It may be too late to get Jay’s Yeti calendar in time for Christmas (without expedited shipping) but if you want to get it in time for the New Year, now is the perfect tiiime! Get your calendar here: Yeti ‘Nother 2019 Calendar
We know this is a full time of year for everyone, so this month’s Artist Kindling Letter is a little shorter than usual. Read on though, because we have a gift for you below.
I have loved watching Jay relax with and just enjoy his art lately. When I asked where his focus has been he simply said, chillin’. It shows.
Here is another teaser from a long-term writing project of Jay’s called, Consider the Ravens, a compilation of poems & stories:
Power Lazy people are powerful They fight to keep things the same.
Jay Myers, Consider the Ravens
Thank you so much for all of your support this year! We have a gift for you!
It has been deeply satisfying to finally get to offer part of Jay’s Sasquatch collection as a calendar. This has been a long-term project that feels amazing to release. Your encouragement through sharing his work, buying his art, commenting on his social media, all of it, has and does mean an immense amount. Thank YOU.
To celebrate we are giving away twenty 3×3 vinyl stickers of Jay’s motto with logo shown below and one free calendar! Who loves stickers?! Let us know by commenting on this post because we’re gonna send out twenty first edition Create, Be Happy, Create Morestickers, and one of our subscribers will be getting a free calendar as well!
It could be you. Start commenting :) We’ll be sharing this on his social media accounts too but you all get first dibs!
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.
“Doubt sucks the soul dry, and creativity is a muscle.” That’s what Jay said when I asked him what he had learned this past year since he had last written to you all here.
We thought it might take a month or so to get resettled after our move west. That was a year ago. Sometimes we are a little overly optimistic.
A lot has changed in that year. We now live in Washington State, and Jay works for HP as a Interaction Experience Designer. He never stopped creating but taking the time to write about it has been a different story. So, I’ve decided to help — because I think he is really good at it.
After he told me that doubt sucks the soul dry, I asked him to tell me more. Wanna listen in? Here’s my notes from our conversation:
This is really an issue of humility verses self-doubt. Doubt makes everything tedious. You lose love and want-to. Whereas, true humility develops perseverance and overcomes the doubts.
Two pitfalls, that at first appear opposite, are actually entirely similar:
The problem of doubting ourselves to the point of paralyzing inaction.
The problem of our identity being wrapped up in being an artist, illustrator, or anything else we do.
Both feed off each other because neither are humble, and both will suck you dry. Your greatest, most satisfying, and fullest potential as a creative soul waits outside the gates of this self-imposed prison — called, “pride”.
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.
Sometimes before we begin reading or midway through there are squabbles and tensions that need to be worked out, etc. But, that’s part of why we pick the books we do, the ones that broaden all of our imaginations, beyond ourselves.
As we talked on about these hard-fought-for lessons concerning self-doubt, we remembered Bree from The Horse and His Boy. Bree had encountered fear and failed in the face of it. Afterward, he felt fit for nothing better than slavery, unworthy of the company of the free horses of Narnia. (Pride in the wrong form kills delight and steals joy.)
Though he had traveled far already, to get to Narnia, he told his companions it was only right for him to turn back, when the Hermit of the Southern March, “…had approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass.”
“My good Horse, you’ve lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don’t put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You’re not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn’t follow that you’ll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you’re nobody special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole.”
-The Hermit’s words to Bree in chapter ten of The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Have you noticed the way self-doubt and warped identity issues come from the same root (being strangled by the work we do, rather than nourished)? We’ve all spent time here, the important thing is to pull up doubt and pride by their roots and in true humility persevere.
What is true humility? It is the heart of a student: a willingness to learn from anyone, anywhere, without thinking everyone is better than you. Remember, creativity is a muscle, exercise it. Don’t give up.
Here’s an excerpt from a long-term writing project of Jay’s, a compilation of stories called, Consider the Ravens :
Breath of Wind
When my eyes cracked opened
And I saw all worlds become one
I hid my spirit and hid my soul
And hid my form.
It was in this infinite infancy
In this monumental moment
In this tangling of time and space
That I heard the wind
As it breathed out my name.
It flowed down through the valleys
It floated upon the streams
Weaved through the meadows
And danced upon the leaves
My ears caught its words
But my eyes couldn’t see it
For now the wind was hidden.
As it came to dance with me.
The perilous morsel
Was pleasant and true
Though my soul became aghast
And my mind became aflame
And my vision became blurry
As the wind called my name.
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.
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.
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.
One of the fun ways Jay has kept himself creating within the constraints of full-time work and full-time family life has been to take on or even give himself challenges. One of those fun challenges every year is Inktober. In 2017 Jay and good friend and fellow artist, Therst, persevered through the entire month by focusing on one theme: Bigfoot!
If you’d like to enter for a give-away of some of Jay’s Big Foot Illustrations, we’ve got TWO going right now until Sunday at noon Pacific Time. Don’t miss out, the odds are in your favor. Here are the links for both: Give-Away One & Give-Away Two
Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you!
Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, create more,
Jay & Raynna
Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!
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 Full Color Collector’s Edition of The Chronicles of Narnia is currently deeply discounted at 58% off!
In Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration I talk about three specific areas we need to have our ears turned on:
1) Listening to the work,
2) Listening to the work of the genre you want to join. Think of it like a conversation already in process at a gathering. When you walk up to join you shouldn’t just start talking without first listening. And last, but definitely not least,
3) Listening to those who know you, and by that I mean, care about you as well.
All three of these needs have one big truth they rest firmly atop and that is this; there’s a bigger purpose to being an artist than we know on our own.
As I come into another work week I’m turning my thoughts towards the first kind of listening I note above, the work of listening to the work. What does it mean to listen to the work?
Listening to the work is what happens when you are no longer an artist or a writer or an anything because it’s “cool” but rather because you were created to do it, for a purpose that’s bigger than yourself. In many ways, this work goes on behind the scenes of the work of the everyday.
”We must work everyday, whether we feel like it or not, otherwise when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it.” —Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
Listening to the work is more than a singular, isolated event, it’s a continual cultivation/action. In the same way a farmer can’t harvest his field without the prior work of ground preparation and sowing seeds, neither can we as artists listen to our work, if there is no body of work to listen to. I don’t mean published, polished or completed works, I simply mean work, practice, actual doing-ness in physical reality, not only our “one days”.
We have all wanted inspiration to come down out of the sky and, it does, regularly. Think of it like rain. How much better is it for rain to fall on ground turned, prepared and with seeds in it, than unturned and unprepared? Growing as an artist means understanding our own part in this process, grasping the reality that inspiration can be cultivated. I’m not speaking of manufacturing something—that would be the opposite of listening/receiving. I’m speaking of preparing yourself to be inspired. I’m speaking of being found ready and faithful. When the rain comes, make sure your ground is ready.
I shared these words last week from Diana Pavlac Glyer, “…creativity itself is a messy business. We want to think of it as linear and efficient, but in actuality, it is full of false starts, dead ends, long hours, setbacks, discouragement, and frustrations. Knowing that it works this way can help us be more patient with our own untidy processes.” I believe it can also strengthen our perseverance knowing that all of these challenges, common to artists of every flavor, eventually lead us to a place of being able to listen to the work. It helps me.
What do you do if you can’t hear anything? Don’t give up. Don’t give in to self-hate. The hard fought battles are the worthy ones, right? Right.
Giveaway time! Thanks to everyone who jumped on board with me this week! If you haven’t got your copy of my one page PDF, Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration, subscribe to my blog here and it’s yours. I’ll be unpacking it here for the next few months, and I hope it will be a big encouragement to you.
As for the giveaway of the first chapter of my western fairytale comic Adventures of Tomy and Jon book and a MrJayMyers Color Me coloring book, here are the winners:
If I haven’t contacted you personally yet, I’ll be in touch soon to get those to you. Thanks everyone! I enjoyed that.
More Recent Art:
I’ve been continuously using my new Derwent Watercolor Colored Pencils this week, and really, really like them. You can use them dry, but mixing them with water results in a highly blendable, vibrant ink. There’s 36 in this set for $23.76, from Amazon, which I wanted to tell you about because it ended up being the best deal at the end of a hunt for me including going to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon as well as Dick Blick’s .
In my search, however, I also came across these other Derwent Colored Pencils (not watercolor) and a 24 pack this time, but marked down by 61% it’s regular price. I have always found Derwent to make a quality tool, so I wanted to mention these to any of you who use colored pencils as a medium of choice or if you know someone else who does. Colored pencils get expensive but these are going for more than half off right now. Normally $51.99, they are currently only $20.30, and Prime if you’ve got that. Good deal on good pencils.
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.
Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, keep creating,
Don’t forget to 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.
Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!
It’s Friday in a pretty special week ’round here, days of reflection and giving out of it, thanks-giving.
I’m all in—except for when I get stuck in my ruts, in mind-sets that don’t give and only take. Daily, I become more convinced of the staying power of encouragement and forging forward with community. This is why I am thankful for you all, my friends, and family.
To celebrate, I’ve got three announcements!
1) I’m doing another giveaway—and your chances of winning are good. This time I’ve got a copy of the first chapter of my western fairytale comic Adventures of Tomy and Jon book and a MrJayMyers Color Me coloring book coming for three subscribers to this blog. (Current subscribers are already in the bowl.)
2) You can also DOUBLE your chances by subscribing over at TomynJon.combecause I am giving away three more of each to three othersthere.
3) Last but not least, I’ve got a whole new page of my fairytale up for you all on my webcomic page NOW at tomynjon.com , a holiday special during my current hiatus. I hope you like it. I know I wouldn’t have made it this far without all your support, so thank you immensely.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
Here’s part of my process for the new Tomy and Jon Thanksgiving page:
I know I mentioned this last week, but I’m still reading it and it’s entirely worth a second mention.
