Portrait of Mrs. Carl Meyer and her Children, by John Singer Sargent (1895)
This is my favorite painting from my Art History textbook.
Yesterday my illustration professor said, "Paintings have spirits. When you paint something that you really love, a part of you goes into it. You can tell just by looking at a piece whether or not the artist loved what they were painting. There's a lot of spiritless paintings out there."
Two years ago I would have rolled my eyes at this. I hate it when artists take their work too seriously and act like it's super deep and meaningful and blah blah blah. But my illustration professor is not that kind of person at all, and what he said rang true to me.
Having run drawworm for two years now, I have discovered that these portraits really do seem to have spirits. Several of my customers have told me that when they first saw their drawing in person, it brought them to tears. The drawings have some sort of emotional quality that the photographs don't.
I can also look back at a few of my works and see the lack of spirit there. The Bible says "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart," and I'm beginning to believe that that's especially important for artists.