Seasons in a Creative’s Life

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“Spring Song” – Violet Nesdoly (Watercolor on 140 lb. cold press paper, 9×6 inches).

This week I’m taking in a three-session webinar on the artist’s mindset led by artist coach and mentor Matt Tommey. Yesterday’s lecture was followed by a Q&A where Tommey answered submitted questions. The first question and his answer opened a window for me.

The question was (not the exact words but the gist) “What do I do when I feel an artistic calling in many directions?”

Matt’s answer:

  • Many creatives are polymaths, i.e. Renaissance people who are interested and excel at many things. It is not surprising that they struggle with finding a focus when their interests and skills are wide and varied.

  • The answer to that is to recognize that life has SEASONS.

He spoke of his own seasons of leading worship (music), basket making (art), church involvement, now leading his mentoring program.

Our seasons are determined by many things: our age, family and responsibilities to them, finances, health, etc. When we are aware of life’s seasons, and the changes they bring, we don’t need to stress when we find our focus shifting as a result of changing circumstances.

I can relate to that!

When our family was growing up, my creative pursuits involved decorating my home, sewing for my family, gardening, and doing the odd craft project.

Then I started a home-based medical transcription business and for a time my attention was absorbed by it—along with family and church responsibilities.

Once it was established, I got the itch to work on an old love—writing. I registered for a writing course and within about a year, had sold my first article. Many published articles, stories, devotions, puzzles and poems followed. I published a couple of poetry books and even wrote two novels.

Then in 2017 I discovered Bible Art Journaling through a request to review the wonderful book The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling. Oh shiny!

(Many of my siblings are talented artists with formal art training. I loved art but felt I couldn’t measure up, so shoved that old interest into the background. When I saw the Bible Journaling book and the projects people did, immediately I knew I wanted to try this, just for the fun and spiritual enrichment of it. I promptly ordered a journaling Bible, which I enjoy doodling in to this day.)

My next step into art was joining Instagram where my visual world exploded with the wonderful art work of others. I joined in on a few art and lettering challenges and stumbled across Samantha Dion Baker’s book Draw Your Day, about keeping a sketch journal.

On December 7, 2018, I made my first sketch journal entry, with a resolve to do a little art every day. It’s a resolve I’ve pretty much honoured since them.

What I discovered, however, as I let myself get drawn ever more into the vortex of art, was that my formerly high enthusiasm for writing was waning. All the creative oxygen in my life was being sucked up by art. I often felt sad and a little guilty about this, but didn’t feel like going back to the committed writing lifestyle either.

Yesterday’s discussion by Matt about flowing with the seasons of life, then, helped me put my experience into perspective.

I realized there were reasons why I was moving out of the writing season.

  • I have written about many many things and felt talked-out.
  • As I age (and I am a senior) words are harder to find. The old mind isn’t quite as nimble and sharp as it used to be. Art is easier on the brain.
  • The production cycle for any big writing project, like a book, is long and taxing. Even if one puts one’s heart and soul into it, it is often not monetarily viable. (It’s true what they say, that writing the book is only a fraction of the work that’s needed to get it out into the world.)

All that to say, I now understand my journey better. I feel free to embrace this new season of visual art creation as a step that was right and perhaps even inevitable.

Our Lecture One assignment was: “Create a piece of art that reflects your response to the beauty of God’s gift of imagination.” The Red-wing Blackbird study that illustrates this post is based on a reference photo i took a few weeks ago, of a blackbird singing his heart out. It symbolizes the joy of a new season.

One more thing!

We’re having a two-day sale at our Etsy shop. You will find 15% off all items in the store (art cards and wall art). Check it out: at Violet Nesdoly Art.

Permission Pages #BibleJournaling

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A while ago I came across blog post: “Permission Pages: the perfectionist’s approach to the journaling Bible.” Lauren, the creator of that post, explains well what “Permission Pages” are and why one might want to create one, or several, in a journaling Bible.

I loved the idea and added two as tip-ins at the front of my Bible. If you view Lauren’s original post, you’ll see that I included many of her ideas on my pages and added a few more of my own.

The pages are parchment paper, attached to the inside of the front cover pages with washi tape. The lettering was done with Pigma Micron pens, the coloring with pencil crayons.

Permission1

“This Bible is for…” permission page 1 (V. Nesdoly)

Permission2

“This Bible is not for …” and “These pages may …” permission page 2 (V. Nesdoly)

Creating these pages was a good way for me to revisit why I’m doing this, and my expectations of myself and what the process of Bible art journaling will do for me. If you’re a Bible journaler, you might want to create permission pages for your journaling Bible.

