Archive for October, 2018

Yesterday, I posted about my dream to write a novel/screenplay. I’ve had this dream as long as I can remember, all the way back to when I was a small child, making up little shows for my sister and my cousins. That dream went away for a long time. It was beaten down by a whole lot of voices, internal and external, that basically all asked the same question. “Who are you to think you an do that?”

What qualifies me to do such a lofty project? Nothing really. I’ve never written fiction to speak of, though I do love to write and tell stories, sort of modern day parables, if you will. I went to a writer’s workshop two years ago with actor, comedian, screenwriter Torry Martin, and it sort of re-lit the spark. Am I qualified to do this? On paper no, but I’ve learned not to get too caught up in earthly qualifications and as a Christian creative, I don’t think you can either. Remember, as the old saying goes, “professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.”

Am I belittling education and experience? No. We all owe it to ourselves to work hard at the things God has given us to do. What I am saying is if the Lord is leading you to do something, don’t disqualify yourself as inexperienced. Start doing the work. Make the effort. Show up every day, roll up your sleeves and give it your best. From there it’s in God’s hands.

As I look back over this career of mine, I think of all the cool things I have gotten to do. From writing for a youth ministry resource, to meeting some of my favorite performers, to my work for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Turtles, to the books that I’ve written, to the opportunities I have had to speak to thousands of people all over this country, they all have one thing in common. I facetiously say “Great things have happened in my life over and over again because I was “too stupid to know I wasn’t qualified.” Now to be clear, I don’t think I’m too stupid to do most things. Rather, I’ve made a conscious decision when I feel led to do something, to assume that I can do what God calls me to do. I start putting forth the effort and I do the work. That’s not to say everything I do is a raging success, but everything has at the very least brought personal growth and experience and so it was worth the experience. I learned this when I wrote my first book. I shopped it around for a publisher, and was rejected over and over again. Finally I was approached by an e-publisher who told me after reading my manuscript, she reconciled a broken relationship. It was at that point, I made a decision, if even one person is touched and/or blessed, the effort was worth my time, because I was doing something I loved and something I feel God led me to. That attitude has led me to some really great places.

God is good, trust Him to know whether or not you’re qualified and do the work.

After such a busy time, you might wonder “What’s next?” Well Thursday is November 1, and my hope is to begin the next challenge NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. My dream for a long time has been to write a novel or a screenplay that can be made into a movie. At this point I am going to try to do the challenge and see if it can help me to “eat this elephant” of a project one bite at a time. However, I’m also realistic enough to know that my life is very busy. I will be preaching a brand new series at a church in West Virginia the first week of the month, and I also have a lot of work at church this time of year. My relationship with God is priority one, family is a close second and just behind that is my ministry. My goals and dreams come somewhere behind that. So if I can be faithful to all three of my top priorities, I will finish my novel in the time frame allotted. If I can’t, the side projects have to be the first thing to go.

Goals and dreams are a wonderful thing, but we need to keep them fluid enough to make sure the priorities remain the priorities. As Christian creatives, God has got to be “running the show.” If He makes the opportunities for me to finish my goals, I will finish them. If He decides to fill my life with other, more important things, I have to trust that He will allow me to get everything done in it’s time. His primary demand on my life is faithfulness. That’s what He looks for in all of us. This means I need to make efficient use of the time allotted to me. I need to eliminate the “time vampires” that suck up the time I could be using to accomplish what God has given. I also need to be certain to take care of myself by doing things like exercise, resting and devotions.

James reminds us that: “13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Set your goals, but let God move them as He sees fit. Faithfulness is priority one.

Well I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, but here’s what’s been happening. I have finished inktober and am now working on a video containing all the pieces I did for this month long challenge.

Here’s my favorite piece of the month, representing the word “JOLT”

I have the honor of designing a bunch of images for the flower show of our local retirement community. It’s a huge production, with lots of really cool art and the theme this year has to do with superheroes. Here are a few of the pieces I designed.

and finally I am designing stage sets and other graphics for a production of the musical Elf Jr. which my son Chris is directing. Here’s a sample graphic.

I’m also finishing up a series of new presentations for my series, …Like Jesus, which will be making it’s debut Sunday, and I’ll be finishing out the week doing a live painting for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center banquet, Lord willing.

