Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles & Orland
Image from The Cosmic Nudge
When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art.
When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.
- Oscar Wilde
This quotation introduces Part II of this book and gives us a clue that the authors have turned their attention to the business of doing art. This includes how we interact with the public. In this section titled "Common Ground," we're made aware of the artist's dilemma. If we are true to ourselves in artmaking, then our efforts are unguarded and exploratory. However, the rest of the world may try to squelch that freedom through rejection or even censorship. We walk the razor's edge between the outside known world and our inner world when we ask others to leave the common ground we all share and enter the world of our imagination. Perhaps that's why so many artists compromise their work in order to make it more main-stream and appealing.
And surely one of the more astonishing rewards of artmaking comes when people make time to visit the world you have created. Some, indeed, may even purchase a piece of your world to carry back and adopt as their own. Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality. The world is not yet done. (p. 69)
Here, Bayles and Orland touch on a nerve. Although I love the thrill of selling my work to others, I also feel very self-conscious about it. After all, each of my creations is so personal and intimate. My paintings are extensions of me. Will they be understood? Will they be appreciated? Will they end up in the dumpster? Most artists would advise me not to worry about any of that. Make the sale and forget about it. That's usually what I do, since I have no control over my work once it leaves my hands. However, the moment in which the sale takes place fills me with uncertainty. And then, it's gone .
There are "holes" where paintings used to be. I paint new ones, but they don't fill in the holes, they just take up more space. Of course, I'm speaking metaphorically, but it feels like "holes" in my mental space. The feeling and meaning that went into each individual painting is gone with the painting itself. New feelings and new meanings arise but never replace old ones. If I worked on an assembly line attaching gizmos to something, I wouldn't have these feelings. Art is very different from all other kinds of production. We create a world, we invite others into it, and we hope they'll take a part of our world home with them. An ever-expanding world. I like that.
What are your thoughts?