Cultivating Creative Kids: Artist Kindling Letter from MrJayMyers

September 13, 2018By jayart, Blog, children's books, Children's tales, Design, Encouragement, inking, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, Writing

“Invite us. Interrupt us. Be with us.” That’s some of what our kids said when we asked them what we could tell others about involving and coming alongside their own tribe in the creative life.

We have a solid twenty to thirty minute drive to just about everywhere we go, now that we live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. This gives us a lot of good space for conversation as a family (when Jay and I feel up to facilitating anyways). But this day our conversation took on a life of its own the entire car ride.

Jay and I asked a few questions and they were all over it. All we had to do was ask more questions and listen, and I took some notes to share with you all while Jay drove. More below…

Jay’s recent sketching out ideas for upcoming Florid Sword Comic, based on The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson.

If you are just catching up with us in this space, my husband Jay is on a bit of a writing hiatus, so in the mean time I am essentially interviewing him (or our kids apparently ;) ) and together we are sharing our creative journey to serve and inspire fellow creative souls to not give up and to keep our eyes on the right things to help us all persevere.

We believe community is essential to the process and growth that can come from living the creative life, whether that’s how we are raising our families, setting our tables, writing songs, painting, drawing, writing, etc. Individually, Jay is a storyteller/illustrator and I am a writer/photographer. Together, we’re aiming for our best work to be evident in our crew of six, because they are definitely our most important. So, we thought we’d let you hear from them this week:

In all honestly, it felt like they were all saying the same thing over and over in different ways, but it was fun and insightful to listen close to the differences. It was mostly our teens (we have three right now) and pre-teen who chimed in the most. Here’s what they gave us:

  • “TALK, it’s important to ask if we want to spend some time creating together. Even if it appears like an interruption. Kids are sometimes too afraid or stubborn to ask for what they really want.”
  • “BE WITH US, just give us attention, every kid wants it. Kids like to be with and do what their parents are doing more than you know.”
  • “BE PATIENT, results may not be immediate — teens especially can be stubborn, be available. Just choose a table, or couch, any place without devices and screens and just be with us. Bring your sketchbook or project you are working on. Just your being where we can come be with you feels like an invitation.”
  • “KEEP SHOWING UP, put it on your calendar if you need to. We like to know you’re going to keep coming back.”
  • “GIVE US REAL ART TOOLS. Parents give their toddlers imitation power tools, lawn mowers, etc. try giving teenagers some ‘tools’ you like to use to get creative with too. We still like to try to be like you, we’re just less outward about it sometimes. Initiate.”
  • “Help us CONNECT with others in creative ways, it inspires us and gets the creative juices going.”

We hope listening in to the things the kids said spark some ideas inside of you the way it did us. They make it sound pretty easy and simple, right? It felt like the Nike slogan “Just Do It” became the theme of the night. Of course, the doing is another story. We’re a little ways in now, but still in the experimental stages honestly. Our oldest is seventeen and our youngest is six, but we think it’s going to be a story worth writing.

If you have found it challenging to cultivate and come alongside your kids in creative ways, you are not alone. What have you found most challenging and most effective in these goals? We’d love to hear.

Sketch book page this week.

What We’ve Been Reading:

We have been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia out-loud as a family this year. Before you get a cozy picture of all of us sitting peacefully around the fire, we’ll be the first to remind you that life is real at our house too.

We are currently on Prince Caspian, and our six year old is a little less interested than he was when it was all about Poly and Digory, but I have noticed him experimenting with a British accent more often, and [insert my own British accent] we find that brilliant.

The Full Color Collector’s Edition of The Chronicles of Narnia is currently discounted at 46% off from Amazon.


Storyteller:

Here’s an excerpt from a long-term writing project of Jay’s, a compilation of stories called,
Consider the Ravens :


Float

Writing for children must never sink.
Children are filled with wonder.
Wonder floats.
Writing for children
Must ascend to the heights,
To the heights of those who float
Who float and swim in the infinite.

