“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.

There’s advice for the novice and the master, artists who’re about start on their chosen medium for the first time and those who have engaged in it for years. There’s advice for the working artist and those who haven’t yet entered the industry and those who have retired from it. There’s even advice for getting started and getting work done and how to keep motivated.

It’s amazing how much Bayles and Orland have packed into this little book that amounts to just over 100 pages. As such, it could be a quick read, but I took a week (about 8 days) to get through it because I wanted to pay attention and adopt some of the advice Bayles and Orland shares.

One of my favorite types of bookish occurrences happened while I read this book. I took the book with me while out exploring Washington, D.C., and a young woman saw me reading it and stopped to share with me her experience with the book and how much it means to her. I appreciate such moments. They don’t often happen. I spent some time speaking with the young woman, who happened to be an art student, and I told her that I write and also draw and that I was enjoying reading Art & Fear because of how encouraging it is — which I needed. She told me that the book helped her to believe in herself as an artist. It was a wonderful chat and I was left feeling even more glad that I’d bought and was reading the book.

Now that I’ve completed the book, I can’t help extolling it to everyone I meet who I know are artists and creators of some kind and telling them how much they could benefit from reading the book. Even folks who don’t consider themselves artists and creators could benefit from the positive, encouraging message in it.

I had to add it to my list of favorite books read in 2017. It’s a book I know I’ll return to throughout my life, so I know that I’ll definitely read it again someday.

Overall: ★★★★★

A wonderful, encouraging read that all artists and creators should read no matter their skill level.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I think it’s worth owning a copy.

Quotes from the book:

In this section of my reviews, I like to list sentences and passages that appealed to me. However, I’ll just include two from this book. I highlighted many things as I read, so to include them all would be to reproduce the entire book here (well, the entire first section since I connected most with that part).

“Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did. In fact, if artmaking did not tell you (the maker) so enormously much about yourself, then making art that matters to you would be impossible.”

“Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be.”

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Weekend Reads #78: Journaling

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s topic:

Do you keep a journal?

Since moving back in with my parents, every year on New Year’s Day I wake early in the morning, grab a writing utensil (pen and paper or my laptop) and write everything I can remember about the previous year: events, thoughts, emotions, people I met. I spend the first half of the day doing this. Writing from the wee hours in the morning into the late afternoon, nonstop. Meanwhile, my parents, and sometimes my brother, attend church because, we’re often told, that’s the best way to bring in the new year — in communion with God. I’m often called variations of “heathen” for not attending and it’s been insinuated that I’ve turned away from my religion. But I wonder if my journaling is a sort of communion with this higher power.

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Weekend Reads #77: I Try Not to Think About It

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s topic:

(from Sara LeTourneau’s blog)

How would you answer Henry Ford’s question? What happens when you believe you can do something? How about when you have the opposite mentality? Is one more helpful than the other when it comes to achieving goals? What other thoughts did you have when you read this quote?

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Weekend Reads #75: My Poor Vocab

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to sit, think, and draft a Weekend Reads post, a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s topic is from one of Sara LeTourneau’s Weekly Writer Wisdom posts:

How do you encourage the expansion of your vocabulary and the maturation of your writing style? For example, do you look up definitions of words you’ve never heard of before? Or “collect” words by writing them in a journal? Do you use writing prompts or exercises as a means of stretching your “language muscles”? What other thoughts or ideas does this quote bring to mind?

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Weekend Reads #73: How I Organize My Blog

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

I’m behind on everything in life at the moment. My tag-filled week (last week) did not go as planned because I’m in the midst of changing jobs and for some reason, my crazy butt thinks I must catch up on everything at my old job before leaving for the new one. Smh. No one does that!

I’m trying to chill and take it easy, but I think I went overboard on that goal this weekend and did almost nothing. I was so chill that I almost forgot about Father’s Day. Btw, shout out to all the dads. I got my dad a pint of ice cream because I know that’s his weakness.

Anyway, I have a whole week off before starting the new gig so I’ll try to catch up on posts, beginning with this late Weekend Reads post.

For this weekend, I once again checked the Book Blogger Hop for a topic. The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly book discussion meme created by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and now managed by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week’s question was submitted by Elizabeth at Silver’s Reviews:

How do you organize your blog in terms of what is in your side bar? Do you have categories and defined sections in your side bar?

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Weekend Reads #72: Busy and Tired

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This post was inspired by Sara Letourneau’s recent Thursday Thoughtfulness post, which asked:

What are your favorite ways of “recharging your batteries”? Do you think that rest, relaxation, and other forms of mindfulness are important parts of everyday life? Why or why not?

Good timing, Sara. This was exactly what I intended to talk about.

My blogging — posting and interacting with other bloggers — have been spotty lately because I’ve been busy and by the time I sit down to write, I’m either tired or not in the mood. Often, this means that I need to recharge. It means that I’m overtaxed in some way, either working too much at my job or socializing too much in my life, which is fun but leaves me drained afterward.

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Weekend Reads #71: On Writing

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

Again, I hopped over to Sara Letourneau’s blog for inspiration because I couldn’t think of anything. In a recent Weekly Writer Wisdom post, she asked this question inspired by a William Gass quote (I focused on the questions rather than the quote in my response.):

How do you view the act of writing? If you could compare writing to other activities or process, what would you liken it to? Why? What other thoughts do you have when you read this quote?

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