Be Strong and Courageous – Journey into 2017

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.

Sketch Studies of the 3 Garrisons, Before, During, and After the character arc of Garrison the Stronghold
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.

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!

12 thoughts on “Be Strong and Courageous – Journey into 2017

  1. Bill,

    Can I call you Bill, or do you prefer William?

    I met you and your lovely wife at Bellingham Comicon and and fell in love with Garrison the Stronghold. As a self-proclaimed geek and born-again Jesus lover, it is my heart’s desire to see more opportunities for the two worlds to collide. God is so much bigger than the world can even imagine and He fills the gaps that they are longing for…if only we can show them. It was so encouraging to me to see someone else with what seemed like the same passion, a ray of sunshine in a world that celebrates the darkness.

    After I spoke to you, and bought one of your amazing prints, your wife came to my booth and blessed me with one of your stickers. That sticker was the first thing to go on my journal for 2017. I have told several people of my excitement for your project in just the last couple months and I hope to use that sticker as a conversation starter for many months to come. That sticker gives me hope and encouragement that I’m not alone in my desire to bring light and hope to those who are searching for something bigger.

    Thank you for being so open about sharing your struggles as an artist, writer and, well, human being. Sometimes, in my own insecurity, I forget that I am not actually the only person on the planet who doesn’t have everything figured out. I will be lifting you in prayer in the days, weeks and months to come as I expectantly anticipate the fulfillment of the desire God has placed in your heart.

    Know that no matter how hard the enemy tries to discourage you, there are people rooting for you! I am one of them!


    1. Hi Emily, of course, it was so nice to meet you at the Bell Con. Thank you so much for the encouraging words and prayers, it means a lot, and yes, please call me Bill

  2. William, it is interesting to get inside your head, so to speak, and understand some of the art processes behind your work. As a writer, I’m all about crafting words and know nothing about how to create a character from my own imagination–you have done it remarkably well.
    I will continue to pray for you on this journey–God has his time for this message.
    I learned recently on my own writing project that I thought I was writing a rough draft….then I heard God say that I was the rough draft.
    Our lives are always a work in progress….thank you for sharing yours.

    1. Those are good words, I love the “rough draft” concept. I hope to hear more about your book next time we get together, I know a little bit, but it’s always better to hear about it in person.

  3. Hi Bill. You come across as a very strong and mature Garrison to me! Believe in your work as it is created within the context of your underlying theme. It’s an important message. I think that nowadays most young parents have a hunger for written and illustrated books where doctrine is not simply put down on the pages by rote and accompanied by pictures that have been standardized over the years. I’m not saying that type of book is inherently bad. It just isn’t engaging and a child needs to be part of the story so that they are excited to talk about it as it progresses. A two hour read can become a week long journey of suspense and discovery. Hopefully, it will become an adventure that will be played out again and again with new discoveries at every turn by including subtle elements that may be overlooked at first. At the end of the book the child will look up and wonder what Garrison did where he went after the end of that story. That is what we see happening with Jasper, our grandson. Jerel and Elizabeth chose not to have a TV. They make frequent trips to the library and all of us buy books for him as well. Mom and/or dad read to him before bedtime every night. Carm and I have sat in on a lot of these readings with them. He’s more focused and drawn in to the story then, moreso than by playing with any of his toys, as he listens and watches the storyline unfold. He’ll oftentimes repeat the upcomming text of the book before the page is turned because he’s listened closely to it so many times. Now that is living the story and the I think the majority of adults prefer that children grow with the message you’re offering than the messages that haven’t been previewed and come from an electronic box that the kid sits in front of while mom and dad fire up their computers. I guess what I’m really trying to say Neff, is keep up the Good Word.

    1. Thanks Uncle Rick, that’s so great to here about Jasper, and good insight into how children appreciate stories, something I will keep in mind as I progress. Thank you for your caring words.

  4. Hi William,
    Love hearing about your writing process along with the changes in your art techniques! I can’t wait to see and read more. I also look forward to seeing both of you:) Aunt Traci

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