Being Authentic, an Exploratory Journey

The end of year essay and I realise I haven’t written an essay since 1967!  Time to research how it is done.

2000 words by the end of May.

I started with degree planning, structuring and writing skills.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Then the expectations of a Masters essay.

Which pointed me to this excellent resource.

Home Page

This is all starting to feel quite scary, not the essay writing as such, but the scope of the reading round the subject.  2000 words is not arduous and could probably we physically written in a day or so.  What is coming through is that it would be easy to over research, go off at tangents, become subsumed in the essay, at the expense of producing art, which is after all the reason for the course.  I accept that everything I learn is feeding into my ultimate work, but it is so easy to get lost in the research, particularly as I am so enjoying the learnings.

In accordance with DMU’s guide, time to create some structure and assimilate What I know, What I don’t know and my initial response to what my Summary might be.

Initial Research

I started by googling ‘Being Authentic’.  This led to a number of articles:

Becoming More Authentic by James Park, which opened the door to a number of Existential and Absurd philosophers and the derivation of their views.

Brene Brown TED talk on Youtube – the Power of vulnerability.

On Being Authentic by Charles Guignon

Thinking in Action, Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel

The 5 characteristics of authentic people.

Psychologist Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis, the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in ones daily enterprise.

Corporate trainer Mike Robbins – it allows us to connect deeply with others because it requires us to be transparent and vulnerable.  It liberates us from always trying to be perfect.

Self awareness is the cornerstone.

Creating an authentic Life – Polly Campbell

  • Be clear about what I care about
  • Be open, keep an open mind
  • Be introspective, share. It’s ok to feel scared and vulnerable.
  • Note when inauthentic. Explore fears and beliefs when insincere.
  • Trust intuition. Notice physical sensations when not genuine

Dr Thomas Oden Drew university – ‘anxiety and guilt prevent us living in the present.  Guilt is usually to do with the past, anxiety, the future.  Mastery of the present reduces guilt and anxiety.  Simply be yourself.  Be non judgmental.  Genuinely appreciate yourself.  Be in touch.  Be self-confident, secure.  Speak at a normal pace.  Don’t be defensive.  Talk positively and kindly about yourself.  Be benevolent about myself and others.

Reflection on initial search

By this time I had a reasonably clear definition from a broad spectrum of opinion and some insight into the origins of the phrase.

I needed to look deeper into a more academic perspective, so using Google Scholar I searched for ‘Authentic’ , ‘Creative’ and found Marina Claessen’s Mindfulness and Existential Therapy.

The Sensory Intention – Art, Motif and Motivation: A Comparative Approach – Yves Millet

Symbolist – Oxford University Press

Other sources

Notes of a Painter (1908) – Henri Matisse

The Spiritual in Art – Wassily Kandinsky

Drawing and Painting People a Fresh Approach – Emily Ball

Art & Instinct – Roy Oxlade

You tube videos of Rose Wylie and Gary Goodman.

Supporting information from the internet.

Reflections on constructing the essay

A daunting task.  The work is disjointed with constant interruptions for citations and footnotes.  I decided to write each page as a separate file so that I could control the word count.  It has taken 3 days to produce the first draft of 2077 words.

Doubt and self doubt is a constant problem.  Am I on the right track?  Is the subject matter appropriate?   Have I proved my questions?  Answered appropriately?  Should I be referencing history?  If I don’t it won’t really make sense.  Who knows?  I need to reread afresh tomorrow.  To map against Angela’s comments and any other supportive material I can.

Reflecting on the Outcome

After 10 days and 5 drafts I have finally arrived at a honed essay.  Have I achieved what I set out to?  Yes, I feel I presented a well constructed argument, reflecting a broad breadth of research and some answers to the question posed.  I this what was expected?  Not sure.  Hopefully there will be an opportunity to discuss with a tutor at some point.  An interesting exercise in academic writing.


Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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