I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. There’s one thing I want to say about all this. All glory for everything goes to God. He gave me the ability to do what I do and He provides the opportunities. Beyond His work in my life there is nothing special about me. You need to ignore the internal voices that tell you you’re not enough, put yourself out there, make yourself available, submit your work and your life to the Lord and ask Him to work through you. Then do one more thing…

Prepare to be amazed.

I’ve been having a great time with this little exercise in creativity, and it’s been really fun to see what the rest of the Inktober community has been doing. If you’re new to my page, I joined a challenge for artists to make a daily creation based on a preset list of themes. I decided to work in something I call radical symmetry and in the style of some of my first artistic influences, the car artists of the 60s and 70s. As such these are a little edgier than my usual stuff, and they’re not faith based for the most part, (though I am going to share faith through them at the end, stay tuned) but it has been a lot of fun.

Day 17: Swollen
Day 18: Bottle Day 19:Scorched Day 20:Breakable
Day 21:drain Day 22: Expensive Day 23: Muddy

i’m thinking of creating an advent challenge on social media. Anyone want to join in? Stay Tuned.

A dear friend of mine, refers to a national chain restaurant as “reheat and eat.” The idea being all their “cuisine” is frozen, shipped in, reheated and served. I don’t know if thats really the case, but if it is, that’s what TV dinners are for. When we go to a restaurant, we want more.

Well looking at TV, I’m seeing a lot of reheating. Rather than coming up with new concepts, the networks seem to be taking a lot of the franchises of my teenage and young adult years and bringing them back. Now I will admit, I like a few of them. I really enjoy the new Hawaii Five-O from a few years back and I can’t say any of the “reheats” I’ve taken the time to watch are awful. I just wonder where the new ideas are. Have we really run out of creativity.

Now I am fully aware that making TV is insanely expensive and these reheats already have proof of concept. They’re a little bit more of a sure bet, but still… Artists need to innovate. Where are the fresh concepts, the new ideas? I mean I know Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, and I know to some degree he was right, but we need some more people out there pushing the envelope.

This might be a great time for you, my dear creative. Make something new. Put it out there and see who bites, and if nobody bites, make it yourself. Pray and create. In a world of reheats, maybe it’s time for your creation to stand out. You’ll never know unless you do the work. Heat up something new!

Okay, to start off, this post has little to do with the plot line of last night’s “premiere” of the Roseanne spinoff, The Connors. You’ll recall that last year’s reboot of Roseanne was seemingly heading for good things ratings wise, before Roseanne Barr made some racist comments, landing the show on the ABC scrap heap, and for good reason. It looked like it was over, but almost immediately, there were rumblings of another series, Roseanne without Roseanne. It aired last night and this writer was not overly impressed.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some good acting. There was. John Goodman has always been a good actor and he played the grieving husband very well. Laurie Metcalfe’s scene of grief at the end of the show was also a solid performance. The problem was the writing, but the writers aren’t entirely to blame either. How do you restart an iconic show without it’s title character? Well I think their solution very quickly became the problem. They made Roseanne a victim of the opioid epidemic. I get that. It’s a hot button issue and it’s on a lot of people’s minds, and this is a show that has never shied away from hard topics. The problem is how do you make it funny, because this show is known as a comedy, and comedies have to, by definition, be funny, especially in a premiere. That’s where they got into trouble. Most of the jokes, and all the jokes surrounding Roseanne’s death by opioids, were in horrendously, horrible taste. There is simply no way to make that funny and I think that’s the ultimate issue. Sometimes we artists have to admit defeat and let our creations die with dignity (or whatever you can call what happened to Roseanne). There was simply no way to replace Roseanne, and there was no way to make her disappear.

To my mind there were only two possibilities for this show to work. Rehabilitate Roseanne (the person), or let this thing die. In our current climate, the first was pretty much impossible, though I’d like to hope repentance is still a viable alternative. Otherwise we’re all doomed. At the end of the day, in my opinion, this experiment failed. Some things are just not going to work.

As creatives, sometimes we need to look at our wounded creations and make a hard decision. Is it worth the effort to resuscitate this thing, or would our efforts be better spent on creating something new? I usually lean toward something new.

