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!

createbetterOne thing that should not be overlooked is the importance of reading and studying in the creative journey. There have been many great books written on the topic over the years. These books will help to inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward on your journey. Some are more artistic, some are about promotion/marketing, some are about moving forward and succeeding. I highly recommend all these books. They are in no particular order.

THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield
The author of The Legend of Bagger Vance among many others presents this amazing book where he primarily deals with what he calls the “resistance,” a fearful mentality that keeps us from creating. If you’ve ever been creatively blocked or struggled with those voices that keep you withholding your gift from the world (and who hasn’t?) this book is for you.
TRIBES by Seth Godin
This little book really deals with finding your audience. There is a great temptation among creatives to create for the masses. Godin asserts that who we are really looking for are the people who are like minded with similar interests, building tribes of followers and leading them. This blog was started after reading this book. It was a major influence on my life.
LINCHPIN by Seth Godin
The only author who made the list twice. In this book Godin describes being an artist in ever aspect of our lives and succeeding by being indispensable. The only book I’ve read more times than this is the Bible. It is a really important book.
PLATFORM by Michael Hyatt
The former president of Thomas Nelson Publishing has written the quintessential book on building a following and getting people interested in what you do. This is an essential skill for anyone who wants to succeed in virtually any creative enterprise.
Perhaps the foremost book on building your creativity, combining exercises and well thought out articles and essays, this book will be a great help in making you the best you can be.
This unique book combines great ideas for building creativity with exercises and unique interactive online content that will help you to actually assess your creative journey.
THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron
This classic book combines the arts and spirituality. It also includes several exercises that really are more like disciplines that will break creative blocks and get those juices flowing
This book, written by one of the founders of Pixar, gives great information about founding a creative organization, using real life examples and stories from Pixar. A fascinating book on a number of levels.
THE IMAGINEERING WORKOUT by the Disney Imagineers
This book is filled with creativity exercises from some of the most creative people on earth, the Disney Imagineers. How could you go wrong? A really great book.
A WHOLE NEW MIND by Daniel Pink
Pink asserts that the future belongs to creatives and I think he’s right. This book is filled with research and statistics along with stories that will encourage you on your creative journey. It’s a really wonderful book.

All of these books should be in the library of anyone interested in creativity an creating a better life. They will inspire and encourage you on your journey. You can learn more about them by clicking on the pictures. If you purchase them there a small percentage of the purchase price will go to supporting Create a Better Life.

createbetterMost people believe that they are NOT creative. Those people are wrong! Here are 50 ways I can prove it.

I’ve traveled all over the United States helping people to embrace their creativity. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this phrase, I would be able to waive my fees. “I’m not creative.” That’s not really what they mean. I use live art (speed and performance painting) in my presentations and I think what they really mean is “I’m not artistic.” (For the record they’re usually wrong about that as well but that is a different story for a different day.) They may not feel that they have artistic ability but that does not mean they are not creative. I believe everyone is creative. Everyone has the ability to create, to alter the course of their lives. To do things that have not been down and try things that have never been tried.

For the moment, just to remove the confusion, let’s remove creativity from the realm of the arts because the truth of the matter is much of creativity has nothing to do with the arts. The old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention” is absolutely true. Most of creativity revolves around solving problems. So let’s examine several examples that should prove my everyone is creative hypothesis:

