On Being You: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 29, 2016By jayart, Blog, children's books, Design, Encouragement, review, story, Writing

Hey guys,

Welcome to Friday! It’s been a week of discovery around here. I’ve discovered something about myself the last several weeks that I finally have words for. Maybe you’ll relate:

For awhile now I have been hiding too much of myself. Specifically with my art, I’ve hidden beneath splatters and grunge inks. Lately, has been different in that I have been finding joy in drawing and not caring if Sienkiewicz, Parker, Brown, Waterson, et al would do it that way. I’ve just been drawing.

I’ve been drawing and letting Superman look weak, Batman look old and unattractive, Spiderman look spindly, and generally just delighting in art as it comes out of “me”.

Each of us has a story. We each have a tale that we express through our art. But sometimes, somewhere, we can often lose track of our own tale and begin to tell someone else’s. That happens when, whether from admiration or insecurities, we begin to let their style overshadow how we draw, color, write, etc.

Each of us needs to find that “you” we were created to be. That certain expression that isn’t being bound into someone else’s way, but still learns from others. You have that. You have a uniqueness that unleashed will make what you are doing delightful and inspiring.

Find that You and hold onto it. Don’t let it go, but do make it grow. This isn’t a one time static “moment”. If we look at it that way then years could pass without any real changes/ progress. Your true “you” needs to expand and become better. It needs to be challenged to do things better, but it must never let go of its own story.

The goal of an artist is story. Some people disagree with this notion, and believe that the artist’s goal is expression. However, expression is itself story. When we look at an artist’s work, of splashes and dots, and we are inspired to read into the work, that artist has been the vehicle for story.

Find you and help that tale grow from a three word tale into an epic. How? Books are written on this, and to say what I believe may sound over simplistic, but it has been my path: let go, just be you, one step at a time.

One of my personal steps is wrapping up this next week: The Adventures of Tomy ‘n’ Jon. This has been a great experience, I really appreciate those of you who have joined me thus far! There’s a few physical copies left if you want to grab one.


Recent Art:









This Week’s Recommended Tool:

When I considered a tool I could recommend to you all this week, the one that came to mind is my travel water color set. This is specifically because I’ve been using it a lot lately, and I love it. The fourth, sixth and seventh images above were all painted with my Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Field Box —a treasured gift my wife gave me several years ago.

I hesitated, on one hand, to recommend it because it is a more costly tool than I usually bring up, so head’s up on that. But, if you love water color, love to be mobile, and can afford it or want to give a VERY special and enjoyable gift to someone else, this comes highly recommended. Get it here.
41VLQLKCDQL

The link above is from Amazon, however, sometimes Hobby Lobby has these in stock and there is always a 40% off coupon available weekly there. (If you have a smartphone, you can get their app for coupon.)

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Current Good Read:
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days


If you do interface design at all this book is for you. If you do product design at all this book is for you. If you work on a project for any customer this… well, you get the idea. Some projects can take forever to figure out. What if you could get a great baseline for your project in just one week? Would you be interested? You should.

This is a fantastic play-by-play of a one week design sprint intended to help you get to the bottom of a problem and find a solution in one week. Check it out.


Alright guys, have a great weekend and keep creating. Here’s some words that hit the mark, to carry with you:

“Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some people would think.” -Madeleine L’engle

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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On Growing Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 22, 2016By jayart, Blog, Faerie-tales, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, story, technology, Writing

Hey guys!

Welcome to Friday, I hope you’ve had a good week.

My personal journey of “who I want to be when I grow up” is all over the place. As a child I wanted to be an artist—like my big brother (Well, that was after a policeman, fireman, clown, and several other things—but when I grew a little more serious at the age of 4 or 5 it was definitely an artist.). That said, I failed art in high school and never got a degree in art. In fact, my area of study, on the surface, may even appear to be on the other end of the spectrum from art. I studied Jewish history/religion and Hebrew—one of the most infinitely creative things I’ve ever done.

