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Art & Fear

Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
Written by: David Bayles, Ted Orland
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 3 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What is your art really about? Where is it going? What stands in the way of getting it there? These are questions that matter, questions that recur at each stage of artistic development - and they are the source for this volume of wonderfully incisive commentary.

Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. This is a book about what it feels like to sit in your studio or classroom, at your wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do. It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing free will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work.

©1993 David Bayles and Ted Orland (P)2012 Tantor

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great read for Artists

Narrator had a good voice to listen too
Very insightful
Recommended for any Artist in any field

2 people found this helpful

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a must read for any artist

loved the book and listened to it over 10 times now. it's like he knows me. 😀

2 people found this helpful

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Essential for any working artist.

This is one that I could listen to over and over to really take in all of the lessons. It covers the philosophy of art making as well as many practical concerns. Some of the practical concerns are personal, and/or psychological. How the artist finds themselves in the community as well as the existential sense of what art is or is not. He also talks about art schools both from the student and the teaching standpoint.
I’m surprised that this book isn’t considered a classic, and read by everyone who has a desire to make art.

1 person found this helpful

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  • zozobraswife
  • 2012-05-10

Amazing!

Where does Art & Fear rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book is one that I will return to again and again like a mantra. I'm so happy that it is available in audio now. I can listen to it driving back and forth to the day job - the job that allows me to buy any art supplies I need but keeps me too busy to remember where my studio is and too tire to go there when I do remember.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Art & Fear?

"The hardest part of artmaking is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over..."

Have you listened to any of Arthur Morey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. This performance would be my first for him.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

"It is easier to paint in the angel's feet to another's master-work than to discover where the angels live within yourself."

Any additional comments?

I've read Art & Fear two or three times over the last several years. My paperback copy is worn and underlined. It's a book I go back to when I get stuck in my art. Yesterday, I was looking for my copy, couldn't find it and turned to Audible. I was thrilled to find it here! The prose is sometimes beautiful and sometimes sarcastic. The writers don't take themselves too seriously. That being said, they never fail offer the encouragement I need when I start doubting my artistic integrity.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Alis Aquilæ
  • 2013-10-25

For every creative soul

"How does art get done? Why, often, does it not get done? And what is the nature of the difficulties that stop so many who start?"

These are the questions the authors ask, and more importantly, answer, in this concise, brilliant book. By turns philosophical and pragmatic, insightful and witty, ART AND FEAR is a gift for the creative soul.

It's valuable to working artists, artists who have given up, and artists who have yet to begin.

And if you remove the charged word "artist," one might say it's valuable to anyone who struggles to create anything.

You need not be writing a symphony or a novel, dancing a principal role, or attempting to release a sculpture from a hulking block of marble. Maybe you're designing a dress, creating a new dish, keeping an illustrated journal, or teaching yourself to play a ukulele. What creative thing you do isn't the point. Continuing to do it is:

"What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't quit."

This is at the heart of the authors' message. They've written it to help us figure out how to stay in that first group. To stay in it, you must be able to combat fear, which includes facing any issues, preconceptions, misunderstandings, or even delusions about yourself or anyone else that may be holding you back from doing your work. What is involved will be as individual as your work. There are no easy answers or magic formulae. But it can be done, and is, every day you refuse to give up.

When my brother gave me this book, I didn't hold out much hope, but I kept my reservations to myself. After all, I'd read a sea of books about creativity, many of which turned out to be filled with useless pop psych clichés and other nonsense. But this one is different. It provides something deep and true, something everyone who creates can use.

Or as another artist friend said, "This is the straight stuff, straight up."

Indeed it is, and it just might change your creative life.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Ashe
  • 2012-11-05

Powerfuly helpful!

What made the experience of listening to Art & Fear the most enjoyable?

The content of the book is perfect! I whish I was a writer so I could adequately express how this book has impacted my life. I have been bound by fear and many other issues that the author writes about, that I was frozen. I could not work, paint, sing, play my cello. After the first chapter I was cleaning off my work table and got back to work! Thank you so much!
This book has truly changed my life!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Every moment.

Any additional comments?