  1. If you’ve ever run out of money before you ran out of month, you got creative.
  2. If you’ve ever repaired something with duct tape, chewing gum, etc. you got creative.
  3. If you’ve ever made up a child’s bed time story, you got creative.
  4. If you’ve ever gotten pulled over for speeding and concocted a story to get out of the fine. you got creative.
  5. If you ever found yourself detoured on a road trip in the days before GPS and you found your way to your destination, you got creative.
  6. If you’ve ever used any tool for something other than it’s defined purpose, you got creative.
  7. If you’ve ever made up silly lyrics to a song, you got creative.
  8. If you’ve ever found an easier way to complete a task, you got creative.
  9. If you’ve ever doodled in a boring meeting you got creative.
  10. If you’ve ever found a way to save money on something you needed, you got creative.
  11. If you’ve ever lied, you misused your creativity, but you were still creative.
  12. If you’ve ever worried about something that never happened, you once again misused your creativity, but you were still creative.
  13. If you’ve ever written a letter, you got creative.
  14. If you ever rearranged the furniture in your room or house, you got creative.
  15. If you ever arranged flowers or planted a garden, you got creative.
  16. If you’ve ever outwitted someone, chances are you got creative.
  17. If you’ve ever won an argument, chances are you got creative.
  18. If you’ve ever cooked a meal and altered the recipe to make it taste better (even if it didn’t work), you were creative.
  19. If you’ve ever found a way to get someone to do something they didn’t want to do, you probably got creative.
  20. If you’ve ever pretended, you were creative.
  21. If you’ve ever found a way to calm or entertain a baby, chances are, you were creative.
  22. If you’ve ever done something you didn’t know how to do, you were creative.
  23. If you’ve ever repurposed something into something else, you were creative.
  24. If you’ve ever decorated anything, you were creative.
  25. If you’ve ever come up with a sarcastic comment or witty comeback, you were creative.
  26. If you’ve ever described something to someone whose never seen it, you turned pictures into words, a very creative act.
  27. If you’ve ever convinced someone to buy something, you are probably quite creative.
  28. If you’ve ever fashioned a tool or device to make some every day task easier, you got creative.
  29. If you’ve ever built something without relying on instructions, you’re creative.
  30. If you’ve ever calmed someone down or made them feel better, chances are you were creative.
  31. If you’ve ever written a clever social media post, you were creative.
  32. If you’ve ever made a play on words, you were creative.
  33. If you’ve ever brainstormed ideas with other people and you contributed anything to the conversation, you were creative.
  34. If you’ve ever caught yourself humming a song you’ve never heard before, welcome to the ranks of the creative.
  35. If you’ve ever said something profound, in that moment, you were creative.
  36. If you’ve ever helped someone out of a jam, you may have been creative.
  37. If you’ve ever come up with a good explanation of something complicated you’re creative.
  38. If you’ve ever made up a game, you got creative.
  39. If you’ve ever come up with the perfect gift, you got creative.
  40. If you’ve ever accomplished a goal in a new and different way, you got creative.
  41. If you’ve ever thought outside the box, you got creative.
  42. If you’ve ever improved on anything that already existed, you got creative.
  43. If you’ve ever helped someone find hope, you probably got creative.
  44. If you’ve ever tried to see things some someone else’s perspective, it required a certain amount of creativity.
  45. If you’ve ever dared to imagine a better future, and looked for a way to make it so, you were at the very precipice of creativity. (Did you jump?)
  46. If you’ve ever found a way to motivate someone, even yourself, you got creative.
  47. If you’ve ever found a way to remedy a bad situation, You got creative.
  48. If you’ve ever found a better way to do anything, you got creative.
  49. If you’ve ever found a way where there appeared to be no way, chances are you got creative.
  50. If you’ve ever come up with a lengthy list of ideas to prove your point, you got creative.

I hope you get the idea. I’d be willing to bet there is not one person who has not done at least one of those things and therefore, everyone is, or has the potential to be, creative. We need you to be creative now more than ever. Sure we need artists to beautify the world, to entertain and motivate and amuse us, to spur us on to reach for new heights, but we also need more. We need people to create ways to find clean potable water in parts of the world that lack it. We need people to find new cures and new ways to right wrongs. We need people to realize that they have the potential to make a great difference and maybe even change the world.

We need you to grab a hold of the gifts, talents and abilities that you have been given and to use them to help and serve humanity in a multitude of different ways.

We need you to be creative!

createbetterWell we’re ten days from the deadline and there will no doubt be some content to be added, but the most part we are down to the nitty-gritty. These posts are getting assembled into the workbook, the outline for the webinar is being built and the promotional materials are being generated. There is a lot of work to be done by the end of May and of course this is not the only thing I am doing. There are all sorts of things to be done.

As usual a large amount of work to be nailed down in a short period of time can seem a bit daunting. It is crucial that as you approach your deadline that you have a plan for completion. This should list all the items you an think of to complete, perhaps some sort of check list and a realistic idea of how much time these tasks will take. Now of course if you’re anything like the majority of creatives, you always, maybe even severely, underestimate the time these tasks will take. Here are a few things to help you get it done.

