Proof At Last: Not All Artists Are Monstrously Egotistical

A wonderful surprise

OK so – still here in the US – David and I both spent 3 hours yesterday in the studio of Genius A who is an amazing designer and immensely skillful maker of stained glass.

What A does is painting, etching, enameling, silver-staining:

  • Stunning work.
  • Awesome reputation.
  • Fascinating studio.

And now, as chance would have it, Genius Z – another great stained glass designer; famous, too (which is not the same thing) – was also there in A‘s studio.

And what do you think happened?

Honestly now: what do you think happens when 2 Geniuses – huge talents, big people – share the same small space?

You want to know what happened yesterday?

You up for it?


Then here for you is …

The shocking tale of the lifted heart (Part 1)

You see, first thing that might shock you is:

Genius A didn’t talk about Art or Meaning.

Genius A didn’t talk about childhood, identity, trauma, loneliness or illness.

Genius A didn’t even talk about man and the environment.

Hell no!

Genius A just talked about …

  • Techniques.
  • Skills.
  • Tools.

So A laid out four windows they’d made which they still had in their studio.

And then A explained exactly how … they’d … made … them.

The process, the stages, the media.

Nothing about what they wanted their pieces to say.

No artist’s statement.

Just all about “how”.

The details.

Those tiny gorgeous details. (“And here you need to hold the handle so …”)

Reason is: there was real knowledge in what they’d made – something objective and substantial to reflect on (unlike the hokum which is a larger part of conceptual art).

And doesn’t it just lift your spirits when you consider those intricate and majestic things our species can use their brain and heart and hands to make?

That’s certainly how I felt.

But like I said, we weren’t alone in A’s studio, because …

Z was also there

And Z won’t mind my saying how they are older than A.

Also that Z is at a different – later – point in their career: Z has already achieved many vast and brilliant things.

And, whilst there are many things Z still wants to do, I think there are more things which yet lie in front of A.

Now what do you think will happen next?

I don’t like to gossip – hence the anonymous As and Zs – so get ready for it now.

The shocking tale of the lifted heart (Part 2)

Here’s the second thing to shock you so it’s best you now prepare yourself for Z‘s reaction to all this in the nearly overwhelming creativity of A‘s studio.

Take my word for it: Z’s done such big and beautiful windows, I never thought I’d actually see something of their spirit in action.

And then what happened was:

Z listened and watched.

Z asked questions about A’s technique.

Z smiled and showed real joy in A’s discoveries.

Behind it all, no self-aggrandizement. Just an enchanting child-like mix of joy and curiosity.

Yet Z has done such great things, we’d all forgive the vanity if there had been some.

But there wasn’t.

Not a single drop of it.

A just spoke about how (not why); and Z just took huge pleasure in A’s skill and triumph.

Both things lift my heart.

And naturally I hope you’re glad to know about them also.


Stephen Byrne of Williams & Byrne the glass painters






P.S. For now, it’s a distraction to name names. For now, I just want you to remember how, wherever you look, real talent hasn’t got a problem with being open, confident, quiet, compassionate and generous.

P.P.S. Spent today going round the Natural History museum in Philadelphia because it’s also a joy to marvel at elks and clams (not just man-made wonders like gorgeous stained glass windows).

One last thing: Did you miss this? Here’s a summary of the designs we prepared for this year’s workshop at Bryn Athyn. Get it here.

Really the last thing now: Soon, for a short time only, you’ll be able to get all 34 full-sized color designs plus …

  • the traced-line (black-and-white) designs plus …
  • the 6 full-length step-by-step PDF guides plus …
  • the 9 professional video presentations we’re making of what our students learned.

But like I said it’s for a short time only because I’ve a load of other work to do. Coming soon now.