Friday, December 19, 2008

Okay so Tyler Hansbrough isn't very artistic

Nor have I painted or do I plan to paint a picture of him. Nevertheless Karen and I had great fun watching him break the great Phil Ford's career scoring mark at UNC last night in the Dean Dome.

It was appropriate that Tyler broke the record on a less-than-elegant shot, banking it in from 10-feet while falling on his butt. You can see more photos of the night here

Saturday, December 06, 2008

3rd Annual holiday card

The first winter after I started painting I decided to send a holiday card. The first was sort of a Madonna look, mother and child with a Rumi quote. The second was an ornament with another Rumi poem.

Here is the latest, a king with hope for the future in these dark days. For those who won't get one (let me know if you want it), here is the quote inside from Václav Havel:
Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is.

Havel finished his discussion of hope with the following:
Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

The New King. Oil pastels on paper. 12 x 9

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New work

It's been awhile but I promise I've been working. I did finish my holiday card piece and I have a couple of things with potential. For now I'll post something I started this Thanksgiving holiday. It's not finished but I think I like it so far.

Untitled. Acrylics on canvas. 36 x 20 I think

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wash away the detritus

I woke this morning nervous, edgy and still hopeful. All objective evidence points to repudiation of the last 8 years and an awakening to a better day.

On my way to work in a dark drizzle, I was struck by the reds, yellows and oranges of the fall maples and the contrast of the fallen leaves on the green carpet of the lawns. I noticed the rain washing away the dirt and grime and had this deep feeling that it represented a stripping of evil and hubris from the American soul.

I was born in Jackson, Mississippi and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Jackson newspaper, the Clarion-Ledger, has endorsed Barack Obama. Baton Rouge, I hope, will re-elect an African-American mayor. The times they are a changing.

I did not believe I would see the day when 68 million or so Americans would vote for a black man for president. And tonight I will watch with tears streaming down my face if the polls and the pundits are correct and we elect Senator Barack Obama the President of the United States.

Oh yeah and go vote dammit!

Friday, October 31, 2008

An epiphany

Karen bought me a book a while back, Musicophila by Oliver Sachs. It has sat on the shelf these many months.

Wanting something to read I picked it up today to find that it spoke to me deeply.

Sachs talks about people’s relationship to music. In Chapter 1 he describes people who were indifferent to music before some cataclysmic physical event, for example, Tony’s being struck by lightning or Salimah’s being prescribed LTG for her seizures.

This made me think back to my own epiphany about painting. I was dealing with depression and was barely able to keep things together. We tried several drugs along with therapy but nothing seemed to work. Then I started on Wellbutrin and began to see the world in an entirely new way. Keep in mind I’m 49, 47 then, and hadn’t painted since, well, never. Then I saw the Dada exhibit at the East Gallery and had my first and only panic attack.

I moved out from my family and my wife of 23 years into a furnished apartment of a grad student who had a summer internship at U Cal Berkeley. Every night, every night, I painted until 1 or 2 in the morning then woke to drive an hour to work, coming home only to start painting until 1 or 2 or 3 again. I lost 20+ pounds and I am a small guy to start with. I barely ate. Mostly I drew and painted – amateurish as it was.

I’ve wondered about this change in me and the day, in DC, when I saw the Dada exhibit that drove me over the edge. I had changed somehow, fundamentally, going from being a boy to a man, from being to blind to seeing, from a world of black and white to one of color. And I think, this is what Sachs is talking about.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Politics and Art

Our present political environment scares the shit out of me. I started out my art with political pieces that reflected my anger and depression. Since then I moved away from the political, not because I'm no longer angry, but because I could no longer find inspiration from my anger. I may or may not go back to the political and may or may not find my muse there. The anger remains no matter.

Bush, Cheney, et al continue in their goal to create an Orwellian America. Those leopards won't change their spots, but I had hopes that McCain wasn't the same sort of leader. Alas I was wrong. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." I'm not so sure we won't get fooled again.

