The desire to make art begins early. Among the very young this is encouraged (or at least indulged as harmless) but the push toward a 'serious' education soon exacts a heavy toll on dreams and fantasies....Yet for some the desire persists and sooner or later must be addressed. And with good reason: your desire to make art -- beautiful or meaningful or emotive art -- is integral to your sense of who you are. Life and Art, once entwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Stravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting.But if making art gives substance to your sense of self, the corresponding fear is that you're not up to the task -- that you can't do it, or can't do it well, or can't do it again; or that you're not a real artist, or not a good artist, or have no talent, or have nothing to say. The line between the artist and his/her work is a fine one at best and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all -- and for those who do, trouble isn't long in coming. Doubts, in fact, soon rise in swarms:I am not an artist -- I am a phony. I have nothing worth saying. I am not sure what I am doing. Other people are better than I am. I am only a [student/physicist/mother/whatever]. I've never had a real exhibit. No one understands my work. No one likes my work. I am no good.Yet viewed objectively, these fears obviously have less to do with art than they do with the artist. And even less to do with the individual artworks. After all, in making art you bring your highest skills to bear upon the materials and ideas you most care about. Art is a high calling -- fears are coincidental. Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, we might add, disguising themselves variously as laziness, resistance to deadlines, irritation with materials or surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others -- indeed anything that keeps you from giving your work your best shot. What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.(and Rewards) of Artmaking
David Bayles
The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life--knowing that under certain conditions it is not worth while to live. He is of a disposition to do men service, though he is ashamed to have a service done to him. To confer a kindness is a mark of superiority; to receive one is a mark of subordination... He does not take part in public displays... He is open in his dislikes and preferences; he talks and acts frankly, because of his contempt for men and things... He is never fired with admiration, since there is nothing great in his eyes. He cannot live in complaisance with others, except it be a friend; complaisance is the characteristic of a slave... He never feels malice and always forgets and passes over injuries... He is not fond of talking... It is no concern of his that he should be praised, or that others should be blamed. He does not speak evil of others, even of his enemies, unless it be to themselves. His carriage is sedate, his voice deep, his speech measured; he is not given to hurry, for he is concerned about only a few things; he is not prone to vehemence, for he thinks nothing very important. A shrill voice and hasty steps come to a man through care... He bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of his circumstances, like a skillful general who marshals his limited forces with the strategy of war... He is his own best friend and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy and is afraid of solitude.
...if I have a daughter I will tell her she can do anything and I will mean it, because I have no other intention of informing her otherwise. As my mother did with me and my mother's mother before her, I shall simply hide the truth from her. I will tell her that despite what others may whisper, there is no difference between her and any boy. I will tell her to work her hardest and try her best. And that if one day she looks around and finds that, despite her very best efforts, lesser men have superseded her, then she probably could have done better. These words may not be true, nor will they be fair, but I would hope that they ensure she never becomes a victim of her own femininity. I hope she will be empowered to pick herself up, study harder, work longer and exceed her own expectations. I don't want my daughter to break any glass ceilings. I'd rather she never even contemplated their existence. Because glass ceilings, closed doors and boys clubs are notions, they're ideas and they're not tangible. You can't see, touch, or feel them. They can only exercise power over us if we choose to believe in them. So why lay down your own gauntlet? The cliche rings true, if you reach for the moon, you might just land on the stars. Throw a glass ceiling into the works and it can only get in the way. And I suspect that deep down, every woman who ever truly excelled thought exactly this way. I doubt they ever gave much thought to the fact that they are women. I think they just really wanted to rock out. And they did; louder, harder and better than anyone else around them. And at some point down the line, enough people took note.
Amy Mowafi