An artist has got to get acquainted with himself

“I know I have said a lot when I say, “You can do anything you want to do.” But I mean it. There is reason for you to give this statement some of your best thought. You may find that this is just what is the matter with most of the people in the world; that few are really wanting what they think they want, and that most people go through their lives without ever doing one whole thing they really want to do.

An artist has got to get acquainted with himself just as much as he can. It is no easy job, for it is not a present-day habit of humanity. This is what I call self-development, self-education. No matter how fine a school you are in, you have to educate yourself.

There is nothing more entertaining than having a frank talk with yourself. Few do it — frankly. Educating yourself is getting acquainted with yourself.

Find out what you really like if you can. Find out what is really important to you. Then sing your song. You will have something to sing about and your whole heart will be in the singing. When a man is full up with what he is talking about he handles such language as he has with a mastery unusual to him, and it is at such times that he learns language.

Don’t follow the critics too much. Art appreciation, like love, cannot be done by proxy: It is a very personal affair and is necessary to each individual.”

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

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