promophotoIt’s not JUST about the art… 

AMOKArts is about PASSION
It’s about a passion to know Jesus and make Him known.

AMOKArts is about VISION
It’s about helping people to find God’s plan and purpose for their lives, to find and use their gifts to glorify God, serve others and make the world a better place.

AMOKArts is about MISSION
It’s about helping churches to empower their people to be all God intended them to be so the church can fulfill the mission God has given them.

I want to help people and churches to have a passion for Jesus, live their vision and accomplish their mission. Art is the tool, but it’s all about Jesus. I’d love to come to your church, participate in your program, paint and call and help people find and use their gifts to serve the Lord. Contact me today!

The Blog starts below!

vangoghs-heartOn Saturday, I did a paint party for 13 women in a church not too far from mine. I have a usual list of the pieces I teach, but the person bringing me in was wondering if she could “order off menu” so to speak. She was wondering if I might be able to do something with a heart. I thought how hard could it be to do a painting with a heart? Well it took five paintings to get one I really liked. I finished it a few hours before the party. Yes I was cutting it close. I call it The Heart of Van Gogh. I was a little nervous about this party. Usually I know these painting like the back of my hand before I present them. Add to that the fact that I had come down with a pretty bad cold the day before and was feeling awful. This had all the makings of a very bad day. It wasn’t.

My wife Dawn prayed for me before I went to the party and by the time I got there I was feeling okay. As the party proceeded, I felt even better. When we started the party, the ladies were wonderful, kind and receptive. I was starting to have fun with them. Then as I was mingling through the room I heard one of the women say, “This is the best thing we’ve ever done.” I’m sure it was a little exaggerated, but it blessed my heart just the same. I don’t say this to boast, or to book more painting parties (though if you want one, contact me). No, I say this to remind us all of something very important. We will not always have an easy time or perfect conditions. Sometimes the idea takes too long to come, sometimes you get sick. A world full of things can happen, but one thing I know.

God is faithful.

Let me start here. I love the Bible. I have read it through like a novel (cover to cover) several times and have also done a few Bible reading plans. This should come as no surprise to people who know me because I am a minister. That being said, I also know that for many people, reading the Bible is a daunting task. Let’s start with the obvious. It’s a huge book. It’s a collection of books written over a long period of time, the books are not chronological and there are a few points where novice readers get stuck, such as Leviticus, the instructions on the Tabernacle. etc. This often causes them to give up.

Enter The Story. The folks who compiled it did a masterful job of making this sort of Scripture collage urning the Bible into one unified story. Composed of actual verses from the NIV Bible with the occasional narration (Set in a different font to avoid confusion) to move the story along, this book would give a novice reader a really nice handle on “the greatest story ever told” and as such I highly recommend it. There are also study questions for each chapter to take the reader even deeper.

Now just to be clear this is not a Bible not should it replace reading the actual Bible, but if you’ve ever been stuck trying to read through the Scriptures or if you’re confused about how and when things happened, this book is for you. Also if you have someone in your life who is curious about Christ, faith and the Bible, this would be a nice way to introduce them to the Lord. I thoroughly reading this in my devotions for the last month or so. I highly recommend this.

There are times when this question is asked in anguish. This isn’t one of those times. This time it just comes out of a mild frustration. Yesterday I shared about the struggles with creating a painting for the context of a paint party. I shared this to deal with the importance of the context of our creativity, i.e. why are we creating and for whom? But there’s something else that really gets my goat and makes me ask, “Why, God, Why?”

Here it is. The painting that became the black canvas was beautiful in my mind. It would have been one anyone, at least anyone who likes that genre of art, would have loved to hang on their walls. I could see it clearly, the issue was, I could not make my hands create it. Somewhere in the 40 inches between my brain and my right hand (approximately) something got lost in the translation. It’s the great frustration for me in art. I can’t always seem to make something look as beautiful as it is in my head. “Why, God, Why?”

There’s only one conclusion that I can come to and I share this to hopefully alleviate your frustration. Here it is, are you ready? Nobody’s perfect. We’re not yet perfect. We will be in heaven, but we;re not in heaven yet. Here on earth, things get lost in translation, but maybe that’s okay. The fact that I can’t always capture what I see in my mind will name one of a couple things happen:

First it might make me give up on the piece. I’m not a fan of giving up, but let’s face facts. We creatives get a lot of ideas, but they’re not all good ones. Sometimes a failure is a way of showing us it’s time to let it go in for of an idea that will be more successful and work better. Don’t let a failure make you give up all creating, but sometimes it’s okay “paint the canvas black” and start over.

Look for the lesson. In this case, a failed painting inspired not one, but two blog posts that will go out to a world wide audience and hopefully help a few people to realize they’re not the only one who has these struggles.

It might make you press on. Sometimes the idea is really inspired and the frustration of not being able to actually make it happen forces us to try harder–to practice more—to develop out gifts until we can make what we see in our heads into reality.

The point once again is that failure is not fatal. We can always learn from our mistakes and move forward. The answer to the question, “Why, God, Why?” is not always apparent, but, especially in the case of our creative endeavors, there is a reason and it is a good reason because God is always good. In the case of my failed painting, I wasn’t that attached to the idea so when it crashed and burned, I was more than willing to let it go. It’s not a paint party idea, at least for now. I may try to render it as a drawing, or a piece of digital art, maybe even a coloring page where it can be more successful, but for the moment, I’ll doodle a little sketch to come back to it later and I’ll move on to what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next, I’d imagine my paint is dry enough to finish the piece and see if this one makes it or if I’m back to the drawing board. Creating is not always easy, but God is always good. Remember that and create something great today.

