January 2019: Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland
I have wanted to read this book for years now. I finally picked up a copy when I was in San Francisco last year and at last got around to reading it this winter.
This book both surprised me and confirmed some of my preconceived notions about it. It surprised me in that it wasn't a fast read. It's a relatively slim volume that I figured I would absolutely devour. Instead I nibbled at it. Some nights I would only read one paragraph, as that could provide enough food for thought for the entire next day. As for my preconceived notions... I thought this book would be good and it was. Each time I saw it on a shelf, I would pick it up and page through, reading little bits and pieces.
My copy is not as dog-eared as I assumed it would be, but that's only because nearly every page deserved to be marked. My current plan is to re-read it with a highlighter in hand.
What is remarkable about this book is that it has put into words some of the more ineffable aspects of artmaking - challenges like motivation, inspiration, competition, and education. It both sheds clear light on complicated subjects and raises thought-provoking questions about others you probably hadn't yet thought to consider.
However, at times, the authors can use generalized terms to discuss what I suspect are very specific circumstances that have occurred in their own experience. And they come off rather bitter when discussing formal art education, though perhaps understandably so.
While this book isn't a silver bullet for getting you unblocked, it can provide some very useful insights to help you reflect on your own artistic practice and motivations.