My good friend, Carolyn Abrams, was kind enough to loan me her copy of Robert Henri's book The Art Spirit. These inspired reflections of this notable artist and teacher, who died in 1929, are worthy of our consideration. He wrote this book at the urging of his students, and from it I'll select passages since there are no chapters.
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.
There are many layers of meaning in these two sentences. I've always believed that all humans are born with the ability to create art in some form, and that the decision to become a professional artist is simply a matter of prioritizing the development of that ability so that it becomes an occupation. And, I've always believed that all humans have the capacity to appreciate art, even if they don't create it. Even the most hardened among us respond to beauty in some way, or to the pathos of a well told story.
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.