Book Quotes: Art & Fear

From the book Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland.


One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential. X-rays of famous paintings reveal that even master artists sometimes made basic mid-core corrections or deleted really dumb mistakes by overpainting the still wet canvas. The point is that you learn how to make your work by making your work. And the great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make art that you care about and lots of it. The rest is largely a matter of perseverance.

You make good work by, among other things, making lots of work that isn’t very good. And gradually weeding out the parts that aren’t good — the parts that aren’t yours. After all, someone has to do your work and you’re the closest one around.

Talent, in common parlance, is “what comes easily”. So sooner or later, inevitably, you reach a point where the work doesn’t come easily, and — Aha!, it’s just as you feared! Wrong. By definition, whatever you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have — and probably no worry more common. This is even true among artists of considerable accomplishment.

Error is human. Inevitably your work will be flawed. Why? Because you are a human being. And only human beings make art. Nonetheless, the belief persists among some artists and lots of ex-artists that doing art means doing things flawlessly. Ignoring the fact that this prerequisite would disqualify most existing works of art. Indeed it seems vastly more plausible to advance the counter-principle namely that imperfection is not only a common ingredient in art but very likely an essential ingredient.

Ansel Adams, never one to mistake precision for perfection, often recalled the old adage that “The perfect is the enemy of the good”, his point being that if he waited for everything in the scene to be exactly right, he’d probably never make a photograph.

Adams was right: to require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do–away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot make such work. (You are correct.) Sooner or later, since you cannot do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of those perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection–a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit.

To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity, as though you would be better off without it. Yet this humanity is the ultimate source of your work; your perfectionism denies you the very thing you need to get your work done. Getting on with your work requires a recognition that perfection itself is (paradoxically) a flawed concept.

The important point here is not that you have or don’t have what other artists have, but rather that it doesn’t matter. Whatever they have is something needed to do their work, it wouldn’t help you in your work even if you had it. Their magic is theirs. You don’t lack it, you don’t need it.



Book Quotes: What I Know For Sure

Gems, gems and more gems. This book is full of them. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook narrated by Oprah herself, weeks later, typing them down for this post is just something else. From the book What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey.


What I know for sure, is that every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and step out and dance. To live free of regret and fill it with as much fun and joy and laughter as you can stand.

You might have experienced things that caused you to deem yourself unworthy. I know for sure, that healing the wounds of the past is one of the biggest and most worthwhile challenges of life. It’s important to know when and how you were programmed so you can change the programming. And doing so is your responsibility, no one else’s. There is one irrefutable law of the universe, we are each responsible for our own life. If you are holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you are wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you did not receive. Begin to notice how everyday brings an opportunity for your growth.

Every difficulty moment has it’s silver lining.

What I learned for sure, was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all. When you have nothing to be ashamed of, when you know who you are and what you stand for, you stand in wisdom.

The power to give yourself the love, affection and intimacy you may not have received as a child. You are the one best mother, father, sister, friend, cousin, and lover you will ever have. Right now, you are one choice away to see yourself as someone who has inherent significance. So choose to see it that away. You don’t have to spend one more second focusing on a past deprived from the affirmation you should have gotten from your parents. Yes, you did deserve that love, but it’s up to you now to bestow it upon yourself and move forward.

I went with the day looking for things to be grateful for and something always showed up. Sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of our climb that we loose sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.

I know for sure, that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your whole world. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you are aware of all you have and not focusing on your have nots. I know for sure, that if you make time for little gratitude every day you will be amazed by the results.

What I know for sure, there’s no need to struggle with your body when you can make peace with it.

The true measure of your courage, is not whether you reach your goal, it’s whether you decide to back on your feet no matter how many times you failed. I know it is not easy but I also know for sure that having the courage to stand up and pursue your wildest dreams will give you life’s richest rewards and life’s greatest adventure.

You can’t accomplish anything worthwhile if you inhibit yourself. When you get the chance, go for it.

Move in the direction of your goal. With all the force you can muster and then let go. Releasing your plan into the power, capital p, that’s bigger than yourself and allowing your dream to manifest into its own masterpiece. Dream big, really big. Work hard, really hard. And after you’ve done all you can, fully surrender to the power, capital p.

My goal is to stay open to all that the universe has to offer, every year and everyday.