Jay Myers, Consider the Ravens

 


The Goods:

Newest Bigfoot Tee-shirt design is in the shop!  B.F.F. — Bigfoot Forever

Because we know everyone needs a Back-to-School Bigfoot Tee-shirt (parent’s included):

When you click the link above.

  • Choose design you’d like on your tee. Here’s some examples: one, two, or three below. But MANY more options available, including hoodies for Fall.
  • Choose department: men’s, women’s, children’s, accessories (you can even get a beach towel?!)
  • Choose the style of shirt you want, t-shirt, tank, long-sleeve, tri-blend, scoop neck etc.
  • Choose size

Commissions: Closed for now. Thank you to everyone who ordered! We’re hoping to open up some spots again before end of year. 

Follow any of Jay’s social networks, (MrJayMyers: Twitter , FaceBook , Instagram) or subscribe here to know when.

Recent commission of a knitting Bigfoot. Talk about imaginative!

 


So much gratitude for all of your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we seriously appreciate you!

Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, create more,

Jay & Raynna

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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Want a free downloadable encouragement tool? Fill out the info below and get a link for a free download of a one page PDF to keep you inspired:

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We always want to disclose to you that we do use affiliate links on the products we recommend or share but never at any extra cost to you. Also, we’ll only recommend products we believe in. Thanks for your trust. Our full disclosure policy is here if interested.

 

 

True Vision (social media, RL, artist block, you): Artist Kindling Letter From MrJayMyers

August 23, 2018By jayart, Blog, children's books, Children's tales, Design, Encouragement, giveaway, inking, Writing

Hello All,

How has your week been so far? It feels like just about everyone we know has had a pretty challenging one. Jay and I’s discussion this week was woven through our own challenges as well as hearing others, seeking true vision through the fog of weariness, social media and RL (real life) weirdness, and then, there’s ourselves. Oi.

It is difficult sometimes to see the way decimation is the beginning of creation.

“Art is simultaneously creation and destruction… The person who wants to escape destruction—a synonym here for change, for letting go of the past—has to avoid creation as well. Neither can go long without involving the other.” -David Ebenbach

We know this by heart so well that it is painful to write the words, but then that’s why we must. It’s true. The question we all need to answer is how do we walk through this with grace? This real, seemingly juxtaposed, way of living? How do we wrap our minds, let alone get our legs moving, while holding these truths in tension? They don’t come to us beautifully wrapped. These realities come to us wrapped in tired skin, in the daily grind, in traffic hour.

“Rabbi Bunin, a Hasidic teacher of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, told his students that they should carry two scrolls with them, one in each pocket. One should read, ‘I am dust and ashes,’ and the other should read, ‘the world was created for me.’ -David Ebenbach

These are the kind of truths that can cut through the noise and obstructions of true vision. It’s humbling, and that’s the point.

“The first thing is to make the difficult commitment to the truth, even when the truth is uncomfortable in some way.” -David Ebenbach

Like a small hole in a ship unattended will cause it to sink, make a commitment in the small things first, so that you do not undermine who you are — who you are created to be. If you choose the difficult path of holding in tension that you are both dust and ash as well as know the whole world was created for you, you will do well. You will live beyond yourself, you will strengthen the fabric of your culture, because anyone who can see this in themself can see it in another as well. Our world needs this. THIS is the foundation of our most important creating, and it starts in every small way.

Make a commitment to knowing that no matter how many friends, followers, or likers you ever have in real life or social media (tens, hundreds, or thousands) there’s always  going to be a core of people who stick with you through the highs, the lows, the stretching, the failing, and the accomplishments. Keep your eye on that core, see them, appreciate them. See true.

