Where’s Auralia Today? Report #21: Letter from Rachel in England, and an artist’s survival kit

September 27, 2007

I received a letter from a reader that was quite a bit different than the others so far, so I think I’ll share it.

I can’t take credit for Rachel’s experience with Auralia’s Colors, as the book is like a box into which I packed all kinds of souvenirs and gifts from other people. I’m just thrilled to see that my collection of impressions is, in fact, provoking somebody to think about art… because I learned a lot about art, and the call of an artist, by following Auralia through her story.

Rachel says:

I came over [to England] with dreams of reading Auralia’s Colors in some exotic setting. … I was prepared to be entertained, even dazzled but I did not expect an engaging story that also rung out that messy intersection between that very visceral longing for beauty and art and the power of that beauty and what it does to us all. Can beauty be captured, can it be demanded, and can it be freely given? What of power and beauty?

It’s ironic that on the day that I was reading of Auralia’s beautiful cave and her struggle to complete her work, I was at an antique fair in Farnham with only a few coins in my pocket. I felt dazzled by the colors and the mass of treasures on display and I felt my own poverty of spirit. I was the traveler and I was reading of the traveler(s) and it was as if my reality was supersaturated by the book. Your engaging stories should be jacketed in warnings of inflammatory material. I am struggling for my own bit of beauty in my painting and your work went to the deepest nerve of my being.

There were a million details that I loved. It was a fun read when I wasn’t being totally messed with and I loved your characters and the beautiful details you put in to delight the attentive reader. Thank you for a wonderful book!

Rachel, who is a graphic artist and painter working for a while in England, adds,

We miss being home but there is the opportunity for incredible focus here. I’m only 20 years away from a masterpiece myself so I’d better get to it!

She’s being humble. I’ve seen her work. She’s already in masterpiece territory. She just needs the time and resources to keep working, and the world will be a better place.

Oh, for a world in which adequate time and resources were available for all artists!

By the way, if you’re a writer or an artist looking for inspiration, here is an artist’s “survival kit” for you… or at least the beginning of one:

Art and Fear – David Bayles and Ted Orland 

Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. The book’s co-authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are themselves both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. Their insights and observations, drawn from personal experience, provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is expeienced by artmakers themselves.

This is not your typical self-help book. This is a book written by artists, for artists — it’s about what it feels like when artists sit down at their easel or keyboard, in their studio or performance space, trying to do the work they need to do. First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic. Word-of-mouth response alone-now enhanced by internet posting-has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking andcreativity nationally.

Art & Fear has attracted a remarkably diverse audience, ranging from beginning to accomplished artists in every medium, and including an exceptional concentration among students and teachers. The original Capra Press edition of Art & Fear sold 80,000 copies.

Also essential:


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