Archive for April, 2016

photo 1-4I challenged myself to create something creative every day this year and April’s collection is now in the books. A Lot of web comics and Power Point slides this month along with a few coloring pages. I also built a couple models this month, which you might not see as art, but I usually have one going in my studio at all times so in the event of creative block, I can jump to that for a while and recharge.

The key is to keep creating.
You can see this month’s art here.

Agree or Disagree:

The Church Should Be the Most Creative Place in any Community.


PRAY FOR THE CHURCHsmIt was the question that stopped me in my tracks. Not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I sort of thought the person asking would think I was making it up as I go. It happened at my interview. I had started as the interim pastor. My intention was to come in, stay a few months and help the church keep going while they found their permanent pastor. Then I would put them in that pastor’s capable hands and back out on the road I would go. My job wasn’t to change things or impose my vision, it was to prepare them to receive the next person’s vision and run with it. But something happened. We both (the congregation and I) began to realize that I was the next person. Frankly I was very happy.

From there the question was how to proceed. The congregation already knew me, so how would the interview process go? How could we get everyone on board? While some would say I was just continuing on, the role had actually changed pretty substantially. All of the sudden my vision mattered. All of the sudden the question became “How would I lead this 150 year old church into the next phase of its life?” We decided to have a night where the congregation could ask me their questions. And that’s when I got the question:

What’s Your Vision for This Church?

My answer was the same as it is on this blog, well, okay not exactly. This space is more arts and creativity focused, but the principle remains the same. My vision is to help other people find and use their talents to live out their vision. I know to some “my vision is to help you live your vision” sounds a lot like a cop out. Here’s why it’s not:

If it’s just my vision, then it’s all my idea, and you will only get as excited about it as I can make you. The idea, the continuing ideas needed to implement it and motivating you to bring the idea to fruition, all of that depends on me. You might be saying, “That’s leadership.” and to a degree you would be right, but I see something better.

If it’s your vision, then it’s your idea. You’re already passionate about it and there is an excitement, maybe even a desperation to bring it to reality. Now I can come along side you and help you and find the people that can help you. I can look at all the gifts of the church and work with you, encourage you and build you up. Imagine a church where people were living their dreams, seeing the great things in their hearts and minds happening. If that’s not a contagious church, I don’t know what is. That’s why it’s a big part of my vision.

About now, some of you are seeing the problem. There is a name, two names actually, missing from this post. I did that intentionally to bring us to this point. Those names, of course, are God and Jesus. If it’s my vision, it all depends on me. That load is too heavy for me to bear alone. If it’s your vision then I can help you bear the load and work with you to make it happen. But what if it’s God’s vision? What if you were seeking God and He laid something on your heart? What if God’s vision becomes your vision? Now all of the sudden the Spirit of God is giving the passion. Now the Spirit of God is your encourager. Now the Spirit of God is your provider and now when you come to the end of yourself and your abilities, you can watch in awe as the Creator of the Universe comes in and does something amazing to bring His vision, the one He laid on your heart, to fruition. Now it doesn’t all depend on me, and it doesn’t all depend on you and me. Now it all depends on the One on whom it ACTUALLY all depends, God.

Now imagine that that was happening in the lives of believer after believer after believer. As people are coming together to live out God sized dreams in the church, the neighborhood, the nation, maybe even the world. Can you imagine what a church like that could do? Neither can I but I love to try.

That’s my vision for the church. What’s your vision?

I am taking a class with ArtFruition and there was an art education component to this week’s lesson. We were supposed to weigh in on art education and these are my thoughts on the topic. They’re a little scattered but it was sort of a freeform exchange. What are your thoughts?

I think the big thing for me is, as a traveling art minister, how many people will come up to me after a presentation and say “I can’t even draw a stick figure, or a straight line.” In truth, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to me, I probably could do what I do for free. I know they’re trying to compliment me, but I have to be honest, when I hear it, I wonder who criticized them and made them want to quit. I think this, because Picasso was right,” All children are artists, the problem is to remain one as one grows up. Unfortunately a lot of this blame falls to grading art and to a mentality that are is something to be outgrown. The horror stories you shared (stories of professors tearing up, bring and literally trashing student workP are more common than we’d think and I’d like to go and punch those people in the throat, in love, of course. Yes I am being facetious, I’m not a violent man, but I know the good making art can do in a person’s life and it breaks my heart to see so many people deprived of this outlet.

I think grading art is absurd. As long as Picasso and Pollack and Rembrandt can hang in the same museum, no one really has any business placing a value on it. I spent the last 16 years working for a music education organization and one thing I found maddening. These folks were constantly being challenged to show how their classes made people better mathematicians, etc. as if art only has value if it makes you good at something else. ARRGH! Why not give people the tools to create their very best work and get out of their way. Instead we tell some (most) people they’re not good enough and all of the sudden the arts become the realm of an anointed few who are deemed talented and the rest are forced into other things. I’m not saying everyone has what it takes to be professional, but everyone should have the means to express what is happening in their souls and if more people would have the opportunity to express these things, I think we would live in a happier, more joyful world.

Good teachers have the ability to do tremendous good. I remember one time when I was in third grade. I hated school in general, not because I was a bad student but because I was a human target, but on this particular day, my art teacher had given an assignment of a cut paper piece for thanksgiving. We were to make profile images of pilgrims and native Americans. I just gave it my best. At the end of the class the teacher, (Mrs. Kreitler) held up my piece as an example for the class. I am a 52 year old grandfather and I still vividly remember the assignment and he feeling. Someone was affirming me. I think that was probably what cemented in me that I wanted to be an artist.

I made this a little while back to remind my congregation of what’s really important this election year. It’s a tongue in cheek approach to a serious topic. For the record, I omitted Kasich because there was talk that he was going to drop out before the PA Primary and these things take a while to do. He’s not my candidate either.

