolerate somebody making comments, positive or negative, while i am working. Even positive comments influence the way my paintings go, and that is often not the picture i have in my head. It makes me feel somehow wounded, as if somebody slashed the canvas. When or if i need help, I am willing to ask for it and then is only when i can tolerate critiques. For example, in one of my murals somebody said "Ilike how that cloud looks like a dog!" I could not see anything but a dog where i had meant only clouds. So I changed that section since a dog was not part of the story in the artwork.

From: Lorraine Kwan -- Apr 20, 2012

Re High: When I'm working time stands still.

From: l.w.roth (Linda Roth -- Apr 20, 2012

If you don't go to the studio everyday, nothing will happen. When nothing seemed to be happening when I got there, I cleaned.Cleaning was never my cup of tea. Just moving one pile of junk to the other side of the sink moved me to the canvas, brush in hand.

From: Helen Gwinn -- Apr 20, 2012

Madeleine L'Engle, the writer, wrote in her book Walking on Water, "Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it." It's another way of saying what others above have said. It has been an inspiration to me over the years. When I'm not feeling very inspired, I paint anyway, I play with colors, I collage in some fun textures, I layer with more and more color, shapes, textures. Going after inspiration, I find it or it finds me or we meet. L'Engle aslo wrote that she often began by sharpening pencils although she never wrote with pencils. I can get inspired by straightening up the studio, handling my supplies, communing with completed works.

From: Brenda Howell -- Apr 20, 2012

Your writing is hilarious, Robert. Thank you for all that you give!






BOOK OF THE TWICE-WEEKLY LETTERS--10 YEARS OF MORE THAN A THOUSAND UNABRIDGED LETTERS

$35.00(USD or CAD) plus $25.00 shipping in Canada, $35 in the USA, or $40.00 to anywhere else in the world.

TWL Letters
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  • Here's a quote from Robert's letter on first publication, November 27, 2009: "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."

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.

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Last modified: Aug, 23, 2014