You may have seen this detail of my 2006 piece The Medusa Leaders or Orwell Just Got the Year Wrong in which I quote George Orwell, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Sign me an agnostic who is praying for this world and country.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Valasquez and El Greco at the Nasher Duke Museum

We went to the big "El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III" exhibition that just started at the still relatively new Nasher Museum at Duke U.

The El Greco's and Velázquez's were (mostly) wonderful and sometimes breathtaking. Pieces like the El Greco Fray Hortensio Felix Paravencino and Argote avoid all of things I disliked in many of the minor pieces. Dislikes? Well, the religious imagery weirds me out, the use of the odd and out of place details in the outer edges of the pieces makes no sense, and the painting of children so that they look like bizarre small adults is creepy. I was impressed with some of the Maino pieces and the Cotan still lifes.

El Greco's St James (Santiago el Mayor) shown below with its rich green cloak and lovely long hand was my favorite.

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Embarassing lapse of time

Nothing since mid July. Frankly I've been painting some but I have little to show for it. There are a couple of things in progress but not really enough to show. I decide to rotate a piece 90 degrees (compare to below). What do you think? If Jackson Pollock could do, so can I.

Also there are a few changes and I wouldn't bet on it being finished.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A couple more....

These are two that are long in coming.

The first is actually a painting on top of another painting with parts of another painting collaged in. The vertical stripe in the middle is about the only thing left -- well maybe some of the other blue too. It was originally a landscape of a storm we watched in Cape Breton last summer. Another canvas, that I destroyed with a knife in a fit of pique, was cut and pasted in. The white is really just gesso, not paint.

"The Dance" Mixed media, acrylic, gesso, ink? on canvas. 16 x 24 ??

The second continues my experiment with stain and wash ala Frankenthaler and Morris. It's a smaller piece on unprimed canvas using a number of washes over a month or two. A little dark but I think I like it.

"Head in Hand" Acrylic on unprimed canvas. Small, I'll check

Monday, July 14, 2008

A new piece

I've written about how I was overwhelmed by the now closed Color Field exhibit in DC. The grandeur, colors, and sweeping vision of the pieces was very special. I came back enthused and then failed miserably to reflect what I had absorbed into my own work.

Instead of giving up I decided to try using a common material from their repertoire, namely unprimed canvas. I bought some unprimed cotton, mounted it on a board and started staining and washing with color. The piece sat for a while and then I decided to change it up a bit with some splashed blue.

So here it is, a large -- maybe 54" x 36" -- homage to Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, Morris Louis and Sam Francis, amongst others.

Blue Moon. Acrylics on unprimed canvas. 54" x 36"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another reception for July 11th ArtWalk

We will have a second reception for our exhibit of (mostly) new pieces at the Carrboro Century Center during the upcoming 2nd Friday ArtWalk on July 11th starting at 6 pm. Please stop by; we'll have wine and cheese and good company. Ticket not required!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The June 13th Reception

I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't posted anything about the reception. We had an excellent turnout -- perhaps 75-100 folks -- and a good time was had by all. Plus we sold a few pieces which is nice. A big Thank You to the patrons!

More pictures from the show are at Flickr.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Economic impact of artists in America

The National Endowment for the Arts released a report yesterday on the economic impact of artists. It counted all those folks it defines as artists -- actors, announcers, architects....photographers, producers, writers -- and found that "more Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker." That is nearly 2 million artists generating $70 billion in income. For a good summary see this NYT article and the full report at the NEA site

You can come by the show tomorrow night and add a few shekels to the $70 billion in income! I guess that means I'd have to report the income though......

Monday, June 09, 2008

The exhibit looks good....

...if I say so myself.

The room works well for a public use space not designed for art. We have about the right number of pieces to fill it up without looking crowded. I'm hoping that everyone enjoys the show and the camaraderie. Here are a few photos. A couple of mine...

And some of Karen's...

And finally I might have a few t-shirts that I make using black tees and bleach. Like this one...

