An Artist’s Gift

Jan 19, 2011




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I have many affairs to attend to, and feel hurried these days. Great works of art have endless leisure for a background, as the universe has space. Time stands still while they are created. The artist cannot be in [a] hurry. The earth moves round the sun with inconceivable rapidity, and yet the surface of the lake is not ruffled by it.
– Henry Thoreau in his journal, 1859

Artists should not hurry. Great works of art have endless leisure for a background. Yet some of the most profound works of art are quickly sketched. They hint at the subject, give a glimpse of a different reality; their power is derived in part from what they suggest rather than detail.

But there is a difference between sketched and rushed, and that difference lies in the amount of thought between sketches. Did I leave enough time for the work to settle in my imagination before sending it off? Endless leisure may be an exaggeration, but work that is allowed to rest for a while, and then is re-thought, reworked, tends to have more power.

It has a soul