This week in the Evolve writing program, we’ve been asked to think about taking risks with our work. The writing prompt was: The riskiest move I have ever made in the creation of my work is…..

I think all of us in the writing group as artists, every brush stroke, every shaping of clay, and every presentation of work embodies a risk. My personal journey as a ceramic and visual artist has been a continuous dalliance with uncertainty and vulnerability. From submitting pieces to competitions to the often-daunting act of revealing my creations to an audience, each step has been a leap of faith. This is a testament to my personal commitment to growth and artistic exploration in my practice. In this reflection, I want to share the risks I’ve taken (am taking), the lessons I’m learning, and how these experiences can resonate with other artists who might be tempted to stay within their comfort zones, for fear of what might or might not happen.

One of the most tangible forms of risk that I have identified is entering competitions. The decision to put your work out there, to be judged and critiqued, is no small feat. I’ve experienced the spectrum of outcomes – the exhilaration of acceptance and the disappointment of rejection. Each submission is a learning experience, a chance to understand that rejection is not a reflection of my worth, but a part of the artistic process. It’s taught me resilience and the importance of maintaining belief in my work, regardless of external validation. I just got a rejection letter for an overseas ceramic competition, and I was surprisingly ok about not getting in as a finalist. A lot of the time it’s a numbers game, (there are gazillions of talented artists in the world) and there are judges who are just people, and they have their own preferences and education backgrounds in relationship to art. I haven’t worked out any great formula to being successful in competitions, except to keep making work I like and putting it out there. Occasionally I do well and get a final, and that gives me a great boost and I get another exhibition of my work. Presenting my work to others, be it in galleries, online platforms, or informal settings, is another risk that has become an integral part of my practice. Each unveiling is a moment of vulnerability, where I offer a piece of my inner-self to the world. This act, as daunting as it is, has been crucial in forging connections with my audience. It’s in these moments of sharing that I’ve found encouragement, constructive criticism, and a sense of community.

Charlotte Woods’s Book Luminous & Risk

In reflecting upon my reading of writer Charlotte Wood’s poignant insights in her book ” Luminous “, I find a deep resonance with her depiction of the artist’s journey. Wood eloquently captures the essence of risk-taking in art, likening it to tending a magnificent garden. This metaphor speaks volumes to me as a ceramic artist. Just as a garden requires boldness, vision, and the willingness to start afresh after failure, so does my practice. The act of molding clay, much like cultivating a garden, involves embracing uncertainty and daring to make those improbable but exciting connections.

Wood speaks to the darker aspects of creativity as well, acknowledging the threats that can stifle the flourishing of one’s inner world. Her words on exhaustion, distraction, fear, and the struggle against the crushing weight of external pressures echo my own experiences in the studio. The creative process, at times, does feel like a ‘violent birth‘, a grappling with one’s deepest fears and vulnerabilities. Yet, it is through this turmoil that the most authentic and profound art emerges.

In addition, Wood’s admission of frequently reverting to fear, despite her knowledge of the joy and revelation found in a state of curious optimism, mirrors my artistic process. Each day in the studio is a recommitment to pushing past fear, to allowing the ‘muddy germination phase’ where ideas are raw and unformed. It is in this space of not knowing, of nurturing and protecting my artistic vision, that my most authentic work takes root.

Her discussion on the necessity of risk, particularly in the age of online distractions, strikes a chord with me. The courage to create is often eroded by the barrage of external opinions and the pressure to conform. Yet, it is in the deliberate act of shutting out these voices and focusing inward that my art finds its true direction. It is a reminder to guard my creative space, allowing my ideas to grow and strengthen in their own time.

Wood’s reflections provide a powerful framework for understanding the intricacies of an artist’s internal landscape. In my practice, embracing the vulnerability, the courage to take risks, and the commitment to truth is an ongoing journey. It’s about creating a space where my art can flourish, unimpeded by fear or external validation, much like a garden that thrives under the attentive care of its gardener.


Creatively, I’ve taken risks by stepping away from the familiar. Transitioning from primarily wheel throwing to returning to more hand-building, venturing into unexplored themes, and experimenting with new techniques – each of these choices has been a leap into the unknown. These risks have not only broadened my artistic repertoire, but have also imbued my work with a freshness and authenticity that is pleasing to me and something that comes from genuine exploration.

Every risk I’ve taken has contributed to my growth, not just as an artist but as a person. They have built my resilience, taught me the value of perseverance, and shown me the beauty of embracing imperfections. The journey has been as much about developing my artistic voice as it has been about learning to navigate the emotional landscape that comes with creating and sharing art.

Looking back, the risks I’ve taken in my artistic practice have been integral to shaping who I am as an artist today. They’ve taught me that growth lies in discomfort, that resilience is built through facing fears, and that true artistic fullfillment comes from the courage to express oneself authentically. As I continue moving forward, I choose to remain open to new challenges and to embrace the risks that come with the ever-evolving artistic landscape. Within these risks lies what I understand to be the heart of creativity and the path to discovering my fullest potential as an artist.