When it comes to painting -- or expressing your creativity in whatever way you choose -- I’ve talked many times about finding your tribe, about declaring your space and dedicating time to making it happen, and about putting your soul on display by exhibiting your work.
The reason I risk being a broken record when it comes to connecting with people, making and keeping promises to actually create, and putting yourself out there as an artist is because it is incredibly hard to do.
The greatest challenge in each of these things is the vulnerability they each require. Finding your tribe requires genuine connection with others. Declaring your space and dedicating time to make creativity happen requires a sometimes uncomfortable commitment to yourself. Exhibiting your work requires the courage to know you can’t please everyone.
What do all of these things have in common? They push us to expose our vulnerabilities.
By nature, we’re all averse to vulnerability, but I’m here to tell you this: Vulnerability is perhaps the most necessary requirement to actually growing as an artist or creative.
From the very first day I wandered into Pat Rini Rohrer’s Gallery on Main Street in Canandaigua more than 10 years ago, my vulnerability took center stage -- and the fear that came with it slowly receded.
That gradual recession of fear improves each week, when we close out our Wednesday night painting classes with a round of critiques.
During these group critiques, we all share positives and areas of improvement for each other’s work. It’s simple on the surface, but so much goes into these critiques. First, we must be okay with emptying our soul onto the canvas. Then, we must allow others to not only witness it, but to share their opinion on it.
This can amplify our fear; solidify our desire to keep our work inside. But what we must realize is this: If we hide our work from the world, we’re depriving it of its chance to be seen; to be improved; to grow.
Group critiques have always felt natural for me in this space, as I’m surrounded by people I love. Overcoming the fear associated with vulnerability becomes exponentially easier when you create consistency, build trust, and recognize the healing and rejuvenation that can come from allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
This showing of vulnerability within the cooperative space at Pat Rini Rohrer’s has not only been crucial for my own growth in skills and development of where I want to go with my art; it’s also opened so many doors for me. It’s bonded me with a tribe of incredible women. It’s introduced me to the teachings of Pat as well as others, like Lori Putnam. It’s given me the courage to apply for and enter my paintings in shows like the Plein Air Festival. It’s encouraged my travel to places like Monhegan Island and the south of France.
When we acknowledge the role of vulnerability in our growth as artists and creatives, amazing things happen.
We find our tribe. We make art a priority. We grow.
Actively seeking feedback on your work is just one way to overcome vulnerability in the name of growth. I want to hear from you: How else do you overcome fear and accept vulnerability -- and how does your art thrive as a result?