A Big Forest

To reinforce my last post about detours and distractions I have story to tell about being lost in the forest, click here if you missed it: Road Work Ahead. Enjoy!

The Path To Uncertainty.
I am not sure of my reasoning. It was obviously flawed at that point. In  the summer of 2005, I had been navigating the camp's property  as a counselor and teacher for several months. Though, navigating and knowing your way true are two different things. I had been a poor navigator even up to then. I was notorious for getting my campers lost. Familiarity with landmarks and general direction were my only working tools. When I discovered my error it was too late! My daylight was running short. So, I fumbled along an unfamiliar ridge for a period of time. The crazy thing about dark forests in Southern Ohio is the indefinite altitudes and the rocky death at the bottom. Even a survivalist familiar with the area can be caught off guard by a random drop into a gorge if they lose their way. The supposed path I thought I was on had dissipated into the ambiguous forest floor. I could be heading further toward central camp or away from it. At that time I had to make decisive choices or end up using my night time survival techniques. I feared the worst, so I kept moving. What do you do when you miss a turn? I thought back to where the bad decisions started.

Disaster Was Imminent.

The trouble started when I realized I couldn't cool off until it got real late at night, so I acquired permission from the camp director to rest in the group cabin. The trouble compounded when my mind was still racing with worry and anxiety about my duties as a camp counselor. Guilt plus shame and being sick do not work together. I chose to deliver supplies to my campers out near one of the caves in the big camp forest. I knew the trails to the spot where the campers were at. That much was clear. But I reasoned that I could take a quicker way back. Thinking that I knew where I was going,  I took a turn in the wrong direction just after I left the campers. My confidence in spite of my condition was amazing. Disaster was imminent.

Unfamiliar Territory.
Shortly after leaving the campers the forest ran out. I hit a large grassy hill. It had numerous ruts that I found as I descended the steep hill. The going was difficult. If I didn't fall down the hill altogether, I was sure to sprain my ankle. These ruts were ingeniously cloaked in shoulder high grass. The new realization of being lost hit me: Where was I? Was it familiar? Knowing the general parameters of the grounds led me to this conclusion: The property I had stumbled upon was perhaps nearer to the Eastern corner. Finishing the grassy hill, I found that it was next to a road. As I came to the road I couldn't remember passing this way for sure in past camp trips. Most of the houses along any given road in the Southern hills of  Ohio looked the same. Even so, I continued on the road and came to the conclusion that I couldn't know for sure which direction was the right direction.

Getting Back To Camp.
Obviously, I was weary. I was lost and had no means of communication. So I did what I had to do. I figured that if I could get information from one of the locals I could get home alright before the sun had set. This was problematic, because you did not know if anyone would be home or if they would trust you or worse if they would cause you harm. I chanced it, because I had no choice in the matter. I knocked on the door of what looked like a trailer displaced from its park. A child answered the door. I asked to speak with an adult. As I expected that they were stand-offish, I explained what camp I was from and that I was lost. The father did oblige in telling me the roads that might get me back. So I was on my way in said direction.  After walking in the recommended direction, dehydrated, doubts clouded my mind. I trekked up steep hills and around sharp turns, until I finally found the cross road mentioned. This road was familiar and I knew where to go from there. As I arrived back at the camp I figured that maybe others had missed me, but I was wrong. My joy was in the arrival. I was so glad to get back and be in my bed. My anxiety had done little, but get me in trouble.

Anxiety is a poor guide and illness is a poor excuse. It was a miracle that I made it out of that forest alive and relatively intact. It was an adventure, but it remains as a story that reminds me of how my bad judgment can get me in trouble. We often don't want to admit when we are wrong. And we often don't want to admit that we got ourselves into our own messes. Detours created by other people are difficult, but ones set up by our own stubbornness can be deadly. So it is important that we always remember that there is a way out of the forest.


Road Work Ahead

The other night I tried desperately to escape from downtown. It seemed that every exit was blocked. Every effort proved fruitless because of road work, an accident, or the normal insecure/inattentive driver.

On the road as in life, we are not alone. We sometimes make it difficult for one another. The sight of neon orange cones or flashing lights even stun some people like deer in headlights. What do we do with these distractions and unplanned detours?

Considering the rabbit trails in my life, I have compiled a short list of how to deal with this road work. I have used these from time-to-time to deal with my own problem areas. I believe they have made my life more productive. After reading this you will probably have some to add this list. I would like to hear what you have to say on the matter.

Rest Up For Trials Ahead.
You will experience curve balls. The best preparation is a sharp mind and a soft heart. This is only possible if you are whole and rested. You can refer back to my post on rest to read more on what I have to say about the topic, click here: Rest: The Secret Ingredient For Success.

