Art And Vulnerability


Hahei Beach - NZ, Watercolour and Pen

Art and vulnerability, how many of you feel vulnerable when you are making your art? There are two elements to the vulnerability equation. One is when you're making your art and the second is when you are showing it. Let's look at the making of it first. How many of you would say that you are courageous people? Most of us wouldn't call ourselves that would we? The way courage is portrayed in our society is the courage of a fireman rushing into a burning building to rescue a child or the underdog standing up to a bully.

What if I were to say to you, - artists, actors etc are some of the most courageous people on the planet. I truly believe this.

And why would I believe such a thing?. Why, because, every time you pick up your paintbrush, pencil or crayon it is an act of courage. And we make this act of courage, and vulnerability over and over every day of our art lives. There is a huge probability that you're going to fail to live up to your own expectations in what you're about to do every time that brush goes on the canvas. Expectations I might add, set the barometer way too high.



Every brush stroke is a leap of faith

The problem is that we don't see our own courage or vulnerability, much less acknowledge it in ourselves. What we do instead, is judge and shame ourselves. We tell ourselves how bad we are. How many times have you thought," I'll never be a real artist, rather, I'm just a fake pretending to be an artist?" What happened to fake it until you make it!

There is another piece to this as well. When we make art we are telling the world something about ourselves. That is very vulnerable. The interesting thing is that the more we show up and expose that vulnerability, the more people can relate to our work. They relate it to something they have experienced or still feel within themselves. Our story connects them to their story. I often say to my students that every painting they do is in a sense a self-portrait. This is because you can only paint from where you're at and who you are, at that moment in time.

And this is where the courage comes in. Because it takes courage to put that vulnerability out there, to expose yourself in that way. The more deeply you dive into your art practice, the more you express the truth of who you are upon your canvas. While it can be a scary journey, it develops our internal fortitude and strength. Who would have thought painting a picture could do such a thing?

Next week: Vulnerability and showing your work.

© 2018 Kadira Jennings​