Thursday, December 5, 2013

This Time of Year

I love this time of year: the joy, the generosity, the music, the special events and big get-togethers with family and friends.

But there are a few things I don’t like. One is mall traffic. Some people love the hustle and bustle of the crowds. If you are one of them, enjoy! You can have them! I do not go anywhere near the malls or large shopping areas during peak shopping times unless absolutely necessary. In fact, if I could avoid even the streets around them completely from Thanksgiving to about halfway through January, I would.

While we’re talking about buying things, the commercialism and “gimme” attitude irks me a bit. It shouldn’t be about buying the biggest, best, or newest of something. Whether it is store-bought, homemade, or a gift of your time, what you give should be a gift from the heart with the recipient in mind. I especially love seeing Angel Trees, Toys-for-Tots boxes, and people donating food and clothing to local food pantries and homeless shelters. These are signs of people giving to others who aren’t as fortunate – and that’s fantastic! Although some programs are seasonal, it would be great to see this same level of generosity all year long.

But the thing that bugs me the most is the whole concept of having to be “Politically Correct”. You’re supposed to say “Happy Holidays” because being more specific might offend someone. By the way, the word “holidays” comes from holy days. So by saying this you are still assuming the person is religious. Which may be why some prefer the even more generic “Season’s Greetings”.

Fair warning: I do not do PC.

I am a Christian and I will not apologize for that.

Don’t get me wrong. I do respect that other people have different religious views, and I do not intend to force my views on anyone else. Whatever holy day or days you may celebrate, if any, I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

But as for me, I’ll be saying “Merry Christmas!”


How about you? Do you love this season or hate it? And how will you be greeting folks?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Drawing a Blank

Blank canvass, blank page, empty SD card – no matter what form your art takes, eventually you’ll draw a blank. You will be faced with an empty space and no idea what to fill it with. So what do you do?

First, don’t panic. It’s natural and everyone has had these moments. It’s not the fact that you have one; it’s how you deal with it.

From there, however, it seems to be a purely personal thing. Some people suggest taking a break, doing something else. For those of us who spend way too much time in solitude or sitting on our duffs as part of our art, maybe the answer is to get up and get moving. Go for a walk, play with the dog, socialize (and that means with actual people – not hanging out on a social media website), whatever. This gives your conscious brain a chance to take a break and focus on other things, which will allow your sub-conscious brain to muddle on the issue. You may find you have one of those eureka moments because of this. But even if you don’t, it is time well spent.

Others suggest the more mundane side of the art – practice the techniques. If you sing or play an instrument, this is when you do those boring drills that help maintain and broaden your skill. If you write, then just start writing; something, anything; just put pen to paper (or start typing) even if the words are just some favorite quotes or a bunch of nonsense. The goal here isn’t to aim high and create something beautiful, it is to keep in shape, and develop a habit.

The essence of both methods is the same: accept it and move on rather than dwell on it. Tides ebb and crest; weather goes through seasons; bodies need periods of activity and rest, even sleep. Your art will have the same cycles; learn how to recognize it and what works best for you.

So what do you do when you draw a blank?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Inspirational painting

Today I want to share a picture with you.

This painting is one of a pair, both very similar scenes.

There are a couple reasons I find this painting impressive and inspiring.

The detail is not portrayed very clearly in this photo, but there is a lot of texture to this work. It was part of an assignment for an art class, one where the artist was supposed to paint a picture without using paintbrushes. They could use any other tool they wanted to apply the paint to the canvass, just not a paintbrush. Talk about having to get creative to get the desired effect!

The other reason is that the man who painted this picture was blue/green color blind, blues and greens merely different shades of gray to him. Because of this, the artist’s preferred medium was pen and ink – he didn’t have to worry about color with that. But he did not let that stop him. He stepped outside his comfort zone to create a work of beauty – then he did it again!

How do I know so much about this piece and the artist? It was painted by my grandpa.

Okay, so maybe I’m biased, but his painting is not just a part of my history or my legacy, it is also a symbol of what any of us can do if we strive to do what everyone else thinks is impossible.

Does it inspire you too? Have a comment? Please share!

Friday, October 11, 2013


How many times have you heard “what do you do for a living” when meeting someone for the first time? (If you’re still in school, it’s “what grade are you in” or “what are you studying” instead.) Maybe what I should be asking is whether you can you think of a time when you haven’t heard that question? It seems that people use the answer to define or put us into little labeled boxes on the shelf of their mind. But if you’re anything like me, the answer to that question doesn’t even come close to really telling someone who you are or what you’re like as a person. It’s about as useful as labeling someone based on their race, the length of their hair, or what color top they’re wearing today.

What does that have to do with this blog? Pretty much. . .everything. Just like one simple answer about what I do for a living doesn’t really describe me, trying to put a title or label on this kind of falls short.

Nothing really nails it: I write stories.

I can’t say I earn a living at it yet. In fact, I’m just taking the leap into sharing my words with others. I want to use this space to let folks know about what I’m working on, give tidbits about the process, and share things that inspire me along the way. So a simple answer would be that it’s a writer’s blog; a place where I try to connect with readers.

But what if somewhere along the line people who are newer to the whole “I’m an author” thing find something that helps them? Okay, then it still could be a writer’s blog.

The inspiration part is where it starts to get pretty complex, because that comes from who I am: my hobbies and interests, friends and family, even something I just happen to see somewhere along the way. And, as any artist will tell you, those little daily interactions can lead to some of the biggest breakthroughs in a project. Plus, there will always be more than one Work In Progress (WIP in author-speak) because the more I write, the more I’ll grow and change. And so, too, will this blog.

So . . .This is me!