The Wisdom of Great Artists

I am a lucky girl.

I’ve spent my career surrounded by great artists, photographers, writers and poets. People whose names are known and works celebrated, others equally talented who remain unknown.

Most artists are absolutely lovely to work with, though there have been a few who were not-so-lovely. Yet something always told me to pay attention, to listen and learn. I knew that the lessons they shared would not only define myself and my own work, but that I might one day pass them on.

No matter what role I was playing in the relationship, whether I was collaborating in the studio, curating an exhibition, or selling the art itself, I always felt that my true work was to accumulate knowledge and experiences so that I might one day share them.

Share them with you, as it turns out.

Someone once told me that no one should be allowed to teach until they’re 50 years old and have acquired enough knowledge to have something to say. It’s an extreme view, but one with some legitimacy. And it may be true of artists as well.

Because real art isn’t just about pretty pictures.

It takes a lifetime to master a medium. And art is about learning to see, creating a vision, devotion to craft, acquiring the wisdom necessary to infuse the work with meaning and purpose.

For it’s only when one has ideas of value that the medium becomes important.

This can take a lifetime to learn. And an artist’s practice is an exercise in reaching for the fruits of this tree over and over again. Sometimes feasting on success, other times starved by failure.

But you never stop reaching. Ever.

This is the wisdom that artists have shared with me