Make a commitment to hold the possibility that no matter how many excuses we give ourselves for being “blocked”,  we’ll be willing to consider the often uncomfortable truth that, as Paul Simon put it, “I think when I get blocked, when I get writer’s block …what it is is that you have something to say but you don’t want to say it. So your mind says, ‘I have no thoughts.’ Closer to the truth is that you have a thought that you would really prefer not to have.” (Zollo, Song Writers, 98)

Make a commitment to call yourself an artist. Say it out loud. Tell somebody. We know that doesn’t feel like a small commitment, but in the big picture, it is. You have been created in the image of a Creator. It’s time to see true, and create.


What Jay has been working on this week. Oops, I mean the last three years:

This is very exciting news around our house. Jay started this comic TWO out-of-state moves ago. I’m deeply proud of him for persevering. This is one of those projects we had to look at and say, “Even if it takes ten years, you’ll finish.” In that light, three years just didn’t feel so bad! Ha.

This is the cover to a story/comic that, in Jay’s words, is an exploration of grace. He’s in the last stages now. Stay tuned!


What we’ve been reading:

“The Artist’s Torah is an uplifting and down-to-earth guide to the creative process, wide open to longtime artists and first-time dabblers, to people of every religious background-or none-and to every creative medium. In this book, you’ll find a yearlong cycle of weekly meditations on a life lived artistically, grounded in ancient Jewish wisdom and the wisdom of artists, composers, writers, and choreographers from the past and present. You’ll explore the nature of the creative process-how it begins, what it’s for, what it asks of you, how you work your way to truth and meaning, what you do when you get blocked, what you do when you’re done-and encounter questions that will help you apply the meditations to your own life and work. Above all, The Artist’s Torah teaches us that creativity is a natural and important part of the human spirit, a bright spark that, week after week, this book will brighten.” (Amazon)

Note: We always want to disclose to you that we do use affiliate links on the products we share, that means we may get a small percentage in return for sharing products, but never at any extra cost to you. We’ll only recommend products we believe in, and seriously appreciate you coming alongside our family in this way. Our full disclosure policy is here if interested.


New Month, New Give-Away!


We’d love to send one of you a copy of Jay’s Western Fairytale Comic, The Adventures of Tomy & Jon this month. Your name will be entered into the drawing by following two simple steps:

  1.  Share this post, and
  2. Let us know you did. (comment here or elsewhere, private or public)

We are grateful for you each, and appreciate how often you have shared our posts, written us with your feedback, and inspired us to keep going. Thank you!


Remember creativity is a muscle. Create, be happy, create more.

Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you!

Have a great weekend everyone,

Jay & Raynna

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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Who is Creative? Why Does it Matter? Artist Kindling Letter from MrJayMyers

August 16, 2018By jayart, Blog, children's books, Design, Encouragement, inking, Writing

“Creativity is not a talent, it’s a quality of life that characterizes every aspect of human involvement. From the smallest mundane chores to the grandest works of art, creativity is not reserved for the professional artist or a select elite. It influences the way we cook our food and set our tables, the way we raise our children and take care of our cities. Every part of life can be endowed with the creative touch.”
-Steven Roach, Makers & Mystics Podcast Season 4, Episode 6

Last week we broached the subject of looking beyond what we do as creative souls to who we are. It was encouraging to get many of your responses. We apologize for not being able to respond to all as of yet. This is a piercing subject. This is the kind of conversation that if translated into what we do could shape not only who we are but what lives beyond us after we’re gone.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -J.R.R. Tolkien

These words touch on so many planes. In the case of creativity, of beauty, it is too easy to dismiss the value, too easy to miss what this brings into our lives and what the process bears in terms of character and awareness — not only for ourselves.

The last few weeks as Jay and I search for quiet moments in the days to connect we keep coming back to a similar theme — legacy. We agree that if we fail to aim for our best as parents or as husband and wife we’re missing the mark entirely. So with that firm, we’re also continually wanting to take an honest look at this question: What does it mean to live fully as ourselves in those roles — even as we lay our lives down in very real ways?

