Hey guys, welcome to the new week!
Some people have been known to say, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” They may have their own ideas about this, however, I think there is something true here. The truth is, times of crisis: health, faith, work, family, artistic goals, etc., are times when we can grow—like no other. The days and hours of challenge encase the opportunity which inspires a change, that we were not previously convinced was in our reach. More often, before the pressure of need arrives on the scene, we simply are not motivated to even try to accomplish what, at first glance, seems to be unreachable.
On a personal level, about two weeks ago I found out I need to look for a new job, due to budgetary constraints. I’m not sharing this as a complaint, but to express that the subject of challenges is close to home.
So, I’m in the job market again. It’s been about nine months since my last job transition, moving my family cross country. It’s been a really good move and change. There have been times, in my past, when I was more discouraged over this kind of news, and I do feel the weight of this process, but I also know that each change—that upheaval brings— really has been for the better. So, challenges. I get it. Deep breath here.
I get the cramped feeling of “no time” for art. In addition to my role as a husband and father of six beautiful kids, whom my wife and I get to homeschool, my full time job and other roles—I am now revamping my portfolio, updating my résumé, and corresponding with headhunters daily. The sense of not enough time has been all the more keenly felt in the day-to-day.
I know this is also the case for many of you and it can be downright painful; like a sense of being a backed-up sink pipe, so many ideas and desires with no time, space, way, to unclog the passage ways. When I tell you it is currently hard to find even 15 minutes to sketch, I’m serious. I don’t sit around and watch t.v. (sometimes, I’ll play a movie in the background while I’m working). I don’t do video games. The majority of my time is in the daily tasks and so time with my kids recently has become more structured than relaxed—as we’d all prefer.
Lately, I’m trying to get time with them in while we’re making sketchbooks together, as I am their art (and Hebrew) teacher in our homeschool. Their trying to get time in too…a common scene: last night I went to sit down on the couch with my sketchbook and I’d barely sat before I was surrounded, with, “Hey Daddy, look at this.” and “Oh, I wanted to ask you…”. I’m not complaining that my kids want to be with or talk to me at all, I’m very thankful for that, rather I am recognizing the reality of what it looks like in real time.
My wife and I have a date every week to reconnect and that’s a lifeline but we also work together on this blog as a way to flesh out ideas and share our dreams together. If we didn’t do this together I know I wouldn’t be doing it, at all. I just wouldn’t. I’d want to be around her instead—so this is one way we push forward, together.
Madeleine L’engle talks about writing, creating under pressure, she says we must, and I believe this. Yet what does that look like in these seasons, years, of extreme days without paying a price that would never be worth it? Many of you know about my #15minart challenge and just pressing through for 15 minutes at a time. Lately, I have even found that to be too long. Jake Parker has his eight minute challenge. Writers keep their notebooks close by for the quick jot or notes open on their phones/devices. These really can carry us to and through to those more desired segments of time where we can actually relax and focus more deeply.
It’s easy at these times to doubt that it even matters. It does matter. Your story and the art of your life whichever medium, matters deeply. Crisis, in your case, may look like life as you know it coming to a complete halt. Health challenges, family issues, etc.—these are the times it is not only most easy to doubt and subsequently give up, these are also the times it’s most important to stay the course, even if only mentally—don’t give up. Some things cannot be rushed. The slow evolution is often our last desire, but also often a path of quality we wouldn’t choose for ourselves—given the option.
Know that this isn’t the end, even if everything looks different later, it’s still an essential part of your story. Embracing this can change everything. It holds the power to transform what formerly felt like a backed-up pipe to a realized bank of ideas and goodness, not wasted, not lost, or forgotten. Maybe those individual ideas may never express themselves, that’s true. But we can trust that they are part of the bigger picture of what you and I have to offer, at the right time.
We can trust the limits, we are given, are not there by mistake, but rather by a design with a wisdom higher than our own. We do what we can, we breathe and let the rest be.
What’s the fallout of all this—if we don’t embrace the challenges we meet? Are backed-up sink pipes a good thing? Nope. The fallout friends, if we don’t figure out how to manage these challenges, even in mental shifts, is a very unwell us. This stuff matters, and recognizing it alone, can take us far.
This is a patient and refining work. So let it happen; but not by ignoring your passions, or the fire in your belly. Don’t ignore the things that make you happy and make you feel alive, there’s a good reason for those things. Proceed gently.
Making a commitment to see and appreciate this has helped my family through some trying times. I hope it helps you too.
Here’s how we put it Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration: “I commit to embracing challenges as the opportunity that they are, believing God wants to use them as a way to help me grow and live inspired.” Subscribe for your free copy.
By the way, I’ve collected all of the “Thirteen Commitment” posts, so far, under one link. Please share them with the artists you know. You can find them here.
Here’s the watercolor paper we used for our sketchbooks.
Canson Watercolor Paper Bulk Pack, 9″X12″
Good for combining wet and dry media
Suitable for light washes and easy to re-work
Bulk packs are great for art demos, events, and classes
Each pack contains 100 sheets
90lb / 185g acid free 9″X12″ paper
RECENT GOOD READ:
New bedtime fave: What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
What’s your best advice for embracing challenge? Share in the comments below?
Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, create more,
P.S. Raynna and I have been dreaming up something exciting for awhile now that we’re hoping to announce soon, make sure you’re subscribed if you want to hear first. Thanks for being here everyone!
Also, Subscribe to get the free one page PDF: Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration. My wife and I have packed it full for you.
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