November 17, 2010

Let the shopping begin!

Small Works in Wool by Susan M. Hinckley

Now that we've had the first big snowstorm in the upper Midwest here in the United States, I suppose it's time for our thoughts to begin turning toward the holiday season (which seems to have become a speeding train that runs nonstop from Halloween to New Year's).

 Santa Claus, for instance, arrived at the Mall of America this week, just in time to celebrate Veterans' Day and still carrying pockets full of left over trick-or-treat candy for the kiddies.

If there happens to be an artist on your list (and there's probably at least one . . . YOU) I have a suggestion for the perfect gift:

 Art & Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) 
of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland

I came across this book some time ago while browsing a used bookstore in Santa Fe and it was a truly life-changing read for me, and is a reference to which I continue to turn whenever I need a kick in the pants (the kind that makes you laugh and feel good, not the kind that makes it hard to sit down afterward).

The Introduction to the book says:

"This is a book about making art.  Ordinary art.  Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people -- essentially (statistically speaking) there aren't any people like that. But while geniuses may get made once-a-century or so, good art gets made all the time.  Making art is a common and intimately human activity, filled with all the perils (and rewards) that accompany any worthwhile effort.  The difficulties artmakers face are not remote and heroic, but universal and familiar.

"This book is 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."

Art & Fear is a quick and highly enjoyable read that you (er . . . ahem . . . the gift recipient) will turn to again and again.

Don't bother to get a highlighter, because when you highlight every page the point of highlighting is somehow lost.  DO, however, bother to get an extra copy for yourself, in case you're somehow overcome by the spirit of the season and decide to actually wrap up the copy you buy for a lucky friend or family member.

Come on . . . you know you've been good.  
Santa LOVES art.  
And Santa wants you to keep making it. 

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

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