For the new year, some quotes from the quite useful Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland (Image Continuum Press Edition, 1993). I borrowed it from a visual artist friend and am now embarrassed to return it to her because of all the little dog-ears I made on pages with interesting stuff.

I like the word “artmaking” because it allows for whatever medium the reader happens to be messing around with. This year it’s my intention to play in a variety of media, and to play every day. Okay, you’re all witnesses to my intentions (but recent science has revealed that saying your intentions out loud actually diminishes your capacity to actually do them, because your brain feels so self-satisfied at having stated that you WILL do something that it thinks you’ve already done it.)(So if, in the end, I don’t follow through with my intentions, I figure it’s YOUR fault.) Here’s some wisdom from the book:

“[The] moment of completion is also, inevitably, a moment of loss — the loss of all the other forms the imagined piece might have taken. The irony here is that the piece you make is always one stop removed from what you imagined, or what else you can imagine, or what you’re right on the edge of being able to imagine. Designer Charles Eames…used to complain good-naturedly that he devoted only about one percent of his energy to conceiving a design–and the remaining ninety-nine percent to holding onto it as a project ran its course. Small surprise. After all, your imagination is free to race a hundred works ahead, conceiving pieces you could and perhaps should and maybe one day will execute–but not today, not in the piece at hand. All you can work on today is directly in front of you. Your job is to develop an imagination of the possible.” p16

“Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending. The risks are obvious: you may never get to the end of the sentence at all–or having gotten there, you may not have said anything.” p20

“…the seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides…to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” p31

 “The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work.” p36

So here’s to 2016, a year of lessons learned in doing the work. Do the work!




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