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Creative God #BibleJournaling

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One of my favorite psalms is 104. It’s full of pictures—God laying the “beams of His upper chambers in the waters,” chariot clouds, angels that appear as “a flame of fire,” mountains, valleys, beasts, trees, birds… I wanted to do an art journal entry, but where to start?

I decided to focus on the latter half of the psalm which describes the creation and movement of the cosmos—earth, moon, stars, sun. The words that jumped out at me were sum-up ones:

“O Lord, how manifold are all Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all,
The earth is full of Your possessions” – Psalm 104:24.

I found a black-and-white globe online (with North America facing), printed and cut it out. Then I sketched with pencil and pen on the white “ocean” parts, with white gel pen on the black “land” parts. Pencil crayons and paints finished the graphic.

As I was working, a thought occurred: But God never made the boats, ships, planes, skyscrapers, and vehicles.

Ah, another answered, but it was He who planted within mankind the creative spirit to design, re-form and use elements He had created in their raw forms and states. He created us humans to remake, reuse, recycle.

Night and day, stars, moon, and sun entered the drawing above and below where I attached the globe.

Ps 104-24a

What to put on the underside?

The words just a bit further down in Psalm 104 remind me that God has never left creation but continues to sustain it: “These all wait for You.” Still further along we read the very real end of any creature that was but is no longer sustained: “You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust” – Psalm 104:29. Who of us hasn’t experienced that in the reality of physical death—of pets, of loved ones?

As I contemplated how I might finish the back of the globe, another reminder of God’s ownership came to me in the words of Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.”

Ps 104-back

Father God, I remind myself that the earth is Yours and all its fullness. In wisdom You have made them all. These all (I included) wait for you. Along with the psalmist I say: I will bless, praise, and sing to the Lord as long as I live – Psalm 104:35,33.

No Limits (review)

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No Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your CapacityNo Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your Capacity by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though he’ll be 70 this year, John C. Maxwell is still going strong. No Limits, his latest book, gives readers an understanding of what drives him with lots of how-to on staying productive themselves long after one would expect their batteries to be drained.

The book’s organization is based on Maxwell’s formula for reaching maximum capacity: “If you grow in your awareness, develop your abilities and make the right choices, you can reach your capacity” – p. 2.

The first section of only two chapters, explores awareness. The second seven-chapter block focuses on abilities. Maxwell discusses abilities in many spheres including energy, emotion, thinking, people, and leadership. The last eleven-chapter section focuses on choices. It challenges readers to increase personal capacity and the capacity of the group they’re leading by making the right choices in areas like taking responsibility, being intentional, having a positive attitude, faith, being a good partner, and more.

Though the book targets leaders in the world of work, it also has much to offer individuals who lead in informal ways.

I found this book wide-ranging, positive, encouraging, and wise, though it did leave me wondering where Maxwell gets the seemingly boundless energy he has for work, family, and friends. His recitation of the activities of only one of his days left me tired. How does he manage to live such a full and productive life? I would say by actually living his own advice.

Even as I read it, I realized, this is not me. So, though I personally will not be trying everything in this book, I did find myself underlining passages all over the place and will, in the days ahead, implement more than one of Maxwell’s suggestions to hopefully boost my own capacity and productivity.

Here are a few of my favorite bits:

From Thinking Capacity: “Writing about an idea gives your thinking intellectual weight. It creates clarity in your thinking. Talking about an idea gives it emotional weight. It connects your thinking to your heart – p. 83.

From Creative Capacity: “You will become as creative as the amount of time you set aside for it…. There is a relationship between scheduling a time to be creative and being inspired to create” – p. 129.

From Production Capacity: “Find ways to focus your time and attention and work toward eliminating from your schedule anything that doesn’t have a high return” – p. 145.

From Character Capacity: “Good character uses the same standard in every situation. It something is right, it’s always right. If it’s wrong, it’s always wrong. People with good character are consistent” p. 190.

From Discipline Capacity quoting Steven R. Covey: “Once you have a burning yes inside you about what’s truly important, it’s very easy t say no to the unimportant” – p. 214.

This would be a great book for leaders in any field, as well as young people entering the work force, middle-aged workers who are considering where they’ve been and asking where to now, and healthy, energetic seniors who want to make the most of the years remaining.

I received No Limits as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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