The hard work of living into our full potential in any role includes listening to the design of who we are, trusting it has a place, it fits, it matters. The joy in this is not only working hard at something, it’s rounding those mysterious corners, every once in awhile, that give you a glimpse into how and why being fully ourselves matters to the people we love the most.

It’s unnerving how close we have often been to giving up only to have a small voice enter the scene — our children, a friend, each other — telling us or showing us something true. Something that tells us, this is important. Who we are matters. Yes, from the mundane chores to the grandest works of art.

If you missed our post last week with what we hope are some helpful prompts to dig into this further, read more here.

Recent sketches as Jay explores the look and feel of Florid Sword & Shadow Blade for the comic he is working on for Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga.

Storyteller:

Here’s an excerpt from a long-term writing project of Jay’s, a compilation of stories called,
Consider the Ravens :

Shall Not Pass

Soldier stood at birthing dawn
Battle cries not far gone
Stood there waiting for smoke to clear
As evil marched ever nearer

‘Halt,” he yelled, beneath iron tower
You shall not pass here this very hour
Though ogre and giant are within your sway
You shall not pass here, not this day.

Ogre screamed and giant roared
Overhead stone was hurled.
He stood his ground
As night came down

“Son, come in,
it’s time for dinner.”

-Jay Myers, Consider the Ravens

 


Do you know about our 14 Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration?

Want a free downloadable encouragement tool? Fill out the info below and get a link for a free download of a one page PDF to keep you inspired:

* indicates required



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Remember creativity is a muscle. Create, be happy, create more.

Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you!

Have a great weekend everyone,

Jay & Raynna

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
image

We always want to disclose to you that we do use affiliate links on the products we recommend or share but never at any extra cost to you. Also, we’ll only recommend products we believe in. Thanks for your trust. Our full disclosure policy is here if interested.

The Harder Thing: Artist Kindling from MrJayMyers

August 10, 2018By jayart, Design, Encouragement, inking, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, process

Every week I (Raynna) ask Jay, “What are you learning? What do you want to share?”

Every week our conversation gets vulnerable and he jokes that perhaps we should stop before he starts weeping and wanting to sing Kumbaya.

Because we often break out into Kumbaya. 

Hashtag, not quite.

But it’s true, looking at soul stuff is dangerous, it’s challenging. It almost always involves facing thresholds, obstacles even, that we can’t see the other side of from where we are currently standing. And that invites all the what ifs. And, honestly, it’s easier to laugh and move on than feel like your head might explode.

So what were we talking about? The harder thing — harder than learning how to be an artist, how to draw well, how to paint well, write well, make music well etc. The harder thing is learning how to be who you are. Not your style, not your stories — you.

Your style as a creative person comes out of this. Your style is an expression of who you are, but it is not the core. You could even call your style your skin. It’s close, very close, and it’s so connected, but the deeper thing is you. Who are you?

It’s worthy of our time to ask ourselves what do we want to be known for and to let that work us backwards to the question, “Who am I?”. This allows us to be present and intentional about our creativity. This will translate. But sometimes we have to start even closer to the surface. Good questions to start with:

What do I like?

What do the things I create and like the most tell me about me?

What do I find continually resonating with me?

What do I do or create that finds resonance in others?

That last one, any of these really, can feel painful if you feel that there is no answer, but we don’t have to be afraid of it, because that is an answer. It’s a place to begin. It’s a place to ask, “Why?”.

Why am I not finding resonance (don’t read likes or popularity here, that’s a separate issue).

Am I really bringing myself to the table?

Am I bringing my fears and listening to what they are telling me?

Am I allowing myself to enjoy?

Am I bringing honesty, willingness to be wrong, or imperfect?

Fascinating to me is to watch Jay be continually drawn to and create “unfinished” looking finished pieces of art. He likes to see the scratches, the splatters, the process. To him, this feels alive, immediate, present. Makes sense right? But what he has told me many times is that this has often felt like a fault in him.

