Edna by Robert Henri
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri
If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have a complete desire to do that thing. Then go to kindred spirits - others who have wanted to do that thing - and study their ways and means, learn from their successes and failures and add your quota. (p. 55)
When it comes to learning, not much has changed over time. A student must first have the desire to learn before true learning can occur. As artists, we never stop being students, which means that our desire to learn must be sustained for a lifetime if we are to succeed. That takes real commitment and energy!
For me, the more I learn the more I want to learn. Desire begets learning which begets greater desire to learn, and so on. It's the snowball effect, and the only limitations to the size of the snowball are my desire to keep pushing it in order to gather more snow and my energy. These are considerable limitations to be sure, but a with some patience and refreshing now and then, they can be overcome.
As Henri indicates, the desire to learn must be coupled with action. We have to do something about it. I like the idea of turning to "kindred spirits" for guidance, and always have. This blog has brought together such a group, and it is rewarding. Guidance also takes the form of real-life instructors in a physical classroom. I've had many years of that, but rarely engage in it these days. Part of the reason is because the way I learn changes with time which means that the type of kindred spirits I seek must change as well to suit my present situation.
What are the characteristics of my kindred spirit? Someone who clearly understands and is emotionally dedicated to making art. Someone with a strong desire to learn. Someone who challenges me to overcome complacency and learn more, who understands that there's more than one way to solve a problem. Someone whose goals and aspirations are similar to my own. Someone with whom I am philosophically aligned. Someone who will allow me to do the same for them. I suppose there's more that I could add to this list, but you get the idea. Entering into a relationship with a kindred spirit means mutual responsibility for it on an equal basis. That's why these types of relationships are so rare and so valuable. If not for the kindred spirits in my life, my ability to produce art would be lacking even more.
What are the characteristics of your kindred spirit?