1. Remember eating the elephant. I’ve quoted this many times on my blog but it bears repeating. As the old adage goes, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Don’t get frustrated in the massive amount of work you have to be done. Take small meaningful “bites” out of the project as often as you can until it’s done.
2. Remember it’s not all or nothing. We can sometimes get ourselves in a mindset that says we don’t have time. What we really mean is we don’t have massive blocked of time to do uninterrupted work. Consider this, every four 15 minute sessions is an hour. Mine those little productive moments out of your day and you will be surprised at how much you can produce. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have large blocks of time keep you from making the most of what you have.
3. Eliminate distractions. Have you ever wondered how many hours a week you spend checking media, email, playing games, etc. All those things are massive time suckers and simply reducing your involvement can make you much more productive.
4. Get up earlier. Some of the most productive hours of your life are the times when you are all alone and uninterrupted. Taking an hour a day before anyone is up is a great way to get a lot done. If you’re not a morning person, try taking an hour after everyone else turns in. (Though this is not optimal.) One thing before I leave this topic. Do not do both. You need to get your rest or your creativity will suffer.
5. Mark your calendar. Put as many of your remaining steps as you can on it and mark them off as you go. Make the deadline prominently and work toward it.

You can make your deadline. You can ship on time. You can get it done. You just have to be proactive. Start now and keep moving forward.

You’re well on your way to creating a better life.

createbetterWhen I called this Create a Better Life, I deliberately left the title a bit vague After all, what does a better life mean? A mansion and a yacht? A million dollars (or a billion)? The white picket fence? Maybe something more intrinsic. Peace and contentment? Happiness? Better health?Only you can define what a better life means to you. How do you define success?

For me, it’s not wealth so much as freedom. I have something I really, really love do that is not necessarily lucrative, and I would love to find a way to either increase the income and do it for a living or find or create something that allows me to live my bliss without having to be concerned about paying my bills and having the ability to do good for my family and others. I am hoping you notice the determination here. What I want to do is pretty much defined. I’ve found something I love to do and would love to do it more and more. Every time I do what I do, I feel like I was doing what I was born to do. It gives me happiness and satisfaction and I can see that it helps others. Now I just need to find the way to make it more viable.

For me success is defined at least as it pertains to the working portion of my life as the ability to do what I love in a way that allows me to honor my God, my obligations and to be a blessing to other people. As far as finances go, I have a certain amount that I need live on, beyond that, I want to be able to give and bless. I don’t need a mansion, though a cabin in the woods or a little place by the beach would be a nice respite from time to time. Neither of those is a necessity but they would be nice. More important would be to be able to help others. Ultimately, success to me is the freedom to do what I was created to do and to make a difference in this world.

Why did I spend so much time talking about my definition of success? Because here at the outset you need to have your own definition? If you don’t, you’ll find that success is a sliding scale leaving you stuck in the perpetual struggle of constantly wanting more. To me, that phrase “A better life,” describes contentment. What will make you content is your better life. Think about it and define it now.

It’s hard to create a better life if you don’t know what you’re creating.

createbetterThere are a lot of creatives who view deadlines as the enemy of creativity. Those people are wrong. Now please understand, I am a big proponent of the concept that no one works best under pressure and that is merely an excuse for procrastination but there needs to be an end point—a time when the project must be done.

Take this project for example. I set an arbitrary deadline of 48 days at the very beginning. I set this deadline in part because I was influenced by Dan Miller from 48 Days to the Work You Love. Also as providence would have it this sets my deadline at May 30, the end of a month and Sunday the 31 (the 49th day, a full seven weeks) would ordinarily be a day of rest. It worked out beautifully. To be really honest, I have thoroughly enjoyed this project andI am beginning to see a wonderful resource coming out of it. That being said, there were days where I was less than inspired and days where the direction was less than clear. (I’m sure those who’ve followed this from the beginning have picked up on that. If you haven’t followed from the beginning, you can catch up here.) I also have a habit of picking things apart and tweaking them endlessly. This project would probably never see completion were it not for one thing, May 30 is coming. That got me up and pushed e to my keyboard each day. Deadlines can help us to get it done and keep us on task. They really are our friends. Also they help us to avoid waiting for capricious inspiration, and help us to chase it and hunt it down.

Deadlines really are your friend. If you have a project you want to complete, set a deadline and don’t stray from it. If your project is huge, you may even want to set sub deadlines, to help you stay focused on track and on task. Once you have established your deadline, mark it on your calendar ad take steps daily to reach it.

There is also tremendous power in promises. Not wanting to let someone down can be a tremendous incentive to stay on task. It’s a big part of the reason I decided to share this project all the way through the process. If you remember in the very beginning, I promised a daily post and for the most part I have stuck to that. I did this for two very important reasons. First I really did want to share the whole process I felt it would be instructive to see the starts and false started and directional shifts and all those other things that happen in bringing a new project to the world. Secondly though, I did it because envisioning you waiting for the next post has kept me on track. Once again inspiration becomes a factor.

