The Laws of Nature

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Way To Happiness

Fay Bainter by Robert Henri, 1918

The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

"Happiness" is a relative term; it's situational and subjective. What makes me happy might make someone else unhappy, and vice versa. And, there are different levels of happiness. I'm the kind of person that finds great happiness in the pursuit of art, and so was Robert Henri. Here are a few of his reflections on happiness:

The development of the power of seeing and the power to retain in the memory that which is essential and to make record and thus test out how true the seeing and the memory have been is the way to happiness. (p. 32)

It is really not important whether one's vision is as great as that of another. It is a personal question as to whether one shall live in and deal with his greatest moments of happiness. (p. 32)

We will be happy if we can get around to the idea that art is not an outside and extra thing; that it is a natural outcome of a state of being; that the state of being is the important thing. (p. 227)

In art, happiness is .... (you fill in the blank).


Margaret Ryall said...

The development of the power of seeing and the power to retain in the memory that which is essential and to make record and thus test out how true the seeing and the memory have been is the way to happiness. (p. 32)

This first quote supports my current investigations in my garden series. Gardens have always made me feel good even in childhood. I recall the tall grass in the wildflower meadow (my garden), the smell, the running and playing, the dots of bright colours, the paths and trees. I'm now recreating a similar experience from my two week stay at Birr Castle Demesne. This reflection has given me an idea for a post. Somewhere there is a poem I wrote about this very thing. Search time.

The last quote of course speaks to what you create being important and flowing from you and how you see the world - a recurring theme in our explorations.

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hwfarber said...

Two minutes of happiness is when I finish a painting or sculpture, look at it, and realize that it says more than I imagined. Not a common occurrence, but I believe it's the reason we create--we can sometimes tap into something beyond thought.

In daily life, I'm content with contentment--I lack the excitement meter that was mentioned in the previous book.

hwfarber said...

And one more thing. I believe there is a "zone" or "state of being" that does not filter thoughts. It's the same place we were as children--hard to return but worth trying.

-Don said...

...a warm puppy.

-Don said...

Sorry... couldn't resist. Every time I hear the phrase "happiness is..." I think of Charles Schultz's version with Charlie Brown hugging Snoopy with the caption, "Happiness is a Warm Puppy".

Happiness in art, to me, is achieved on many levels - in the creative process, in the finishing, in the viewing, in the research, in the reading, in the blogging, but especially in the feeling that occurs when "Ah-ha" happens.

I'd like to share something that inspired me greatly last night. I was stuck in the process of the piece I'm currently working on and was doing my best "procrastinate while surfing the web" imitation when I found that one of my facebook friends, Laura Hollick, had posted this wonderful video. After watching it I became so inspired I made some major progress both in decision making and implementation.

Happy Creating!


Mark Sheeky said...

Haha Don :)

...signing a picture you're pleased with? ...waking up and realising that you don't have to go to work? ...being appreciated by others for the things you always liked too.

Be happy everyone :)

Kathy said...

Hi Margaret- I can see where the first quote applies to your garden series, which is a lifelong relationship for you. And, I can see the happiness of that relationship in your paintings. Thank you for sharing that.

Hi Pam - I glad that you realize that you ARE a legitimate and valuable member of the art community. Keep it up :-)

Hi Hallie - all good points, and I especially like the first one. I hadn't thought about it that much before. Thank you!

Hi Don - I had the feeling you'd come up with the "warm puppy" quote ;-) I like your happiness list and agree. All good things. And, thanks for the video link - I'll take a look.

Hi Mark - all good things - except I like going to work (in the studio)!

Stan Kurth said...

...painting whatever I want and when it's finished I like it; and then someone important to me likes it. Hallie summed it up nicely about the "zone". There was so much freedom as a child in that "zone". What were those lines in Beatle's Cry Baby Cry? "Can you take me back where I came from? Can you take me back?"

Kathy said...

Hi Stan - good words, indeed!

Dean Grey said...


In art, happiness is tapping into the force and act of creating as it happens!

Thanks for all your inquisitve and insightful posts!


Kathy said...

Hi Dean - you are sooooo right!! Thanks for adding your thoughts :-)