A Letter from a Fledgling Artist {on art & vulnerability}

This little acorn makes me quiver.

I can speak in front of an audience, write my soul bare, or host intimate gatherings of friends and strangers. True, my heart may beat a bit faster as I take the microphone or crack wide the front door, but always experience and hope remind me that I can.

It is these small paintings – the offering of my art, that leave me feeling exposed, a bit vulnerable.

If you scan through thumbnails on my Etsy shop, you may see a nest, a bird. And you may think they’re lovely, or you may find them trite (“Put a bird on it!”): this is the way art works. But I see two year’s worth of tension bleeding onto cold-press paper: the deep ache for true home, for Eden and eternity, all juxtaposed to my transition back home, to the town whose dust I’d shaken from my feet. It’s back here that I’m fumbling to relearn this thing of home, belonging. And these words, dwell and abide, have hung in this house two years, more. They’ve become an anthem, calling me back to the center, to life in the vine.

You may see an acorn, and the words Be Small, but I see a heart-cry for meekness in the midst of all my striving and ugly arrogance. I see a three year old, happy to believe she is loved and valued in all her smallness. She doesn’t give it an ounce of thought, but, oh, she lives like she’s loved. I see the way she marvels at the moon like it’s a brand-spanking-new. I see the way her heart quiets right down when I hold her close and sing my off-key lullabies. So I capture my soul’s longing for that kind of pure, meek living in the shape of an acorn. And I am comforted.

And I confess, the meaning dies a bit when I let the image loose. It becomes less mine as your story intersects with it. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground — perhaps all art is acorn, seed. I am learning there is a resurrection of sorts when your story informs the art, too.

I have filled my home with little works of art, but sharing them here is still awkward. Pointing you towards my Etsy shop feels more like a Tupperware party than the artisan life.  I feel the paradox of making art for an audience of One and then sharing it for anyone and their brother. I am pressing in to that awkward place like an adolescent artist. I read and re-read Makoto Fujimara’s Letter to a Young Artist, and remember that love drives out fear.

I recite Madeleine L’Engle’s words: “The journey homewards. Coming home. That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. […] -the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.

So I sing the anthem of abiding the best I know how: in little sketches and hand-lettered words: Welcome home.

I print the acorns I painted to turn my feet towards home, hope you’ll walk alongside, share your story on the way.

stay connected


  1. I’m grateful for your courage to be vulnerable…because it is pointing me back Home:)

  2. I loved the little acorn in my Allume bag. I love it even more now reading your story and I now understand why it was in there. It was one of the themes God was speaking to me at the conference: Home. I have been writing about home as I have been moving into the home we just purchased (although I have been living at home in real life the last couple of weeks and not really posting as we get settled). I am planning to pick up the theme again in the next few weeks and I think I will just have to share your story about home by linking over. Blessings 🙂

  3. Oh Annie. I don’t know what to say except this post breathes grace and beauty. I love the way you’re finding your way, through art, and words, and your brave stepping out is a lovely, lovely thing to behold. Ever grateful to be a part of your life. Love to you, my friend. Just abide.

  4. Annie, it is beautiful to me how such a variety of art forms give us insight into our deepest joy, pain, fear, and sense of self. Your writing and artwork are exquisite. Thank you for sharing. Jana

  5. I love you.
    I love the way you love
    The way you learn.
    The way you invite us all in the process.

    So thankful that you are my friend!

  6. This is beautiful. I feel that same vulnerability. You have expressed it wonderfully. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Oh, how I love this.

  8. Judith Hall

    I’m so happy that Ann acquainted us today. Your work speaks volumes in its simplicity and vulnerability. I plan to own a piece very soon, your creations are so calming and beautiful. I subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to new bits of inspiration from you. I also visited you Etsy shop and found it to be so much fun, yet having the same peaceful inspiration of your blog. It has been a good day.

  9. This post makes me think of the phrase: Be You, Bravely!
    I love your artwork- it speaks right to me!
    Be encouraged and keep doing what you love best!

  10. janel

    Annie, I am going back and reading some of your posts and looking at some of your ‘in process items (I have to admit that the glorious hair on that angel was one of the things that drew me into.the painting).
    Thank you for sharing some things that are still so soft and tender in your heart. I am a lover of beauty but really had never thought of the heart ache in creating for an audience of One and then feeling a call to put it forth into the world. I imagine in some sense its like releasing a child into maturity and covering their lives in prayer. Thank you for dreaming, for painting and for sharing.

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