However, it makes me smile as I realize how clearly this shines a light on and mirrors who he is. He is a person who needs to be ok with his own imperfections and unfinished places if he’s going to keep creating. He needs to know he is in a process, that he is growing, to know he is alive and to keep going. If he were to be too harsh or ungraceful with himself, he would quit.

He is hungry for growth so he looks for evidence of it, that everything isn’t staying the same. This is also part of why he teaches and encourages others to grow. He needs to know nothing is in its final form, not even him.

Without fully thinking of it he even created a story wherein the hero (Klausen) sees through the hardened outer shell and calls out to the truth of the inner being, showing the way to transformation. In a sense you could say his own struggles, bring out his best strengths. I’m glad for it too.

In truth, this is true for all of us. But we need to engage these questions about ourselves with kindness, a gentle light not a harsh one to see how this is playing out inside of us, and how it makes each of us tick in our own unique ways.

If that’s hard to do, ask a friend to help. (There’s worse things than getting teary, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya ya’ll.) Worse things like your own sphere of people missing out on who you really are. You are needed and important — struggles, strengths, and all. True story.

We’re not saying anything new, but every once in a while it’s good to be reminded that if it starts to feel like your head might explode — it won’t. It might let out a little steam though, and that’s actually not a terrible thing.


Do you know about our 14 Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration?

Want a free downloadable encouragement tool? Fill out the info below and get a link for a free download of a one page PDF to keep you inspired:

* indicates required



Email Format



Remember creativity is a muscle. Create, be happy, create more.

Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you!

Have a great weekend everyone,

Jay & Raynna

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
image

Be Brave. Cultivate Creative Community: Artist Kindling Letter From MrJayMyers

August 2, 2018By jay13 Commitments, art, Blog, Design, Encouragement, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, Writing

When you have six kids and work full-time, it’s easy to let dreams and desires slip away. Scratch that, kids or not, full-time work or not, reaching for what we really want in life takes effort and it just is easier, not to.

Add to that any kind of challenge or hurdle and you’ve got what we call life. And life is hard. It’s easy to let —you — slip away. We all want to feast on life, drink it in, laugh and be merry. Yet, the intention and resourcefulness we end up finding it takes to do so, to take agency, no matter the passion we feel in our hearts, is a painful reminder of our humanity.

So this post is from Jay and I to you, creative souls, who feel a little lost right now. Those of you who feel with certainty, deep in your bones, you were meant to create but for the love might cry or scream or otherwise go into a deep funk if someone glibly were to suggest you take some time to for it.

We get it. The inertia felt profoundly. And you know what one of the. biggest. game changers for us in this has been? Community. Another thing that can feel hard. Hard to find and/or find time for, right?

Jay’s been developing his Chronicles of Klausen in his off season. Even Klausen needs community.

Not terribly long ago, our sister traveled several hours, after work, one night to get to our home and take care of our tribe while we traveled another six hours to simply be with, soak up, some community. It felt like home. But it wasn’t.

It was the kind of environment where we were surrounded by veritable strangers, yet we had all come together because there was a common dialogue stirring inside of us, a starting place, a common ground to brave together—it’s why we were all there. It was wonderful.

A few days later as we drove home, Jay and I dreamed out loud at how we could cultivate that same sense, in our home, for our family, for others. Then the costs, the work, the sacrifices, the fears and all the questions came too. It was easier, not to.

The following passage of time has found us practicing different things. Little things. Almost could feel entirely insignificant things. We’re not writing you because we’ve got this all figured out. We’re writing you because we want to take the hard path with you.

Just because someone has a blog and writes to you about hard things doesn’t mean they don’t encounter the hard, in fact it’s usually exactly the opposite. Here are some things we’re learning along the way to braving-the-hard.

