“The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri-excerpts

I am posting passages from one of the most inspiring books to me.

“The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri, an American Painter, teacher and humanist.

After struggling with constantly being told that the work I am doing does not fit into the conventions of documentary filmmaking, and hardly receiving support and encouragement from the documentary and film industry to explore those less traveled non-formulaic territories, it is amazingly refreshing to re-read the begging passages of one of my favorite art books.

“Art when really understood is the province of every human being.

It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well.  It is not an outside, extra thing.

When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature.  He becomes interesting to other people.  He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and he opens ways for better understanding.  Where those who are not artist are tying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.

The world would stagnate without him, and the world would be beautiful with him; for he is interesting to himself and he is interesting to others.  He does not have to be a painter or a sculptor to be an artist.  He can work in any medium. He simply has to find the gain in the work itself not outside it.

Museums of art will not make a county an art county.  But where there is the art spirit there will be precious works to fill museums.  Better still, there will be the happiness that is in the making.

The work of the art student is no light matter.  Few have the courage and stamina to see it through.  You have to make up your mind to be alone in many ways.  We like sympathy and we like to be in company.  It is easier then going it alone.  But alone one gets acquainted with himself, grows up and on, not stopping with the crowd.  It costs to do this.  If you succeed somewhat you maybe have to pay for it as well as enjoy it all your life.

Cherish your own emotions and never undervalue them.

We are not here to do what has already been done.

I have little interest in teaching you what I know.  I wish to stimulate you to tell me what you know.  In my office towards you I am simply trying to improve my own environment.

Know what the old masters did.  Know how they composed their pictures, but do not fall into the conventions they established.  These conventions were right for them, and they are wonderful.  They made their language.  You make yours.  They can help you.  All the past can help you.”

Interestingly my approach to creating Green Dream, has been as a “sketch hunter” but with a video camera

“The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes – no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests.  He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketch-book, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad.  Like any hunter he hits or misses.  He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it.  It’s found anywhere, everywhere. Those who are not hunters do not see these things.  The hunter is learning to see and to understand – to enjoy.

There are memories of days of this sort, of wonderful driftings in and out of the crowd, of seeing and thinking.  Where are the sketches that were made?  Some of them are in dusty piles, some turned out to be so good they got frames, some became motives for big pictures, which were either better of worse than the sketches, but they, or rather the states of being are understandings we had at the time of doing them all, are sifting through and leaving their impress on our whole work and life.”

published @

3 Comments on ““The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri-excerpts”

  • KrisBelucci

    Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

    06-01-09 » 11:07 pm »

  • Morkovkin

    Замечательно! Где взяли то?

    09-29-10 » 6:37 am »

  • Team Roster

    Best you should make changes to the post subject Green Dream » Blog Archive » “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri-excerpts to more generic for your subject you create. I loved the blog post however.

    10-30-10 » 6:05 am »

Leave a Comment