First let me put this quote into context. Robert Henri is talking about paint colors. It is not recommended to lighten or darken your paint color using merely white or black. BUT here, Robert Henri is saying he does not totally repudiate the use of black and white. This is when he says, “All the means that are possible are ours to use.”
I just want to hug him at this point because as we take a step back and look at our art, not just as a painting, but also as an actual living of a life, suddenly he has opened up the options, blew open the doors, tore open the windows. Anything that is at your disposal is yours to use to create your living. We are not limited by the tried and true methods. We are not subject to the rules of doing it the “right way.” Basically? We have options. Since most of our anxiety stems from our feeling backed into a corner, it feels oh so good to know you have options.
This past weekend I climbed a tree because I wanted to sit in it and read, like I used to when I was a kid. When I got up to a comfortable branch, I realized I could see right into my neighbor’s back patio door and that my neighbor to the other side was actually out in his backyard doing yard work. Suddenly I felt embarrassed. It never dawned on me until that moment that I don’t normally see adults sitting in trees and reading books.
Should I get down, I thought. It looks like I’m spying on them. This is really awkward. I don’t want to make eye contact. I just want to read.
At that point my dog went tearing through our backyard barking at my neighbor. Great, I thought, now he’s definitely going to notice me up a tree.
Then, I had the idea to get a quilt and make a fort around me. If I hung it just so, he may still be able to see my legs, but he couldn’t see my face. I wouldn’t look like I was spying and I could read in peace. In minutes I had my very own castellated treehouse. A quilt was a means that was possible for me to use. I didn’t have to give up on my magical idea; I just had to get creative with it, so I could see it through.
This phrase of Robert Henri’s is expansive: “All the means that are possible are ours to use.” I talk about this in The Magic School. Give me any piece of my day-to-day life in the “real world” and, assuming I have the energy for it in the moment, I can tweak it to make it fit into the puzzle of my magical life. I have means upon means of possibility, and I’m not afraid to use them. It just takes being willing to play with the pieces. Cracking open tried and true to make it give way to other options. It’s ALL worthy material in an artist’s hands. We find a way to bring our vision to fruition.