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On Terror and Art: I've Been Absolutely Terrified

Wonder and beauty inspire me. They keep me walking in the way of my life, creating art from the soul for the soul.

But, the truth of it is, it is mostly my terror of LIFE + Living In Full Expression that has allowed me to come close enough to touch its true beauty.

On Terror Georgia O'Keeffe Quote Art Inspiration

Today's Artist Inspiration Comes from Georgia O'Keeffe

Here on my blog, I am exploring my own relationship to art and beauty through the lens of inspiring quotes from artists. At the top of the list for me in terms of artist's quotes for me is this one from Georgia O'Keeffe on terror and art:

I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.

I would say it is the terror, and the deep, essential truths that terror masks, that has actually propelled me forward most in my life. I talk about that when introducing the Truth Map in my book All Systems Go. Holy Terror for about 15 years now. I'm so terrified to write and share it that it is very slow going.>


When we get real and face the terror, we discover an essential truth deep within us that was calling to be expressed. The truth beneath the terror is always that you were here to live in full expression, to be authentically, relentlessly, exactly who you are.


This is my wish for all the world today—that all of us might come fully to LIFE + Live In Full Expression.

That's the heart of my message for the world. But as much as I talk about full expression and the joy, beauty, and wonder of life, I, like Georgia, have "been absolutely terrified every moment of my life." I am learning to let the terror lead me back to truth.

Eye of the Storm Dawn Richerson Spirited Life Painting

When the terror rises in waves that threaten to sweep you away, resurface and make your way back to truth and beauty. Walk in the way of your life. Allow what you find along the way to bring you back to life. Just be with it and trust life to lead you on.

This is something I am learning again and again. I'll share a little of that in the upcoming free online journey I'm hosting to explore qualities for thriving together in the years ahead. As usual, I'm terrified, but taking a cue from Georgia I'm not letting it stop me.

Georgia O'Keeffe I've Been Absolutely Terrified


Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you encounter along the way, don't let terror stop you in your tracks. Pick up the brush. Go for a walk. Dare to take a single step.


What is the truth life wants to show me?

Whether it has come through soulful exploration or creative expression, my daring to ask that question has been the source of the books, art, and journeys I share to support your radiant expansion in life and life's work.

Paintings That Were Born from Moments of Sheer Terror

Many of my paintings began at the point of choice one encounters when terror arises and we don't know what to do or where to turn. There is nothing left to say and nowhere to hide. Or so it seems.


Contact me if you see something that speaks to you and your essential story of life. Wrapped canvases are sold unframed. Artworks on paper or other surfaces are typically available framed or unframed, based on your preference.

Collections: Spirited Life, Soul of Place

An Invitation to Life


In your next moment of terror, ask life to show you what truth is there for you. Take time to receive its gift. And walk on!


In that moment when we are terrified, if we choose the path of courage and creativity, something unnamable rises up from within to meet the moment of terror and unmask it. At least that's how I experience it. Sometimes, a touch of the terror or the story of life that includes the presence of something terrifying is evident in the paintings I create. Sometimes not.

But the experience is the same:


I come closer to life and the essential truth that lives in me. I tell my story of life from the perspective in the moment.


It's always changing, of course. And that's part of the wonder of walking in the way of life. You will be terrified. Let the terror lead you back to truth.

Let's keep the conversation going. What's stirring within you? Leave a comment below.

To you and your essential truth,
Dawn Signature