This is a way to use humor to communicate. How can you use your gift to share a message?

ingodwetrustArtists and ministers have a similar problem. To a lot of people’s minds, money (you know, getting paid) cheapens the process. I’ve chosen (and been called) to be both and if you’re reading this, likely so have you. One of the comments that seems to resonate is “He or she is only in it for the money.” So let’s start off with a truth. NO ONE goes into art or ministry for the money. It simply isn’t done, and if it is, the person has not been paying attention. Art and ministry are things you do because they are a part of who you are and who you are called and gifted to be.

For example, while most people are immensely generous with my ministry, I am also amazed how many people ask me if there is a fee, as if I can afford to travel hundreds of miles and use hundreds of dollars worth of materials for free. I’m an artist and a minister, remember. And yes, I know “my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills” and He loves a cheerful giver, and without wanting to sound boastful, I give a lot of stuff away, but that’s not the point I am trying to make.

I used to fear people saying I am in it for the money. I don’t anymore and you probably shouldn’t either. I know my heart and my motivation. I know that the people who might want to pass that judgement, don’t do everything they do for free. I know what the things I use cost and I know the voice of my Master. When an opportunity comes and I feel His leading, I will do it for free and trust that He will provide, but for the most part, the people who choose to bring me in and pay are a part of the way He provides. You can’t feel bad about charging something for your work. No one else does. What you do has value. If you don’t see the value in your work, no one else will.

About now some people will be saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.” To you I say “Don’t muzzle the ox” and “A workman is worthy of his hire.” It’s this simple, if you’re an artist and/or a minister, and you’re in it for the money, you haven’t done your homework. Please do something else. On the other hand, if you’re an artist and/or a minister and you’re trying to use your gifts to serve the Lord, what people pay you may well be the way God provides for you to do more. Receive it with joy, share it and tithe on it.

You’re not in it for the money. If you were, you’d likely be doing something else.

In case you’re not aware, we creatives have a bad reputation and to some extent we deserve it. One of the reasons other people love to have us around is we have a seemingly non-stop supply of ideas. One of the reason Some people hate having is around is because we have a seemingly non-stop supply of ideas. The difference between the two depends on how well we play with others.

Let me explain. If you have a creative idea and you can pull it off all by yourself, and if you have the authority to make al the decisions, great. Go for it and give it all you’ve got. Of course that situation is about as rare as a pink unicorn. For the rest of us, we need to get the buy it if not the help of others. In order for that to happen. It’s not enough to have a great idea, you have to be able to help others see it, support it and maybe even help you to execute it. If we don’t do this, the complaints will start. You know the ones, we’re flighty, unpredictable, undependable, not team players, etc.

So how do you overcome this?
1. Communicate. Share the idea. Don’t assume others are stupid if they don’t get it. In the early stages of your idea, it’s your imaginary friend. You’re the only one who can see it, the only one who gets it, and communicating it is entirely on you. You need to share a compelling vision, help your team to see it and get the buy in. The more you can help them to see, the less suspicion you will generate and the more support you’ll get.

2. Give them a picture. A picture really is worth a thousand words, at least. The easier it is to see what’s on your mind the more they will be able to help you.

3. Respect input. If you an only see one way of doing something, the best thing you can do is do it yourself. If you’re going to work with a team, remember you probably selected these people because you think they have something to offer so listen to them.

4. Be open. If your project is ultimately about getting something done, and you need to work with a team, realize you are not the only one with an idea and someone else’s idea might be better than yours. If you’re going to work together, embrace that this means actually working together and benefit from the ideas and experience of others.

5. Sometimes you have to teach. Let’s say you’re in charge. Your idea has been approved by the powers that be and it’s all on you. None of those things mean the other people, people you depend on to get the job done, have a clue how to do it. You need to show them the way, teach them what to do and monitor the progress. Oh you an be a tyrant and belittle people into compliance if you want to, but we’ve all worked with that guy and it does nothing but solidify the reputation of another impossible creative. Don’t be that guy.

Bottom line. Ideas are useless if we cannot bring them to fruition and share them with the world. That usually requires the input of others and that requires us to be able to communicate what only we can see.

I saw this meme and I agree.
people pleasing
Perfectionism will kill you. Just start making stuff, give it your best and ship it.
Get creative! Don’t wait! Do it now!

daveanddawnToday will be short and very personal. Today is a great day. My anniversary with one of God’s greatest blessings to me. The mother of my children, the wife of my youth, my best friend. She is the one who introduced me to Jesus, so if you have been blessed by anything I have ever done here, she deserves most of the credit. When I think of her, this passage from Proverbs 31 comes to mind.

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

Thank you Lord for all you’ve done for me in giving me Dawn and Dawn, Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I love you!

I was listening to this song the other day. Styx was among my first favorite bands. This piece was from the later part of their career (which is still going). As I listened to it, I realize it’s a prayer. I don’t know if they saw it that way, but it is. Admittedly it’s a prayer from someone who is struggling with faith, and uncertain, but I’m also honest enough to admit, I’ve been there. And I will also admit as I do more and more leadership, I become increasingly aware of how many parts of my own prayers, start out with “Show me the way…”

The song brought me to a couple of questions.
How many people do I know who are feeling this way? They want to believe but they’re not quite there. How can you show them the way? How could you point the to the one who said I am the Way? and finally, if you would be as vulnerable in your art as Styx was, who would be helped and blessed and would God be glorified?

Something that has been increasingly on my heart is sometimes I think we in the church are a little too concerned with showing people how strong we are, when maybe we need to show them the one who holds us in our weakness.

Maybe we all need to ask God to show us the way.