Here I'm going to test the Zemanta blog system

Morris Louis, Where, 252 x 362 cm. magna on canvas, 1960, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenImage via WikipediaSuppose I was writing a blogpost about Jules Olitski. Would Zemanta find materials -- links, photos, reviews -- that were relevant to what I was writing? So I start typing.....

"Olitski was an abstract expressionist/color field painter. I recently saw some of his work at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. He impressed me the most but I was also thrilled with Helen Frankenthaler, and Morris Louis (painting to the right) amongst others. Their juxtaposition with the AbEx crowd like Rothko, Hoffman and Motherwell worked well. I'm still amazed what the Color Field painters could do with thin coats of acrylics. Blah, blah, blah....."

I'm also pretty amazed at what this Zemanta was able to do! (For example adding the link to the official Olitski site.) On the other hand it didn't find any photos of Olitski's paintings nor the recent NYT article including his daughter Eve, but it did a remarkable job of following the gist of this post.
Zemanta Pixie

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The show is now up

Karen and I hung the show this Saturday and I think it looks good. Come by this Friday 6-9 for ArtWalk if you can but the show is up through July.

Here's a new one of Karen's that is in the show.

After Olitski. Acrylics on canvas. 24 x 30

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My pieces in the upcoming show

You can take a look at the pieces that (probably) will be in the upcoming show. I reserve the right to swap out a couple but most likely a subset of these 16 will be there.

Oh and here's a brand new one....

Blue Steer. Acrylics and salt on canvas. 18 x 24

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama on Arts Education

There are many reasons to vote for Barack Obama for president. Since this is a blog about art, I'll give you an art-related one.

Listen to Barack talk about the value and need for arts education in our schools.

Obama on Art Education

Not a Political Post! (yes it is)

I was born in Jackson, MS, while Jim Crow was still alive. My tiny mother was teaching at Provine High School the first year that the Federal government made Mississippi desegregate its schools. Grandfather, while not particularly racist for that place and time, thought that blacks and whites should stay separate and used the n-word liberally.

And last night I watched a stirring speech and an amazing moment. I didn't know if I would see such a day -- blacks and whites standing in ovation for a black presidential candidate. More than that I watched Hillary Clinton's multi-racial supporters cheering the first serious female candidate. I thought about a Democratic party race that included a black, a woman, and an Hispanic.

Compare this to John McCain, the last white guy, among many white guys, standing at the end of the Republican primaries. On this historic day, June 3, 2008, he was speaking in New Orleans. He spoke of change and responsibility.

On another historic day, August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina plowed into New Orleans. The levees failed and as a result more than 1,800 people died.

McCain wasn't in New Orleans that day. He wasn't in Washington either. Instead he was with George Bush in Phoenix so that Bush could cut McCain's birthday cake at Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and Country Club. Because they had nothing better to do. Because eating cake was the responsible thing to do.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A New Show!

Karen and I have just been accepted to do a joint show of recent work at the Carrboro Century Center. We only have two weeks to prepare but we'll be ready. Everyone is invited. There should be 25 or so pieces in the show which will run from June 7 through the end of July.

The opening reception will be during the 2nd Friday Artwalk in Chapel Hill-Carrboro on June 13th from 6 to 9.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One more on Rauschenberg

Tyler Green's blog Modern Art Notes is a great and sometimes contentious journey through the modern art scene.

A recent post discussed the many articles and remembrances of Robert Rauschenberg following his death. Tyler notes the unwillingness of the vast majority of these odes to address RR's homosexuality.

He leads with:

As I read through the news coverage of Robert Rauschenberg's death last week, I noticed a disturbing sameness: Most writers and critics refused to say that Rauschenberg was gay, and all but two critics were unwilling to say why that is important. This is a problem for two reasons: Rauschenberg's frequently referenced his homosexuality in groundbreaking ways in his own work (much of which was autobiographical and even more of which was intensely about the then-immediate present), and because history tends to hetero-wash whenever possible, to ignore or deny homosexuality when it's convenient.

