Back in June, 1936 I was awarded Best Drawing Award at the Museum School of Industrial Art, now Philadelphia College of Art.  It was my first year at art school and the prize was a book by Robert Henri, ‘The Art Spirit’.

Henri’s name is no longer familiar, but he was an eminent painter and extraordinary teacher, and I found inspiration from his approach to art over so many years as I developed as an artist.

Here are some of his views:

“Don’t worry about rejections. Everybody that’s good has gone through it.   Don’t let it matter if your works are not accepted at once. Just remember that the object of painting pictures is not simply to get them in exhibitions. It is all very well to have your pictures hung, but you are painting for yourself, not for the jury.

Every student should put down in some form or other his findings.

All any artist can hope to do is to add his fragment to the whole.

No man can be final, but he can record his progress, and whatever he records is so much done in the thrashing out of the whole thing.  What he leaves is so much for others to use as stones to step on or stones to avoid.

The student is not an isolated force.  He/she belongs to a great brotherhood, bears great kinship to his kind.  We take, and we give.  We benefit by taking and giving.”


Why am I sharing this today?

I pulled out a book and there it was, the spine of THE ART SPIRIT!

Just in passing.

What a curious phrase to use for what we do:”thrashing out the whole thing”!

Henri’s life itself was full of drama and heart; perhaps this enabled him to pause and seek out the individual possibility in each student, embracing all differences.

Just an homage to all who serve as teachers.

always with love,


Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Self Portrait
1903, oil on canvas