Author: Ashley Gatewood

How Finding a Niche Can Stifle Creative Expression

How Finding a Niche Can Stifle Creative Expression

Over a year ago, I painted my last painting. I was struggling with the ‘find your niche’ and ‘narrow your focus’ articles that were being written by various social gurus. And although it stands to reason that a focused approach to anything keeps one from wasting energy and time, some of us just have more creative outlets on tap. And if those outlets aren’t allowed their due expression, a deadly soup of ‘uninspired focus’ can be created instead.

I don’t like to focus – at least not for too long. I’ll focus just long enough to accomplish the task at hand and then I need freedom of thought and expression. Some artists are focused on photography and that’s all they do. By default, they have their niche. That is, unless they further focus and only do black and white prints, or only nature, or only animals… The question is; how far in do we zoom our creative lens?

My answer to the question is this: zoom in and focus your creative energy as much as you like, save the loss of inspiration and motivation. You see, I had to give up on cultivating that elusive niche for the sake of my own creativity. I love too many different aspects of expression in the art form. After a year of shutdown, I now paint, take photos and YouTube a more diverse variety of subject matter.

The photo above represents a moment expressed through black and white photography. It renders exactly what I want to capture. If I painted it, the desire would not be there and of course, the whole expression would be lost because painting affords a different feeling, different brush strokes, a different lens of delivery.

In the past, I would have brushed this photo to the side because, well, it didn’t fit into my focus of abstract horse paintings. Eventually, after about three years of trying to get myself together and be more ‘professional’ in my approach, I got burnt out and completely devoid of inspiration. The fun just wasn’t there because I disallowed myself the pleasure of expression through multiple lenses.

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Don’t make the same mistake. If you are struggling with the issue of finding a niche and losing your inspiration in the process, relax and open your lens up again. Play. Have fun. Express yourself in the way you’d like, even if it means bursting through that focused niche you’re trying to create. Don’t get burnt out and overwhelmed because as artists the idea of balancing creativity with marketing (and all that boring, technical stuff) can get too frustrating. Be free and go pickup a different lens of delivery for awhile. You’ll come back to your art with a renewed, refreshed inspiration.

Want to follow each other on this artistic journey? Connect with me on social media. I’ll be happy for the opportunity to connect back and learn from, and grow with our community.

Let’s Connect on Instagram

Let’s Connect of Facebook

The Long Dark on PS4

The Long Dark on PS4

Last year around Thanksgiving I stumbled upon a beta game called The Long Dark; a Canadian survival game where you basically micro-manage every aspect of your daily life.  There was no official release date and only PC and Xbox players were able to dance in the Sandbox.

To my great delight, in 2017 it indeed was released on Xbox, PC and PS4.  Happy dance!!

So, because I didn’t want to be hunted by hungry wolves and dying of starvation or hypothermia by myself, I recorded myself playing the game and dedicated it to my hiking/gaming long-time friend.

Adventure onward courageous Space Cadets 🙂

Becoming Edward Scissorhands

Becoming Edward Scissorhands

Want an easy way to make Edward’s scissor hands?  I’ve listed how I did it below – and I’m not a crafty person. So it’s simple and easy – nothing elaborate.

So I decided I would dress up as Edward Scissorhands this year. I have created a video and listed instructions on how I did it.

I’ve always loved his pale face and melancholy expression.  So, I thought I’d try and replicate it. Something different for me as I never dress for Halloween or All Hallows Eve as I like to say.

This was a fun project even though I hate crafting anything. I’m a painter, but most people think because I can paint, I should also be able to craft.  That’s just not so. Perhaps a few lucky people out there can do both and that is awesome.  But me, I hate crafting and look on enviously at some of the cutest ideas other people make with their hands.

 

My Edward Scissorhand’s costume wasn’t so bad however, and my disdain for crafting actually came in handy as I found the quickest and easiest ways to get the job done. My greatest concern was the scissor hands that trademark Edward’s character. Here’s how to do it:

1. Using any type of poster board, draw the blades varying the sizes between 8-10 inches in length. The thumbs are the exception at only an inch or two in length. Each blade should be at least an inch in width.

2. On one blade, add an oblong loop, oriented down from the top of the blade. This will be colored red and give the illusion of a scissor handle.  Once scored and folded you’ll see it sticks up, if oriented as directed above.

3. Paint the blades with gray, white and black acrylic paint. Nothing fancy at all, even poster board paint is fine.  I painted the whole area of the blade gray first, then painted white on one side of the blade and black on the other which gave them a sense of depth. The less perfect the better. You can simply paint them all gray if you wish.

4. After the paint has dried, cut out the blades. Then with the edge of a book, score the blades down the middle starting at the tip. Be careful when you get to the scissor handle, you don’t want to rip it off – though it’s easily taped or glued back on.

5. I had a pair of black winter gloves that I didn’t want to mutilate. So, I used black electrical tape which can easily be removed. Use the tape to fasten the blade onto the glove – I just wrapped it around a couple of times. The blades never fell off.

6. The wig, white face powder and suspenders I bought off of Amazon. The belt was a Goodwill find. The white shirt was purchased at a yard sale and the shoes and pants I already had in the closet.