Oh yeah, and there was that time I was a school bus driver, worked in advertising, gave up on drawing, designed and developed Flash (yuck) websites, worked as a speaker/teacher, launched my own endeavors, worked as a youth pastor, and spent over a decade in the field of User Experience Design.

From the outside looking in I may look scatter-brained, truth be told, from the inside looking out, it has felt like it too. But story and art have always been the string I can follow clearly throughout. I have found truth through them, on a personal level, in leading my family, and in a broader more sweeping sense. With G.K. Chesterton I must agree, “The Ethics of Elfland” where he stated;

“My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery…The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales.”

There are times, I question where all this is heading, but mostly, I am trying to listen to the conversation my son and I keep having: stay diligent in the small things and keep our eyes tuned to wonder, not the next big thing.

I feel his pain as he laments, “But, sometimes, I just want to skip the small stuff!”. Some days, I wish I could just wake up incredible, knowing everything about art, and doing it exactly as I want to—without all the practice. You get it. We all do.

Here’s one of my kids dreaming big with his own handmade “jet pack”. Yep, cardboard.

This Week’s Art:

In my western fairytale webcomic, The Adventures of Tomy ‘n’ Jon, the plot thickened:

The-Adventures-of-Tomy-and-Jon_037(Sign up to get it in your inbox, every Wednesday for free, here.)

This story is almost over and then we will take a break. Get caught up, or if you want to have a limited print edition of this, I still have a few.

Fairyland is never far from my mind,

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Better scan to come. 

As a storyteller, I like to say that “sometimes I use words”. This week I was totally stoked to get to play around a lot with words when Scrivener, my favorite writing app, came out for the iPhone! (I don’t get any money for this, but you can tell them I said hi.) I love Scrivener, it’s the best writing/thought organizing app in my book, because:

  1. The learning curve is not huge—but there is one.
  2. The ability to cork board notes (you’ll have to see the site). I don’t know if they were the first to do this or not, but they definitely do it the best.
  3. Organization. I can write a whole story or multiple stories in one project, close it and start another.
  4. Community. If you need to know how to build a dummy book for a picture book—there’s a template that someone somewhere has created.
  5. So many more things.
  6. iPhone app! It’s clean, it works. It syncs. I’m happy with it.

I’ve already been revising some of my unpublished writings, here are two I thought you all might like. So, speaking of fairytales being a string:

String of Things

“The world we see is only one,
One of hundreds of thousands,
Strung together in the lap of the infinite.
You and I are within each world,
Within, we are whomever,
Whomever we’ve wished and feared
we would be.

Do you feel that shudder?
Giants are roaming the country side.
Roaming free. Cage free giants
Are chasing you, not the you here—there.

You, the you reading this,
You never see them.
You only ever feel the shudder.
The shudder as they pass by unseen,
Unseen in our string.

Fairytales are strings.
Strings, that once in a while connect,
Connect by the will of the Almighty.”

— Consider the Ravens*

For those who know my love of all things Bigfoot:

Brandycreek (in modern parlance)

“Brændicręk be their name—the name they knowd theirselves by.
We call ’em Bigfeet, Sasquatch, Yeti, Wild Men, HairyMan,
SkunkApe, and so—all manner unbecoming of their charms.

Shape shifters they be—by day they roam on all fours—that’s when we call them b’ars.

In this way, they’ve hidden theirselves ‘mong us. They be grace-filled creatures full of song but savage when attacked.

And if’n y’ver try to capture one on film they’ll shift ‘fore your eyes and all you’ll ever be get’n is a blurry image.

True story.”

Consider the Ravens*


If you are wondering and working toward what you’re gonna be “when you grow up”, be encouraged that the “small” things are really only small from a very limited perspective. The alternative, of skipping them, is a mess, trust me—I’ve tried.

Being “in process” is a lot like being in a story, that’s a good thing, and a lot more interesting than having everything “figured out”. No matter how “far” we get, there will always be more to learn, to understand, to see. Even if it’s a challenge, appreciate where you’ve come from and where you are today.

