Art  Zoller  Wagner
Realist Painting: About the Artist


Ser Hidalgo

To be an good artist--or scientist--requires that we have time alone to think and daydream. I call someone who allows themselves this time "hidalgo." To explain, I need to tell some history.

As a reward for participation in the reconquest of Spain from the Moors and later the "discovery" and conquest of the New World, a number of people were given the opportunity to become lower-level nobility.

To prove their worthiness, one of the requirements was that applicants had to show that they had never engaged in demeaning labor. Applicants sometimes had to get affidavits from familiars who could attest that the applicant (and often their fathers and grandfathers) had never done a lick of work. Imagine being proud of a resume showing no work history!

Manual labor, dirt, and sweat is not the domain of an honorable aristocrat. Even clean professionals like lawyers and non-royal scribes were viewed as too pedestrian to become nobility. Many wealthy applicants, however, were able to buy their way into a "clean" work history. "Honorable" applicants were given the title "Hidalgo", which is a shortening of "hijo de algo" (son of something). Many Spanish-speaking people still carry this title as their last name.

Cedar Creek Mudflat, oil on canvas

   Cedar Creek Mudflat
   oil on canvas

What I take from the term "hidalgo" isn't the absence of physical labor; it's the luxury of having time to daydream and wonder. Having a normal job or a career often interferes with intuition, discovery, and invention because it monopolizes our time and energy. To be creative, we must be hidalgo, someone with time to imagine.

Next page    >>    Creative Bud

a playful friendship sparks imagination

About the Artist: On Art-making and Artist-making

About the Artist: Introductions   Art Zoller Wagner as painter, teacher, learner

Growing Up with Art  influences on my art, artists in the family

Ser hidalgo  on having time to daydream

Creative Bud  a playful friendship sparks imagination

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