It took me about an hour. It didn’t start as a black canvas. No, it was supposed to be a new paint party painting. You see I’m doing a painting party on Saturday night for a nice church in my area. I have a few standard paintings that I do in paint parties. They are paintings I know I can paint and teach in the allotted time. They are easy enough that most people can pull them off and have something they are proud of, or at least happy with, when they’re done. This time however the person bringing me in wanted a different design.

Before I go any further, this is not a complaint about the client. What she wanted seemed easy enough. She even sent me a couple of pictures from Pinterest to inspire me. These spawned some pretty unique ideas in my mind. They were quite different from what she showed me but I was confident she would like it, and I set about to make what I was seeing in my head into a reality. I couldn’t do it. About a half hour into the process, I began to see that what I was doing was far too complicated to teach and quite frankly it was kind of ugly. I kept going. Paintings, like most people, go through an awkward stage at different points in their development. I thought maybe this one was salvageable. But around the hour mark, I started to realize it was going nowhere.

First of all for me to teach a painting in a two hour session, I have to be able to paint it myself in 45 minutes to an hour. I’m a confident, experienced artist and most of the people in the pant parties are not. I charge in, they’re usually tentative. A painting that wasn’t finished at about the hour mark is probably not going to fly. A painting that is still “awkward” at that point in time will not be fun for anyone else. So I did what I always do when a painting is dying on the easel. I smooth it off and paint it black. It’ll end up being used for a live painting at my church at some point in the future. (Canvasses are too expensive to waste.)

Why do I share this? The context you’re working in matters. Had I had hours and days to work on that painting to hang on someone’s wall, I’m confident I could have made it a gorgeous piece that someone would have loved. The thing is, I’m not making a masterpiece here. I am making a piece I can teach to a group of people in two hours or less and it wasn’t working. It would do me no good to try to tweak it to make it “pretty.” I had to do something that was a little more accessible. My goal in these paint parties is to help people to have a good time and relax–to remove the fear a lot of people have about making art, in hopes that they will enjoy the process.. Further, I hope that some will discover a love for painting and develop their own gifts. For that reason, I went back to the Pinterest examples to inspire a different take and tried again. As I write this, I am waiting for the paint to dry on that piece so I can do the final details. I’m not sure I am happy with this one either, but I think when the details are done, I’ll be happy. Otherwise it’ll become another black canvas. I hope not.

When you’re creating, the context for which you are creating is huge. Keep that in mind as you work. Time is precious and sometimes black canvasses take a long time to paint.

wpihatYesterday was a great day. About a month ago, my dad came to me saying about how he can’t find anything with the logo of the school he graduated from. My dad earned his living my entire life as a machinist toolmaker. He got his training from a school which was absorbed by Penn State a few months after he graduated (1960) and at that point it more or less ceased to exist. He’s actually a Penn State graduate but he really wished he could have something from the school he actually attended. Well I decided to try to see what I could do. I found a very pixelated copy of the logo online, took it into Photoshop and reproduced it, then through the magic of, I made it into a hat and a t-shirt. It came out great, I gave it to him yesterday. He said there was probably not another one of these in the world, and I said I guarantee it. He was thrilled, so thrilled, he called me again last night, just to thank me. It was kind of a great moment.

Why do I share this? Because our creative gifts allow us unique opportunities to bless other people. We can generate things that other people may not be able to create. This gives us tremendous power to do good. Sometimes we just need to be paying attention and looking for those opportunities. Who can you bless? Maybe you can do a portrait for a loved one or just a special, well thought out card, for someone whose day needs to be brightened.
There are few things that feel as good as being a blessing. I think that’s why we’re blessed.

What can you do to be a blessing?


The first thing I would like to say is that inspiration is all around us. It can be found anywhere, and yes we do usually need to seek it out. The slightest things can trigger our imagination, but most often we need to be looking for it. I think that’s why the first thing I need to say is keep your eyes open. Always be looking for inspiration because it often comes when we least expect it. Here are a couple places I would suggest:

Prayer and God’s Word
This is a Christian blog so it should go without saying that the best inspiration is divine inspiration. The stuff that God breathes into us (the literal definition of inspiration) will always produce the best fruit. I have found that while He does of course speak to us in prayer, I have often found myself asking “Is that God or just my idea?” For this reason, I always want to include the Word in this conversation. God speaks directly through His Word so regular reading of God’s Word is one of the most direct ways to find inspiration.

I love to get out into nature and look to the work of the ultimate creator as a way of receiving inspiration. The stuff God created is the best stuff, and while we may or may not directly copy it, Nature can serve as a great trigger to the creative process.

One of the big struggles for us as creative is the fact that it seems virtually impossible to be alone with our thoughts. Sometimes we need to pull ourselves away from the noise in order to receive our inspiration. Sometimes shutting out the noise will open the doors to the creative process.

Look for Trouble
Much of creativity is solving problems, so sometimes when we need inspiration, a great thing to do is look for something that needs solving, then seek out ways to solve it. It helps to treat this as a brainstorming session where there are no bad ideas, otherwise it is really easy to get caught up in limiting thoughts that will keep you from starting toward the goal. If the limiting thoughts occur, put solving the whole problem out of your mind and look for one star you can make today toward solving the problem, then do that and repeat for as long as you can.

No person is an island. Sometimes you need help. Surround yourself with people who can do what you cannot and work together to find your inspiration. Collaboration tends to take what you can’t do off the table and allows you to imagine new possibilities.

Look at What Others Have Done
I’m not telling you to plagiarize but the works of others can be very inspirational. Look at the work of a great master in your field (or an unrelated field) if that’s what you need. What does it make you want to do? Before long, you’ll begin to feel inspired. Then just run with it.

I also get inspiration from reading books, watching movies, plays, etc. Sometimes just seeing something great makes me want to do something great.

These are just a few. What inspires you?