Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles & Orland
All that you do will inevitably be flavored with uncertainty - uncertainty about:
what you have to say,
whether the materials are right,
whether the piece should be long or short
whether you'll ever be satisfied with anything you make.
These thoughts, found in the concluding section of chapter 2 remind us that doubt extends to our decision-making process as we create a work of art. I'd say that this is true of life in general. Is there anything that we can be completely certain about? For every answer, there's a contradictory opinion. For every solution there's an alternate approach. For every natural "law" there's a statistical uncertainty. Why should the process of artmaking be any different? In my opinion, it's the uncertainty that keeps it interesting!
The truth is that the piece of art which seems so profoundly right in its finished state may earlier have been only inches or seconds away from total collapse. Yup - been there! So much teeters on the edge and could go either way. Sometimes, when I'm painting I actually find that I've been holding my breath. It's like walking a tight-rope.
In making art you need to give yourself room to respond authentically, both to your subject matter and to your materials. Art happens between you and something - a subject, an idea, a technique - and both you and that something need to be free to move. This is true. Art is like a relationship (hopefully, a good one!) where understanding, commitment and flexibility are essential for it to work. Like marriage, art is hard work and full of rewards.
Control, apparently, is not the answer. People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to make art that is risky, subversive, complicated, iffy, suggestive or spontaneous. I think that predictability is boring. It's good to entertain the "what-ifs" and to explore unknown areas. You never know where something may lead. Take risks.
What's really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. Simply put, making art is chancy - it doesn't mix well with predictability.
In other words, if we want to succeed in art we must embrace uncertainty and take risks.
What are your thoughts?