Leslie's Reviews > Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Art and Fear by David Bayles
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 19, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-we-own, faves
Read in January, 2002

** spoiler alert ** This is a great book for ALL people, artist or not, professional or amateur. What I mean by that is, whether you want to start cooking, gardening, dancing, painting -- WHATEVER! -- it helps give you motivation to do so.

I've always been an artist, having a natural drawing talent from a very young age, delving into my art in high school, then studying art in college. I received my commercial art/graphic arts degree and even though I did not stay in my field (I hated desktop publishing, and would rather create fine art), this book has been of great help to me in pursuing art as a hobby and just for fun.

I love calligraphy/lettering, abstract painting (acrylics & watercolor) & some card-making. I still cannot believe all the notes I took from this book. I highlighted and underlined things on nearly every single page.

There are many examples to give from this book, but 2 things have always stood out for me: The first is the example of the 2 groups of pottery students. One group was assigned to make as many items they could and the other group was assigned to just make one, but it had to be perfect. Of course, the first group succeeded because the more times you do something, the better you hone your skill for it. The other group were completely stressed out at making just that one perfect pot.

Another example is the story of the dancer who was a great dancer, and did it because she loved to dance. She never thought of pursuing it professionally, until her teacher suggested she try out for a position (or something to that). That's when she became terrified of failing and questioned herself. She didn't enjoy dancing anymore because of the pressure to perform for others vs. just dancing for herself.

This story is the same as what my b-i-l experienced as a photographer. He takes great pictures (we call him the family photographer because he always has his camera at family functions). Well, one year, I asked him (via email) if he would take a family portrait for me. I offered to pay him, said we'd work around his schedule, etc, etc. (I wanted him to know how much I'd appreciate it). Well, he never replied. I just figured he was too busy. But when my husband asked him about it a few months later, the bil said he felt he wouldn't be good enough and started to feel pressure. I immediately thought of this book and wanted to share it with him so bad! He was the perfect example of someone who just wanted to do what he did for the enjoyment of it and when I tried to make it "professional", he cowarded. (I never did get the family photo, but I warned him that he'll be hired to do my son's senior pics!)
17 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Art and Fear.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Andrea Completely agree with you! I am a photographer and have been through an emotional roller coaster with my passion. Until a friend recommended this book to me and it opened my eyes and motivated me! I too highlighted so many important things in that book and still use it as a reference to this day. Well said!

message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Thanks for your perceptive review and the helpful (to me) examples. I am a visusl artist and also deal with perfectionism and fear of not measuring up to others' expectations. I have the book and really liked reading the beginning (underlining, making margin notes) but got distracted from finishing it. I'll get back to it now!

back to top