Inktober So Far

Posted: October 16, 2018 in Art Technique

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I am participating in an online art challenge called Inktober. Well a few days in, I noticed that some of the other artists were listing themes. I found the theme listing and decided to play along. I actually like this better because it challenges me to work within a theme and to express an idea that is not my own. I mentioned earlier that I decided to “channel” some of my earliest influences the car artists of the 60s and 70s. I am also taking a slightly different tack with these pieces in that I am working with symmetry by creating half a face and duplicating it, then flipping it, occasionally breaking the symmetry buy adding elements to one side of the others. I am having a blast with this technique.

Here are the Pieces I have done for Inktober so far, by theme. I’d love to know what you think of these.

Day One: Poisonous

Day Two: Tranquil

Day Three: Roasted

Day Four: Spell

Day Five: Chicken

Day Six: Drooling

Day Seven: Exhausted

Day Eight: Star

Day Nine: Precious

Day Ten: Flowing

Day Eleven: Cruel

Day Twelve: Whale

Day Thirteen: Guarded

Day Fourteen: Clock

Day Fifteen: Weak

Day Sixteen: Angular

These are words of encouragement for every creative. It’s the opening of the Gathering of Artisans. This is not long and you need to hear it. It will be encouragement for your journey. Please listen.

If you’ve been around for any length of time on this blog, you know that a guiding verse of this ministry is “Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others…” 1 Peter 4:10 I love that verse and I love it even more when it manifests. My denomination has a wonderful retirement community not too far from the church I pastor, and we frequently do things with them. It’s always a great blessing. Well one of the things they do is this huge flower show, each year. It’s really an incredible undertaking.
One day in my email, I saw a note looking for volunteers to help out. When I saw the theme of the show this year, I knew this one was for me. It’s super powers and flowers—a superhero theme. I fired off a note saying I would love to help out and told about my passion for cartooning and comic art. Today we met to discuss the parameters of the event. One of the things I love is how much they get the residents involved. There is a wide assortment of really incredible gifts there. I just think that’s great. I not only get to do what I love, but I get to collaborate with a large group of creatives who will get an opportunity to do what they love. It’s a golden opportunity given my gifts and passions and I could not be more excited to get started.

It never ceases to amaze me all the different ways this really non-traditional gift God has given can be used his glory. But here’s the clean little secret… everything God gives is intended to be used to His glory that’s why the verse says “whatever…” So what have you been given? Far too many people think if their gift is one of the big three “churchy gifts” (preaching, teaching and music) it has no use in the Kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Take what you have been given and put it to work. Volunteer, let people know you’re out there and do all God has given you. You never know what God can use, but God does and He wants to do great things through you.

As you all know, one of the things I encourage is creating every day. Well for the last 9 days or so, I have been participating in a challenge called Inktober. It’s basically just a challenge to create something each day. Well I got in and really didn’t completely understand the challenge until about five days in when I found the official prompt list. A prompt list is a list of challenges meant to stretch you further. Well, once I found the list, I decided to catch up and play along. Yesterday after a very busy few weeks, I took a creative day and aside from the two sessions I worked on for my masters class, I decided to schedule a day of creative fun, where I played catch up. I now have all nine days done so far. It will now be much easier to stay caught up.

They really don’t take me a lot of time and I’m setting my own parameters. I’ve decided to call my series, The Faces of Inktober, and as such I am making stylized pieces based on the influence I am currently exploring, as mentioned earlier, the car artists of the 60s and 70s. These parameters force me to work on only one thing and finding ways to make the prompt fit my theme. That makes me get even more creative and the parameter of doing only a face and a simple background, keeps me in something I can do in a manageable amount of time. It’s really stretching me and I’m having fun. Further I have decided to do most of my pieces in symmetry. As such I am drawing a very detailed “half face” and then manipulating the art in photoshop to make the completed piece.

Today’s word was precious. Now my first thought was a portrait of my grandson, but I’m not a great realist, so I decided to go with my first instinct instead. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, because he called the ring his “precious.” This fit much better with the style in which I am working, and it was fun. When I finish the challenge, I am planning on making a video called The Faces of Inktober. Watch for it in early November on my Youtube channel. How do you challenge yourself to grow and to be more creative.