You Can Do Anything But…

by Kathleen Huebener in Quote for the Day

Regarding the choosing of art subjects, a good Artist Jack White quote is,

“You can do anything you want to in life,

you just cannot do everything you want to do.”


This quote goes along with one of Jack White’s fabulous soul-reaching stories.
The tale has to do with an artist by the name of A. D. Greer.
When Jack White was starting out on the art trail, his friend and mentor, A. D. Greer,

sought to influence this young man, by giving him a playing card, the “Jack of Hearts.”

Fellow artist, if you look at this particular card, you will see that this jack has only one eye.
A. D. Greer told Jack to use this card as a reminder to stay focused.
Because Jack’s artwork was going into many directions,
A. D. counseled, “Become a one-eyed Jack so you can stay of a single focus.”


A.D. Greer was a master painter, who knew from experience
what he was talking about in art. He could paint anything and did – in all directions!
Jack White says that at one time, A. D. Greer painted all the work
for one gallery. He used five different oil color palettes and five different techniques.
His subjects were roses, Orientals, nudes, westerns, and landscapes.
He painted on different grounds or supports, ranging from canvases to panels.
He even framed them in different style frames and signed them by different names.
Overall, A. D. Greer had never become a one-eyed jack.

The end of A. D. Greer’s story is very sad. Jack says that A.D. understood he was a man who could paint anything but would die as one of the greatest unknown artists ever to live. Though prolific in many directions, A. D. Greer recognized that he had not developed one single style for the masses to remember him.
With this heavy weight in his heart,
the virtually unknown A. D. Greer committed suicide at 94 years of age.

A.D. Greer loved his friend Jack White enough to share what had gone wrong
in his own art career and to help prevent Jack from following in his footsteps.
It was good advice:
” Son, let this be your magic talisman. You will be tempted
to do like me, to try and be a master of all. This is a mistake.
When the temptation occurs, take out this card
and remind yourself to stay focused. Pick something and
get better than anyone else at it.”

Too many directions, hmmm, must stay focused; be a one-eyed jack of hearts.

For an artist, it is easy to paint in all directions; or even in life in general, to run in all directions. There are simply too many fun things to do.

Nevertheless, Jack White has it right:

“You can do anything you want to in life,

you just cannot do everything you want to do.”

Thanks, A.D. Greer and JackWhite.
I get the message.
My Jack of Hearts card is now handy and clearly in view
to remind me of this important lesson. Thanks again.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…”

I Corinthians 14:33

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. “

Psalm 90:12