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Archive for January 22nd, 2018

There can be no failure to a man who has not lost his courage, his character, his self respect, or his self-confidence. He is still a King.

Orison Swett Marden
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It’s fitting that one of the only things I’ve actually finished in this new year should be a painting that I see as a personal motivator. This new piece is a 30″ by 20″ canvas that I am calling Still a King for the time being.

The title is taken from the quote at the top from Orison Swett Marden, who was a writer in the late 19th and early 20th century who focused on inspiring people to make the most of their lives in business. This was the time of Horatio Alger and many rags-to-riches stories, with the world exploding with invention and innovations. Marden was an early self-help writer, trying to motivate would-be entrepreneurs to make the most of their opportunities.

I periodically go through crises of confidence, some shallow and short-lived while others are deeper and a bit more difficult from which to escape. I have observed that when I feel my self-confidence is nowhere to be found, my courage and self-respect are also missing in action. In these deeper ruts, I can only hope my character is strong enough to carry me up and out, at least to a point where those other attributes decide to rejoin the struggle.

When they all come back together I know I will be okay.

And it is that moment that I see in this painting. The Red Tree in this piece represents the coming together of those four qualities: courage, character, self-respect and self-confidence. The path to this point winds through a landscape that goes up and down until it comes to a higher point and the realization that it is still a king , even if its realm is only its own little landscape.

Anyone with those attributes can– and should– walk as a king.

Or a queen.

There was definitely male dominance in the time of Marden and he probably gave little thought to the idea that these concepts, simple and universal as they may seem, would apply to a woman. But times have changed and are still changing, thankfully. There is still male dominance in most fields but if women can hold on to and display their  courage, character, self-respect and self-confidence, they will be queens.

I’ve been an artist long enough to see this evolution take footing in the art world. In recent years, there are more and more women artists coming to the forefront. For me, much of the most interesting work I see is created by women and, more often than not, it is the result of seeing themselves as courageous rulers of their own realm.

And that is a very good thing.

Which leads me to one last epigram from Orison Swett Marden that I think also applies to this painting and what I written here:

Nothing else so destroys the power to stand alone as the habit of leaning upon others. If you lean, you will never be strong or original. Stand alone or bury your ambition to be somebody in the world. 

Now, I only have to put these words into action. Wish me luck…

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