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EBSQ: Art Meets Blog
News from the Self-Representing Artists Community
May 2008 From the Editor: Facing your Artistic Fears
La Renaissance De La Mort by Emily F Balivet
Emily F. Balivet

Last month, I got the opportunity to tackle an artistic fear of mine: hot glass. The Pittsburgh Glass Center offers classes ranging from beginner to expert from some of the greatest glass makers in the world and I'd been dying to try something since the center opened 5 years ago. I pictured myself as a brilliant glass artist, making beautiful objects I could never quite picture fully in my head, and showing at the lovely glass gallery down on Ellsworth. Of course, now that I live an hour away instead of walking distance, I finally got my chance via a short 3-hour workshop to create a garden float.

Why so scared? Well, a lot of reasons. One would be my asthma and fear of not being able to blow (I didn't have to, thank goodness!) or having an asthma attack from the heat. Another fear was being burnt. This may seem silly, but I am also famously the person in Tom McClelland's "Intro to Bronze" class that ended up in the emergency room for foolisly thinking I could use my bare fingers to wiggle off a bit of metal flashing I'd been grinding and ended up with hot bronze slivers under my skin. (Tom wouldn't let me back into his class without gloves after that). Plus, there is something scarily seductive about hot glowing glass that makes you want to touch it. And that would be bad.

But the biggest fear? Lack of aptitude. I was lousy at bronze, although I'd give it a go again in a heartbeat. I was never terribly good at printmaking either since I couldn't wrap my brain around why I'd want to make multiples of anything. There is a very good chance that I will be utterly crap at glass as well. I still haven't seen how my globe has turned out since it had to go straight to a kiln for a controlled cool down. But I am so glad I tried it despite the fear-and the heat. And if I stink at it, at least I'll know.

What artistic risk have you been putting off?
Amie Gillingham
1 May 2008
Get out of the vacuum and express yourself! 


In this issue:

Amie Gillingham "Facing your Artistic Fears"
Melissa Morton "EBSQ Live: May 2008: Palette Knife Painting"
EBSQ "EBSQ Announces Newest Juried Artist Members"
Cary Dunlap "Rediscovering Community: One Artist's Take on Art All Night"
Amie Gillingham "Featured Artist: Bruce Cantwell"

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5 comments or Leave a comment
tagscats From: tagscats Date: May 3rd, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad you got to try your hand at the glasswork and something you have been wanting to do. I've always been fascinated by glass and enjoyed a lampworked bead workshop I took a few years ago. Just not the time or space to really get into that, unfortunately.

My biggest fear has to do with abstracts. I love them and would love to do them, but, I will stare at a blank canvas with that in mind and I feel I don't know what to put there without a reference of some sort. Fear of it looking crappy I guess, similar to your fears of how your globe might look. But, then again, I have to think even those masters of their respective genres go through similar doubts and bad canvases, and if one doesn't just DO something, face the fear, slog through the doubt, how then does one eventually come up with something fantastic? I was watching a program about Degas the other night and he was always plagued with doubts. Silly, huh? Those guys of course never felt that way. haha.
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: May 3rd, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: risky...

It's also easy to forget how much of a rebel Degas was. He took a lot of risk with perspective and subject matter is his work, essentially breaking new artistic ground. I'd be surprised if he wasn't plagued with some doubts at the time, although there's also a reason why he's one of the most revered artists of the Impressionist era. He trundled on.
tagscats From: tagscats Date: May 3rd, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: risky...

Oh my yes, Degas surely did do different things. Interesting, I was just watching a dvd I have about him, and some of the things he did later in life, with pastels, led on to artists like Matisse.

From: toucanne Date: May 3rd, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no fear, except the general fear of failure. That's been my biggest stumbling block, as sometimes I'll do nothing rather than risk failure. But if I jump in, I get in the zone and then I'm OK. But it's a constant struggle.

I loved ceramics in college, but sucked at throwing. I still have all these pots with nice glaze and thick, heavy bottoms. The feel of clay is yummy, and if I get an opportunity, I might try that again.

I enjoyed your workshop photos on Flickr, Amie.

Tracey, what works for me with abstracts is to cover the canvas with paint as quickly as possible, so you no longer have all that intimidating white... and then shapes will come up by themselves! :-)
tagscats From: tagscats Date: May 3rd, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)


yes, Muriel, I get what you are saying. Sometimes I just go through periods where I'm afraid to touch the oils again, if I have been away from them too long, like I've somehow forgotten how to paint. Silly, but, it's weird how the mind works. And then I am fine once I really get started, and then things seem to just start flowing out. And yes, just jumping right in again usually does the trick.

However, another fear I have with abstracts, and maybe it's because I haven't done them and therefore don't even have a "style", is that I would be afraid of un-intentionally copying someone else.

But I guess that is a fear I have as well, of not having my own voice in my work.

Edited at 2008-05-03 05:32 pm (UTC)
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