“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller”

—G.K. Chesterton

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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FOOTNOTE:
*Unreleased compilation of stories, poems, thoughts, and haikus by me.

Why ask Why: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 15, 2016By jayart, Blog, children's books, Faerie-tales, Writing

Hey guys,

It’s been a quiet kind of week around here. That disturbing kind that also allows for reflection. The kind of quiet where sense can begin to be made, because there is space for questions to be asked and thoughts room to breathe. 

It’s been awhile.

curiousGiant_sm
Curious Giant, cover of my Color Me book

I chuckled a bit when I read this, this week:

“Nowadays silence is looked on as odd and most of my race has forgotten the beauty of meaning much by saying little. Now tongues work all day by themselves with no help from the mind.” —Toni Morrison

Samurabbit

I’m guilty of this too.

A book I am reading, particularly for my work as a UX Designer, has been good food for thought all the way around recently. Here’s a quote I like,

“If we’re going to sort out the messes around us, we need to ask difficult questions and go deeper than how something looks to determine if it’s good or not.” —Abby Covert, How to Make Sense of Any Mess

We all want to create something epic, be a part of something epic,  just be epic. The hard work of mastering our crafts to get there definitely needs space for asking questions.

Make Me King

One particular question that keeps coming up in conversations at work and home this week is,  “Why?”.

“Understanding the why behind what you’re making allows you to uncover your intent and potential.” —Abby Covert, How to Make Sense of Any Mess

KingIsBorn_sm
King Is Born

Currently, as I write this, it’s about ten o’clock at night, my kids are asleep and I have a neighbor who is cutting up his dining room chairs with a chainsaw. This too begs the question, “Why!?”. Just kidding, he did just rip out his chainsaw, but he’s moving in two days and that explains everything. Right? Well, not really.

In actual seriousness though, this month the significant Elie Wiesel passed on, leaving a very clear “why” behind. He was a teacher and a writer, a creator, whose work I admired. Here’s some of his wisdom to close up this week,

“There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.” Elie Wiesel

Cloud Girl

 


Recent Art

For several years now, I’ve been using single sheets of paper for my sketches. This past month, starting a new job, I wanted something easier to carry, so I picked up an old Moleskine sketchbook.

This thing was already about a third complete when I started it. I restarted it the third week of June and completed it this week—that felt great.

So, I picked up another uncompleted one with only about 10 pages finished. I taped them closed and now I’ve been doing a lot of extremely loose head shots. I wasn’t trying to get to the epic hero, but the common one. The one that anyone of us would be if we were to don a cape and cowl.

IMG_6473

Have you taken the #15minartchallenge lately? Encouraging you all to do it has kept me active as well. I definitely filled that sketchbook quicker than I used to. Thanks guys. Keep posting and sharing, it will keep you going too.

Hey, let me know what your “why” is behind your art in the comments? I’d enjoy reading.

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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On Giving Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 8, 2016By jayart, Blog, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,

Hey guys,

Do you ever get that kicked-in-the-shins-by-life feeling and it seems it’s just best to give up on being an artist?

I do.

The gut wrenching challenge presented at these times is, “Do I give up to the status quo or resist and fight?”.

But why resist and fight when being an artist calls on us to bear our hearts in public? It’s vulnerable and often pain filled. The status quo fends off pain—in a life that is already painful—so why not give in? Right?

Because, it doesn’t really.

Settling for a life that is easy and not embracing challenge will only bring different pains—in time. It’s pain deferred. You know it’s true. You’ve felt that gut-tearing thought to quit. You may have even tried to quit and later felt the soul-tear as you denied the skills and gifts you’ve been given. I have.

Here’s to us this week. Embrace the bruises, the cuts, and the times we can’t breathe. Because everyone of those things have value, for the now and even greater for the aforementioned time deferred.