We are much to willing to sweep under the rug race, class, sexual preference and other things that we let divide us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Snake Charmer

I started a canvas about, oh, six months ago. I created an interesting green background with some gold but then I couldn't figure out what to do next. I came back from the Color Field exhibit with inspiration.

The inspiration stank and I figured I had ruined something that had potential. I started working with it and nothing seemed to work much. Finally I pulled out some paper and started to use collage. It gradually began to make sense. Then some blue lines became snakes before my eyes and viola! inspiration, move me brightly.

Snake Charmer. Acrylics and collage on canvas. 24 x 30

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ode To Robert Rauschenberg

I was first discovering art back in 2006 and one of those artists I discovered was Robert Rauschenberg. I had some interesting found pieces, a Taiwanese Buddhist text, pottery shards from Steven's yard, and an old decaying Persian rug. I had great fun making this and nearly two years later, it may not be finished. The title? "The International Flag of Depression". Go figure.

Mixed media on plywood. Old Oriental rug, acrylics, ink, pieces of china, leaf prints, and cutouts from a Tawainese book on Buddhism.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Art and Economic Sustainability

The Sunday NYT Magazine has an article on the small western Kentucky town of Paducah on how they have used arts and the attraction of artists as an economic development strategy. This strategy is being used across the globe as a way to help struggling communities build a stronger and more sustainable economic base.

The non-profit I work for, Regional Technology Strategies or RTS, specializes in this area in a collaborative called the Alliance for Creative Advantage. We are presently doing work on the creative economy in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, Arkansas, Sheridan, Wyoming and in the Appalachian Region.

Just to add a little color to this post, some locally grown poppies....

Friday, May 16, 2008

My new painting site

My new website on my painting and art in general is finally online at ChrisBeachamPaints.

As a teaser I have posted some more NYT links on Rauschenberg at its Art World blog page.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg: Death of an Open Eye

Untitled 1963

Rauschenberg est morte.

Readers of this space know that my first artistic influence was Dada. So it is not surprising that I felt a kinship to Rauschenberg's "assemblages." I love the way he took the found and random and found composition and beauty (and irreverence).

Here's a quote from the NYT obit:

Mr. Rauschenberg, who knew that not everybody found it easy to grasp the open-endedness of his work, once described to the writer Calvin Tomkins an encounter with a woman who had reacted skeptically to “Monogram” (1955-59) and “Bed” in his 1963 retrospective at the Jewish Museum, one of the events that secured Mr. Rauschenberg’s reputation: “To her, all my decisions seemed absolutely arbitrary — as though I could just as well have selected anything at all — and therefore there was no meaning, and that made it ugly.

“So I told her that if I were to describe the way she was dressed, it might sound very much like what she’d been saying. For instance, she had feathers on her head. And she had this enamel brooch with a picture of ‘The Blue Boy’ on it pinned to her breast. And around her neck she had on what she would call mink but what could also be described as the skin of a dead animal. Well, at first she was a little offended by this, I think, but then later she came back and said she was beginning to understand.”

I'll toast his memory tonight.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not about art.....

I went into graduate school in economics back in the early 80s for two reasons. First, I didn't really want to go to law school and a nice fellowship offer in the LSU economics department gave me an excuse to bail on that option; and second, Herman Daly was a professor in the economics department there. Herman was the first to explain the economic theory and logic behind sustainable (what he calls steady-state) economics. He built his work on the broad shoulders of the great economist and statistician Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen who first explored the relevance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy) to economics. Daly is funny as well as brilliant; the following story is from "Wisdom for a Livable Planet".

President Harry S. Truman was frustrated by the advice his council of economic advisors was giving him. On the one hand, its members would tell him, you should raise interest rates. On the other hand, they said, you should lower them. In exasperation Truman pronounced, "I'm tired of this one hand, other hand business. What I want is a good one-armed economist." In response to this story, told at a public forum by another panel member, the economist Herman Daly leaned forward in his chair and, with a slight forward motion of his upper body, he propelled his right arm up—his only arm. Placing his hand on the back of his neck, Daly commented, "Well, I was too young for Harry Truman, but I am here now. His prophecy has been fulfilled."

