Stuck In Time

There is so much that needs to be done. Lord help me to build new disciplines into my life. Help me win the battles against the sins in my life...

This was my journal entry from Friday. This is a hard prayer to pray. Often I look to earthly systems to solve my time management problems. Often times they fail to address the problem accurately. Being candid about this is hard. Even harder on the internet where everyone can see it.

You Are Not Alone.
I know I am not alone in trying to find time for everything. Its just not possible. I have many dreams and goals. Many you won't hear about for a long time. It's just not time. But really I want my friends, family, co-workers, and fellow artists all over the world to take solace in this: Priorities are hard to figure out. Because we just don't work, eat, drink, and die there is no straight path on this route.

Consider These Ways To Manage Your Time.
This list is what I have figured out so far. Hopefully these lessons will help you evaluate your situation.

  1. Journal daily if possible as a record of accomplishments and failures.
  2. Don't put off today what needs to be done today.
  3. Ask for help as often as possible.
  4. Don't overburden yourself with creative goals that are well beyond your reach at this time. Write them down, draw them, and come back if God allows.
  5. You won't always know your limits, but you can tell at the end of the day if you overdid it or not. Try not to go back on that road if possible.
  6. Stick to your plan. Refuse to let others distract you if you have a goal in mind. Take criticism of your plan with a grain of salt.
  7. Try time management tools, but don't sell out to just one. They all have their benefits and setbacks.
  8. Pray and ask God for help.
You are a unique individual. Let your life form organically. No one can really understand all that you are trying to accomplish. Keep getting back on the time management horse as often as you fall off. In the end you will find time working to your benefit instead of against you.


Stay Young...FOREVER!

It took a second look at the shelf to understand it. My hands had actually shelved these books before without my brain connecting the fact that the titles were just stupid. Because they were so ridiculous I can't remember their titles specifically. But they all wanted to say this: "Stay Young, Forever" and they meant it.

What Are We Looking For?
Why o why, would you buy that nonsense? I don't know for sure, but it has to be a strange sickness that has made us believe this junk. Its just sad.

But maybe this thing we are looking for is what we said before, but it is good...staying young, forever. But maybe we really have it backward. Those words don't say what I want them to mean. So, I will show you what I mean. First, I will show you a simple comic. Then, I will explain it. See if you can follow...

I Thought Like A Child.
My first day of junior high I was so happy about the sports that I could soon play all that year that I carried home my duffel bag full of my text books for every class. As a preteen I was more happy about about getting in shape that this task seemed more important than even what people thought of me. I was just looking to succeed. Those heavy books were at least half my weight. Why ride the bus when I could get a work out? My creativity endured without criticism or skepticism. I was unleashed from material expectation. I had physical level of endurance I crave now, but lacked discipline and direction.

Crazy? Maybe, so.

That type of excitement lasted until college. Until I faced the big world problems. I was my own man.

Inject cynicism.

Grow Up, Already.
I hit the school of hard knocks hard. From the beginning of college to my late 20's I was cynical about authority, the system, and pretty insecure myself.Much worse than now. I was looking for a chance to show the world that I was something special, all by myself.  I was miserable because I never thought I could measure up. As one who follows Jesus, I doubted God's blessings in my life. Until, the day I started dealing with my problems. I had carried around a satchel, then as I had carried around that duffel bag before. It was full of all of my ridiculous priorities. And few of them were God's. In a sense this burden was worse than the weight I carried around in junior high and I did so for nearly 10 years. I missed it. I had lost myself. I thought I was mature. My creativity was mostly watered down. I allowed myself to waste away for some unknown reason. Until the day I got an affirmation on my calling. My only benefit was my outward endurance and ability to work hard. This rarely helped me, because I did not have the smarts to match.

Inject grace.

Start At The Beginning.
Much has changed over the last 4+ years. On the day that a friend offered me grace for my immature behavior, I started to begin again. I slowly returned. Older, yes, but my goals are much clearer. These days my fervor for creativity is much stronger. Now, I feel myself physically wasting away. My spirit is much more agile. I willfully carry a ridiculous amount of art supplies in my new satchel to be prepared for art at any moment. Where these past opportunities only built my cynicism, I now use them to build character or create art. They fuel my imagination. Essentially the benefit of returning to my youthful ways is that every second has significance. Though, I did not get here on my own. By investing more in my relationship with Jesus, the change happened to me. I did not create it. More adequately I gave up and just trusted.