This is something my father-in-law has passed on to our home. Over many years of successes and failures, this has kept me pressing on, numerous tiring weeks.


We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.
—Jim Rohn


Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of this battle is when it comes to balancing our art with the rest of our lives—especially the important parts; our families, friends and day jobs.

That’s just on a normal week, this is not to mention the times when we have to deal with haters or hard circumstances.

We can let both those things come and pass through our lives knowing this is true: it’s only adding to us. Nothing is wasted.

This is true even (and especially) when it feels like it’s tearing us apart. These things will be helpful to ourselves and others some day. And, some day could be tomorrow or next year—both matter immensely.

But the other areas, the truly important ones, we don’t let go, we need strategies for those. We need plans in place to ensure we are all growing together: family, friends and day jobs. Even loose plans that can take on different shapes.

Family, continues to be the area where I most need to engage and be intentional. I know I’m not doing this perfectly and one day I’m sure my kids will tell me, but I’m trying and I’ve got a big hunch it’s gonna be worth it.

Week to week this looks different, but also the same. It’s inviting my family into my world as well as looking for ways to enter theirs. It looks like going to the art store together or foregoing when needed. It looks a little harder one week, and a whole lot worth it later.


Recent Art
In recent weeks we have taken a couple of trips to the zoo (which is awesome, because it’s free here in St.Louis) to draw some animals. It’s been a good time on many levels. My kids got pretty excited how crowds would gather around us where we sat and drew. The people told my kids they were lucky to have a dad like me. The fact is, I am blessed/lucky to have kids like these—kids who dig doing what I do and want to be with me in it.

Turns out, being intentional is kinda like tossing a stone into a pond, it makes ripples. Don’t be afraid of it.

If this is the end of a long week for you, get some rest and then press on. Don’t give up, don’t stop being you. It’s gonna be worth it.

IMG_6279

IMG_6281

Have you taken the #15minartchallenge lately?


Here’s one more strategy to navigate a hard week and the weeks that don’t stop taking…

Be a giver. I love Jake Parker’s Art Drop Concept. Create something and leave it somewhere for someone else to find. Create and connect. You might not always hear back—that’s ok. Keep giving.

World Art Drop Day happens the first Tuesday of September each year, or it can happen while you are road tripping or today. My kids love it. Some of my friends do it. I think it’s the right way.


Tools In Review:

Proven winning tools that have kept me mobile, ready, practical and economical:
(If you see something you can use, thank you for purchasing through the links here. At no extra cost to you, it helps support my art and family.)

KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener:

Here’s why this beats other sharpeners in my book:

See that tip? This sharpener has two modes:

  1. cut the wood only
  2. sharpen the lead

I can get the long lead I like and when I need I can reshape the lead. It’s a win-win.

 

Also loving this (new-to-me) Liquitex Paint Marker:


One of the things I like about this marker is that I can cover as much or little as I like—and I don’t have to carry a bunch of colors around just to add a splash to my page.IMG_6403

Copic Multiliner 0.3

I personally prefer to use dip pen, but there are times when dip pen is just not doable. Enter the Multiliner. I can get the thinness of the dip pen and can add my brush in later.

Check out all my recommended tools HERE. (still updating it)


How or in what area(s) do you need need to get strategic and press forward through some challenges this week?
What resistance do you expect or are you experiencing right now?

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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MrJayMyers’ Lost Month in Review

July 1, 2016By jayart, Blog, Design, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, technology

Hey guys,

Wow. I thought I’d be back in a couple weeks, not a month. But, I suppose moving eight people a few states to the west takes a toll. It’s been an interesting and full time. Definitely I have struggled with feeling dry, struggled to draw well in the midst of the exhaustion, continued drawing, and continued to struggle.

What should we do at these times? What should we do when we are dry inspirationally?

Focus on growing our skills.

When all our inspiration is gone, in my experience, the next thing that happens is that we begin to feel bad about our abilities. Which leads to lesser quality work. It’s the domino effect. Kill that cycle early on and focus on improving skills.

