How to Be a More Courageous Artist (and Person)

How to Be a More Courageous Artist: Using Lessons from Art to Conquer Your Fears in Life

Dear You:

I came across this amazing TED talk and just had to share it with you. I love it because it speaks to so many of the things that we love to talk about here: finding courage, recapturing creativity, and embracing our “weaknesses.”

So many of the anxious folks I see in my art therapy office suffer doubly because not only do they feel anxious, but they spend a huge amount of energy trying to hide it (which only makes them feel more anxious.) Does that sound familiar?

Here’s a story about a man who took an embarrassing and potentially career-ending “flaw” and used it to propel him on an epic creative journey.

I hope this talk and the images inspire you as much as they did me. Be sure to scroll down to the end for a juicy creativity challenge!



Creativity Challenge #3: Limit Yourself

I love this exploration of limits and how it can increase creativity. So in that spirit, creativity challenge #3 is to limit yourself.

Take one of Phil’s challenges: make an art piece that only costs 1 dollar, paint using light, draw with food, draw with scribbles, or any other challenge you would like to try.

Post it on the Creative Self-Care group on Facebook (click here to join) or on Instagram using hashtag: #creatvitychallenge#3.


The Beauty of Limitations

What I love about artistic challenges is that they really force me out of my usual patterns and comfort zones. I loved the karate chop technique, so I decided to give it a try.

I used a combination of chopping,  bending, and dragging my hand. It was kind of like letting my hand dance across the page, which was so fun! I’d like to do it again, but to music.


Side Hand Painting

Which of the techniques did you respond to the most? What would it be like to follow his lead and highlight one of your weaknesses? Tell us about it in the comments.


Creatively Yours,



Artist Courage



  1. Laura

    Thanks for sharing this amazing TED talk. It’s so inspiring!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Laura:

      So great that you dropped by! I know, he’s so amazing, isn’t he? I feel like a lot of us might have “let it shake” and been satisfied with the amazing portraits he was doing with scribbles, but he let it take him so much further. I just love how he turned a weakness into his greatest gift. It makes me wonder, how many of us are missing opportunities to turn things on their head this way?

      And you? Which of his creative challenges might you experiment with?



    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Bethany!

      Welcome to! I’m psyched to have you here and am so glad that you took in this fabulous TED talk. His limitations suggestions could be a great exercise for any artist, but also for an art therapy group of many different populations. I can imagine using some of the ideas with adolescents to great advantage. (Imagine using chewed food though? Ugh. No! haha.)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I look forward to “seeing” you here again!

      Creatively Yours,

  2. Lee Mears

    I’m definitely going to try the karate chop! What fun!

  3. Misty

    I just found your blog, and this post. The TED talk was awesome. About a week ago, I got into a weird vibe and decided to paint a portrait of myself on a cheap 30×40 (ish) canvas using only buff titanium, alizarin, cad red, ultramarine, and yellow ochre. I did it in less than 3 hours, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Since then I’ve decided to make it a habit to limit myself to four colors and a white to do some paintings, and see what happens.

    • Abigail Castillo-Hernandez

      Hi Misty, happy to hear you found the Mindful Art Community, so glad you liked the TED Talk 🙂 Love the idea of challenging yourself to explore certain colors within a painting!


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