What's your next step?

photo (1) I've been pondering the question of "What's next?" as of late in terms of my passion to create. That is, when I'm not taken in different directions in the busyness of my project lists and the tasks of life. The question is always there in the quietness, when things do finally slow down.

To be honest, I have no big revelations. At least not yet. But what I am convinced of is simply showing up and taking the right next step. Some days that's making sure I get myself in my sketchbook. Or recently, signing up to take a watercolor class (which I'm loving BTW). Still, others days, it's finishing a project I've set out to do (like the art above, commissioned to do based on a page in my sketchbook project) or reading another chapter in The Artist's Way. The only thing that is certain for me is that I must find new ways and opportunities to keep creating more. Creating the stuff that flows out of my heart, and hopefully finds a way to touch someone else.

Part of me feels like it's starting to wake up to more of what could be. I'm leaning into a phrase found in the Bible in the book of Ephesians - Immeasurably more. I want to know what that looks like in my life. For my Art to be immeasurably more that I could ask or imagine - for it to go places and touch people that I don't know.

I'm not talking fame or success. I'm talking usefulness, and being a blessing in some one else's life. I'm not talking grandiose dreams. I'm talking me - fully alive, using my gifts and abilities, and trusting God to use what He desires to - in breathing life into what I create. You might think that's crazy talk. Or prideful. But, you see, for far too long I haven't given my art the value it deserved. And at one point, I almost let it die.

So at this stage in my journey, I'm not interested in "playing" art. I'm interested in real and true creation. Creation that moves me and the people around me. Creation that somehow brings a smile, or a tear, or an acknowledgement of some beauty around us that we miss most of the time. Creation that I'm is born out of passion.

I saw the following video by artist and design Elle Luna (love her name BTW) on a talk she gave entitled "Find Your Must". That's where I am. Where I've been. Where I will continue to be... (at least for a little while I think). Finding and rediscovering my "Must" - what I and only I can & must do.

I resinate with the journey. Maybe you will too. And just maybe it will help you take the right next step on your journey, leading to a new path.


Confession of a Dying Artist

RIP Something inside of me started to die. It was a slow death. Barely noticeable. It went on for years. Somehow, I think I knew something was wrong but I couldn't put my finger on it.

I've spent years using my art (mainly graphic design) to support the cause or endeavors of others. That's what I get paid to do. To use my art to create a logo for someone's product, someones else's message slides, someone else's company and ideas. Nothing wrong with that. But, I finally realized what had been slowly dying all these years. My personal art expression. My message. My voice in my art.

Doing design for others isn't the correct place to insert your personal message/expression. I'm hired to communicate their message, their identity. BUT I came to realize that I had stopped pursuing avenues of my own expression. And it slowly began shortly after graduating art school.

Earlier this year, I began a journey back to my passion - creating art "just because". Creating because my soul needed to. Creating art not for the masses but for personal expression. And something wonderful happened. I felt the cold dead place inside start to come back alive.

I made a fatal error early on in my design career. I don't even know if it was conscious (I don't think it was). I took on an either/or approach to my art. Either I could do commercial work (and get paid for it), or do personal art expression (and not get paid for it). And just like the carpenter who lives in a home where the carpentry needs go unmet - I felt like after doing "art" all day long who had time or energy for more when I got home?

When it comes to creating commercial and personal art, it isn't about either/or but rather and/both. Both are vital to creative health. Who knows, maybe one day the two lines will blur more for me and I'll get paid to create my personal expression art. But until then, I'm making sure I don't loose sight of pursuing both.

What about you? Do you ever feel that tension?


Illustration by Mike Brennan