The Power of Courage and Vulnerability in ART and in Life

By Adie McDermott.

There is really no doubt that CREATIVITY TAKES COURAGE! As creating something new carries many elements of risk and uncertainty. I am sure I am not alone in saying I don’t really enjoy being out of control and getting things wrong makes me uncomfortable.  I have learnt through experience however that if we are not prepared to move through this, we cannot move forward…..we will remain in the same place we are, with the same limited skills, mediocre artwork, opportunities and relationships, and limited believes about what we can achieve, forever.

In order to create something new not just copy something you need take risks, use your own mind and to put a little part of ‘YOU’ into the creation. Already, that’s where things get awkward, as I am sure you will agree, that it is actually really scary to get things wrong, trust yourself and put a part of yourself into something. Shame and self-doubt say “What if I not good enough?” “What if I don’t know what I am doing?” “Who am I to say I can do this?” …. and then fear and vulnerability also says, what if I do my best, what if I show myself, put myself into it, or open myself up for others to see, and people don’t like what they see or respond how I would like them to?

You see, putting parts of yourself in your art puts you in a vulnerable, unknown situation and we feel uncomfortable feeling vulnerable. Infact, you could say in art and life, we avoid it like crazy.


Letting go of fear and perfection and embracing vulnerability is extraordinarily life changing, so why don’t we do it more often?

In art (as well as life) we try to protect ourselves from feeling out of control, out of our depth and vulnerable by making everything perfect, having everything in place and controlling everything so we can make the uncertain, certain. These things all kill creativity and self-expression, the things we need to create our best work.

The truth is, that there is no chance of growth without risk, and that being open to showing your unique self is essential for creativity, connection, love, success and more. If we embrace risk and feeling vulnerable instead of pushing it away, the benefits will extend into our lives way beyond our art making. They are extraordinarily LIFE CHANGING!!

Please read more about my creative healing membership WHOLE if you  immediately feel interested to find out more about this.

Soooo, anyway, if allowing yourself to be vulnerable could be the way to create your best art, be successful and connect well with others, why do we ALL avoid it? Because…..Of course it takes soooo much more courage to be imperfect, get things wrong and let others see us as we really are, than pleasing others by giving them what we think they want to hear from us, or following a proven step-by-step method to ensure you get everything right.

There is absolutely no doubt that for most people feeling vulnerable is scary and that most of us don’t want to get things wrong. BUT,  if you don’t learn to overcome your fears of not being good enough and put strategies in place to work around them, you will never free yourself from their power….You will always remain stuck in the same place you are now.

I have been in a place where I was creatively stuck. So struck by perfectionism that I didn’t ever make any art due to my enormous fear of getting everything wrong. But….I was determined to be successful, to be the best version of myself possible, and to learn and grow instead of being stuck in the same place so I learnt how to overcome my fears.

Authenticity is true beauty and yet is it is one of the hardest things in life to be truely yourself

As it turns out there is a very strong connection between a creative art practice and life and this is extraordinarily beneficial for personal growth. Things you are stuck on in your art, mirror what you are stuck on in life, so becoming unstuck transformed my whole life and allow me now to express myself and create freely instead of hiding myself away, teach my methods and share my skills in classes, workshops and courses around the world, become an entrepreneur and build a successful art business and….design and live my life my own way, using my unique skills, strengths, value and life experiences, without a 9-5 job.  You can read more about me and my life here if you like…..

As it also turns out, AUTHENTICITY IS TRUE BEAUTY. The most beautiful thing you can be in your art and life is yourself, and sooo much freedom and joy start when you decide to let yourself be yourself.

I have learnt MANY tricks, art process, neuroscience techniques and mindset hacks that trick my brain into feeling safer to do all these things and I now teach people how to use them all together to get unstuck, be more courageous and self-express and be more confident in sharing themselves in my creative healing membership, WHOLE. Here are some of my favourite things you can do within your art practice. Of course I have many more. Click here to find out more about WHOLE if you like.

Harnessing the power of vulnerability

Firstly before we begin, I encourage you also to watch Brené Brown’s amazing TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability that I share in my course Recreate- Create Again. This speaks to artists as well as anyone interested in living a more connected, hearted centre, happier life. Click here to view it on YouTube.

Then try these things that we use in WHOLE:

• Give up trying to make perfect art!!!! Embrace imperfection, give up making picture-perfect art and let go of the pressure and expectation to create something great or frame worthy every time. If you have trouble giving up perfection (and most people do) explore where this need or fear comes from, so you can release it.

• Accept and allow yourself to be a beginner, even as a more advanced artist. Wherever you at now, allow yourself to learn and make mistakes and not compare yourself or your art to everyone else. Always allow yourself to learn more and grow, no matter what age you are and what level you are at.

• Give up the outcome and enjoy the process. Give up knowing or planning where you are going, embrace uncertainly and the unknown and understand the fact that the process brings you the most joy not the finished artwork. Also understand that your best work comes from the times you are not thinking and over analysing what you are doing and the times you are enjoying yourself.

• Give up worrying about what others think. Separate your worth from the response of others. A very huge one that I used to deal with every single day!

• Work in layers using materials that can cover up or transparently cover what is underneath. This allows you to be playful, experimental, have fun and work freely as you know you will cover up some (if not all) of what you have made with the next layers. The knowledge for me, that I can also cover everything up if I don’t like what I am doing is also very liberating.

• Work in a private (safe) place. For example work and play in an art journal or book that you can close, and only expose your work to others when you feel ready to show it.

• Choose to surround yourself with like-minded and supportive others. And not in overly critical, perfection driven art classes or with unsupportive friends and family members.

• Lean into fear and self-doubt. Knowledge is power. Instead of avoiding fear and self-doubt listen to it and use that knowledge to your advantage. Listen to how you are speaking to yourself as you are creating and why, then push past or gently release fear, self-doubt, vulnerability and you limited beliefs using my favourite neuroscience techniques.

• Accept yourself where you are at now and be willing to be vulnerable to move forward. Know that vulnerability, authenticity, your own abilities and your very own uniqueness, actually make you beautiful, not flawed.

Also try this …. Think for a minute about art, music or a scene of a movie or play that you connect to. Time and time again what we are connecting to is work that reveals something about an artist’s soul (not just something they quickly threw together), whilst sadly we ourselves spend most of our lives trying to avoid being this open, thanks to our universal belief that vulnerability is no good.

And rejoice in this …. If courage and vulnerability are essential for creativity as well as for connection, love, success as an artist and a creative life lived your way own way, outside of a 9-5 job….. then the realisation that imperfection and failure are also good and necessary even for growth, is amazing as it sets us free and gives us permission to experiment, be imperfect, make mistakes, go wild and/or be totally ourselves if we choose to. I am not sure about you, but within this knowledge I personally feel liberated!  

If you like the sound of all this, let me guide you past fear and self-doubt in my creative membership WHOLE. Find out more here.

To try creating something for yourself check out my classes, holistic online courses and creative wellness workshops. Join my creative facebook community to connect with like mined others, try out my FREE mixed media ‘gratitude’ project or watch me make an artwork and learn more about the healing power of creativity here.

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