Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fear This Book: An Odd Discussion of Fear and Art

Today I finished reading Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Let's just start off by saying that this book is not a How-To manual. The writers discuss how to art-make and all that comes with that hyphenation, but the book is a shallow dip into such subjects. While giving the reader a healthy dose of how artists and their issues, the writers do not give artists a way of working out such issues.

I know the reviews on Amazon rave about this book, but I was not moved, consoled or even angered by this book. The writers offer pithy advice that in some sense may be useful. But on the whole the book is flat and I feel, more useful as a justification for artists who are having a hard time. Others may disagree and argue that the book was useful for them, or that I'm not really an artist because I wasn't moved by the writer's advice or regaling tales of how the art/publication world works. Either way, I might recommend this as a starting point for this conversation, but I definitely would not recommend it as any sort of authority on the subject.

I enjoy a discussion on theory and craft, as well as the next writer-painter-illustrator-craftsman, but after reading the same ideas repeated again and again, I began to doubt the validity of the whole work. When I picked up this book I expected slight suggestions with the authors offering encouragement. Instead, I got a book of platitudes and observations easily deduced from an artistic life, while also dealing with paranthetical insertions from the authors or badly designed boxes full of italicized maybe-funny maybe-clever advice. But then again, maybe I'm just not enough of an artist to get this book.

Holding the Line.
Bri

3 comments:

Stace said...

I recommend The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. That one lays it on the line, for sure.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the heads up, I'll avoid this one.

Ira said...

Of course, the writer is completely fair.
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