‘The Art Spirit’ by Robert Henri

I thought I should share some of Robert Henri’s quotes from the book The Art Spirit that I am studying at the moment. My thanks goes out to Phil Kinsey for turning me on to this book! It was written in the late 1800’s but it is as true today as it was back then. The truth will be the truth, withstanding the passage of time. Enjoy!

‘If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have complete desire to do that thing.’

‘The effect of brilliancy is to be obtained principally from the opposition of cool colors with warm colors, and the opposition of muted colors with bright colors.’

‘Hold on to the few simple larger masses of your composition, and value as most important the beauty and design of these larger masses, or forms, or movements. Do not let beauty in the subdivisions destroy the beauty or the power of the major divisions’.

‘Whatever you feel or think, your exact state at the exact moment of your brush touching the surface is in some way registered in that stroke.’

‘There is a super color which envelops all the colors. It is this super color – this color of the whole – which is most important.’

‘Do not be interested in light for light’s sake or in color for color’s sake, but in each as a medium of expression.’

‘In painting of light, in modeling form, keep as deep down in color as you can. It is color that makes the sensation of light. Play from warm to cold, not from white to black.’

‘The painting that impresses you at first sight and the next day loses even the power to attract your attention is one that looks always the same. It has a moment of life but dies immediately thereafter.’

4 thoughts on “‘The Art Spirit’ by Robert Henri

  1. aHorseForElinor

    Your paintings – like little windows to peek through, loosing one self for a moment.

    And this quote -‘If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have complete desire to do that thing.’
    How true…

  2. Phil Kinsey

    This book is a classic. One that I return to often. It solidifies and reinforces painterly stuff I’ve discovered on my own. I learned to paint with watercolors (should say learning). The benefit of understanding painting problems from the POV of an oil painter has helped me to understand the watercolor medium. I know you always say Frank that watercolor is JUST a medium and that painting is painting. I often wish I had studied oil technique first. By understanding what watercolor cannot do well I better understand it’s strength. I have studied and painted when I could for 16 years. I am now retired and I am running with it. It can be my greatest joy and my worst frustration to which I say to myself “welcome aboard skipper.” You inspire Frank. I look at your work from only a few years ago and your current work and realize you have worked at your path and that IS all A person can do. It has payed you back. If you get in the southern Wisconsin area for a workshop maybe we will meet. Sorry if this is windy but well there it is…..

    1. frankeber Post author

      Appreciate that, Phil. You are a keen observer and I value your opinion! It is a journey for all of us, very personal and never the same for two people. I am grateful I came from another medium. As you say, watercolor has it’s limitations and it is very hard to understand that if that’s all you know and do. We see so much art nowadays through social media and it is disturbing to see how little people actually know about painting. Anything is fine art now. Even works of students who have never bothered to learn the first thing about art and how to create it. There are some exceptions and they do stand out. Thank God for that. As I said in my blog post: the truth is still the truth no matter how much people try to distort it! Thanks for reading my blog!

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