This last week while I sat in my chair having coffee, on one of the few sunny days we have had in awhile, I struggled over how much I would like to share the entirety of the Garrison book with others. Not at the end of this year, or early next year, but now. Sometimes the earnestness to share the story tears me up inside, because it is after all, part of what the great commission means to me – to “go tell” others about Jesus and how he’s changed my life. It just happens to be that my way of telling others seems to be really time consuming because it takes awhile to write and illustrate a graphic novel! After which, I felt a familiar nudge saying that, just because the release of the Garrison book is a ways away, it doesn’t mean I can’t share words and pictures that put a smile on my face, comfort in my heart, and could hopefully do the same for others.
When I picture myself beyond the Garrison book, I often imagine these one-off illustrations, paired with verses or kind words that bring that kind of joy and honor to Him at the same time. With sketches, verses, illustrations, cards, and stories, I hope to share this Stronghold Art with you as I work on the book, here and on social channels like Instagram and Facebook. Also I’m making the prints and cards available through the Stronghold Art Shop on Etsy. All proceeds help me to continue my work on the book which I appreciate very much!
This Woodland Creatures with Baby illustration was created for a special family member with the new baby boy on the way with a forest themed nursery in mind. “In HIS HAND is the life of EVERY CREATURE and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:10. How wonderful to think how God has created and has given life to all His creatures, all those of the oceans, jungles, forests, and the cities, towns and homes where we all live. I like to think in Heaven all God’s creations will be in this much harmony.
And Jesus said “Let the Children Come Unto Me” – Can you imagine what it was like to hear the God of all creation say these words? – so powerful. When Jesus walked on this earth, he demonstrated a special love for the children. These words are meaningful, in that it shows that nobody should come between and hinder the relationship that a child has with his or her creator. In Leah and I’s journey, God has shown us a passion for kids, even though we don’t have one of our own yet here on Earth, we understand how important it is for all children to have a chance to know who Jesus is.
So, what’s up with my book anyway? Here it is April 2017 and I haven’t updated the blog now in a few months. While I had dedicated most of 2016 towards the book, I lost momentum towards the end of the year. When August hit I ended up working on one thing after the other, allowing fears of running out of money and not appeasing people decide what I would spend my time on and I just lost momentum on the book. From August to January there were client projects, getting ready for conventions, the holidays of course, getting sick, it never ended. I still made progress, but not what I would have liked to achieve during that time.
In addition to losing momentum, I lost the inspiration and the drive that was propelling me forward. After the Bellingham Comic Con in the Fall, after sharing the book concept with so many people online and in person, I admit it was hard not seeing it appreciated the way that I had hoped. As an artist and creator, I always put so much effort and care into my work, and it seems saddening to me when I share these things on my heart with others and they just don’t seem to care or understand. I was talking to a mentor last year and he said to not focus so much on posting the work, getting likes and relying on the feedback of others because there is a lot of work yet to do. I can’t be reliant on what others think, and he was right. I can’t rely on likes and tweets to drive me forward, I need to find that from within, through God, and the reasons why I started the project to begin with.
I have been searching within myself to gain the momentum back, to find the courage and the strength to keep up the progress. That’s what the book is about anyway, being courageous and facing our fears. It’s not just a scripture that applies to a young man named Garrison on his adventures but it applies to myself as well. Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.” It’s a scripture I wear on my own sleeve to combat the fears that creep in. “Will I have enough money to pay the bills?”, “Am I too old to breakthrough as an artist?”, “Will I lose people I love?”, “Is there truly more to all of this?” These are the tough questions I ask myself all too often and need to pray against and have faith that the Lord knows what’s best.
Faith is not just in the mind and spirit, it’s in acting it out, saying “no” to new projects and other distractions and knowing God wants me to work on the book and that he will provide. It’s in belief that people will one day receive this book and will appreciate it and will bless their life. Also, having belief in myself, that I can make it happen and the art will be great enough, the communication will be clear and it will inspire and enrich our lives and the lives of others. So, I’m getting there, slowly. I just recently got a standing desk in my office which has greatly improved my productivity and spirits working from home, which can be a very lifeless affair at times.
But there has been progress! –I have made progress on the character designs and have completed the character designs for chapters 2, 3, and 4. Which I will be sharing in an upcoming post because there is a lot. As well I received some good feedback on my character designs from fellow artists, including a Disney artist, about thinking about my characters and adding more depth to their emotions. For example, a smile is not just a smile, there are many layers to a seemingly simple emotion, both in the where the character is within the story as well as in who the character is, when you add these layers to a character they become more real and believable.
I started thinking about Garrison in the three stages of my book, taking a single emotion like happiness. At the beginning of the book it has unbridled childlike happiness, wild and uninhibited by underlying emotions, because growing up in the perfect setting of the seaside cottage Garrison has known very little challenge or worry. In the middle of the book, when he begins to feel new emotions like pain, worry, stress, when he does smile, there is something else under the surface, worry or thought. At the end of the story, as he begins to conquer his fears, through his faith and inner strength, his new smile is more confident, more sure. While not as pure as a childlike smile, there is confidence and certainty there. This is an emotional anology in a way of how we all must grow up and how our emotions change over time. After thinking about this more it’s made the drawing process even more interesting because it puts me the shoes of the character even more so and I do feel it makes the character feel much more believable.
This month I am moving into environmental art. I want to be sure I’ve fully realized the world of Garrison the Stronghold, as well as the look and feel of the book. When I first started, I had a vision of more a animated look with solid characters against painterly backgrounds, which will help in contrast and put your focus on the characters while adding strong emotion to the landscapes which are meant to feel very heaven-like. I am inspired by the painted backgrounds of old Disney animation like Sleeping Beauty as well as the inspirational, faith-based paintings of Ron DiCianni. Looking at my background work, I know I’m not quite where I want to be yet. I’ve hinted at the environments some of the concept art like “Garrison and Michael” and “Garrison and the Bigfeet” which was probably the most successful, but these still lack a certain contrast and painterly aspect to where I want to be. More on the background work soon.
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty 1959
Ron DiCianni – The Prodigal Son
Ron DiCianni – Simeon’s Moment
I am very grateful and appreciate all the support and interest from you for the Garrison story as I continue to work on it. Please let us know you’re reading and leave a comment!