Thank you, Thank you!!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Anna
  • 2012-12-12

The voice of reason when you want to give up

Would you consider the audio edition of Art & Fear to be better than the print version?

Yes, I can listen to this inspirational self portrait any time I need it, and spend the time painting that I would be reading!

What did you like best about this story?

It spoke to thoughts that I have often.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jes
  • 2013-08-14

An essential book for anyone interested in art

If you could sum up Art & Fear in three words, what would they be?

Essential for artists. I don't mean artists who are professional only; this is valid for hobbyists; for craftsman; for artisans. It says in voice and print what every artist should hear: make art, make a lot of it, and don't be afraid to make mistakes because error is human. I'm on my second listen and in times where I feel not at my best when it comes to making work, this will be playing to get me through those times along with the dry spells.

What other book might you compare Art & Fear to and why?

I have yet to compare it to anything.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did, but not laughing or crying; it gave me a sense of enlightenment and encouragement to stop keeping my creativity and my willingness to try new things in a stranglehold and to let go of my fear with my work. While I won't say this is an overnight change, it's helping me a lot.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Janelle
  • 2013-01-01

Really,really good.Very helpful

I teach art and this book consolidates what i have been trying to say for years
That is -- just get in and do it

5 people found this helpful

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  • bella donna
  • 2015-07-08

My first audible book

Would you consider the audio edition of Art & Fear to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version

What did you like best about this story?

It was reassuring and although it didn't go deep into how to get out of a block or overcome many creative difficulties, it did have a few solutions and ideas. The strength in this book for me was that it describes many of the things i have experienced as a growing artist, and the narrator is so casually (in a good way) reassuring about them. The authors are both artists and they are simply expressing that many difficulties of being creative in most fields, are either an intrinsic part of the process, or more importantly, your process. They emphasise that not all art can be Mozart, or Picasso, that actually most art is good art, but how can we make good art, or even great art if we get lost in the process and quit. The authors talk about how quitting is forever, but starting and stopping is an important part of it all. It's cyclical and you must learn to start again, because when you don't that's quitting, and its forever...

What does Arthur Morey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A gentle reassuring tone, that still manages to stay matter-of-fact. I wasn't distracted so i could listen to the book attentively as if i were reading it myself.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The part about quitting. The way i understood it was in that its never quitting if you start again. They say that quitting is forever, but actually, you can always start again. The work is so important but until you're well on your way to technical mastery, its easy to forget along the way, when you're largely working with talent, that this thing that you love and have a passion for, is work. It's dedication, discipline, perseverance, patience, and a host of other things.

Any additional comments?

I had to leave a review because i tried a few others and it was looking bleak until this book surpassed my expectations. I seemed to have lost my bibliophilia when this block settled in, and i'm trying audiobooks as an alternative. I keep falling asleep before the end, but thats not a bad thing, and after this book i'm more interested and committed to this audio thing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bill
  • 2012-06-22

Great meditation on the making of Art

I really enjoyed this meditation on what it means to be an artist and to make art. The authors try not to have it be specific to one type of art and are generally successful. While I found the section on art school interesting it was not particularly useful to me for the making of art. The book is a good encouragement to create the art you have the desire to make.

The performance was excellent. A very good and engaging reader. This book could have come across as dry or tedious but Arthur Morely brings the book to life.

If you create any kind of art I recommend this book.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 2013-03-10

Some books are just meant to be read

Any additional comments?

I read this book a few years ago and thought I would get a refresher by listening to the audiobook. Although I love the information it is one of those books you have to read. If you are an artist or want to be, I highly suggest this book. But read it, because it will give you more time to let what they are telling you really sink in.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Francesca
  • 2012-11-09

Down-to-earth book about being an artist

I was assigned this book in art class. I was a little turned off because the title isn't very inspiring, but I ended up really liking it because it describes an artist's daily life so well. It reminds me about what's important about being an artist--the simple, humble task of going into your studio day after day--rather than inflating the artist's life into some grandiose thing that it's not. It also reminds me that there are other artists out there. It's pretty inspiring after all.

12 people found this helpful