I learn a lot about myself through art. In my class yesterday we talked about being authentic.  “What does authentic mean to you?” and “How does that relate to your art?” We each wrote our response on paper so as not to influence the answer someone else might give. It was a great exercise!

Now art takes on many forms.  You certainly don’t have to have a paint brush in your hand in order to be creative.  One of my teachers,Dorsey McHugh and I are writing a book together on creativity.  We contend that virtually everyone has a creative side….hey, we all have a right brain, don’t we? Some of us just tap into that side more than others.  Some have more right brain dominance than others and some probably think their right side shriveled up and died in about second grade!  But in reality, we are all creative in some way.  Dan once told a group of inmates that their creativity probably is what landed them in prison, so they needed to learn better ways to express themselves!

So how does the word authentic affect your life?  This morning I was walking with my friend, Shaloma…..talking about this word.  She asked me if I thought I was a different person from what I used to be because I said I feel I have worked hard in the last year to become more of a flower!  I am blossoming. I am not a different person. I am just a better person.  More authentic than I have ever been in my life.   I have done a lot of introspection, reading, writing, growing in the last two years. I have become more of the unique woman God made me to be. No pretenses….just very real. And very happy with where I am.  

So I ask you….what role does authenticity play in your life? Is it time to tap into that part of you long hidden or less honest? Is it time to take the accumulation of your years of experience and become the person you really want to be?

Here are some responses to the questions posed in class yesterday.  Very thought provoking:

“ Art without authenticity is only a picture. Real art is more.  It is alive.” (Dorsey)

  “True to self- the real core.  In my art, authenticity lets go of all pretenses and expectations- instead of laying out a final goal, I create from my heart- my art grows as I develop myself in the art I’m creating – what results in the end is art that is truly from within, not based on a specific agenda.  My art is authentic because it is an outward expression of what is within my heart.” (Ashley)

 “Authentic means being real – honest – coming from my heart – no pretense or trying to impress, just simply me being me.  Authentic art is allowing my heart to pour out upon my canvas – to paint what my heart knows, feels, and desires.”  (Deby)

  “Genuine.  Honest.  (Unadulterated, unmasked, unguarded).  How does this reflect in my art?  How does it reflect to my heart?  My heart is authentic already.  The word reminds me to remain grounded and present, so that I live always and express truth.”  (Melanie)

 “Authentic is what is true and real to me.  This concept shows up in the colors I use, but most especially in the subjects I choose to paint.”  (Cheryl)

 “Being true to your inner self – Not who you think people expect you to be.  So…paint to make yourself happy.” (Lesa)

 “A blend of skill, ability, personality and passion.   All these things should be expressed and obvious.”  (Dan)

 “Revealing my true self without any reservations or preconceived ideas of what others expect. Revealing my genuine self in art means I'm innocently creating and allowing genuine ideas to flow through me. To create authentically, is to create without considering what it should look like and to allow each piece to develop and grow, almost maturing as it becomes its own genuine self.”  (Susan)

Dorsey writes: “How can we infuse this authentic life into everything we do; into our conversations, our days, our art?  We must turn our backs on the fear of making a mistake or feeling rejected.  We must give up our concern for what someone else may think.  We need to jump into these deep waters, with our whole heart.” 

 Are you living an authentic life? Is your right brain screaming to be let loose to complete your most authentic YOU?  If so, I encourage you to take an art class, hone your writing skills, take a decorating class or a design class or something that taps into your more carefree, imaginative self and enjoy being a child again……or a flower!   

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Comment by Rose Gauss on September 18, 2012 at 6:55am


Interestingly, I just got done telling Dorsey on her blog that "I wanna be like her"...that is not very authentic of me is it? :)  But, what I was saying to her is that I wanted to be 'free-enough' to speak and paint exactly what I mean. I have spent some years being able to do that, and some years not doing that. I guess when we grow & change in the different seasons of our lives we have to make an effort to commit to keeping the helpful things and releasing the harmful things.  I think that we have to fight a bit everyday to be authentic & true to ourselves...this world isn't going to let us just slip into good habits.