So, maybe we do have it backward. We are looking for physical youth and beauty that will not last. My physical condition has deteriorated, but my spirit has more endurance. The lesson I learned over the last 31 years is that growth is not about outward appearance, but an inward attitude. Youth is a condition of the heart. You can stay young if you put your trust in the right person, Jesus. And out of that ambition and creativity will flow like a mountain spring. Refusing the nonsense that society expects of you is only the first step. After that you have to be willing throw off the expectations you put on yourself and let God do His work. That is where your best creativity will come from.

What are you looking for? Remember and reach back to what drove you to be creative in the first place and reach up to the Lord and Savior of the universe. He will guide you in that. Look for ways to keep that momentum going.


Rest: The Secret Ingredient For Success

It's easy to keep going like you are the Energizer Bunny. Or at least pretend like you are one. Pretend is the key the word.

Defining The Creative Vacuum.

We (artists) can live in a vacuum of just our creativity. We can dive in and go anywhere at any time. To the rest of the world we look as if we are just staring at a wall or walking down the street. But our hearts and minds are engaged in the full creative process. However, we have limits that we must acknowledge.

Creative Rest Habits.

Artists need rest. Our bodies being the weak vessels that they are lack the infinitude of an eternal body. Our limits often show. And I believe that rest is the key to it all.

There was a professor in college who did a splendid presentation on rest for a chapel service one time. This idea has resonated with me for over 10 years. The truth is, I have not learned all of the secrets to this magnificent tool for maintaining my humanity. I believe it is a discipline that all artists have to learn and become pro's at. There are some key insights that I have learned on my own, from other artists, and in church that I would like to share, but I am still working on.

Coherent Rest Habits.

Six insights to take seriously when when considering coherent rest habits, because six is the number assigned to man and Jesus said in Mark 2:27- “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

1. Plan a daily Sabbath time.  End your creative work at a specific time every day. Turn off your computer. Clean off your art desk. Put your art supplies away. Leave your creative space for the day, if at all possible.

2. Make a point to contact friends, hang out, and spend time with family. Work is not life, it just helps propel it forward. Take time to exercise and plan.

3. Limit your nightly activities.  On the opposing end of making time for friends and family and social activities is the reality that you are limited in yourself. Do not over-promise. Guard your rest when at all possible. Because you need a daily Sabbath time you should separate it out for your own sake. Only you know what you can handle!

4. Don't sedate your creativity just because you are not in your designated art making time. It is generally better to get the idea on paper or on the computer than to let it follow you into other decision-making times.

5. Be wise about when you decide to stay up late. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid it 100% of the time, but when it is necessary, make the proper adjustments. Have a plan. If you have to lose sleep at night plan a time the next day to rest before being creative again. You will be much more productive.

6. Plan at least one Sabbath day a week. That one day dedicated to rest and worship of Jesus will put you so much farther ahead during the week. You will be astounded! You can make decisions and stick to them. Your work will be better and the time spent working will be of higher quality. It is truly a mystery why this works so well. But the truth is God created us in His image and He set the standard to rest on the last day of the week. Who is wiser than that?


Protect your rest times and get good at it. All other great decisions will emanate from this choice. Don't let other people dictate what is good for you concerning what you know you can physically handle. You will get where you believe you are called much faster by limiting your activity and honoring the resting period God has put in place for all mankind.


Reference Your Imagination

Creative ideas swirl all around us every day, all day. This is true, but sometimes we do not have a reference point for a preexisting idea. Sometimes our personal experience is so limited that we have to refer to other sources to drive our picture-making or creative endeavor or even to solve one of life's wealth of problems.

Violin And Violinist Sketch click: Here
This task of conceptualizing is often time-consuming. There are many rabbit trails and often we can be so enraptured in this task that it takes away from time to solve the actual problem.

The important thing is that at the end of this time you can come to a conclusion that is based on reality and not on your mental image of it.

The hard lessons learned by understanding this result in a spirited piece of art and a growing visual vocabulary. Practicing understanding the mundane will pay off in dividends when under a deadline. This practice is grown through drawing multiple versions of a subject from multiple angles and sources. This has been my primary drive for mastering the quick-sketch and has been the foundation upon which I am building my inking skill.

Consider your discipline. Are you taking every possible measure to understand your subject? What techniques do you use to learn for the sake of the end result?