Friday, June 11, 2010
The Human Voice
Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles & Orland
Image: 1921 photograph by Yasuo Kuniyoshi of seven artists: Peggy Bacon, Alexander Brook, Isabella Howland, Katherine Schmidt Shubert, Betty Spencer, Niles Spencer and Dorothy Varian. Published in: Archives of American Art Journal v. 20, no. 3, p. 8.
We've reached the final chapter, "The Human Voice," which is a summary of this useful book. The authors begin the chapter by explaining the interesting questions that motivated them to write the book in the first place:
Do artists have anything in common with each other?
How do artists become artists?
How do artists learn to work on their work?
How can I make work that will satisfy me?
Why do so many who start, quit?
Although the authors acknowledge that there are no clear-cut concise answers to these questions, I think that each chapter they wrote can be distilled to a single elegant idea. So, here's how I'd answer those questions:
What do we artists have in common? We all engage in artmaking.
How do we become artists? We're born with the ability and we become artists by engaging in artmaking on a consistent basis over time.
How do we learn to work on our work? By sticking with it; through trial and error; through learning lessons; through finding our own voice and using it.
How can we make art that satisfies us? By speaking only in our own voice through our art and turning a deaf ear to those who would distract us from it.
Why do so many quit? Either they weren't really artists to begin with and were forcing themselves down that path for some unknown reason or they are too insecure to believe in their own abilities, insights, and viewpoints.
Those are my answers. What are yours?