Days one through 20 were a breeze, but here on day 37 it’s a bit harder to come up with topics. I have not exhausted this topic by a long shot. To tell the truth, I already have two more projects in mind when this one completes, but knowing I promised content kept me working to discover those topics and get them posted. There were a couple days in here, where the only reason I put in the effort to post was because I knew someone would be looking for the information. (It’s called accountability, and I thank you for being mine.)

Hopefully by now you are working on your own project. Have you set a deadline? It doesn’t have to be 48 days. A small project might be a 48 hour deadline while a huge one might be a year. The trick is to know the time you have available and to set a date that will push you to stay on task while not making you miss too much of the stuff that makes life better. You also don’t want to make it so stringent that you give up or buckle under the pressure. Who have you promised this project? Is there anyone who could help you to be accountable? Someone who will notice if you start to slack off or give up? Maybe you’ll share your process and progress like I did, or maybe you just need a friend to keep you on task.

Promise yourself a better life and set a date to start living it. The sooner, the better.

createbetterThere can be a real temptation among creatives to take on every project offered. While I certainly endorse stretching yourself creatively and learning new things there is also a lot to be gained by saying no to things. A lot of it comes down to knowing yourself, your abilities, your desires, etc. Say you’re a visual artist. That is a really broad category, but to the average person, if they hear you’re an artist they assume you can do anything from photorealism to abstract art with a great level of proficiency. They’ll ask you to do anything art related and assume you can just pull it off. Maybe you can, but for the majority of us, even in our own fields we have levels of strength and weakness. In the process of trying to build a better life, there is often a need to specialize. After all, if you’re building a brand (and if your brand is nothing more than what you’re known for, which is what it is) the last thing you’ll want to be known for is mediocrity. It is far better to specialize in that which you do best, than to become known as a jack of all trades, master of none. If you’re not sure, it’s probably best to say no. After all there are only so many hours in a day, why would you devote that limited time to something that is bound to be unsatisfactory.

Of course there is another side to this. You may jump out of your field of expertise and knock it out of the part. Your natural ability carries the day and you create a winner. There’s just one problem. You didn’t enjoy it. Maybe you even hated every minute of it. Now all of the sudden, you have this amazing piece of work out there and there are others who want you do more. What are you going to do? Keep on doing work you hate just because people want it and it pays. That is the antithesis of the better life we are trying to create.

So why do we take on projects that we should be saying no to?

1. Money. There is always a real temptation to do something just to pay the bills and I get that. I’ve done it too. Of course in the process I have also robbed myself of the time to do some things that I could do really wonderfully, things where I really could have been successful.

2. Fear. We thing things like “What if this is the best I will ever get?” “What if I’m missing a great opportunity?” “What if I reject this and then I never get to work in my field?” Something related is better than nothing. No, for the most part, something related lets you feel like you’re on the outside looking in, wishing you had the time to do what you really want to do. Any sentence that starts off with the words “what if” is still in the realm of imagination and fear is often imagination misused. Sometimes we all have to do what we have to do, but don’t let fear keep you from being great.

3. External pressures. How many creative people, or just people in general have been told to pick something practical? “You’ll never make a living as an_________.” So instead we lapse into mediocrity rather than being what we were intended to be. Hard work and determination can take a person very far. Sometimes those people who think they’re looking out for us, are really holding us back. For goodness sake, evaluate yourself and look at your options and opportunities but don’t give up because someone sees your dream as impractical.

4. Education. In the U.S. at least, we have an education problem. The problem is in a world increasingly ruled by specialists, we are trying to create a world full of generalists. The problem is no one is good at everything. Think about it. When you were in school, wasn’t more time devoted to your weaknesses, i.e. making you better at the stuff you’re bad at. And what was the cost? Taking time away from developing what you’re already really good at. Why would we do that? Why not expand on a person’s strengths? Now, yes, I realize that there are some basic skills that everyone needs to know, but eventually we ought to be able to see where a person excels and try to push them toward it, toward greatness. After all, when we gain a level of success, we can always hire someone to cover our weaknesses. Success is found in our strengths. Don’t be a generalist. Find something you do very well, find the market for it and work hard to become the best you can be.

Creating a better life, is not always about money, but it is about being the best you can be. A huge part of that is knowing yourself. After all, if you don’t know yourself, how can you even know what a better life is.

createbetterEvery seventh day we take a break. We recharge our creative batteries and we relax. Rest is crucial. Don’t omit it.