Aphorisms for Artists by Walter Darby Bannard

Aphorism #23

Keep your ego out of your art.

Years ago I had the young painter’s egotistic partiality for self-determination. No one was going to tell me how or what to paint.

Then a collector asked me to make a painting with a color in it that matched her new curtains and gave me a swatch of material.

What to do? This was a challenge to my beloved autonomy, and I didn’t even like the color. But it was a good collector and a sure sale.

My resolve waned. I got the paint and used it in a painting. It turned out to be the best painting in the series I was working on at the time. I used the color in three more pictures.

The life in art arises from invention. Sometimes the best work comes not from using what you like, but from creatively incorporating what you think you don’t like.

Previous: Fun is profound.

Next: Mindless open-mindedness is closed-minded.

Table of Contents