Remember this:

  1. It’s true, anything we create comes from a seed. This has been important for us to recognize and appreciate, we benefit from community whether we know it, remember it, understand it, or not.
  2. A very few but significant others, have spoken into our lives and have kept us going, sometimes when we have been hanging only by a string. This gives us hope that maybe we could be that for someone else. We matter, the words we speak matter. We should live like it.
  3. We don’t have to wait for the stars to align, nor have a combined family travel of 20 hours to have community. What is true community? It is where two or more are gathered with a common and unified purpose. That includes our children, random stranger at the art store looking at the same pencils we are, etc. Everybody needs people, everywhere.
  4. We don’t even have to travel to a conference. About six years ago we began our own annual family art show where the kids can all sell their art to each other as well as invite family and neighbors over to. (This includes home-made brownies. Totally art.)
    We even recently began a family tradition of a yearly artist’s retreat, at our house. in. our. living room. This is not hard. Food. Inspirational YouTube videos. Honest conversation. More food. Workshop, teach what we know because we know something. Ask someone else to teach what they know. Be where we are, it turns out there’s a lot of joy there.

    Jay’s Klausen sketches are done in his favorite Moleskine sketchbooks.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go first. Going first does not mean going perfect, it means going as we are, and that is incredibly brave. Remember what we already know in our bones, don’t we dare forget it: we were born to create.
  6. Community changes everything. It brings us out of the dark where the only voice we hear is our own, there’s no one there to tell us the truth, remind us of goodness, nourish us with beauty. We need each other.

This month we’re taking a new step and beginning an artist’s circle at our house. So, in many ways we are truly writing to ourselves here. Thanks for being with us!


Storyteller:

Here’s an excerpt from a long-term writing project of Jay’s, a compilation of stories called,
Consider the Ravens :

King of Strings

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.

Strings, that once in a while connect,
Connect by the will of the Almighty.


So, we are wondering…

What do you think of this design with Jay’s motto, Create. Be Happy. Create More ? Do you think it would be fun on a tee-shirt, a sticker, or a bag? What are your thoughts?

These are simple words, but they’ve really carried Jay through some soul-deep struggles. They’ve become a commitment to him not to quit when he doesn’t like what he has created or feels it needs to be better. He’s made a decision to create, be happy with where he is at, even if it’s not the final destination he is hoping for, and finally to keep going. Create more. Don’t stop.


Commissions Available For a Limited Time:

A current commission Jay is working on. Know who it is?

Here’s what is possible:
An 8×10 watercolor or inked illustration of a favorite scene or (all-age) character. Think storybook or film character.

It will be signed, protected, and shipped as soon as it’s complete. And when you follow any of Jay’s social networks, (MrJayMyers: Twitter , FaceBook , Instagram) you will see process shots of the project.

Costs: Watercolor: $100 or Ink: $35 See more info here. 


Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you! And we love to hear from you too, tell us in the comments what you have found the biggest challenge to cultivating creative community in your life?

Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, create more,

Jay & Raynna

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
image

Want a free downloadable encouragement tool? Fill out the info below and get a link for a free download of a one page PDF to keep you inspired:

* indicates required



Email Format


We always want to disclose to you that we do use affiliate links on the products we recommend or share but never at any extra cost to you. Also, we’ll only recommend products we believe in. Thanks for your trust. Our full disclosure policy is here if interested.

Jay’s favorite sketchbook: See more of his favorite tools here.

On Challenges: Artist Kindling Letter From MrJayMyers

March 26, 2017By jay13 Commitments, art, Blog, children's books, Children's tales, Design, Encouragement, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, process, Recommended Tools

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.


Sketchbook Makings:

 


RECOMMENDED TOOL:

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,

Jay

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.

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!

Other ways to connect (MrJayMyers): Twitter , FaceBook and Instagram.

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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I always want to disclose to you that I do use affiliate links on the products I recommend but never at any extra cost to you and never just to make money. I’ll only recommend products I believe in. Thanks for your trust. My full disclosure policy is here if interested.

