DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Art & Fear

Filed under: Reviews: Writing — Tags: , , , — fred @ 20:23

Among artists over the years, I’ve often heard mention of a little book called Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland (1993, Image Continuum Press).  The title never appealed to me, but the book kept rising to the surface, one of those things artists recommend or pass along to each other, so when it came up again I decided to read it.  It’s only 122 pages long.

The book emerged from years of conversation between Bayles and Orland around the question of why so many artists give up and quit.  The authors are both photographers, but they’ve deliberately chosen to focus on principles applicable to workers in just about any artform, and they are careful to draw their illustrative examples from a wide range of creative fields.

Personally, I’ve been making art for so long that I can’t even imagine giving it up, though, over time, I have experienced all the frustrations and doubts they describe.  As they say, “Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward.”  Wow, that sums up the artist’s biggest challenge really well!

I’ve persevered as an artist just because I couldn’t find anything else that satisfied my soul deep down, but if I had had a family making urgent demands of me I can imagine succumbing to the difficulties.  Bayles and Orland have clearly observed and understood what artists go through, and they’ve distilled it into a gem of wisdom in this book.

Art & Fear had me constantly thinking, “Yes, I recognize exactly what you’re talking about.  I’ve seen it again and again.”  I was surprised to see these things expressed so succinctly, and then surprised again to realize that the issues are so common and yet so little addressed in writing on art.

The authors see right through the theoretical and romantic pretensions that cluster so thickly around art, and they go directly to the heart of the matter, from the point of view of the working artist.  And you have to admire the brevity!   Any artist tormented by blocks or doubts should give Art & Fear the small time it takes to make its big points.

Powered by WordPress

Theme Tweaker by Unreal