This book is like a comforting blanket after you’ve been sitting around feeling a bit chilly for a while. A very easy read; it took me less than a day. But its gentle perspective is something that I suspect I’ll need to return to.
It addresses art as a thing one simply does. Not as the stuff of genius, or some mystical experience, or a result of raw talent. It is written for the plodding artist who has to find a way to exist with practicalities, insecurities, bills to pay, depression about the past and anxieties about the future and yet, keep doing the work that they want to do.
There’s an interesting bit how large numbers of artists stop making art once they exit school. The authors see it as a lack of continued support. Therefore, finding and building that support system is important for an artist. Your friends and family will care about your art, not because of the quality, but because it’s yours. And having those people to share it with, or indeed thinking of them as your primary audience, allows one to set aside concerns about the wider audience’s reception.
It also talks of uncertainty being a necessity to make art, and a tolerance of uncertainty is a prerequisite. And how every artist has had to exist in the space between what their ideal vision looks like and what is made in their very first attempt. It points to the example of the ceramics teacher who told half his class that they would be graded on quantity, while the other half would be graded on the quality of a single piece. No surprise – those who went for quantity produced better works over the course of the class through trial, error and practice.