ART & FEAR: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

In this insightful read, artists are met with a compassionate exploration of the insecurities that often hinder their creative expression. It offers a guiding light for those who have faced internal or external obstacles in their artistic journey.



Fear is a common companion in the creative process, whether it’s fear of not being able to complete a project or fear that no one will understand your work. Often, these fears stem from the mismatch between your vision and your current execution skills. But remember: vision will always be ahead of execution, and that’s a good thing.


Imagination is at its peak when you start creating a piece of art. That initial brushstroke or chord strike holds immense potential. But as you progress, technique and craft take over, and imagination becomes less prominent. Each step in execution reduces future possibilities. It’s a moment of loss, but also a moment of realization that the piece couldn’t have been any other way. Understand that your imagination will race ahead, dreaming of what could be, but your focus should be on what you can work on today.


The materials you choose for your art have their own potential and limitations. They tempt you with possibilities, but they also require your active participation to bring them to life. Pay attention to the way materials respond, and let their response guide you towards new ideas. Art is about carrying out your ideas, and the materials are what make it possible.


Uncertainty is a constant companion in the artist’s journey. Doubt and dissatisfaction are natural, and even revered artists have struggled with them. The finished piece that feels right may have been moments away from failure. Embrace the uncertainty and take risks with a flexible approach. Have a sense of what you’re looking for, a strategy for finding it, and a willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises.



This book really helped me in many occasions, also when things looked quite dark. The stoic principles it explains can help reframe events under a more constructive light so that, the events don’t change, our perception does, so our reality.

Key Points:

  • Our mindset and approach are crucial when facing obstacles.
  • Our minds have the power to adapt and convert obstacles into opportunities.
  • Obstacles should be viewed as the way forward, not as barriers.
  • The world constantly tests us, and our worthiness is determined by how we handle obstacles.
  • Our attitude and approach are the only things at fault when facing obstacles.
  • Weaknesses can be transformed into strengths.
  • Perseverance and inner will are necessary for handling defeat and difficulty.
  • Our perception determines what we are capable of and shapes our reality.
  • Focusing on the present moment and seeing the good in every situation are important.
  • Persistence and perseverance are key in overcoming obstacles.


If after this you would like to deepen your understanding of Stoic principles I recommend you MEDITATIONS by Marcus Aurelius and the work of Epictetus.


Deep work

In this book, the author introduces the concept of deep work, which involves focused, distraction-free concentration that pushes cognitive abilities to their limits. He argues that cultivating the ability to think deeply and work without distractions is crucial to maximize value and productivity. To help improve deep work skills, Newport provides four rules.


Work Deeply

It’s hard to work deeply in a world that is full of distractions, especially the pull of email and other messaging in a culture where people expect instant results. Newport suggests that you begin by figuring out your deep work “philosophy” and scheduling time for deep work. Regardless of your style, the idea is to find and schedule time when you can disconnect, creating rules and rituals that allow you to work deeply and improve your ability to concentrate

Embrace Boredom

After concentrating deeply, our first reaction is to break it up with a distraction. Newport argues that we should be taking breaks from focus and rest our brains rather than engaging in activities which are distractions. The reason we default to our distractions, like checking email or other messaging systems, is our brains aren’t wired to be bored anymore. However, brains need downtime, and turning off completely instead of working on nonessential tasks helps us improve focus during periods of concentration. It turns out constantly switching back and forth from focus to distraction, or from distraction to distraction, actually trains our ability to multitask, i.e. switch our attention between multiple priorities. We may justify this by feeling more productive, but over time, it hurts our ability to deeply focus.

Quit Social Media

Newport is not a fan of social media because it’s another distraction that fragments our time. In order to master your ability to work deeply, you need to resist the temptation of diversions that are trying to steal your time and attention. He acknowledges that completely disconnecting from social media might not be realistic for many and he suggests starting out by checking into social networks less frequently. He also suggests weighing the benefits of social networking usage against the benefits of what you could be doing with the time you are spending on them, and suggests cutting back the number of social media sites you use

Drain the Shallows

In the final rule, Newport points out that it’s easily for meetings, calls, and other scheduled events to eat into the amount of time you have for deep work. He suggests scheduling your day in advance and setting aside blocks for shallow and deep work. He also suggests stopping work at a fixed time which forces you to focus on completing your tasks during the day and ensures your brain has time to rest and recover at night.  Finally, he makes some suggestions to tame your email inbox, such as creating processes and templates to handle the types of email you’d commonly receive.