Thanks for this post, Joanne...and to everyone who commented thank you...you all gave me a lot to think about.

be blessed,


Comment by Kathy on September 10, 2012 at 9:16am

This is a wonderful post, JoAnn and it makes me think of something I once did with a group of women I was doing a workshop with. I asked them to think of the biggest reason they wanted to be "transparent" in their lives and to complete the sentence, "I want to be transparent because ___" I got many good answers (E.g. Because I want people to know the real me, because I want to be recognized as being honest, because, I want to create authentic relationships, etc. ) but my favorite was, " I want to be transparent because I want to be able to live and love myself so I can better live with and love others." It made me realize any time we pretend we are just disguising what we know is true. Being authentic means accepting the good and the bad about yourself so that the "product" others see is one you can be sure is genuine, no fooling others, no fooling yourself. Can't wait to read the book. 

Comment by Pei Kang on September 3, 2012 at 12:48pm
How timely this blog! Joel and I are ao passionate about this message. We tend to lose the true us along the way, but when we have the heart of a seeker, being surrounded and guided by wise/ passionate people, use the tools like art, writing... We will find the authentic self!
Comment by Betsy Izzo on August 31, 2012 at 8:03pm


I think of God when I ponder authenticity and creativity!  God is the author of both.  Thank you for reminding me of that.

Comment by Joanne Miller on August 31, 2012 at 11:02am

Thanks, Rob, You are so right about needing to be true to ourselves. I am so sorry for those who don't feel they have time to invest in creative outlets.  They miss so much in life.  Thanks for your input.  

Comment by Robert Clinton on August 31, 2012 at 8:22am

Joanne, that's amazing! Thanks for this beautiful reminder of where our creativity comes from. It's a free an unbounded expression of we are and the more we allow ourselves to express or create, the more of who we are comes alive. I love this!

We don't need inhibitions; we need our true selves...

Thank you for the inspiration! 

Comment by Teri Miller on August 30, 2012 at 11:05pm

So true & real & authentic...yes!  THAT is the vibrancy & beauty shining out of you now more than ever...yes, your authentic YOU!

And what a great reminder to be authentic me - and not strive for people-pleasing, or what I think others want me to be.  Getting back into dance class reminds me to let go, breathe, stretch, leap; to bloom a little more everyday, lest my life begin to wither.

Thanks for the inspiring words of encouragement!

Comment by Lisa Graham on August 30, 2012 at 8:12pm

Ahhh, great question and posts!

I agree with Jen and Ann below...the older I get the more I realize I need to just do IT, whatever IT may be!  Life is short and since I can only control my happiness....I need to put fear aside.  I want to minimize the "I shoulda, coulda, woulda's.

Thanks for making us think!  :)

Group Leader
Comment by Jen McDonough "The Iron Jen" on August 30, 2012 at 8:09pm

ohhh....I WILL use that one - "Don't let anyone Should on you"...ohhhh...Joanne, could that be another title of book you picked out for me like you did for the last one?

Seriously, thanks for the post. You and Yvonne are so right in that it is a journey (and one worth taking).

Comment by Joanne Miller on August 30, 2012 at 8:06pm

I think we are ALL on a journey and Dan and I were talking about this over sushi tonight.  You are right in saying we do have to like ourselves (isn't that a Biblical concept?!) before we can totally be authentic and honest.  That comes as a journey......unless, perhaps, if you are a narcissist!  But I do believe that age also helps to level out the fear of making the wrong impression to a degree where we are more apt to be our true selves.  Jen, I love what you said about going after what gives you joy and what brings joy to others!  AMEN to that!  and we have a saying in our art class....."Don't let anyone should on you!"  (yes, you can use that one!!)

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