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Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking Paperback – April 1, 2001
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"This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially—statistically speaking—there aren't any people like that. Geniuses get made once-a-century or so, yet good art gets made all the time, so to equate the making of art with the workings of genius removes this intimately human activity to a strangely unreachable and unknowable place. For all practical purposes making art can be examined in great detail without ever getting entangled in the very remote problems of genius."
—-from the Introduction
Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. The book's co-authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are themselves both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. Their insights and observations, drawn from personal experience, provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is expeienced by artmakers themselves.
This is not your typical self-help book. This is a book written by artists, for artists -— it's about what it feels like when artists sit down at their easel or keyboard, in their studio or performance space, trying to do the work they need to do. First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic. Word-of-mouth response alone—now enhanced by internet posting—has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking and creativity nationally.
Art & Fear has attracted a remarkably diverse audience, ranging from beginning to accomplished artists in every medium, and including an exceptional concentration among students and teachers. The original Capra Press edition of Art & Fear sold 80,000 copies.
Today, more than it was however many years ago, art is hard because you have to keep after it so consistently. On so many different fronts. For so little external reward. Artists become veteran artists only by making peace not just with themselves, but with a huge range of issues. You have to find your work...
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From the Publisher
About the Author
- Publisher : Image Continuum Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 122 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0961454733
- ISBN-13 : 978-0961454739
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #12,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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"Art and Fear," is a message that I wanted and needed to hear, because I had had fits of starting out painting and drawing at many times then quitting then wanting and coming back to it again...repeatedly asking myself: "why do it?" if it was such a frustrating activity for myself only, i.e. why cause such unneeded frustrations to failure? The answer I gleaned indirectly after reading this book was, it is a "thankless...job to..." for me personally to get under what is seemingly the surface of appearance into the deeper unseen stuff of reality. I am now with a purpose, because I am highly creative and love to express it, I do art with fear, but afterwards, I give it away as an expression of love for the presentation may not be perfect, it is anyhow, a better thing to give more personal and not something that can be purchased with a price from a store commercially so. It is thus a part of me produced incapsulating a moment of emotional wish fulfillment.
The work is thus a proof of thoughtfulness and mindfulness. It is after many tries at entry that one finds a way into the creation of a piece of art. It goes beyond a proof that I exist, then it is a proof that what I thought of is not something subjective, that which only exists in the mind for one moment and then can disappeared, because I gave it a life to live on its own structure and form, it can live outside of me as an objective thing materialistically realistic. To give something a form and structure to the known that one fears is highly liberating and empowering to put a name to an unknown disease appeases the mind and gives it a sense of relief and release like a sneeze.
Just to know that it is ordinary people who commonly faced fear daily and to be able to find a way to express it creatively, i.e. to find that one is an anger and to put such anger into a passionate form that is creatively is useful of one's pent up emotions instead of doing something destructive one can do something because it is a highly personal choice do something else that is more within one's interest and therapeutic too, constructive and thus leave the criticisms to others, I don't have control over what made you say what you did that hurts me nor what you did that I cannot comprehend, but I have some control over what I see and hear and that which can be expressed without words in a piece of art be it in any form whatsoever I have produced. I help shaped my destiny and thus am independent of what you have done to me says a lot about our own free will in response to tragedy. Personally, I am battling with Cancer, and Art done be it of any form not perfect is the perfect way to respond to my fate with my time limited to me. I do what I can do...which is to preserve a piece of me personally to people of whom I presented this gift of me to hopefully outlast me, it is not mean to be exhibited in any fashion. To those who know me, this presentation is what is meant to convey in its expression a part of me eternally from my innermost being to be cherished for I know that I may live longer than what is imposed on me.
Therefore, when faced with fear and anger, what is one to do? One can do art that gives form and function as much as structure if not to tame the fears and inner self realization of terminal illness to give what is really who one is to people of the world in some objective way one's own sense of tragedy transformed into something inspirational to another person. Carry on, I say, with whatever vision that may never be fully realizable now, but to be comprehensive enough for otherrs to carry on with one's wishes. It is liken to ordinary people writing a will, it is then a message on the ocean of life.
The above observation is not what is given as the purpose in this book for why people do what they can call art. But it is what I can add to this purpose among many of why people do what they did. I got the most out of this book when I took off where I had left off in the first place when I was highly creative in the past and now wished to revisited that inspirational time and to create something that was that good and great, but I came to a realization that I had bestilled a higher purpose in the application of this inner desire to do something that I had no training to do, but raw inner desire that many people share for art, forget geniuses, I am surly not one of these Mozarts.
