Art & Fear


Art & Fear:

Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

David Bayles and Ted Orland (1993)

Every now and then a book comes along that, like The Inner Game of Tennis, seems universally applicable even though it focuses on the particulars of a specific activity. Art & Fear is one of those books. While Bayles and Orland focus on the artmaking process per se, readers will find themselves applying the book to all areas of their own lives. The authors begin by defining the nature of the problem of making art, coming right out of the gate with, “Making art is difficult.” While this might seem to be a good place for most of us to stop reading, Bayles and Orland go on to show how, yes, it’s difficult, but it’s still possible. We simply need to better understand the expectations of ourselves and others, then find a way to practice our own art with that understanding in mind. They borrow pithy phrases from Zen and Thomas Kuhn to support their observations on artmaking, concluding that artists are those who have found a way to work through the problems of artmaking in spite of the uncertainty they must endure while doing so. While living with uncertainty sounds uncomfortable, it’s certainly more interesting than the certainty of never realizing the art that’s within you. 122 pages.


Part I

    • Introduction
    • The Nature of the Problem
      • A Few Assumptions
    • Art & Fear
      • Vision & Execution
      • Imagination
      • Materials
      • Uncertainty
    • Fears About Yourself
      • Pretending
      • Talent
      • Perfection
      • Annihilation
      • Magic
      • Expectations
    • Fears About Others
      • Understanding
      • Acceptance
      • Approval
    • Finding Your Work
      • Canon

Part II

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