Art & Fear
Recently I've been reading Art & Fear, Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtMaking (Bayles & Orland, The Image Continuum Press, 1993). I think this should be required reading for the artist, whether you're a doodler or been doing it for years. I recall my first group exhibit a few years ago when I joined the local CPSA chapter; as I peered around the dropoff location at the MacDonald Gallery, I questioned whether my work was good enough to exhibit. The picture in hand was Pensive. I'm glad I decided to drop it off - the artist's reception - my first - was fun, sipping wine while munching on snacks, having people ask about the woman in the picture, the colors, the idea for the pose. Pensive showed up again in the fall show, and, feeling somewhat a slacker for not having anything new, it egged me on to do Tangerine Dreams. This past year has been very productive for me, with 12 works completed. Blue Nude, my first Colorfix work, and one of my favorites, was nearly abandoned halfway through creation. The Colorfix paper was completely different than the Stonehenge paper I'd been working with, and the colors were interacting in ways I wasn't expecting. It just wasn't turning out like the picture in my head. But it was a small (9 x 12) picture, and even if it turned to mush, I thought I'd learn something along the way, so I pressed on. More importantly, it was out of my comfort zone - I'd been doing warm, high contrast, heavily burnished pictures, and Blue Nude was soft, cool, moody, and textured. Trying something new was good enough reason to push on. In the end it did gel. Funny how the one I almost tossed became one of my favorites. Later in the year it was juried into the 2006 Fine Arts Fiesta, a show which I'd submitted to twice before and had not succeeded in getting into.
So, I like Art & Fear. The message of drawing what you care about we've heard before, but it's a good one. I think it's important to keep stretching, and be a little fearless. One of the themes of Art & Fear is that an artist's work is a journey, and each new work opens up paths and ideas to the next. Even if the work doesn't quite turn out as planned, the dozen ideas you get from the process were worth the investment; and, sometimes, not working out as planned isn't a bad thing at all.