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4.5 out of 5 stars
Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
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396 of 422 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I agree that this is a very clearly, respectfully, and unpretentiously written book that can serve as a companion to any artist. Making art can otherwise be a lonely,daunting undertaking. My concern for readers of this book, as with readers of The Artist's Way, is that it can be a pacifier. If it gets you to your work sooner and with greater courage and confidence, all the better. But if it substitutes for the process itself--makes you feel better but does not get you "working"--then it's something to pick up but let go of. There's a growing genre of books like this out there, some (such as this one) better than others. The sage advice gets recycled, as do the homilies from famous people. And again, that's fine, as long as they get us to a place where we are working with more energy and joy, but perhaps not so fine if the internal process becomes more interesting than the art-making. Did you paint today? No. But I reread passages of Art & Fear...
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195 of 210 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 1997
Format: Paperback
Art & Fear is an easy book to rave about, but it is a particularly difficult book to write about. The authors have chosen their words so well, that it seems as if there ARE no other words with which to talk about this subject or this book. I'll try anyway, fully knowing that whatever I might say surely will not please me as much as what I have read in their pages. And this is part of the message of Art & Fear, one of the lessons to be learned - just do it and learn from it.

Art & Fear is an unpretentious little paperback, written by two lifelong friends who have been artists, as well as other things, for most of their lives. Both of them have their feet firmly rooted in the real world that we all live in (however high their ideas and ideals might fly), and both of them have keen insights into what enables individuals to produce good art and to continue to produce good art, and what stumbling blocks stop many individuals. These insights are of value to artists in any medium whatsoever, and are in fact likely to be of significant value to many individuals who don't think of themselves as artists at all. One doesn't need to be an artist to be struggling with goals that seem beyond your reach and a lack of appreciation from others; it's just a little more pervasive in the artmaking world.

Reading this book is like sitting down with the authors for a long and lively conversation. You'll learn something of them, and something of yourself, and good things are sure to come from it. I've actually found it too good to keep to myself - I'm on my 6th copy now, as I keep giving them away to friends!
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246 of 267 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Before you even buy this book, I believe you need to determine what you hope to get out of it.

If you're hoping to identify with other artists who have faced doubts, fears and obstacles, you'll not be disappointed. This book delivers on its title: it is about ART & FEAR. It will describe where you are or have been. It could even help you stay there, if you choose.

This book says it explores "the way art gets made", why it often does not, and the difficulties along the way. As such, it is, in its own words "observational", not instructive. So it is not a "How To" book. It is also analytical, though not necessarily insightful, so it's not intended for your next meditation. And though other reviewers have said otherwise, I wouldn't recommend this book to help rouse anyone from their creative slumber.

If you're a practicing artist or would-be artist who is stuck, I don't believe this book will help free you. You may find identification or sympathy with other artists - maybe even justification - but not the inspiration, motivation or plain old instruction to get you going again.

Better to read something that is designed to be instructive or inspiring. (One inspiring book that springs to mind is Denise Sherkerjian's UNCOMMON GENIUS which profiles 40 winners of the MacArthur Prize. These artists cross all creative disciplines, face numerous obstacles and still create. It says a lot worth listening to and applying to the process of creating.)

