Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feeling, not Facts

Willows in Bloom 
Arthur Wesley Dow

Dow was a great teacher and a great artist. He taught and influenced a long list of creatives from Georgia O'Keefe to William S. Rice.

Here he is in 1890.

My favorite Arthur Wesley Dow quote: "The artist does not teach us to see facts; he teaches us to feel harmonies and to recognize supreme quality."

Dow was part of a time in history bursting with invention, innovation, and discovery, he also believed in art for everyone; one of his goals was to provide quality art at a reasonable price. Peyton Boswell, writing about Dow's prints: "They occupy a middle ground between the art demands of the wealthy and those of the poor, and satisfy both. Although not costing much, they are real art and fulfill their mission to be decorative and bring happiness."

I offer the following artworks by artists taught and influenced by Arthur Wesley Dow. They are some of my favorites. I've learned from them as I've learned from the works and words of Dow. 
They give me feeling, not facts. I wish the same for you.

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith

Telegraph Poles 
Clarence H. White

Lamp Base 
Newcomb Pottery

The Pier Alvin 
Langdon Coburn

Paris Rooftops 
Max Weber

Thanks for reading!


  1. Mr. Dow's painting of the blooming willows is amazing. Minimal, yet full of feeling. I also like the lamp base by the Newcomb Pottery. I tried to show my art books to a woman (beginner artist) obsessed with facts, and I tried to teach dollmaking to another woman obsessed with facts. They both mistrusted feelings and creative happiness and were unable to appreciate the various art forms and a more intuitive method of creating art. Boy, that was like pulling teeth! I did however, manage to introduce collage to the one beginner artist. She made a very freeform one around a quote she loved. And the other women managed to make a doll she never finished with the necessary clothing and embellishment. Her doll was actually amazing, but it scared her as there was no pattern to follow, no picture of a finished doll to aim her doll at (just my actual physical dolls sitting before her and me telling her to dig inside of herself for the inspiration). I scared her, poor thing.

    1. I think fear and mistrust are the key words here. At some point many people--in U.S. culture at least--became too fearful to trust themselves (their own hearts) enough to create. I wonder if it is the onslaught of advertising--and all media that pushes anxiety--that has made us feel so inferior that we've lost faith in our own intuition. I see very little joy, optimism, or true play; only anger, dread, and shopping. How can creativity thrive and flourish in such a culture? Yet as long as there are artists like you to keep the visionary embers glowing, Miss Gladys, I rest assured.

  2. I wonder why my comment has no avatar picture, hmmmmm...

  3. Hi Tom, this has been a thought-provoking post. Thank you!

    1. You are welcome--very happy you enjoyed it, Miss Gladys!

    2. "Anger, dread, and shopping" ~ brutal. And true. Lovely images here, though. I have a distinct feeling that Alice Ravenel Huger Smith must have a South Carolina connection, from her "Ravenel" and "Huger." But it's only a feeling ~! Here's to art that's accessible in every direction, and joyful celebration~!

    3. Thanks for checking out the post, and for your comments, Erik--yes to art and joy!

  4. Two quotes I love, and thank you for sharing them: "...feeling, not facts," and "Yes to art and joy!" I enjoy your selection of images, especially Alice Ravenel Huger Smith's "Untitled."

    1. You are welcome Art of Narrative! I appreciate you reading my post. And I too was blown away by the pure and haunting beauty of Huger-Smith's print.


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