Dr. Daly has worked tirelessly for the last 40 years to promote an economics that respects the planet and its people. He has never lost hope that a Kuhnian paradigm shift might occur within economic thought. Alas that has not yet come true. All this came to mind when I saw a reference to a new book called the Economics of Happiness for which Herman wrote the forward. The book is described as follows:

"Economist Mark Anielski developed a new and practical economic model called Genuine Wealth to measure the real determinants of well-being and help redefine progress.

The Economics of Happiness shows:

* How economics, capitalism, accounting, and banking, which dominate our consciousness, can be reoriented toward the pursuit of genuine happiness
* How to rediscover the original meaning of the language of economics
* How to measure the five capitals of Genuine Wealth: human, social, natural, built, and financial
* How nations, governments, communities, and businesses are using the Genuine Wealth model to build a new economy of well-being
* How you and your family can apply the Genuine Wealth model in your lives"

Sounds sort of familiar doesn't it?

A Google search brought me to a blog by an English bloke named John Grant. Last month he posted a wonderful entry entitled "A Herman Daly Reader". It is worth a look for at least two reasons -- the summary of Daly's work is excellent and second, it links to a multitude of blogs and sources on green issues with a focus on green marketing. Definitely worth a look.

And if this teaser gets you interested in Daly, Amazon has the second edition of his classic book "Steady-State Economics" for $15 bucks used. You get a great book and don't kill a tree.

Friday, April 04, 2008

"A controlled moment of light"

Jules Olitski, "Tin Lizzie Green"

“Color as Field: American Painting, 1950-1975” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through May 26.

What a wonderful exhibition this is! The Color Field "school" was the bastard stepchild of the Abstract Expressionists and what a stepchild they were. The show includes some of the AbEx artists such as Gottleib and Motherwell who were also a part of Color Field as well as Rothko and Barnett Newman who were obvious influences. (In a nod to Karen, I will note that most Newman's are boring as hell, but his "Horizontal Light" shown in the exhibition is really wonderful.)

Jules Olitski was the great discovery for me. His pieces of monumental size just sucked me in, especially "Tin Lizzie Green" above. Morris Louis' "Floral V", Jack Bush's "need to find name in catalogue" and several of Helen Franenthaler's were other standouts.

The NYT review is quite good (except for the unfortunate Olitski is "poorly represented" comment) and the slide show is representative of the show. The title of this post is a quote from Larry Poons in this podcast from the Smithsonian page. Other podcasts are here. NPR's story is here

Friday, February 29, 2008

NYT on art collecting

The NYT had a couple of interesting articles this week on art collecting. The first talks about the intimidation factor of buying art and some options that you might want to try. A second article provides an example of someone who's built a collection.

Of course one of the ways the first article suggests dealing with the anxiety involves way more money than you (probably) and I (definitely) have. As an alternative you can get one of my pieces for way less. Value appreciation not guaranteed! ;-)

Green and Blue. Oil pastels on matboard. ~10" x 10"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Arts blogs and resources

Here a few art blogs that are fairly interesting. The bloggers were all interviewed for a recent issue of Art in America.

Art blog mostly about Philly but still of general interest
Tyler Green's blog about modern and contemporary art
A Portland, OR based blog
And a Seattle-based blog

Finally an artists website called DeviantART mentioned on CNet

I'm not totally sure what DeviantART actually does for an artist but it is worth a look at least.

Two now finished

There are a couple of pieces in earlier posts that were incomplete. These two are finished (I think; until you, the consumer, buys them there is always a chance they'll change).

This first one continues in the "it's really easy to sit on the couch and paint with my fancy crayons" series -- otherwise known as the Lazy Suite.

Two faces. Oil pastels on watercolor paper. 11 x 13

Second is the big, evil mixed media piece called Satyr. The eyes are Luis Bunuel's.