From one hand to another, I hoped to convey hope for anyone who says that this book does not show you how someone is going to overcome an artistic block and just to do it...simply is the stumbling block, I hoped that from the sole purpose of knowing another why one does it and if it is only a giving away thing, it needs not be perfection given away, one can do it to give something highly personal, such as here, a condition that one is going through in life that has not a name or a form apart from calling it fear that is overwhelming such as Cancer, to find in this activity a solace to grapple with it conceptually so to put a good grip on a reality and then turn it into something productive to say something positive about why one lived and continues to live is important enough to communicate to someone else why one is here in the first place, that one has value and these are the values that sustained my creativity for its own rewards is saying I am valued because I exist. The object may be an object of affection only to me in regards to it, it is cherished for its imperfections than its closeness to being perfect. It is simply an interplay of work with the pleasure of lovingly spending the time doing something that gives hope to anyone looking for any in their time of despair to overcome their challenges. Not to be discouraged, but to go ahead, from my hands and mind, and heart to yours, I encourage you to try something new, go ahead, no one needs to know and it is with this private playful practice that we become a professional, you and I know we have to start somewhere where there is at times only us on the innermost of our being have the seeded desire to begin an adventure into the unknown with fear are we procrastinating to begin shaping our future as to avoid painful emotional hurts from criticisms. I say to you, I have learned and this is not found in this book, I have no control over what you say nor do, but I have total control over my view and my work, be it artistic or something of such nature that has healed me of my hurts or fear of the unknown which may be called anxiety. I have solved my problem within me through art. If art can do this for me, just think of what it holds for you, try and if you don
t succeed forget about saying I try...I'll try...,I'll try...until you finally realized with paradoxical conclusion, why not try it anyway now, because yesterday's tomorrow is today!
The book show anything you need to know about artists, even the writers--every artists do different things. You would understood words on the book. It made you realized, and understood about your works if you are artist. I couldn't able express how much I enjoy reading the book! It's a life changer to me!
Highly recommend for all artists on levels (students, self-taught, professional, master, etc...)!
This book is a road map, not a survival guide. The authors provide a list of the obstacles that the artist will encounter in making his art, but they do not provide methods for overcoming these obstacles. In fact they seem to say that the artist must expect these obstacles and if he or she wants to make art, keep plowing through them.
The book is beautifully written with flowing, majestic language that brooks no questions about the authors' pronouncements about the difficulties the artist faces. As factors that interfere with the ordinary individual's ability to make art, the authors dismiss fear that you are pretending, or that you lack talent or that you must seek perfection. Ordinary people, they say, can learn to make art. Similarly they dismiss the artist's fear of others, whether because the others lack understanding, or acceptance, or approval of the artist's work.
The pithy statements that fill the book can certainly provide a ready source of affirmations if that's the way one deals with fears. For example the authors say:
"Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue."
And they say:
"Unreal expectations are easy to come by....Unfortunately expectations based on illusion lead almost always to disillusionment."
Although the book is brief there are many opportunities for deeper contemplation. For example the authors distinguish between craft and art. Consideration of this distinction may help the artist to realize whether he is really creating art or just doing the same old thing. And yet as the critic Mark Schorer noted, "technique is discovery". Squaring away the distinction is important to an artist.
Who should read this book? Not the consumer of art. The authors make it clear that there is no relationship between looking at art and making art. Probably every aspiring artist. It might be that the list of difficulties could lead one to quit before starting. But foreknowledge of the difficulties of making art may help the would-be artist to take those difficulties in his or her stride. Certainly the practicing artist will benefit from reading the book, with its message not to despair when fear occurs, but to keep pushing on if one really wants to make art.
Top reviews from other countries
Creating any kind of art full or part time is hard on so many levels that only artists ( like the authors themselves ) know how draining and frustrating it can be.
Opening this book up to the first page I felt a sense of relief that I was not the only one out there with these secret unarticulatable thoughts.
This pocket size guide is basically a map of sorts to the very difficult life that being an artist is. With this map come very funny, intelligent, observant and warming advice and insights aimed at showing you yourself through the eyes of others.
These authors clearly care about other artists as their very clear compressed observations are straight to the point and very filling food for thought.
Because art just gets harder after leaving art college/school ( 98 percent quit eventually they say ) it is great to know why this is.
Having less or no fellow artists to relate to or confide in after leaving school is a large part of it so having a book like this is a warming comfort and a joy to read. It is like having two very helpful and caring tutors you can turn to when you want to throw in the towel...unlike many real tutors who just make you want to plain quit.
This book is a keeper and not very expensive. I recommend this to all artist / musicians / writers etc of all mediums. You won't let it go if you buy it. If you like sensible helpful advice you can relate to that is well above average quality this book is for you.
The book also analyses the reasons why artists quit being producing art. These are easy to relate to, such as failure to be accepted or recognised for one's efforts. These are presented as the universal fears that haunt even "successful" artists, and knowing this makes them easier to manage.
Similarly, the authors discuss the dichotomy of acceptable vs authentic art, i.e., do you produce art that you know others will like, or art that is true to you.
Several examples in the book relate to photographers, which I found particularly relevant. However, I would recommend this book to any aspiring artist.
Perhaps I should have given it 5 stars.
Rationally I always knew wasn't just me who went through all that I do, in my case, because I paint and have done for years, now I know for sure.
I recognized every phrase, and have been given a welcome new perspective on what I do in relationship to all other art makers. Famous and anonymous and all shades between.
A lot of the content gelled with me and it has approaches to deal with different scenarios.
Read in conjunction with Twyla Tharp's Creative Habit (slightly heavier read but worth it)