Being Vulnerable: A Beginner Art Idea That Takes Courage

For some, the act of creating art is a natural talent that, when nurtured from a young age, results in artistic confidence as an adult – often confidence across a range of different artistic mediums: sewing, knitting, painting, illustrating, photography.

For others, the act of creating art is something that’s often a source of anxiety.

“Will it look awful?”

“Will they judge me?”

“I can’t draw.”

“I can’t paint”.

It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has a creative side. Some nurture this creativity and turn it into a profession. Some enjoy creating art as a hobby. Others simply refuse to or are not interested in giving it a go.

And then there are those who want to, but can’t bear the thought of what the end result might look like – awful, ugly, a mess, embarrassing. All those harsh judgements we like to place on ourselves.

Because, regardless of whether it’s contemporary art, realism or impressionist we all love to judge art. No matter how bad we may be at producing art ourselves, everyone’s an art critic.

‘Hate it!’

‘Too much pink!’

‘A child could’ve drawn that!’

‘I could’ve drawn that!’

But you didn’t…

Regardless of whether you share it or not, the ‘doing’ of art makes you vulnerable. People will judge you. And you will judge yourself.

Often even those who appreciate art would never dream of giving it a go. It takes courage to let go of one’s need for perfectionism and mastery and simply revel in the joy of creativity and colour.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Brene Brown’s Ted Talk ‘The power of vulnerability’, which has over 18 million views on Ted and another 3 million views on YouTube, is worth checking out prior to venturing into your next (or first) art project. It’s inspiring x 1000. Personally, I’ve listened to it no less than 10 times over the last 3 years.

In her famous vulnerability talk she tells the story of her own experience:

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.”

Brown’s revelation that ‘vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change’ has informed much of her future work. In fact, she now conducts an online journaling ecourse where participants are compelled to unleash their creativity.

Brown has said ‘there’s nothing more vulnerable than creativity’ and, on an even more sombre note, from her book The Gifts Of Imperfection:

@Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

This is serious stuff!

So to help you along your way to living a wholehearted life and begin practicing what it’s like to live free from self-judgement and regret, here’s an art idea for beginners that will expose your vulnerability and unleash your creativity. It’s time to be brave! But remember, courage, like art, takes practice so be kind to yourself.

Step 1: Don’t start with a blank canvas.

Actually, if you’re ready, totally go for it. Don’t let me stop you. Don’t let anyone dictate creativity to you!

Step 2: Buy a canvas online of a black and white photo that inspires you.

You might like to do a search on our gallery for ‘black and white’ or you might like to choose any photo from our gallery and simply convert it to black and white during the purchasing process. Alternatively, you might like to upload one of your own favourite photos. It might be a self-portrait, a travel photo, a garden photo – the options are endless. Choose a photo you feel you can easily add colour and layers to.

Step 3: Visit a craft or stationery outlet and purchase some oil paints, water colours and paintbrushes.

You might even like to just choose one colour like ‘red’ or ‘flouro pink’, but a range of different colours is good too.

Step 4: Once your beautiful canvas photo print arrives, don’t be tempted to hang it in the living room as is!

It’s not finished yet! Instead, ready your artistic workspace. Lay old papers over a table for protection and lay down your canvas and your paints. You might like to also raid the box or drawer you have that’s full of old gift paper, scrapbooking remnants, string and glitter.

Auckland New Zealand Skyline

COLOUR THIS CANVAS: Here’s a canvas from our own collection just waiting to be coloured with layers of paint, glitter and other scrapbooking devices. Click on image for details.

Step 5: Unleash your creativity!

Do absolutely anything. Seriously. Actually, no not seriously. Relax. Try to do it with a sense of joy. Yes, I realise that’s easier said than done and there definitely will be plenty of ‘concentration face’. It’s about going into it with the knowledge that, no matter the result, you’ve let down your walls, you’ve exposed your vulnerability and have had a wonderfully creative time. In fact, the final result of the canvas art itself is immaterial.

Keen for more guidance?

One distinct colour on a black and white photo often looks great, below. Don’t strive for perfect as is done in Photoshop. Get messy with the paint. Flouro colours are often fun to work with as well.

Contemporary Art - Black and White Photograph of a Woman with Red Lipsticked

Cut out letters from the newspaper and stick on with glue or cut out stencils to create your own pop art piece, example below, using the original black and white photo as the base.

Contemporary Art - Pop Art

Use collage – layer upon layer of different papers, materials, stamping – to create a completely new piece of artwork, see collage below, using the original black and white photo as the base.

Contemporary Art - Collage

Use paint as well as bits and pieces from around the house to transform your flat black and white canvas into a colourful work of art full of layers and dimension. For example, paint in the blue for rivers, use green string for trees, cotton wall for clouds.

Can’t yet pluck up the courage to draw? Paint over a black and white photo, like so:

Contemporary Art - Flower Vases

TRANSFORMED: Use a black and white photo on canvas as a base and paint over it with your own choice of colours.

Now go create art and remember …

You are enough.