When I was a kid, my appetite for art was insatiable . Books, films (I was an old movie buff),music, and especially paintings. Conversely, I cared not at all for the artists behind the art I so exceedingly loved.
“On the first page you will find the title, the name of the author, and the name of the illustrator,” explained a steady toned librarian.
“Blah blah-blah blah blah,” was all I heard, anxious for the story and pictures to begin.
Hollywood’s rich and famous were dull, I didn’t care about the musicians behind the music, and art history made me yawn.
I carried this heavy disregard for the artist into my adulthood. However, as an adult I wanted to care. Instead, I left art books half read. In theory I was interested but in practice felt repelled by the information; a self built yet unscalable wall lay between me and the knowledge.
This was my reality – until I realized that I was afraid.
Afraid? Yes, afraid. I felt simultaneously intimidated by greatness and upset by the lack of it. I wanted to be these artists. I was jealous, and afraid to measure myself against them – scared to strive for their heights, terrified of failure, and averse to disappointment.
What if I failed to measure up? Worse, what if I found shallowness behind the depths I experienced in the art of others? The hardness I bumped against in my mind was keeping me from a rich world of information that would eventually prove vital to my own work.
Andy Warhol’s philosophies, the Dadaist approach, Van Gogh’s life of mental illness and solitude… where to begin? As my knowledge and respect for the Artist grew , the ideas and theories behind works I had previously passed over shined through. My baseless fear of shallowness melted. Furthermore, as I overcame my fears and a new openness set in, I found myself producing bolder and more rounded works.
Fear, while capable of keeping us safe in the moment, can be a poisonous influence in the long run. Root it out where you find it, and be amazed at what blossoms in its place.