Satyr. Mixed media, acrylics, ink, cardboard, paper, oil pastel, birch bark from Cape Breton and the kitchen sink. 24 x 30 ??

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some New Oil Pastels

I'm continuing to play with the fancy crayons. They're fun and quick

First we've got something that ended up looking a bit like graffiti and so that's its name.

Graffiti. Oil pastels on watercolor paper, 11 x 13

Next, well I'm not sure where this came from or what it is. Not a problem.

Untitled. Oil pastels on matboard, 9 x 12

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Becca's new blog

My wonderful and talented niece Becca Beacham has started a new blog mostly focused (so far) on her design, photography and travels.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New TS Elliot

Here are steps 2-5. It's changed some since 5 but I don't have a photo.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An old new one and trying something

First here's an old new one. By that I mean a piece that was started long ago and has morphed several times. There's a good bit of paint underneath what you can see.

Unnamed. Acrylics, ink and who knows what else on mat board. 15" x 21"

Something new....I thought it would be interesting to track how a piece changes as I work on it. Okay, so maybe only interesting to me. This may end up at the wrong end of a cul de sac (I made that expression up). I'll show you the good and the bad as I work on this.

I start with the original -- another Man Ray photo, this time T.S. Eliot. So far T.S. is just pencil on watercolor paper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

One of Karen's

Karen and I are planning on trying to get a show together. In preparation I took some photos of her work. The light was wrong on this one -- too much light at the top -- but it came out okay.

Poppies by Karen Stone. Acrylic on canvas, maybe 18 x 24?

Click on the painting and it will take you to my Flickr site where you can see more of her work.

100_0654, originally uploaded by Chris Beacham.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oddly enough - updated

I've been working a fair amount lately partially because of the ease of sitting on my couch with a piece of paper, some oil pastels and a bottle of linseed oil. It's easy and keeps me from having to jump up to get more water, clean out my brushes and search for that tube of cobalt blue paint that I just KNOW is somewhere in my paint box. I'm not the most organized painter in the world.

What is odd is not me painting on the couch or changing from acrylics and collage to fancy crayons. It is my subject matter. For whatever reason -- is there really a reason anyway? -- my latest three pieces are portraits. Not portraits of Princess Di or my two sons but reasonably recognizable pieces of humans from the neck up. Reality is not my strong suite and that's not just in my painting, but a quick perusal of posts below shows that art that looks like something you know is not my usual cuppa. Herewith three portraits ala me.

This first one is unfinished. The left side won't change much (okay the eyes aren't there yet) but the right will. Sort of cubist; I like the colors.

No name. Oil pastels on watercolor paper. 11 x 14

The second one is finished. It is of the surrealist painter Yves Tanguy from a 1936 photo by Man Ray. In it Tanguy looks like a 70's punk rocker or maybe a 1980's reject from a Smiths' concert. The funny hairdo is part of the photo but it's a b&w so I made up the red hair.

Yves Tanguy as Woody Woodpecker. Oil pastels on watercolor paper. 11 x 14

Number three is unfinished and, unless it makes a big comeback on the home stretch, much less successful than the other two. Still, this is my arts odyssey and I give you the bad with the good. Maybe it'll help when I give him teeth.

[Monday....It's a little better now thanks to a suggestion by Becca. Thanks grrl.]

Graphic Man. Oil pastels on watercolor paper. 11 x 14

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Something new

Supposedly I started this blog 2 years ago to track my journey into art. So far that has largely meant just posting my pictures. Is that all there is to my journey? I hope not. So something new. I'm going to post on what I think about art, where it comes from, my fears, etc. I'll also try to talk about some interesting art resources, blogs and stuff that you might want to look at.

Here goes...

Becca gave me a book last year Art & Fear by Bayles and Orland. Somehow Becca seemed to know how much fear rules my life (Her and my therapist. Hey, I'm working on it at least.) It is a wonderful book for all of us who discover that an artist lives somewhere inside. A quote from the last paragraph:

In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice...between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot -- and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.