Probably there is no more difficult and hazardous undertaking in all the experience of the vocational counsellor than that presented by people of this type. The mere fact that a young man has painted scores of pictures which have been rejected has no bearing on the case. Artistic and literary history is studded with the glorious names of those who struggled through years of failure and rejection to final success. This is, in fact, true of nearly all of the great artists and writers. True, the mere dictum of any authority, however high, would have very little effect in turning the true creative artist from his life work, but what a pity it would have been if Richard Mansfield, Booth Tarkington, Mark Twain, and a host of others had paid any attention to the advice of those who told them they never could succeed! And yet, unless the vocational counsellor can encourage and urge on those who have the divine spark, and turn back from their quest those who have it not, he has failed in one of his most important tasks.
Let us, therefore, examine some of the elements of success in art. We have seen that the born artist has a passion for creation. He must draw, or paint, or act, or sing, or write. That which is within him demands expression and will not be denied. His love is for the work and not for the reward or the applause. These are but incidental. His visions and dreams are of ever greater achievements and not of an ever increasing income or wider popularity. Work well done and the conscious approval of his own mind are the sweetest nectar to his soul.
But this passion of creation is, perhaps, not enough in itself. “Art is a jealous mistress.” Even the passion for creation must wait upon slowly and painfully acquired technique, and, in the case of painting, sculpture, instrumental music, and some other forms of art, upon inherent capacity and manual skill. Many an artist’s soul is imprisoned in a clumsy body which will not do its bidding.
“Art is long,” and he who is unwilling or unable to keep alive the divine spark through years of poverty had better turn back before he sets forth upon the great adventure. Searching the portraits of the world’s great artists, living and dead, you will not find a lazy man amongst them.
During our school days we made the acquaintance of Larime Hutchinson, then a lad of twenty, shy, self-conscious, pathetically credulous, and hobbled by a prodigious ineptitude which made him a favorite butt for schoolboy jokes and pranks. Larime was in great disfavor with the teachers because he almost never had his lessons. He was also in disfavor with the college treasurer because he did not pay his bills. Larime’s father was a country minister and could send him only a few dollars a month. The rest of his financial