The Fear List

Since 1993 I’ve been keeping a fear list. A list of quotes, sayings, and proverbs about fear. Here’s what I have so far:

A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

—Spanish proverb, from Strictly Ballroom

A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.

—Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing… Only I will remain.

—Frank Herbert, Dune

Some weakness can be cast out by denying its existence, but most weakness must be acknowledged and analyzed to benefit from the application of logic and positivity. Acknowledged but not accepted. So when those moments of weakness come—and they will—I am prepared to look at them, not away.

—source unknown

I have no fear, for fear is the little death that kills me over and over. Without fear, I die but once.

—dune.wikia [citation needed]

Hope is not a strategy.
Luck is not a factor.
Fear is not an option.

—James Cameron

People don’t fail. They just stop trying.

—source unknown

I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.

—Michael Jordan

You don’t become great by trying to become great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

—rule #896 of XKCD

Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back

—graffiti on the side of a trailer

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

―Joseph Chilton Pearce

Run towards your fear.

—source unknown

Your inner critic is just the manifestation of your fear.

—source unknown

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

—from “Our Deepest Fear,” by Marianne Williamson

The way to move forward is to let the monsters be seen and the scary voices be heard.

—Amber Rae, Choose Wonder Over Worry

Sometimes, people who are invited to express themselves freely will react with feelings of paralysis, fear, and intimidation. … The cocoon is spun partly from fears of self-disclosure. … If we allowed our simple essence or ungroomed emotions to show, we might look foolish, vulnerable, or unattractive.

—Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

Some people are unable to surrender to aimlessness because they fear losing themselves and don’t realize that the structure of the art material or the limits of the physical space will always act as container for our expressions.

—Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

On Art

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Creative Theory

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. This page, A Very Artistic Library, will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

These are the books that I’ve recently read that address my creative issues. I think I’ll be reading them more than once. I’m spending all this time trying to figure myself out. I’m trying to get out of my own way. I’m trying to harness whatever muse, genius, or creative spirit it is inside of me that will take me where I want to go. And, as I’ve told myself for the last 20 years, trying to figure out what I mean when I tell myself, “let go.”

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

A 12-week program to get your mind together as it relates to creativity. I’ve worked through it twice last year. I’ll be picking it up and working through it again and again.

Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff

Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Time and again I’ve heard people talk about flow. This was the book that started the discussion of the experience.

Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae

I heard Amber Rae on the Your Creative Push podcast. She discussed what she called her Multiple Personality Order. I realized that I needed to read this book. I didn’t want to read it. The first chapter was a struggle for me. I had to drag myself through the book, because it was so relevant.

Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham and Pema Chodron

I originally read Sakyong Mipham’s Running with the Mind of Meditation book last year. I purchased this one without realizing that it was by the same author.

Tales From Both Sides of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga

I purchased this book first. It was one of the blurbs on the back that sold me: “…the idea that we all have ‘multiple minds’ operating as a ‘confederation’…” It was too relevant to pass up.

On Art

Drawing on Escher on Drawing

If you’re ever feeling that you’re not good enough, remember that no artist thinks that they’re good enough. Here’s a quote from M.C. Escher, one of the finest draftsman you could encounter.

“Good God, I wish I’d learn to draw a little better! How much effort and persistence costs to try to do it well. Every once in a while the stress of it all drives me to the point of a nervous break down. It is really strictly a matter of persisting tenaciously with continuous and, if possible, pitiless self criticism. I believe that to produce prints the way I do is almost strictly a matter of wanting so terribly much to do it well. Talent and all that is really for the most part just baloney. Any school boy with a little aptitude can perhaps draw better than I; but what he lacks in most cases is that tenacious desire to make it a reality, that obstinate gnashing of teeth and saying, ‘Although I know it can’t be done, I want to do it anyway.’”

— From a letter by MC Escher to his son November 12, 1955.

On Art

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Painting

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

Art Manuals: Painting

Learning to paint — how to make a compostion, sketches, different painting techniques, tools, supports, etc. These four works give a comprehensive review of painting, from painting what you see, to painting what’s impossible to see, to explaining what it is that you actually see. These are the books that you should pour over, read repeatedly, and constantly review year after year.

Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid with Katie Swatland

Richard Schmid breaks down the components of the craft, techniques, and process of painting. It’s no longer in print, but if you can find it, it’s an excellent resource.

Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist by James Gurney

Imaginative Realism isn’t about painting aliens and dinosaurs and dragons. OK, it isn’t just about painting aliens and spaceships and dragons. It’s also about painting real things that you’re unlikely to see: ancient civilizations, historical personages, and extinct animals. And to top it off James Gurney reviews what you’d need to consider in the process of getting work done — everything that I learned in Commercial Art — thumbnails, color studies, drawing from photographs, and more.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques by Patrick J. Jones

Patrick Jones gives us another comprehensive look that serves as a complement to Imaginative Realism. While James Gurney explored the traditional process, Patrick Jones gives more detail for working from photos and using digital painting.

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney

Color and Light is well worth the price if all you take away from this book is the understanding of the following gem: “Under normal lighting conditions, the rods and cones cooperate to give you an interpretation of reality.” but the book contains so much more and many more gems just like it.

On Art

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Drawing

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art. I’m kicking off the series with Drawing.

