As photographers we need to find inspiration and ideas outside of the photography family. I have been following the twice-weekly newsletter of Robert Genn for years and have occasionally shared some of his ideas with you. Unfortunately, Robert has passed and is no longer with us in body. Fortunately, his daughter Sara is picking up where Robert left off and is continuing the tradition by sharing some of his best letters and posting her own thoughts and ideas. Some really good thoughts here for artists. Thanks for keeping this alive Sara!

I post this with permission. And, I encourage you to sign up for the newsletter.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob
Robert & Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letter
Click to read this letter online and share your valuable insights.

An artist’s mind

September 2, 2014

Dear Bob,

My friend Joe Blodgett said, “There’s two ways to walk this path–one for the path and one for the spirit.” In a cathedral of Douglas fir and alder, blown twigs from the night’s storm over a carpet of autumn, Joe crouches down and watches the steady miracle of a spotted woodland slug.

Joe says he feels an artistic moment coming on, surrendering to the need to make something: a guilt or work-ethic thing. He’s a guy in tune with “tuning in.” Joe works with water-soluble marker-pens which he augments with watercolour washes–a technique which diffuses lines not held with fixative. The can of fixative sticks out of his jacket pocket. His method is fast and loose. After only a few minutes, he moves on.

The artistic mind, flowing properly, sees the world differently. Call it what you will–a Celestine moment, synchronicity, serendipity. There’s a higher harmonic. It’s got something to do with receptiveness and alertness. Those who expect, receive. We can leave it to the gods where it comes from. The important thing is to give in to it–allow this dream mind to run free. My friend is a living example of one who trusts dreams, hunches and intuition. Joe’s not a child–he’s just curious. On the side, he’s a good businessman, father, bookkeeper, track-keeper. It’s not a pose–it’s a desirable and natural state of being. On the path he has wandering eyes. On the path his hand becomes busy because it has to. T. S. Eliot suggested that the paths we walk are made of hints and guesses. The artist says, “What can I make of this?”

Best regards,


PS: “Intuit higher meanings in mysterious happenings.” (James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy)

“God is only another artist–like me.” (Salvador Dali)

Esoterica: Artists are often dreaming, wondering, wandering and idling in the fanciful department. It seems that artistic types can actually “live in” a world of their own creation, perhaps preferring it to the real world, their work being an extension of it.

This letter was originally published as “Artist’s mind” on December 1, 2000.
Included in this letter is an excerpt from “My idle mind” published on May 18, 2010.

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This letter is always illustrated on The Painter’s Keys website.