The Art of Arrogance


Heavens Collide, 10 x 10″ Acrylic, Soft Gel Medium, Granular Gel Medium on Illustration Board

“Walk to your easel casually, but with a dollop of arrogance.”

– Harley Brown

Harley Brown is a well-known painter famous for his wit and somewhat outrageous declarations of what it takes to be a good artist. So the statement above really is about confidence – we can probably succeed stopping short of outright arrogance! But a lack of confidence can cause so many problems, including lack of growth, repeating mistakes and failure to even pick up the brush.

While many artists are reluctant to speak openly about their accomplishments and talents for fear of sounding conceited or boastful, each time we are alone in our studios and approach that blank, or worse, partially completed problematic piece of canvas or paper we must do so with confidence in our ability to do what we intend to do. Sometimes we fail but next time we know we’ll somehow muster that same confidence that was there last time to get us started.

I think this is one of the wonderful qualities of making art. It puts us in touch with our own abilities time and again and reminds us that there is reason to have confidence in ourselves. In these times, something to treasure.

This is another piece in my series Universal Meaning. Someone commented on how different these pieces are from my more typical angular and geometric work. This is one of the intentions I had in this seris, to work with as few straight lines as possible. But don’t worry, in my spare time I’m also working on another series which satisfies my need for order – when this series is complete I’ll post work the that, as yet unnamed, series.

3 responses to “The Art of Arrogance

  1. HI Bob,

    I have just come to your blog via your very interesting comments on Arty Fice. It seems that artists the world over deal with the same issues.

    I have gone from painting to please others to painting to please myself and am now painting as a full time profession. In this latter period I too have had to consider others, and feel as though I have gone full circle but ended up in a better place because I have done so much thinking and soul-searching along the way.

    I am re-learning the pleasure of creating for others; in my current work this is for a little community rather than one person.

    I still maintain that my work must stand up to my own tough critiques, but if that is an analysis of how my landscapes are giving back to the people the love of “their place” while being technically up to standard, and I am painting with sensitivity and love, then that is enough for me to feel validated.

    Since coming to Italy and “reverting” to traditional landscapes and portraits (it wasn’t easy) I have had to justify my “lapse” to fellow artists. In the process I have discovered a lot about myself, my values, and my goals. I don’t want to be a famous contemporary artist. I want my work to satisfy me and bring pleasure to others. When I have time, I will make work that challenges and excites, work for me, but for now that must wait.

    Enough! I am rambling. I am looking forward to exploring your blog!

  2. Thanks, Jude! Hopefully the won’t disappoint in real life…

    Kay, Welcome! A very thoughtful posting – I can tell you speak from lots of experience and have worn many of the different hats we artists must don from time to time.

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