Posts Tagged ‘“Beware of artists”’

I’ve been called upon to do a 6 foot by 8 foot live painting for a camp here in PA. This is a different situation for me in some ways, because usually when I do a live painting I am also the speaker, so I’m also there to talk the viewers through what I’m thinking. This time I’m only doing the painting. My first run at a sketch just didn’t work so for the next run, I went classic. Their theme is on finding fulfillment, so I just did a straight up Jesus, since He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, He is the fulfillment of the OT law, of Scripture and, at least in my view, the ultimate source of fulfillment.

Why am I cross posting this one? Art is communication. If we want people to get our meaning, we need to make it speak clearly. My first run at this was misunderstood or maybe more correctly was just not understood and while, as I stated above, had I been the speaker, I would have been able to explain the piece to the audience and they would have gotten it. That’s all well and good if that audience is the only group to see the piece, but this piece will be kept and displayed probably for quite some time to be seen by people who were not in attendance when I made it. They need to get it too if I want the art to fulfill a greater purpose. Sometimes it’s best to keep a piece simple so it can be understood. An open armed Christ speaks volumes.

There was a time in my life, when I was highly compartmentalized. If you had asked me I would have told you I was a Christian, and I was, but that my faith life and my art career were two separate things. To say that I was majorly conflicted would be a major understatement and that conflict almost ruined me. The Bible is pretty clear that we cannot serve two masters, or we will serve the one and despise the other, and while I will never say I despised God, it was pretty easy to push Him to the back burner. Learn from my mistake, I was in idolatry and I praise God that He left me fail at all my pursuits until I surrendered to Him. I once heard someone say something that may be germane to this conversation. If Jesus isn’t Lord of ALL, He isn’t Lord AT ALL. I wonder if that was the case to this day, but God freed me of that, I think…

You see recently I have been really drawn to making some work in a style some call “Low Brow Art.” It’s actually the kind of art that got me started as an artist when I was a child. It’s very cartoony, with monster-like characters sticking through the roofs of cars usually with huge engines and spinning tires. These were some of the first things I drew as a kid and I have always enjoyed that style. I love making these things, but I was a little conflicted. These things don’t fit with my ministry work stylistically. They’re frankly a little weird. As a matter of fact they were so far away from my ministry art that I knew they didn’t go together, so I restarted an old page on which to post them. This led to a couple of questions. I continued to feel drawn to making that kind of art, but were they taking away from my ministry? Was this wasting time? and worst of all, “Was I getting compartmentalized again?”

It was as I considered this, that I had what I think is a revelation. My heart is in ministry. I love what I do. I have also been fairly successful at being an artist in the Christian world and God has really blessed that ministry, but there was something that was missing. As a pastor I often talk to my congregation about being in the world but not of the world. I think this is essential to the Christian life and to obedience to our call. The problem was between my pastorate and my speaking ministry, I spend the vast majority of my time in the church, among believers. Yes I’ve been an artist in the Christian world, but what I have not been was a Christian in the art world. Maybe the reason I am being drawn to making this kind of work, is to be in the world, while not being of it. One of the things I love about Low Brow Art is it’s art for the masses. You don’t have to be a genius to understand it, nor do you have to psychoanalyze it, it’s just fun, and lots of people like it. I create something, share it, and people get to know me. Then sometimes I share something faith based that points to why I do what I do. I slowly began to realize this is not compartmentalized, it’s me going into the world while not being of it. I realize I will always have to guard against crossing lines, but something about making these weird creatures, feels strangely obedient. I will always be an artist in the Christian world, unless God says otherwise. Pray that God will use me in both spheres.

Assignment: Are you in the world but not of the world, or are you some other variation? Ask God to open doors for you to be salt and light in the world, pointing people to their creator.

createbetterGet rich quick schemes generally do not work and even if they do, are they really what you want to be associated with? They generally involve taking advantage of others or doing things that are somewhat questionable. That’s not what this about. Creating a better life, done well, goes beyond just us and into helping others, adding value to their lives as well as our own. Creating a better life should, at least in some small way, create a better world.

The attraction of get rich quick is it appears to require very little work, and who wouldn’t like to get out of working? Well quite frankly, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to get out of working as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t mind working harder. The issue is I want it to be work that satisfies me. I want to do things that I feel really good about doing. I want to feel blessed every time I get to do what I do and I want to live with the knowledge that I am contributing to making things better and helping other people. I personally have found that in art, in creating, in ministry, in speaking and I really love when I get the ability to do all of the above. For me creating a better life is more about finding the way to do what I do more frequently, earning a bit more from it and finding ways to impact more people than I can by just showing up somewhere and speaking. I’ve found the path, what I really want is to expand the reach.

There is no substitute for doing the work, so why not find the work you enjoy and becoming the very best you can at doing it. Seek to help as many people as you can. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to live the life you want to live and help to make life better or other people at the same time?