From back cover:
An inspiring look at the Inklings and their creative process
C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other members of the Inklings met each week to read and discuss each other’s work-in-progress, offering both encouragement and blistering critique. How did these conversations shape the books they were writing? How does creative collaboration enhance individual talent? And what can we learn from their example?
Featuring full-page illustrations by James A. Owen, Bandersnatch offers an inside look at the Inklings of Oxford, and a seat at their table at the Eagle and Child pub. It shows how encouragement and criticism made all the difference in The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and dozens of other books written by the members of their circle. You’ll learn what made these writers tick, and more: inspired by their example, you’ll discover how collaboration can help your own creative process and lead to genius breakthroughs in whatever work you do.
Here’s a quote:
“…Evidence of creative breakthrough is found in unlikely places: a quick note, an offhand remark, a journal entry, or a formal letter. We gather the scraps, and we piece them together the best we can. The fact is, creativity itself is a messy business. We want to think of it as linear and efficient, but in actuality, it is full of false starts, dead ends, long hours, setbacks, discouragement, and frustrations. Knowing that it works this way can help us be more patient with our own untidy processes.” —Diana Pavlac Glyer
One of the things I am seriously thankful for is what Diana Pavlac Glyer calls “resonators”. One more quote fromBandersnatch; “What is a ‘resonator’? The term describes anyone who acts as a friendly, interested, supportive audience. Resonators fill many roles: they show interest, give feedback, express praise, offer encouragement, contribute practical help, and promote the work of others.” For me this is you—thank you.
Do you have resonators in your life? How can you be one for someone else today? We all need help getting out of our own creative ruts or non-creative ruts, mind-sets that don’t give to us or anyone else. Forging ahead with you.
Have a great weekend. Create, be happy, keep creating,
Don’t forget to subscribe to get in on the giveaway and get a free one page PDF as well: Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration. Winners announced next week!
Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!
First and foremost a BIG thank you to all my subscribers, old and new. My hope is that you will be encouraged to keep creating each week. With this in mind I have something for each of you today (So keep reading!). I wanted to do a giveaway to return some of the kindness you’ve shown in trusting me to be an encouragement and inspiration.
So, the winner of the Little Bot and Sparrow book by Jake Parker and fan art by me is: Paul G. Check out his great art!
Congratulations! I have already been in contact with Paul to make sure he knows he has won. I hope you enjoy the prize!
As for the rest of you, I’m really stoked about this; my wife, Raynna, and I have been working hard on a free download for you. If you are currently a subscriber that gift is already in your inbox. If not, please subscribe and we’ll send it as a free gift to you right away.
It’s a list of thirteen commitments we have personally made and believe in order to cultivate and find inspiration as artists. We are happy to share these with you because it’s made a difference in our family’s life. We are still very much in a process, so we share these as ones in the process.
We say they are commitments we have made, realizing, they are very much making us.
Here’s a teaser of the topics we hit and expound briefly on in the one page download we’ve made for you all: wonder, purposefulness, friendship, listening, honesty, studying, rest, encouraging, doing the work, sketchbooking, scribbling, shipping and challenges.
It was a lot of fun figuring out how to succinctly share the things we have and are learning. Raynna, although not an illustrator, uses these same concepts in her work as a photographer, writer and mother. For example, instead of sketching, for her it’s journaling, instead of scribbling it’s carrying her camera. The concepts are universal and can be applied to many different disciplines.
I hope you will print it out, keep it somewhere that you can see it and stay inspired. I’m rooting for you, and know the struggle. I’m looking forward to revealing more of how each of the commitments are shaping me in the blog posts coming to you in the next several weeks. I hope you’ll stick around.
Around here, my family has been doing a lot of traveling the past couple of weeks. It’s been great and a little short on sleep at the same time. So, this week as I have endeavored to settle back into our rythyms it has been a two-sided coin.
On one side, it’s been sturdy—I have a sense of being more able in my art than I have felt before. One of our trips was to Nashville, TN for a gathering called Hutchmoot, and the time there was a HUGE encouragement to me. On the other side, I am feeling drained from it all—what is good about both of these things, however, is that I can rest knowing what I need is rest and not to push. I can rest confident that I am not slacking, but that I’ve grown. These times are necessary.
It’s also had me returning to Steven Bentley’s question from the other day, “where I get some of my inspiration from”. I’m really looking forward to answering that further and specifically in the area of cultivating inspiration. In other words, what we can do, considering our part, in staying inspired.
Life is full for all of us, with so much vying for our attention, it’s more than easy to not be intentional or make any progress on the things that are important to us, let’s support each other today. Having support continues to definitely make all the difference for me.
Subscribe here to get Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration, a one pagePDF for free, to print out and use as a reminder to commit to the work, as well as give you a jumpstart on what’s coming ahead here on the blog.
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.
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