No ideas? Reflect instead.

As I continue through this 30 day challenge, I find myself wading through a pond of pointless ideas. Not that the ideas are pointless in their existence! What I mean is, the ideas have no point. There is no meat to them. At all! I have flashes of ideas and then they fizzle. I am hoping that over the month, some of the ideas can come together, colliding into genius. The sort of genius that makes me a million bucks would be great, but I’ll take an idea solid enough to turn into a manuscript at the very least.

I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive partner. My wife fully, absolutely supports my art habit. She recognizes that writing, painting, drawing … creating, in general, makes me happy. It makes me my truest form of myself – all pros and cons involved.

She lets me make a disaster of the main floor as I wade through paintings. She lets me banish her to her upstairs office (it’s not that bad, actually – it’s a darn nice space!!!) while I work on manuscripts. She lets me say “We’re going to have to eat at the coffee table, because this painting is wet,” even though I have a studio space in our unfinished basement.  There’s just something about that space that doesn’t excite me, and it’s been limiting my creative output lately. Most recently, I’ve taken to painting at the table, while we listen to music or movies.

See? Here is some of my mess!

ImageHow many wives out there would let their husbands paint at the dining room table? Granted, it’s making us some money, as it’s a commissioned piece, but still.

With a number of Christmas commissions on the go, I’ve been forcing my mind to create. You’ve heard it before – creativity is 5% inspiration and 95% hard work. I’d be willing to say it’s more like a 1/99 per cent ratio. This weekend, rather than taking it off as a normal teacher would, I worked through both days to create this mural:

ImageIn doing so, I continued to refine a style. As I worked away at it, I considered how I was painting. I mean, nine hours of painting a white tree with similar branches and leaves isn’t the most inspiring work, but it sure does give you time to reflect. As I stepped away, I found myself pleased with the form. I thought, “I wonder how this would look smaller, on a large canvas. I wonder how this could become part of my illustrative style.” These wonders are what I need to keep moving. I always fear, no matter what I am doing – teaching, writing, arting – that if I do something the same way for too long, it will grow stale, and I will be seen as lazy. I am constantly on the reflective hunt for things to keep, change, or toss.

The painting I’m working on now is a style I have been working on for a little over a year. I am starting to wonder how it would look in a picture book. I’ve only ever illustrated in ink and water colours – but what if I built a better portfolio, with acrylic paintings as well?


So many wonders. While my pond of ideas is a bit shallow, this PiBoIdMo focus has certainly re-energized me and sent me into a highly constructively-critical self assessment. It’s time to get serious!






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2 responses to “No ideas? Reflect instead.

  1. I think you need to use acrylics to explore illustration and build that portfolio. I think the boldness and immediacy suit your work. Best wishes for a successful PiBoIdMo.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, Joanne! I love the bold, bright flavour of acrylics, but I also love the classic feel of watercolour, especially when bolded up with ink. I would like to find a way of marrying those. Perhaps a bit of digital editing would help too – but that is a whole other world that I’ve yet to really explore! I’m curious as to what you mean by the immediacy suiting my work? It sounds very exciting and makes me feel awesome. Haha!

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