Put Blame To Death.
Throwing people under the bus purposefully or accidentally, because life isn't going well solves no one's problems. Test your heart for your motivations. However, if someone is at fault for problems in your life, demand justice. But remember that more important than justice is mercy. Allow justice to take its proper course and then move on. This is a way of putting blame to death as well.

Keep Your Eyes On The Road.
Sometimes fear on our part can cause unintended accidents. As I see others fall behind or get hit, I defer to God's will through prayer. I pray for those who were unfortunate enough to participate in the accident. Then I look ahead, because there is nothing that I can do. Usually, the medics and police have already arrived. With exception to rare moments, where this is not the case, I'd recommend keeping our eyes on the goal ahead.

 Detours Often Mean Discovery.
I have a tendency to get mad when I am rerouted. Nothing is as painful as this random inconvenience. I have goals of my own after all. Who has the right to throw my day off?

But yet, when I am sent on a detour I break from my comfort zone. I am open to discovering new ways to accomplish my goals. When you understand what the barriers are there for, you can joyfully work in a limited palette. A little while back I posted about how that process is used through watercolor, click here for that post: Royal Colors.

The Destination Won't Change.
After you have gone out of your way because your plans were smashed by a situation you can't control there is a tendency to feel completely defeated. But I have learned this lesson over the long haul. My personal comic book project that has been detoured, sidetracked, and put in limbo for reasons I can't explain or remember now over 5 years many times. Every time I get a chance I pick it up again and go at it. The goal never changed. It was still waiting for me at the end of my distraction period. Foremost, I learned how readily and easily I get distracted. Then, I started learning how to curb and commercialize on those distractions (another post in the future).

My advice: Keep your goal in mind as you navigate your new circumstances. Unless you feel as if you should stop or pursue a different goal during this time, you should move forward even if it seems as if you are going in the opposite direction.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy on the road to our goals. Sometimes things happen to us and we can't explain it. The best we can do most of the time is to move forward as often as possible. Be optimistic that you will finish what was started. As long as it is a path that honors God, I'd encourage you to continue on. Chances are God wants you to finish and finish well, too.



I have a weakness for good science fiction and fantasy illustration. You could say it is a driving force that keeps me creating. Seeing fantastic things that never existed or imagining things that may someday exist is very compelling.This blog entry is connected to IllustrationFriday.com.

This is your introduction into my love for illustration. Occasionally I have shown you my quick sketches or sketch book entries. This is actually the first time I have brought up my illustration background in this blog. It is really no different than a watercolor painting, a comic strip, or even a one panel humor bit. All employ my creativity, but engage me in different ways. I will share with you some brief insights into what illustration is about. Perhaps you can use this knowledge when you create as well.

Illustration Is Art.
Much to my dismay many people want to compare the proper fine art to that of commercial art. Both have the same agenda, to make money for the creator. The only difference is the way they are sold. Sometimes the "fine artist" has less freedom than the illustrator. It all depends on intent.

Illustration Is About The Story.
Illustration on its own may or may not communicate the message it is intended to share with the world. With the back story, illustration will thrive. It is about the narrative.

Illustration Is Found Outside of Commercial Art.
You could say that classic art, especially oil paintings and sculpture, are examples of illustration. They fit the narrative mold. Many folk artists who only created art because it was an itch they had to scratch also narrated stories through their art.

Illustration Has a Decipherable Message.
Unlike conceptual art of the modern and post-modern era, illustration has one purpose alone--the message. If it is not communicated clearly, it may still be art, but it is not an illustration.  

Illustration Has a Diversity of Styles.
There is no set style to illustration. It has changed and grown over the years. Materials have changed along with technology that allows you to make sleeker art, but the media was never the focus. The message was central.

Illustration Has a Diversity of Applications.
Illustration as I said above can be found outside of commercial art. It is also applied to everything from movie animatics to comic strips to how-to books and even toys. As an artform illustration is very flexible.

Though far from exhaustive, this list above represents the major points on what illustration is about. Perhaps when you look at a book cover or Greek statue or any other message baring image you will think differently about what the story is behind it.


Because Of Resurrection

Growing up in the Christian church there are many words or sayings that become part of your day-to-day language early on. You say them and you move on. Everyone you talk to understands them. You often don't even understand what you are talking about, because this language of Christianity is pressed into you. I am not saying this is wrong. I am not saying that it is harmful. What I am saying is that the weight of words is often misunderstood. If you had been compartmentalized into a subculture growing up, whatever that is, you too, will understand what I am saying. Resurrection was definitely one of those words. That is what I am going to talk about.

Why would an art blogger choose to talk about resurrection? Well it has personal significance for me. As I follow Jesus, I see that there is much mystery in this faith. Much more than any other faith I know about. Resurrection is one of those mysteries. I wish for people to understand why this concept is important. I chose to speak of it specifically to you because destruction and recreation is a part the creative process. Its in nature and its part of creating art. I have used a rather non-academic form of presenting my case. Follow along and see what you can learn.

