Creative Risks: The fine art of risk taking

I love risk taking

Well thought out risks

Picasso was a huge risk taker

He constantly challenged society and opened his life to artistic adventure

Enraging critics by his incredible fine art and unique perception on life

This article is for anybody who wants to live a more creative life and develop the fine art of risk taking. This post applies to non-creative disciplines too, because I believe everyone thinks in uniquely creative ways, and to really flourish in life we all must take calculated risks

People often think my decisions are sometimes crazy

Totally unconventional

But here’s the truth of the matter…

Point 1. Creativity and living a unique life is about taking risks and being unconventional

Educated risks help our creativity flourish and provide a life of fulfilment

Meaningful risks help us to feel passionate and alive again, as we realize our dreams are actually coming true

At the time he created this painting, Picasso was filled with fury and inspired to produce the political artwork below titled ‘Guernica’, now a world famous anti-war statement. Incredibly unconventional for its time.

Risk_Pablo Picasso_Guernica painting

‘Guernica‘ (1937) Pablo Picasso. Oil on canvas Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid 349 cm × 776 cm

Never before had an abstract painting been used to warn the world of the evil dangers of fascism. He took a political risk and confronted evil through original art

Picasso’s influence upon modern art was profound

Point 2. Much of Picasso’s success comes from being a risk taker

However, most parents would prefer their child followed a safe mainstream occupation, with a predictable income and boring daily routine. Rather than becoming a risky unpredictable creative professional

But the boring life is not for creative people

In fact, boredom is the antidote for creativity and risk taking

When painting, I never really know how an abstract painting will turn out. It could be a disaster, or an astounding success. But that’s true about life. Isn’t it?

Here’s the truth…

Point 3. Like any creative discipline, life is a continual risk

Simply walking across the road can be risky. The only certainty on earth is change. And security is deceptive. Living a safe life isn’t always secure. Most people think there’s little security following a creative career. But that’s simply not true. For example, there would be no security for a mainstream dentist to suddenly become an artist. That would be foolish. But the ultimate security in life is only found when people become the person that God designed them to be. Being yourself builds confidence and security.

Point 4. There’s very little risk when you’re true to yourself

But there is great risk in telling lies, and trying to be someone you’re not. In fact, it’s very dangerous to a persons health and well being living a life of deception

Here’s 5 things that can happen when people are not true to themselves…

1. People risk exhaustion & insomnia
2. People become stressed & unhappy
3. People risk being consumed by unrelenting fear
4. People experience continual rejection & low self confidence
5. People’s lives become a tiresome struggle and their personal power diminishes

But taking calculated risks and being true to oneself means relaxation. Going with the natural flow of life, creates inspiration and excitement. Flowing with the spirit is how I created the painting below

I love the ocean

Risk Ocean Depth painting by Simon Brushfield

‘Ocean Depth’ by Simon Brushfield (2010) Acrylic & Oil on paper 80cm x 100cm      ($2,200)

Here’s the main reason why some people see following their true self as a huge unobtainable risk….

Point 5. Because, not many people understand who they really are

Unfortunately, most people lack the courage to take a risk and follow their heart, doing what they love for 2 main reasons

1. People don’t know what they’re meant to be doing
2. Fear stops people from doing what they love

Henri Matisse was an artist who epitomised being true to himself and following his heart

He took the risk of being misunderstood by the majority of mainstream people

Despite heavy criticism heaped upon his fine art, Matisse pursued an uncompromising path of beauty that most people of the time, didn’t understand.

Point 6. Matisse’s risk taking led him to become the ‘founding father of modern art’.

Matisse’s use of colour was extraordinary and his line work exceptional. His fine art had never been attempted before in the history of fine art

The painting below caused great upheavel during the early 1900’s

People were revolted by the weird colours and ugly distortion in ‘The Joy of Life”. The public were used to seeing more traditional and realistic scenes in paintings

People didn’t need an imagination to appreciate an artists work in the olden days. It was a huge risk for Matisse. To step out from the mainstream comfort zone and receive the hostile abuse from common man

But today, artists benefit in a myriad of ways from the influence of Matisse’s unique imagination

Risk_The Joy of Life painting by Henri Matisse

‘The Joy of Life’ by Henri Matisse (1905) Oil on Canvas 175 x 241cm The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania, USA

I certainly don’t want to get to the end of my life and think, “I should have taken more risks and done what I love.”

Whilst we’re alive, there’s still an opportunity to take those important risks

And think in new ways

Like Matisse, being truly creative always requires taking risks. Mainstream people will never understand the pioneers mindset. So I encourage you to take whatever risk is necessary to experience total fulfilment in life

Final Point: Taking risks is essential to living a life full of excitement, curiosity and wonder

Do what you love

But prepare yourself. You’ll be guaranteed to meet two teachers along the path. Success and Failure

Go on, take the risk

It’s worth the journey

Here’s what I predict will happen…

You will fall in love again

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Creative Risks: Fine art of risk taking

About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons free email list and have posts sent directly to your inbox


  1. Simon,
    Thank you very much for writing this article. It inspired me , sometimes I just feel like giving up, because of all the walls of rejection that i face.

    • My pleasure Oliver. Very pleased the article helped you. Yes, unfortunately rejection is a part of life. Keep going and follow your true self. There are great rewards for you around the corner. All the best and stay in touch for support. Simon

  2. Thank you for this post! I agree completely with Creativity being about taking risks! It is scary, but very worth it in the end. In my experience painting, my paintings were “ok” while I was playing it safe, but once I started taking risks, it opened up a whole new world for me, and the positive feedback is amazing! It helps to know that other artists go through the same thing!

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts Greta. Yes, risk taking is so very worth it in the end. A little scary at times, but also fun. Love the example about your paintings and I’m so pleased to hear of your positive feedback. This encourages creative people to grow and take bigger and bigger risks as we develop. Very exciting. Thanks

  3. Jude Banks says:

    Simon, saw your link in Twitter and I’m glad I clicked through to read your article.

    Risk taking applies to many areas of life but especially to creative and artistic expression.

    There is a big difference between taking a risk to be different or provocative and
    taking a risk to follow one’s heart and to reveal a “truth”.

    As you say, if one is true to oneself, then the result of the creative effort will be to
    “fall in love again”!

    A good read, thanks.


  4. “You will be guaranteed to meet two teachers along the path. Success and Failure.” Nicely stated. When it comes right down to it, most artists are artists because they want to take the journey down this path. In my experience in the education world, it is either Art or Science who understands this fully.

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