Art, fear and permission

13 May

”The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.” Art and Fear, page 5.

“Drive a nail home and clinch it so faithfully that you can wake up in the night and think of your work with satisfaction, a work at which you would not be ashamed to invoke the Muse”
-Henry David Thoreau

I could quote, quote and quote again, but that’s not the learning or the answer to my own questions as an artist. And learning and questioning don’t always have ends or answers, but the seeking of them teaches us something about ourselves. We may have commonalities, but i am myself, and my art is mine only, coming from me as i develop, learn and question. I have to trust myself. Putting my trust in something or someone is not the same thing—i must, i will trust my self.

As i have said in an earlier post, i’m not one for “self help” books. I wouldn’t classify Art & Fear as one of those though–it doesn’t offer solutions to problems, or neat little excercises that will get you out of your rut. It does however clarify and gently slap you up the head with reality–IF you are serious about being an artist. My copy in the past two days has been highlighted, bent, had stars scribbled on some passages, sentences circled and been exclamation points-ed all over the place. Some of it was a struggle to get through–i usually am a fast reader, cogently assimilating 90% right away, but found myself going over some passages several times, to pull the shadows and echoes of the words out into the clear.

This is not light reading. This is not a fast answer. It’s not an “ooo i get the cosmic-ness of it all now” book. Obviously i was ready, more than ready, to read it, even eager for it: even before my father’s death bringing up some things that re-inforced the issues needing clarification. And i’m NOT blaming him for a lot of me: he contributed, as did others along the way, as all of us have, but i am the final arbiter of what influenced me and my art. This isn’t a bandwagon i’m jumping on either–the last few months has been a deep block and i need help.

I will share as i go along with these new discoveries, but promise it will not become the sole raison d’etre for my being here 🙂 Pictures and the real work are worth a thousand stories anytime.


Posted by on May 13, 2010 in lessons to learn


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5 responses to “Art, fear and permission

  1. Marg in Mirror, AB, Canada

    May 13, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I’ve been away, Arlee, and am only now catching up with the blogs I follow. Sorry to hear about your father’s death; I had a similar relationship with my step-dad, bully that he was, and bully-er the older he got, so I understand, as least in part.

    I read A&F some years ago — and still re-read parts of it. Just finishing “The View Beyond the Studio Door” — not as pithy, but some very good points to it. I re-read A&F whenever I need a kick in the bee-hind to get into the studion.




  2. kaye

    May 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Well, maybe I should try reading it again. I can’t remember why I found it such a challenge the last time I tried. I’ll try again.


  3. albedoarlee

    May 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    If you’re subconsciously ready, it’s not a slog to get through:) And maybe it’s not for everyone. These are my responses only–i’d be interested to have a dialogue with others about it, casual but focused.


  4. Mary Anne

    May 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I haven’t seen that particular book – another I should request from the library perhaps. I’ve read the last sentence of this post several times and have to say that I think that the work IS the story. It’s a reflection of *your* story at any given time. Just MHO, of course, and I’m probably w-a-y off the mark! I don’t understand the people who cruise through blogs looking strictly at pictures and not reading the words that tell so much more of the story.
    Somehow I’ve managed to get myself totally off the original topic haven’t I!!! Too many allergy meds….


  5. albedoarlee

    May 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    OOPS, MaryAnne caught me–i meant the actual work was worth more in a sense than my ponderings–cause if there’s no work shown, there’s no one to tread the ponderings :)(hmm i meant “read the ponderings” but i kind of like “treading” too 🙂


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