Do the work. It’s a great way to create a better life.

createbetterIn the next few days I am going to share some of the development phase of the individual items I shared on day six, but first there is something crucial that needs to be developed. It’s called the elevator pitch. Simply defined is taking your larger concept and breaking it down into a description that can be given in the amount of time it takes for an elevator to take you from one floor to another, about 10 to 15 seconds. Why is this so vital? Because people have limited attention spans and limited time. You may only get a few seconds to get someone’s attention and tel them about your project. They don’t have time to listen to a long description, so you have to be able to give them a really quick overview that is clear and concise, making them want to hear more. Here are a few things to consider:

1. You don’t have time to give them the whole story so you have to isolate the most important points.
2. It has to be complete enough to give them what they need to know.
3. It should be open ended enough to leave them wanting more.
4. It’s up to you to help them to move forward, so it’s pretty vital that you have something like a card on you at all times that gives them what they need to take the next step.

What’s the most important thing you would want someone to know about your project? How can you deliver it clearly and concisely and where can you send them for more information? Here is my elevator pitch for the Create a Better Life seminar:

“Create a Better Life is a one day seminar designed to help people find and embrace their creativity, and use it to find and create ideas and solutions, allowing them to create (and live) a better life.”

I would then hand the person a card where they could find more information. I still feel like mine is a little clunky, but it’s a start.

Of course we hope the elevator pitch leads to a lengthier conversation, but even if it doesn’t this clear and concise little statement should pique their interest enough to want to know more.

Stay tuned as I develop more of this on the way to creating a better life.

1001Reading Jon Acuff’s blog post entitled Don’t Write a Book really got me thinking. I have written several books that I’ve hardly promoted at all. I have always told myself I wrote them mainly to sell at my speaking engagements, but that’s not entirely true. I believe I have written things that would genuinely help creative people and the people that love them. This is one of them, a guided sketch book providing a Thousand and one things for people to draw, design, invent and create. I call it 1001: A Sketch Odyssey.
You can see my other stuff at my author page. Please check it out and share them with anyone you think they might bless.

Over at our sister site,, every Friday is Philanthropic Friday. I’ve had a little trouble coming up with ideas for that page and so I missed a couple of weeks in a row. This week I worked up three ideas toward catching that up and since I know a lot of you want to use your gifts to serve others, I thought I would cross-post the post it here. Enjoy and if you’d like to learn more about, click here.

Philanthropic FridayYes, I know I’ve been a little lax on the Philanthropic Friday Posts of late so I am playing a little catch up here. It appears I have missed three Fridays so here are three ideas to do something very important for charity. There is one universal theme for nearly every charity on earth. One thing they nearly all have in common and that is to continue to do their good work, they need money. Here are a few things every creative can do to raise funds for his or her favorite charity.

1. The “tithe”: Yes I know this is a church term but I have found it to be a very effective way to give and it’s easy. I have a friend who works very hard at a cause I really believe in. He needs to raise support to continue this work and I really wanted to help him while not having large piles of cash. I earmarked one of the activities that I do for which I usually get paid. Every time I do this activity no matter what the payment, he gets a percentage for his charity. This is kind of nice because I always have the money to give and the more effort I put in, the more I can do for my friend and the cause.

2. Once again for the creative, this requires almost nothing in upfront cost. is a screen printing company with a difference. They print quality shirts with a difference. Usually when printing shirts, you have to pay a bunch of upfront costs, guess the sizes people will want and order a minimum quantity or pay through the nose. is different. They are a crowd sourced company. On, you create the design, set the minimum order and promote the shirt. People go to the site and order your shirt. No shirts are printed, and no money changes hands until your minimum order is reached. So all you have to do is create a design, decide how much money you want to raise and then promote, promote, promote.

3. is probably the grandfather of all crowd sourcing sites. You simply create a campaign for your charity. Have a product you are going to create, set the parameters for giving, and create “prizes” for people who give varying levels of money. Like, no money changes hands until your goal is reached. This seems like it can be a pretty involved process, but it’s another way a creative can do a great deal of good with very little in up front costs.

1001I wanted to let you know that my new book 1001: A Sketch Odyssey is finally out. It’s a sketch book that challenges you to draw, create, design, invent and illustrate. It’s a creative tool you can use 1001 times.

Jump start your creativity with 1001: A Sketch Odyssey today! Daily One One Liner of the Day: A One Liner is just a sentence or two (or less) designed to inspire you to create something. From there what you create is up to you. Draw a picture. Sketch in your journal. Write a story or a poem. Take some photos. The sky’s the limit.

The TV show Friends had the Holiday Armadillo. Suppose the costume shop was all out of the traditional holiday costumes, what would you dress up as?

Can’t wait for all your one-liners? Get the whole collection here! opens January 1, 2013. Go there and Subscribe today. Daily One One Liner of the Day: A One Liner is just a sentence or two (or less) designed to inspire you to create something. From there what you create is up to you. Draw a picture. Sketch in your journal. Write a story or a poem. Take some photos. The sky’s the limit.

On the 13th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Can’t wait for all your one-liners? Get the whole collection here! opens January 1, 2013. Go there and Subscribe today.