ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kenny's Parables: The Cubist Rhino

Updated on April 25, 2014

The Story of Three Artists

Three painters, Tom, Dick and Harry, good artists, painted for love of the work, and painted wonderful pictures. But they couldn't sell any of their pieces. They were not good at selling their paintings as they were at painting them. They kept painting for a year, producing a great body of work.

Tom, who explored cubism, had a private income, and could continue to invest money, time and energy. He continued to paint for a year. Then he took stock of the situation. He had ten paintings, mostly good ones. The best painting he had done was that of a rhinoceros. But nobody bought it.

Dick, married and with one child, not well-to-do, gave up after a year. He had to make a living and he was spending money instead of making it. He became a commercial illustrator and he hung some of his paintings on his walls, gifted others to friends and relatives, and stored the rest of them in his attic.

Harry wasn't as good an artist as the other two, but managed to sell one painting to a baroness who happened to take a fancy to a portrait that reminded her of a long lost friend. After that, there was no stopping Harry. The baroness's friends and relatives bought Harry's paintings, mostly portraits, for many reasons. Some just bought them because they were in vogue that season. He married a famous sculptress, and lived happily ever after.

After five years, Tom, who was the best artist of the lot, took to drink. He resented Harry's success, as he felt it unfair that a lesser artist should taste the success that eluded a deserving one like himself. Harry must have slept with the baroness to effect that sale, he thought.
One particularly bad day, after a bottle of fine whiskey, he visited Harry's studio. Harry was talking to another visitor, a suited man who looked like a banker. Dick happened to be there too.

The suited man turned out to be an art dealer. At Harry's compulsion, he agreed to take a look at the work produced by the other two.

Dick's work, better than Harry's but not as good as Tom's, artistically speaking, he thought had a chance. He advised Dick to paint landscapes or flowers, since most interior decorators used them. Dick chose to do landscapes, as painting flowers made him feel nauseous. He promised to give the dealer two landscapes in a month.

When the dealer visited Tom's studio, he was amazed; he loved the cubist rhino. Tom told him bitterly that the rhino had been rejected by all he had tried to sell it to. He was planning to burn it that night, he said. And kill himself. He said he had only his art; he had no luck, and no rich friends. He knew that he was good but the world did not deserve him.

The dealer waited for Tom's outburst to stop. Then he spoke:

"Harry was lucky, luckier than you two, as regards selling paintings. Dick will do fine, in a matter of months. I shall see to that. You, when you lot started out, were the luckiest. You are the best artist of the three, and you had the money and time, and no family distractions. Even now, you are the luckiest. You haven't lost your skill, remained single, and retained most of your money.

You can do one of three things.

One, you can go study the market, find out what sells where, and produce work that sells, keeping your Rhino on your wall for the time that is right for it to make its entry. You just need a key to open up a market. Find another key. A key of gold won't open even a lock of iron if it doesn't fit.

My ten years of experience in this field has taught me that the quality of the piece is only half the qualification for it to sell. You can't sell a gem, however precious it is, to a starving man on a desert island. You can't sell a cake, however delicious it is, to a jeweller whose tastes lie elsewhere. Give the cake to the starving man and the gem to the jeweller. Spend time making gems for the jeweller and baking cakes for the starving man. You waste time lashing out at the bakers and gem makers who happened to be lucky or clever.

The second thing you can do is to hold your own exhibition. You know the worth of your art; now you have to allow the public at large to realize it. Once it starts to sell, dealers and patrons will come without invitation.

The last option is the laziest option: wallow in self-pity and attack any help that dares approach you. Blame everybody and sit on your ...chair. Or give up art.

I know many successful artists. They are those who took responsibility and faced adversity head on. I know many who failed. They were either those who waited to be discovered, or those who stopped doing what they were supposed to be doing and kept doing what they were not. Successful artists speak and listen. If you speak responsibly and listen with commitment, you will be successful at anything.

Take my advice or leave it."

In just two years, Tom was a much sought-after celebrity. His name led all the rest. And his masterpiece, 'The Rhinoceros,' made it to the National Gallery.

© 2014 Ashok Rajagopalan


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      4 years ago from Chennai

      Wonderful to see an old friend on HP again! My fault, entirely, that, being away this long.

      That 6-year-old deserved a good teacher. I frankly don't understand how teachers of any art can be so rigid. It is about creativity, isn't it?

      I do wish you would draw, though, and illustrate your writing. For someone like you, good at everything, Patty, it's more 'would illustrate' than 'could illustrate, I suspect. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      This is a parable we can certainly use and I will do so in my own work. I appreciate it very much!

      The lesson can apply to writing and music and probably other disciplines as well as to fine arts, of course, and I see flashes of the situations in your story currently in some of the Facebook and HP Forums today. Your Hub is on time, undoubtedly.

      Going back to my 6-year-old self, one of my first drawings was a cubist tree, the branches made of logs, just as was the trunk. My teacher said the style was no good and I was not allowed to draw that way - only 100% realism would be accepted. I was kind of shocked, but contented myself with looking at pictures of cubist art. It's still a favorite and I may even try it again! Perhaps I could even illustrate my own writing one day.

      It was good to see you on HP today!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)