It’s been a time constrained week around here, more than usualI used to think that was negative and even a legit reason not to make or meet creative goals. Now I think differently.

I like how Jake said it,

“Creativity thrives on constraint.” — Jake Parker

With a full-time (non-illustrating) job and a family of seven (besides me) this has been a necessary and significant shift in perspective. Instead of using my constraints as excuses, I now see them as strengths.

Tomy and Jon’s on-going adventure heated up on Wednesday. I worked for months ahead before I ever launched my webcomic so I didn’t work on it this week. It posts on a schedule now.

This is my best example to date of choosing a personal project (as far as art goes) and sticking with it. It’s really helped me grow my skills and put myself out there, and definitely within constraints. I can’t recommend this enough.


If you do not have natural constraints there are things you can do to enforce some on yourself. Even with natural ones, this helps.

The main limitation I put on myself is choosing to work in 5, 10, or 15 minute time allotments. Set a timer if you need to—I used my phone’s.

How to Find Your Creative Sweet Spot:
Find the most effective constraint for yourself by asking yourself what you believe is your biggest limitation. Then begin the process of choosing to believe it could actually be exactly what you need.

After several years of working in this way, I doubted that I’d have much art to show for between 75 hours of non-illustration work on my plate this week.  I was wrong. It proves to me again how true it is, creativity really does thrive on constraint.

Here’s my week in review:




(This doesn’t even count the nights I was just worn down and sketched a bunch of stuff that never saw the light of day.)

Not having my own studio has been another hidden aid that has worked to help me stay mobile and make due with space limits. I gather many of you are in the same position.  So here’s a trick for the trade: modified brush pens.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Instead of an elaborate set up, I use six Pentel Fude Brushpens that I modify with scissors or needle nose pliers.

You can get them with a medium or extra fine point. Find out more by clicking the highlighted words. If you decide it’s a good fit for you (or gift for another artist in your life) at no extra cost to you, it will also benefit my family, so THANK YOU!

If you’ve already got some, or after your new ones arrive, here’s a 15 second video to show you how I modify mine.

Huge thanks to everyone who purchased through my link last week on The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap


With all this talk about constraint and limitation, rest has a place in this too. My family and I skipped some stones over the weekend. Photo by my wife, Raynna.


How have you found working within limits helps you? Care to share any examples or tips below? I’d love to hear.

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,


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