Drawn from Life: MrJayMyers Posts in Review

August 5, 2016By jayart, Blog, Design, Encouragement, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,

Sometimes we build so much we need to stop and remember what is behind us. This post is a refresher, drawing from a few key posts that maybe you’ve missed or might encourage you where you are right now:


If you relate to this: Need a tool to help you grow your skills in your busy life? 15 minutes is a load of time when your time is crunched. Whether you’re like me and have a family, full-time (non-art) job, responsibilities, etc., or you have your own puzzle to make work— sometimes for all of us, it can feel like there isn’t enough time to work on growing our skills. Sometimes, it can feel like we’ll never hit our goals. If that’s the case for you, check out the 15 minart challenge. It’s a challenge that will help you grow.

Check It Out: #15MinArtChallenge


If constraints feel bad, know this—they can lead to great results. Find that sweet spot to get stronger in your skills.

I still like how Jake said it,
“Creativity thrives on constraint.” — Jake Parker

Read: Find Your Creative Sweet Spot & Tools to Help: MrJayMyers Week in Review


Need Encouragement to: Grow your skills? Forge through? Give yourself some rest time, but mostly push those skills till it hurts?

Drawing is like working out. You have to build the art and creativity muscles. But, don’t overdo it. Rest is as important as working out. Balance the workout and rest. Here’s a key: while you’re doing it, if you run into a dry spell—focus on growing your skills, not waiting for inspiration.

Read More Here: MrJayMyers’ Lost Month in Review


Life truly is like a box of chocolates: there are some tasty times and some not so tasty. But, if we are going to get where we want to go we need to stay the course.

I’ve worked at all kinds of places. I’ve even given up drawing—for 10 years. So, don’t freak when you find yourself where you don’t want to be. Use it.

READ: On Growing Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review


And just last week, this is what I wanted to pass on: you are your best and most important asset.

Don’t give up being you as you pursue learning from other artists. Figure out how you draw, by drawing often and by letting yourself out of the bag. Sometimes, “my stuff isn’t good enough, but that artist over there is” bug hits and it seems better to be like someone else. They are being them. You be you.

READ it here: On Being You: A MrJayMyers Week in Review


Recent Art:
Some of you might recognize this guy. I had to draw him with a Florid pencil. Initial sketch and color using my Winsor & Newton travel set.

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Process 1

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Process 2

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Process 3

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Process 4

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And here is the final scan. (The color differences are based on yellow light vs white light. Even the scan isn’t exact, but it’s close.)

FloridSwordFinal_sm


Two 15MinartChallenge drawings:

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(Side note: I tried coloring her and let’s just say, I’m glad I took this photo first.)

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Michelangelo was always my favorite.

Art Tip: See all those multiple lines right next to each other? They were done with a pentel brush pen that I modified. Mod your travel brushes, it’ll help.


This Week’s Recommended Tool:
Also a review from a past week, but sharing again along with some helpful info below if you got them:

Pentel Pigment Ink Brush Pen – Extra Fine : Permanent less likely to bleed with was over the top.

Pentel Fude Brush Pen, Extra Fine : Works well with ink wash.

Pentel Fude Brush Pen, Medium : Good for large area and for larger art/line needs.
IMG_4813

All of these I have modified. The cartridge is replaceable, but it is also refillable and that’s awesome. Check out the mods below. One more thing, these pens are squeezable, which means you have to control the flow of ink.

When I first got mine (years ago) I didn’t understand that and I got frustrated with them. But, the beauty is that not only can you squeeze ink in, you can withhold it and have really nice dry brush effects.

Remember, if you choose to buy these through the links above you are helping my family out and I truly appreciate that.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset


Current Good Read:
I’m still making my way through last week’s book: Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days . Highlighting as I go.


Thanks for being great readers and for all your feedback, as I learn how I can help you on your art paths as well. I’ve got some ideas I’m excited to share with you all soon.

Also, I’d love to hear what would you like to see me share here? or if you have any questions I could address?

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

“Illustrators are word people who happen to draw. We work with one foot in a book, the other stuck in a paint pot. Our shoes are a disgrace.” —Wallace Tripp

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 the finale of chapter one this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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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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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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