“Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland

This isn’t the book I went to Barnes & Noble to buy.

I visited the store after the rush of Thanksgiving break to use a couple coupons Barnes & Noble tempted me with so I could buy Kassia St. Clair’s The Secret Lives of Color. I’d always wanted a book specifically about color and because the cover of St. Clair’s book appealed to me, I decided to get it. But while searching for that book, I found Art & Fear.

Art & Fear is a book I’ve often seen on lists recommending books to writers and artists. I recall making a mental note to read it back in college, but promptly forgot about it as soon as the note was made. However, that memory came back to me when I saw the book sitting on the shelf. I was pulled toward it. I had no intention of purchasing any additional book to St. Clair’s, yet I found myself leaving the store with Art & Fear in my bag.

I immediately began to read it.

That doesn’t happen often. Usually a book would languish on my shelves for a couple months before I get to them, but it was hard to ignore Art & Fear. I felt a need to read it, and as I read, I realized it was a book I should have read long ago. Art & Fear is a necessary read for all artists and creators no matter what their field or medium or skill or expertise. All levels of artists and creators can benefit from reading this book.

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a word on life’s small moments from Anthony Lane

Anthony Lane quote

“We happen upon ourselves when nothing much happens to us, and we are transformed in the process.”

—Anthony Lane, from his review of “Boyhood” that appeared in The New Yorker. Lane is a British journalist and film critic for The New Yorker. I enjoy reading his quip-filled reviews. He is quite entertaining.

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thoughts on Fiction Writing from Annie Weatherwax

quote from Annie Weatherwax

“I learned how to write fiction by understanding the language of visual art.”

“Fiction writing for me has much more to do with the disciplined skill of seeing than with the study of literature. Seeing has little to do with language. In fact, true seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees. It is looking at a piece of paper and seeing a tree, then seeing the man who chopped it down, his hands, his face, how he walks. Hidden inside those visual details is the story of his life.”

“Body language can reveal more about character than almost any other detail.”

“The process of finding a character in a hunk of clay is the same as finding a story on a blank page. You must work a piece from all angles and recognize the danger of focusing too quickly on details when the structure and form have not yet been fully established.”

—Annie Weatherwax, from her Op-Ed piece, “The Art of Fiction Writing,” in the Publisher’s Weekly’s Soapbox section. Weatherwax is a visual artist and writer. She spent most of her career sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Warner Bros., Pixar, and others. Her debut novel, All We Had, will be published by Scribner in August 2014. Visit her website to see her work.

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some insight on how bad moments influence our identity, from Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon TED quote

“We don’t seek the painful experiences that hew our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences.”

“Forge meaning and build identity: Forging meaning is about changing yourself; building identity is about changing the world.”

“We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it’s purposeful.”

“Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle.”

“We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning.”

“Identity itself should be not a smug label or a gold medal but a revolution.”

Andrew Solomon, from his TED Talk, “How the Worst Moments In Our Lives Make Us Who We Are.” Solomon is a writer on politics, culture, and psychology. He is a regular contributor to NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications. His book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2001 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

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some insight on the “near win” from Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis TED

“We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.”

“We build out of the unfinished idea, even if that idea is our former self.”

“Completion is a goal but we hope it is never the end.”

—Sarah Lewis, from her TED Talk, “Embrace the near win.” Lewis is a writer, art historian, and curator. Her debut book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery analyzes the idea of failure focusing on case studies that reveal how setbacks can become a tool enabling us to master our destinies (TED Talks). 

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a line from Apoorva Mandavilli

quote from apoorva mandavilli

“You can never overestimate how empowering it is to see someone who looks like you—only older and more successful. That, much more than well-meaning advice and encouragement, tells you that you can make it.”

—Apoorva Mandavilli, from her article, “Alone in a Room Full of Science Writers,” on Medium.com. Mandavilli is a science journalist and adjunct professor at New York University. Her article discusses her experience as a minority in the field of science journalism.

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