Let inspiration take a break. We need to grow those skills. Choose one thing that you just can’t get right and don’t stop drawing it. Gotta draw a head a hundred times? Do it. Bad at architecture? Draw the same building from a hundred different directions.


This is diligence, not a quick-fix. It separates us from the hobbyist and from the emotionalist (“I can’t draw unless I feeeel it”). This doesn’t work if we only have our eyes on the instant, it works if we have our eyes on the big picture.

Diligence is a choice to not sit and feel bad about ourself, but rather an opportunity to realize an area of lack and do something about it with a drive and purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time, an essential time, when vacation is absolutely the right answer—take that break if you need it. Rest is a vital part of my family’s survival on a weekly basis, but it can’t be my go-to-every-time-I-get-stuck routine.

Diligence isn’t always a party, but it does and will lead us to new inspiration. Count on it.

In real life, I’ve been drawing heads allll week, for a particular character design (The Wingfeather Saga‘s Florid Sword) I haven’t been able to nail it yet, but in the process some of my most fun ideas (I will be sharing some of these in a week or so) in a while have been coming quicker than I can keep up with. Trust me, this works. My sketchbook, once laid bare for weeks, is filling up in days.


Samples of this week’s art:

IMG_6335


Tools In Review:

Proven winning tools that have kept me mobile, ready, practical and economical:

While I’ve been living out of a suitcase, moving states, jobs, and house, staying mobile with my supplies has been essential. I know many of you need the same.

At the beginning of my recent move, I mentioned this art tool wrap. I love this thing, I took it to the zoo and it worked just as it should—not only that, it’s on sale! MORE so than it was before. It is currently more than 80% less than it’s original price.

If you already got one the last time I mentioned this, grab one for a friend. It’s seriously the bomb.

Get it here: The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap, 72 Pencil Case Roll Multi-Purpose Pouch

(Read how I modified mine to work for more than just pencils, in less than five minutes.)

One (well three) more for you today:

Bestest White Pen Ever:

For years, I have SEARCHED for the right white pen. So many of them had lines that kind of disappeared after it was drawn; plus they were watery. So, I have a three step white/”correction” pen suggestion: Here is the first:

Presto: Years ago I used this one then couldn’t ever find it locally, and it faded from memory. Recently, I rediscovered it and love it. You can pick it up at Amazon (links below help support my art and family at no extra cost to you):

It’s the best for three reasons:

  1. Coverage. Solid lines thick and clear.
  2. Tilt. Tilt gives you a less weighty line but still solid.
  3. Squeeze. I can squeeze much or let it run a little dry.

Get it here: Pentel Presto Jumbo Correction Pen, Fine Point, 12 ml, 2 Pack.

I don’t have pictures for the other two, but check them out:

  1. Uni-Ball Signo Broad Point Gel Impact Pen White Ink, 3 pens per Pack
    1. Next best to Presto
    2. Thinner line
  2. Uni-ball Signo Angelic UM-120AC Gel Ink Pen 0.7 mm, White Ink
    1. Next best to the one above
    2. Much thinner line

I know. I know. Yes, I will be your new best friend now. :)

What I’m Reading:

To be honest, I’ve mostly been listening to books lately to keep up with my kids, but one book I have just recently started physically reading:

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How To Make Sense Of Any Mess.
by Abby Covert

I picked it up to keep growing in my day job as a UX designer because I operate on the premise of seeing this type of work as storytelling.

As I tend to think of all of life in the same way, I see this book being helpful in just about any area of life, including art.

I just began it and like it a lot so far. I’ll update more later.


I am grateful to be in this new job and new location with my family and figuring out the new swing of things. It has definitely had it’s challenges, but altogether, change is one of the greatest things. Thanks for hanging around with me in this journey.

What changes or challenges have you experienced this last month?  How are you staying creative through it?

Have a great and safe Independence Day (my US friends) weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .
Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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