I know for sure, that you cannot give to everybody else and not give to yourself. You will end up empty.

What I know for sure, having the best things things is no substitute for having the best life. When you let go of the desire to acquire, you know you are really on your way.

What I know for sure, that how you spend your time defines who you are.

Letting go leaves space for more to come.

If you want to be successful, be excellent. If you want the best the world has to offer, offer your best. To this day, excellence is my intention. To me, being excellent means always doing my personal best. Your best varies from day to day, depending on how you’re feeling. No matter, give your best in every circumstance.

I hope the way you spend your money is in line with the truth of who you are and what you really care about. I hope that your money brings joy to you and the ones you love. And I hope that you use it as a powerful force to fulfill the best intentions.

Everything depends on your decisions. When you don’t know what do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes, getting still and being able to hearing your own voice. Once you decide what you want, make a commitment to that decision.

W. H. Murray: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things of things occur to help one, that would not have otherwise occur.”

Conquer the fear, you will fly. Let your life awaken in you. Whatever your challenge, let it be an open door to your holiest revelations about yourself, an invitation to your best life.

Evolving as a human being is a life long excavation process, digging deep to uncover your underlying issues.

Book Quotes: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time and I’m glad I finally did. Here are a bunch of quotes that I found especially relevant. From the book Manage Your Day-to-Day edited by Jocelyn K. Glei.


Notice the times you have most energy, dedicate them to your most important work.

Frequency sparks creativity. When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly. Frequency helps when you have a creative project on the side when you have other commitments. Frequency helps you make progress.

What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.

You’re only going to become professional when you do your work when you don’t feel like it.

You can’t try to do things, you must simply do them.

Move to a different space to work on your focused work sessions. Get offline to get away from distractions if necessary and if possible.

Remind yourself of your progress to motivate you to keep going. Make progress visible: Keep a daily journal, save iterations, post milestones, etc.

If day to day work is the only thing you’re working on, it will frustrate you. Keep a list of projects you’d like to work on in your spare time. And set aside a specific time each week or each day to make progress on the list. Sometimes it feels inefficient in the moment, especially when there are so many priorities screaming for your attention. But it keeps your creative energy flowing. Keep a record of your ideas, things you want to try, etc. and work on them during this time. When you do this, you increase the likelihood of a creative breakthrough in other areas of your work.

Thirty minutes of exercise are proven to significantly increase creativity and productivity.

Inspiration is for amateurs, professionals show up everyday.

Book Quotes: Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.

I’ve been hesistant whether to switch back to audiobooks and whether a self growth audiobook would work for me (since my self growth books are usually full of highlights, underlines and post its). Long story short, I tried it and I’m a convert. I enjoyed listening to Make it Happen by Lara Casey, saved many bookmarks and took a ton of notes along the way.


The beautiful paradox about failure is that failure will get you further than fear. Failure has the potential to guide us to be better. To summon our strength and push us forward with greater determination. You will learn from your failures more than you will ever learn from your successes.

How you spend your time is how you spend your life.

Thank God for his unconditional love and comfort for you, although your lack of acknowledgment.

Don’t just pray for what is logical and possible. Pray for what seems to be impossible.

Whatever you’re going through right now, if it’s humbling you and making you pray… it’s for a good reason.

Wherever your attention is focused, your heart will follow. If you heart is constantly divided, how can what matters take root into rich soil? Your attention is either at one thing or the other.

Commit to daily tending!!! Break each goal into something you can do every day. It will all add up. Build your everyday into making things happen. How will what you do every day build into your annual goals?

You don’t have to put a time limit for your goals. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Favorite Self Growth Books

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Discovering Your Soul Signature
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction
God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours
Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Wealthy, Fabulously Healthy, and Bursting with Love
Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
The Power of Positive Thinking
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
The Rumi Daybook
The Secret
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
What I Know For Sure
You Can Heal Your Life

Favorite Documentaries

Abstract: The Art of Design
Chef’s Table
Colombia: Wild Magic
(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
Fed Up
Food Matters
Forks Over Knives
Hungry for Change
Life, Animated
Living on One Dollar
Moving Art
Steve Jobs: The Billion Dollar Hippy
Tales by Light
The Human Experiment
The Kids Menu
The Secret
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru
You Can Heal Your Life