The work of the art student is no light matter. Few have the courage and stamina to think 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 than 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 may have to pay for it as well as enjoy it all your life.
The world will see many fashions of art and most of the world will follow the fashions and make none. These cults - these 'movements' - are absolutely necessary, or at any rate their causes are, for somewhere in their centres are the ones who bear the Idea, the ones who have questioned, 'But what do I think?' and 'How shall I say it best?
You form a society: that limits you. Adopt a name, and you've limited yourself again; draw up a constitution and bylaws and you've made a groove, a rut, that hampers your growth. You think you can fix your course and move straight along it. But sometimes the important thing is to strike out sidewise.
When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.
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I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happiness of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the especially ticketed ways.
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Water runs down hill concisely. There is no quibbling about it. It does not have to run up hill in order to be entertaining. Man has always followed its course with fascination. The soul of man may reveal its mysteries through direct expression, simple speech, simple gesture, simple painting, just as the soul of the brook is expressed in full simplicity and economy.
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Well, suppose we use our brains. We see things solid. Solidities are important to us in nature. In solidities, there are measures that greatly affect us. There are rhythms in the ins and outs of form. Music, the forest and to many the most impressive of arts deals in measures which seem to go in every direction. They combine, they move together, they deflect and they oppose. Music is a structure of highly mathematical measures. According to the selection and relative value of these measures the music is great or small in its effect on us.
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Art is simply a result of expression during right feeling. It's a result of a grip on the fundamentals of nature, the spirit of life, the constructive force, the secret of growth, a real understanding of the relative importance of things, order, balance. Any material will do. After all, the object is not to make art, but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable.
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Lines are results, do not draw them for themselves... Lines give birth to lines. Drawing is not following a line on the model, it is drawing your sense of the thing... Make a drawing flow, stopping sometimes, and going on... Search for the simple constructive forces, line the lines of a suspension bridge. Get the few main lines and see what lines they call out... Have purpose in the places where lines stop.
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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 than 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 may have to pay for it as well as enjoy it all your life.
All my life I have refused to be for or against parties, for or against nations, for or against people. I never seek novelty or the eccentric; I do not go from land to land to contrast civilizations. I seek only, wherever I go, for symbols of greatness, and as I have already said, they may be found in the eyes of a child, in the movement of a gladiator, in the heart of a gypsy, in twilight in Ireland or in moonrise over the deserts. To hold the spirit of greatness is in my mind what the world was created for. The human body is beautiful as this spirit shines through, and art is great as it translates and embodies this spirit.
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Be game-take a chance-don't hide behind veils and veils of discretion... Go forward with what you have to say, expressing things as you see them. You are new evidence, fresh and young. Your work, the spirit of youth, you are the progress of human evolution. If age dulls you it will be time enough then to be ponderous and heavy-or quit. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be young, to continue growing-not to settle and accept.
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If we are cultivating fruit in an orchard, we wish that particular fruit to grow in its own way; we give it the soil it needs, the amount of moisture, the amount of care, but we do not treat the apple tree as we would the pear tree or the peach tree as we would the vineyard on the hillside. Each is allowed the freedom of its own kind and the result is the perfection of growth which can be accomplished in no other way. The time must come when the same freedom is allowed the individual; each in his own way must develop according to nature's purpose, the body must be but the channel for the expression of purpose, interest, emotion, labor. Everywhere freedom must be the sign of reason.
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The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish, and spirits must flow. There must be courage. There are no easy ruts to get into which lead to happiness. A man must become interesting to himself and must become actually expressive before he can be happy.