Monday, March 27, 2006

Book Review

Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision
Ian Roberts
Atelier Saint-Luc

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I've just finished reading Creative Authenticity and what a gem this book is. The introduction begins like this "This book is for artists and writers, and anyone else who is engaged in the difficult but personally reavealing path of expressing themselves. It is for those that are actually doing it, one way or another." So if you are in the "thick of things" as far as the creative process goes than you will find this book a treasure. The 16 principles covered are not "how to's" or exercises but rather thought provoking discussion of real issues, both internal and external, that artists face.

The book itself is very appealing in its design and layout. Each chapter is seperated by Robert's black and white photographs of well worn artists tools: paint brushes, painting knives, piles of paint on a palette. The photos themselves are beautiful and evocative. Many of the chapters begin with pearls of wisdom or pithy quotes like this one from Roger de Piles " Painting should call out to the viewer....and the surprised viewer should go to it, as if entering a conversation".

The content of the book opens with a discussion about searching for beauty and is followed by a chapter on communication. Part of that discussion centers on the modernist movement, and its affinity for glorifying artists who put out intensely personal works of art that leave the rest of us baffled and alienated. Roberts suggests that perhaps that intensely personal stuff should be kept that way, and rather, artists ought to pursue an "authentic, deeply personal expression" that will reveal and communicate with the viewer. In a further chapter, Roberts de-bunks the Van Gogh Syndrome, reassuring artists that they don't need to be eccentric, crazy or tragic to be creative, they are creative enough already.

In the chapter titled Your Craft and Your Voice Roberts writes "If we are dilligent in learning our craft, our voice...what is uniquely ours...will come out in the telling." He further addresses finding your own creative headwaters within and how to assimilate all the other artistic influences you encounter to develop you own authentic vision rather than become overwhelmed by them.

Other chapters deal with some of the real nitty gritty issues like The Dance of Avoidance, when you just can't seem to get down to work. When, how and why to make the decision to go from part-time to full-time artist, and when you know you're ready to show.

One fascinating part of the book is when Roberts tell his own story of growing up with an artist father and plein air painting along with him and his colleagues since he was 10 years old. And his recent realization that he was finally ready to break out of that mold and explore new, uncharted artistic territory. I believe this book is the result of his own soul searching along those lines and as such is an authentic telling of an artists own struggles to find the inner resources and strength to forge ahead and trust in the process.

Throughout Roberts delves deep into why we are driven to create, how to nurture our creative selves and his encouragement is realistic yet kind and affirming. If you've hit a wall, or a plateau, have writers block or are waivering in your belief that you can "make it" as an artist this book is just what the doctor ordered.

1 comment:

L. Diane Johnson said...

Dear Jan,
This is a well written review of the book! Thanks for letting us know about it - we really need to be reminded about what we do as artists. This book seems to hit the mark and a great read.