Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Art and Fear

A new book I'd like to read. Art and Fear talks about the problems everyone seems to encounter when embarking on Doing Art of any sort.

This book is about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people - essentially (statistically speaking) there aren't any people like that. But while geniuses may get made once-a-century or so, good art gets made all the time. Making art is a common and intimately human activity, filled with all the perils (and rewards) that accompany any worthwhile effort. The difficulties artmakers face are not remote and heroic, but universal and familiar.


Making art and viewing art are different at their core. The sane human being is satisfied that the best he/she can do at any given moment is the best he/she can do at any given moment. That belief, if widely embraced, would make this book unnecessary, false, or both. Such sanity is, unfortunately, rare. 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. To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product; the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork.

... Your job is to learn to work on your work.

(Yes, It's on my Amazon wishlist.)

It all reminds me of something I read once about St. Jean Vianney. He once prayed to God to allow him to see from God's own perspective, the true state of his soul. God replied that this would not be good for him. The great saint's soul was so grotesquely deformed and ruined by his sins that he would give up the Christian life in despair if he were allowed one glimpse of its true condition.

It is, essentially, none of our business to be eager to know exactly and with perfect perspective where we are in either the spiritual life or in the making of art, a universal human spiritual activity. It is our business only to get on with what we have to get on with and let it be in whatever state and level it is in. It is equally fatal to art as to the spiritual life to compare our progress with others.

As the book Art and Fear says,

The viewers' concerns are not your concerns (although it's dangerously easy to adopt their attitudes.) Their job is whatever it is: to be moved by art, to be entertained by it, to make a killing off it, whatever.

Your job is to learn to work on your work.




I love my readers, and my readers love me!
At the risk of ruining any surprise but because I've never even placed an order on Amazon.com before and because for years I've been terrified to even try it, I'm going to tell you that "Art and Fear" should hopefully be arriving sometime between now and April 2. I might have chosen expedited shipping except that I could not tell what any of the charges were going to be until after I chose something. I will send a screen shot so that you will have a record in case something goes wrong. This could definitely call for a book for me called "Computers and Fear." :-)

One of my dear friends, a fellow artist and teacher gave me this book some years ago and it is a wonderful commentary on the obstacles that artists face when viewing a blank sheet of paper. It is full of insight and "aha" moments as we recognize ourselves on each page.

I don't often leave comments and sometimes I'm a little intimidated but I really enjoy reading your blog and following along with your life as it unfolds. We still include you by name in our night prayers.

Best greetings from Arkansas,

May you be filled with awesomeness.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once read of someone who asked God to show him the true state of his soul, and God granted his request, after which he almost had a nervous breakdown.

I prefer to ask God to give me a better sense of His holiness. Familiarity breeds contempt, especially in N.O. Land, and is best avoided.