I received ART & FEAR as a gift and read it as much out of curiosity as to honor the giver. I rated it 3 STARs because it (a.) has some good quotes, and (b.) helped me appreciate how differently I think about and respond to the doubt, ambiguity and chaos in my art. Compared to the Bayles & Orland landscape, I have more faith, trust and love in the process and the results of my creation.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a serious painter, I own many books on art in general and the craft of painting in particular. They have been variously useful and sometimes even inspirational, but Art & Fear is worth more to me, than all the rest of my books put together. This book doesn't tell you how to paint or write or compose music or dance. Nor does it trot out the works of other painters, writers, composers, or dancers to serve as inspiration. Instead, it tells me and you and all other aspiring artists how to keep on working at what we love most. What a gem!
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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I do not describe myself as a practicing artist. I have practiced Emergency Medicine in large urban teaching hospitals for 25 years. Until a year ago, I hadn't played a 'cello or bass viol for 35 years, and hadn't written a poem in almost as many. I started writing letters to a friend making a difficult passage 8 months ago, to suport the process, and began to recall the letters and poetry I used to write. I wrote 50 letters in 6 months, then "hit a wall." After reading this book, I began rediscovering my "art," outside of my professional and personal life. Art may not be my life, but my Life is more Artful after reading this book. It will not get the "disappointed and afraids" a good job after art school, but it may help anyone began to reconnect to that Fearlessness that permeates early childhood, and from that, a richer expression of themselves. I will not write the great american novel, and probably nothing publishable, but the authors have made a genuine contribution to the quality of my life today. Try it.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book revealed to me I was not the only one having the thoughts of doubt and frustration in dealing with my talent and drive. I can look at my work as a process now and not an end result. I copy quotes from this book and paste them in my work space to remind me what it is I'm trying to accomplish. Everyone will get something different out of this text - it has a very universal message for anyone who is creative. My painting instructor recommends this book regularly and all that read it have the most positive responses to the insights and the pearls of wisdom. With my strongest recommendation I encourage ALL Artists to read this!
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I read ART & FEAR in one sitting; I could not resist the gentle wisdom contained on almost every page. (My trusty highlighter was nearly emptied as I found much text that I wanted to reread and remember.)
To any artist "stuck" in creative quicksand (whether it be fear, self-doubt, perfectionism -- whatever), the writers reach out a long and sturdy tree limb for you to grasp to pull yourself free and back onto solid ground. They don't just leave you standing there either, but provide you with the tools you'll need to find your own way home.
One of the many quotes from ART & FEAR that I like is: "To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have."
Other things I will say about ART & FEAR is that it is VERY thought provoking, thorough, insightful, and challenging with a few flourishes of humor. The information presented will apply to artists of all persuasions.
I will very likely read ART & FEAR again and again and will probably find new gems with each read (either previously overlooked or not yet understood).
Once read, you will want to lend ART & FEAR to your artist friends. I suggest you keep your copy and either recommend that they get their own, or, order one for them as a gift they will appreciate many times over.
Finally, because I feel that I have received much from reading ART & FEAR, I send a heartfelt "thank you" to the authors, David Bayles & Ted Orland. I very much appreciate the authors' wish to share what they have learned (and especially for bringing their wish to fruition) with anyone that is interested and that they managed to provide me, someone quite unknown to them, with a real sense of being seen and understood (without ever feeling condescended to). Quite a gift!
ART & FEAR is a book you will wish you'd known about before but you will be glad you managed to discover now. "When the student is ready the teacher will come."
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a working visual artist and spiritual seeker and I have never read such an honest account of what it's like to be an artist in the modern world. So often journalists, especially self-help authors, tell the reader what they want to hear; things like "do what you love, and the money will follow," leading the reader blindly down pathways based upon wishful thinking. Bayles and Orland explore the reality of being a creative person a materialistic world and how to survive by knowing yourself and what art making is about for you. If you find yourself with the impulse to quit for whatever reason: lack of sales, rejection, burn out, bad reviews, or creative blocks, reading this little book may help you reexamine and rekindle your creative impulses in a new light.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a relatively young artist with more debilitating insecurities than Franz Kafka, this book has been a revelation for me. It truly helps you look beyond the cannibalism, the critics, the dilettantes and focus on what's truly important; your work (without undermining your intelligence with the usual inspirational, substanceless talk). Self-doubt is almost essential for any artist's progress, but this helps debunk all of those irrational fears that leave you berating yourself and staring at a blank canvas for hours. Art & Fear is a simple, concise book with such a broad reach that it could never be labeled as your standard "self help" book. highly recommended for artists of any medium.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I picked up this book when I was moving into a greater acceptance of the artistic part of my nature. I was considering sharing my art with the world, and the reviews seemed to suggest that this was a good book to help explore the ambiguous feeling involved in such a venture.
I was amazed. This book packs valuable, practical wisdom into every single page. I can't remember a book with more information density than this. Perhaps I was just ready for the knowledge here, but it seems to be the distilled essence of a thoughtful, deep analysis of a great deal of experience.
While it is primarily about making art and the issues inherent in that pursuit, it is also very much about life itself. In fact, one could consider one's life to be a work of art, and it makes that analogy an easy reach. The things one will learn here about life in general are pertinent and as valid as the best pop psychology or self help book around, while considerably more readable than most of those.
For example, it deals with topics like fear, uncertainty, acceptance, vision, imagination, talent, perfection, expectations, understanding, approval, competition, habits, creativity, and much more. All of these are issues we face every day of our lives, regardless of our field of endeavor. This books speaks to those who would have an understanding of such things.
I have given this book as a gift to people I care about, and encourage everyone to read it. It is uplifting without being unrealistic, and honest without being cynical. A very good read.
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