Resurrection Was Not A New Idea 2000 Years Ago.
The ancient Israelites were not the only ones to talk about the possibility of resurrection. Many ancient cultures told myths in which their gods were resurrected. This idea often referred to the seasonal cycles. The stories often included macabre deaths and fantastic resurrections. The lines blurred on the issue of reincarnation.

 "The cult of Baal celebrated annually his death and resurrection as a part of the Canaanite fertility rituals." -by Alan G. Hefner, Pantheon.org

"One of the most important myths associated with Isis was the story of Osiris's death and resurrection... Isis searched for and found the box and then brought it back to Egypt, where she concealed it. However, Set discovered the hiding place and cut Osiris's body into many pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. After recovering the pieces, Isis used her magical powers to restore life to Osiris, who then went to live in the underworld." -Myth Encyclopedia
Where Are The Others?
Even though, other myths told of their gods or heroes coming back from the dead, none of them produced a real, certifiable case. They turned into gods or part of nature, etc... Mostly, those characters remained in the realm of myth. They did not have historical precedence. Jesus is the only one.

Coming Back From The Dead Ain't Easy. 
If you have ever had a sickness for an extended period of time or some sort of fatal accident and survived, you know what I am talking about. When our body's natural functions start to shut down, it is a miracle to have them revived, whether science or supernatural.

Death Is Not A Joke. 
In our culture we are encumbered by fictional depictions of the undead. Whether its ghosts, vampires, or zombies. When you die it is final. It is not casually, passively, or accidentally overcome.

Death Can Be Merciful.
I am not insinuating that Jack Kevorkian was right, that we should love death and promote assisted suicide and mass murder as a gift to humanity. No, this life is precious for as long as we have it. Life is a gift and a miracle. We should do nothing to undermine that fact. Passing from the difficulties and horrors of this world can take you to be with God who is love. It is better than what we often experience here. What would be the point of coming back to a worse option?

Where's The Formula?
Aside from the immediate use of the tools of science on the deathbed, no one knows how non-scientific resurrection works. There is no formula. If scientific resurrection won't work much beyond a couple of hours following proven death, how could it work after 3 days?

Hope Is A Rare Commodity, Indeed.
If you saw someone die and return to life, would that bring depression or hope? Wouldn't you believe there is more to the world than what you can see or experience in the material sense?

Your Worldview Is Important.
If you believed that resurrection was possible wouldn't it change your whole worldview? Not only would immaterial things be possible, but other amazing acts would be as well. In fact, it would make it easier to believe in the power of love, true justice, mercy, genuine people, healing of the sick, and many other common and uncommon things. If death has been overcome, then what else is possible?

Miracles Fuel Your Imagination.
If you believed in the resurrection of the body it would open up creative options that would transcend the stars. Miracles become a common part of your life. You look for the exceptional things in the midst of your day-to-day routine. Bricks become spaceships. A paper towel tube becomes a sword. You can fly when you look at the sky. There are no colors that cannot go together. You can have tea with unicorns and marry royalty. It fuels your imagination.

We can take too lightly the meaning of resurrection and the ramifications of such a mistake undermine the daily activities we take for granted. Perhaps, you still disagree with the possibility of bodily resurrection after Jesus of Nazareth, but let me assure you that using this article as a starting point for research will bring about questions of your own. I encourage you to dig deeper and see where it takes you. Try it on for size and you will be surprised. God Bless your journey!



I was pretty sure on Monday that something was wrong with me. I took a nap and I still felt tired. Even more tired than before I laid down. The next day proved it. My bones ached and I felt exhausted no matter what I did or what I ate. The dreads had begun.

Unbelievable Weather.
This year in Ohio we had a surprisingly temperate winter. We had 60 degree weather starting in December and going all the way through February. It peaked at 80 degrees by mid-March. We all thought it was going to last. We were wrong.

Over the past couple of weeks it seems as if late fall and mid-summer are duking it out. One day starts out winterish and by the end it is summerish. Ugh! What a predicament to feel sick under.

Creative Dreads.
My creativity and energy have been zapped all week. I'd rather sleep than do anything. It puts a damper on everything that helps me thrive. I thought forward in time to all of the projects that I was putting off, all the people I have to contact, and all the other things in my life that demanded my attention. I dreaded the future. I've heard of other creative people (who are paid to be creative) say they just power through illness and get the project done. I have been questioning the wisdom of this. How does it really help you in the end? All that time you continue to work you're extending your dread of being sick. We don't recover so quickly as we get older. And what good is that overall? It is easy enough to throw out discipline, but what about wellness?

What Do You Think?
So, what do you do when you are sick? Do you press in and power through or do you stop everything? Do you get help or do it on your own? How do you know when to slow down or take a break?

Let me know what you think.