Drawing is the first skill that you need to learn as an artist. Initial sketches are used in every other art: painting, stained-glass, jewelry, sculpture, and more. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards will teach you how to learn to draw what you see. If you can’t make art in simple black lines then it makes it so much harder when you try to add value, shape, and color. Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin will teach you what you should’ve been taught in art school: the process that classical and master artists used to create their drawings and a good foundation for creating thumbnails and sketches that will eventually become other works of art. These two books together will help you create the drawing for your painting; what the Renaissance artists would have called the composition or cartoon.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards

Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin

On Art

Podcasts for an Aspiring Artist

I’ve been listening to a wide variety of podcasts since I began my art reeducation. Here are the best I’ve found so far, related to Art and the creative process.

Your Creative Push

Your Creative Push is the podcast that pushes YOU to finally pursue your creative passion, whatever that passion may be.

If I could only listen to one podcast, as an artist, it would be this. Every interview gives you some small insight into being creative, whether the episode’s guest is a musician, writer, visual artist, or some other type of creative professional. As you listen to the artists speak about art you’ll notice some very distinct patterns and trends about how different types of artists generally approach art in the same way, with similar creative methods (inspiration, flow, etc.).

Tides of History

Everywhere around us are echoes of the past. Those echoes define the boundaries of states and countries, how we pray and how we fight. They determine what money we spend and and how we earn it at work, what language we speak and how we raise our children. From Wondery, host Patrick Wyman, PhD (“Fall Of Rome”) helps us understand our world and how it got to be the way it is.

I believe that to understand art you need to understand the period in which it was created. I started listening to Patrick Wyman with his The Fall of the Rome podcast as I was researching Roman Art. He does an excellent job of helping you to understand the events that lead from the fall of Rome to the rise of the Modern era, beginning with the Renaissance, from both the large scale view and the view of what the history would look like to someone living in that time.

Philosophize This!

Beginner friendly if listened to in order! For anyone interested in an educational podcast about philosophy where you don’t need to be a graduate-level philosopher to understand it. In chronological order, the thinkers and ideas that forged the world we live in are broken down and explained.

Another thing that I believe is that you also need to understand what people were thinking about, and what questions they were asking, to understand why they were creating art. Stephen West covers not only the content of the various philosophies, but also why they were important and how they influenced each other.


Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia — Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.

In the Modern era the artist’s state of mind is more important to the understanding of art than ever. The current seasons are hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin for National Public Radio, previous seasons were also hosted by Lulu Miller.

The Renaissance: A History of Renaissance Art

A podcast devoted to the art and artists of the Renaissance.

At the juncture of art and history Dennis Byrd presents podcast that’s very informative about art and artists (and some other people who were influential) of the Renaissance. It hasn’t been updated since mid-2017 just as it was getting into the Northen Renaissance, but the content is evergreen. I’m looking forward to future updates.

The Art History Babes

Four fresh Masters drink wine and discuss all things visual culture. Regular episodes: Discussion and critical analysis of art historical topics fueled by alcohol. Art History Babe Briefs (Art History BBs) : quick, to the point art history facts minus the expletives. Hot Takes: The Babes mix it up, chatting about topics outside the realm of art history & making connections to visual culture.

I started listening to this because there are few Art History podcasts out there. They’ve won me over. Excellent discussions of Art on topics from Edmonia Lewis to Art of the Sublime to F*** Gaugin.

The Jealous Curator: Art for Your Ear

ART FOR YOUR EAR brings you stories from some of my favorite contemporary artists. When I studied Art History, the best part was, well, the gossip. I loved finding out why artists did certain things, what was going on in their personal lives, and behind-the-scenes details about other artists they knew and worked with. This podcast is exactly that … inside-scoop stories from the artsiest people I know. You’ll hear first-hand from these talented, successful, full-time artists (who also happen to be regular people with hilarious stories) BEFORE they’re in the Art History books. – Danielle (aka The Jealous Curator)

A down-to-earth podcast featuring interviews by Danielle Krysa with contemporary artists. One of the nice things about this podcast is that it often shows the side of being an artist that’s grounded in normal day-to-day life (being a parent, being a friend, etc.).

Artist Decoded by Yoshino

“I started this series as a means for exploration, an exploration of self and an exploration of the perspectives of other artists. This series is an unabridged documentation of conversations between artists. It’s a series dedicated to breaking down the barriers we tend to set up in our own mind. I want to inspire future creatives to have the courage to explore and experiment. This is about making dreams a reality and not about letting our dreams fall to the wayside. My intention is to give my audience a sense of real human connection, something that feels rich and organic. When I was thinking of a title I thought of the word ‘movement’. In relation to the Renaissance period in art, my goal for this program is to signify a rebirth of consciousness towards the way we look at contemporary art.” – Yoshino

Yoshino’s podcast leans towards the more mystic, spiritual, theoretical, and psychedelic aspects of being an artist.

Medieval History for Fun and Profit

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the middle ages but were afraid to ask! Two professional medieval historians answer questions from the audience about anything and everything to do with the middle ages. Did they know about other kinds of sex? How long would I really have lived? Who was the best medieval? What were the best swearwords? Listen and find out…

I started listening to this when I started learning about Medieval Art History. I keep listening to it because it’s entertaining and I like the Medieval period. Dr. Alice Taylor and Dr. Alice Rio answer user questions about what life may have been life for everyday people.

Myths and Legends

Jason Weiser tells stories from myths, legends, and folklore that have shaped cultures throughout history. Some, like the stories of Aladdin, King Arthur, and Hercules are stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories you might not have heard, but really should. All the stories are sourced from world folklore, but retold for modern ears. These are stories of wizards, knights, Vikings, dragons, princesses, and kings from the time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous and wonderful place.

Similar to understanding what was going on in people’s daily life (history) and what was going on in their minds (philosophy) I think it’s also important to understand the stories that they told each other (mythology and fiction). That’s where the Myths and Legends podcast comes in.