The Painter's Keys

 "We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle, and while we may not be the center of that vortex, it is magic to be anywhere in there." (Robert Genn

For the last few years, I have subscribed to a free, twice-weekly letter from painter and teacher Robert Genn. It arrives in my inbox, and begins with a friendly "Dear Heather", although I have never met him. The letter is always deeply thoughtful, discussing various ideas, issues, and techniques relevant to any artist, not just a painter. If I want to, I can link back to his website and find out what other people think, and find all kinds of images of art. There is nothing for sale, except maybe his doorstopper of his book, a collection of his letters from over the years.

These letters, and the website are incredible acts of generousity. As his daughter Sara says in yesterday's post:
Dad's dream has been to reach artists of all stripes -- individuals with a common joy, journeying in this life-enhancing, inexplicable affair of the heart. He wrote, "We have no other motivation than to give creative people an opportunity to share ideas and possibly broaden their capabilities -- to get more joy and understanding from their own unique processes." With this dream in mind, please forward this letter, or letter of your choice, to someone you think might find it of value. If one, or many, chooses to subscribe, we will exponentially widen -- as a diverse and generous community of worldwide artists. "To float like a cloud you have to go to the trouble of becoming one."
The last year of letters has been especially open-hearted and generous, as Robert chronicled his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and how an artist continues with the knowledge of imminent death. He talked about philosophical matters, and also practical ones. He described how he continued to paint while bedridden, with a horizontal easel, and how he edited his work so that no inferior paintings would survive. His daughter Sara, also an artist, began to share the writing of letters. She is just as insightful, and brings the contemporary perspective of a New York-based artist.

Robert passed away on Tuesday. His letters will continue, with Sara writing once a week, and also posting a favourite previous one of Robert's.

You can read the whole post here, and also subscribe to the twice weekly letters.

Thank you Robert - you made the world a better place.


  1. So sad about Bob. I also subscribed to his newsletters for many years. I never failed to be amazed at his talents, generosity and insight and always wished I could afford one of his paintings. Guess now I never will since they'll be worth even more!

  2. Yes, thank you for this tribute to Robert Genn.

    He wrote to me too.
    "Dear Judy" he'd begin.

    A true friend although we never met. Rest in Peace.


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