10 May 2024: Life Lessons from Édouard Manet

Cleaning my office today, I found a journal of mine from 2011 when I went to Paris for a conference. Flipping randomly through it, my thumb and attention stopped on the following.  It's in my handwriting, but I have no recollection whatsoever of having written it. The advice, however, is useful for creatives types, indeed, for all us us, I submit.

Life Lessons from Édouard Manet

  • We go through many different periods in our careers.
  • Our friends can fail to support us, can hold us back as much as be our champions.
  • We can be too influenced by others.
  • The critics may hate our work, but no one remembers their names.
  • Politics count.
  • We may need to leave home to start again.
  • It helps to be surrounded by talented people.
  • Working quicker makes for better work.
  • We do things to pay the bills, but even these should have a soul, should follow a higher calling.
  • We may not figure out what we are really supposed to be doing until we are nearly dead.
  • Copying the masters is a noble way to start a career.
  • Reworking the masters in our own work is no defense against critics.
  • It's OK to make art for our friends. 
  • It's OK to make art about our friends.
  • Confront the audience’s conventions and expectations.
  • If conventional people reject our work, we should publish it ourselves.
  • Drawing attention to our technique is not a bad idea.
  • Work outdoors when we can.
  • Do and do not depict life as it is.
  • Focus on the fragment; let the viewer extend the frame.
  • Compress the foreground; ignore deep space.
  • Going against the group is going to cost us.
  • There are worse things than being censored.
  • If you are baffling, incoherent, and sketchy, you might be on to something.

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