7. The trick to the belt was cutting a turtleneck off to fit under the belt; this kept wearing it around the neck much more comfortable.  (Be prepared for offhand comments!) *laughing nervously*

Be creative and interpret character attributes in your own inspirational ways to create a great costume that’s fun to wear and people enjoy. Hope this helps in your character creating endeavors!

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

Time’s Railcar

Time’s Railcar

Time. It is the one thing that no human can stop.  The year 1906.  Was anyone thinking about the year 2000?  I find myself thinking only of 2040.  My mind doesn’t wander to the year 2100.

 

This peek into 1906 was just 4 days prior to the great San Fransisco earthquake and fire that devastated the city which had broken every building code in the books and nearly every home built of wood was burned to the ground.

It’s a feeling I can’t put my finger on when I watch this footage.  The music; the fact that I am being transported in a rail car, in 1906, down Market Street as newspaper boys, carriages, trollies all dart and cross over in some unseen syncopated rhythm. Upper class, working class, all real life – no Hollywood stuff – just real people 111 years ago, now gone, and I get to share an ephemeral ride with them all because someone decided to click the ‘on’ button. And that’s just it…

I know.  I already know that in 4 days, it’s coming for them. But now, in this illuminated flicker of time, they carry on, eating, dining and being married as the ancient scripture reads. They are doing what they do everyday; criss-crossing the rails between carriages, trollies, cars, bicycles; hitching rides, waving hello, curious folks, busy folks, high society and working class folk doing their thing, carrying on with the day’s tasks, making money selling newspapers and making their way forward, ever forward, all unknowing, all unsuspecting and without a clue what’s waiting for them down the rail car of time.  And it’s moving, that rail car, it’s moving all of us along. Their was no stopping it, it kept moving steadily and unswervingly towards the end of those 3 days until the morning at 5am on the 4th day.  And then…

It kept going, time that is, it kept moving along those rails, through the earthquake, through the fires, through the heartache and the pain it kept right on moving without stopping to mourn or rejoice or reflect or congratulate.  Through the year of 1906 and into 1907, through the confetti and the resolutions, through the wars and the peace treaties, the good decisions and the bad ones, the new technologies the new ways to save people and the new ways to kill them, through catastophic floods, volcanos, storms, through dreams broken and fulfilled it moved, steady until finally it would stop in 2000 – but it did not stop – and here we are now in 2017 and time is flowing past me, over me and through my fingers, my skin my heart my thoughts it flows through and leaves its mark on my face, my mind and my life.

Who’s going to be watching us on a digital playback in the year 2117?  With whom will we share our ephemeral existence somewhere down the railcar’s tracks, careening out before us into the future – who will meet us on our planes, in our cars, crossing our busy intersections at midday and say “they didn’t know – look at them – that it was coming for them in just a few days, see how they go about their lives with their dreams, their hopes, spending, eating, celebrating, mourning, working and being distracted by the joys and trials of life, look at them – and they didn’t know.”

Where does that put us on the rails of time?

How Positive Words Improve Your Health

How Positive Words Improve Your Health

The direction of your life will follow the words you choose to speak. It’s like when you’re driving, you follow the direction your eyes are focused on. Ever looked intently at that huge pothole saying ‘going to miss that one’ and instead you hit it dead-center? Same principle applies.

“A sound heart is life to the body, but bitterness is rottenness to the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Be thoughtful of what you think of others in your heart. Sometimes we can hold unforgiveness which turns into bitterness after enough time has past without dealing with the feelings. Forgive so that you can be free. Unforgiveness is like a cage and can affect your own wellbeing while the person you are holding in unforgiveness is free and not bound by you at all. You in essence have bound yourself. Be good to you and forgive. It doesn’t mean what they did was okay, forgiving others doesn’t mean they didn’t do you wrong. It means you are saying ‘I release you into the hands of God so that I can be free of the thoughts and free of the bitterness and I’m going to move on with my life without this weight. I’m giving it all over to God’. Release the negative feelings and it will make room to begin again.

Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Provers 16:24

This sums it up. Be kind. It is one of the foundational expressions of love. Kindness is light, free and positive. Being mean comes from a very heavy place in our souls and leaves a bad taste in everyones mouth that sees us being cruel to others. If someone has done you wrong, turn them over to God’s justice. He works in mercy (which you probably don’t want to hear) but think of how many times you deserved worse, and God showed mercy to you. Be merciful to those who do you wrong. Speak kind words and let God deal with people in your life who are less than positive. Don’t fight fire with fire. Take the higher, healthier road.

 

My son my daughter, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4: 20-22

What this verse is referring to are the words of wisdom – that is – the words of God. Read his word. That is life to your soul and your body. God’s word is alive, not dead. It is active, not dormant. It’s living. So if you want active medicine for you soul and your body, devour his word daily!

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Thinking ill will towards others can be detrimental to oneself. How to exact revenge for someone who has hurt you or paying back evil for evil will only get you in trouble. Release them over to God. They will reap what they sow – just as you will. Sow mercy, reap mercy. Show kindness, reap kindness. Use your words to bless others not tear them down and you’ll feel better overall that you have control over the negative things that happen to you.

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Be joyful! Don’t refrain but let your happy out for everyone to notice! Don’t be shocked when some people don’t like it – some people are just grumps that would rather stay stuck in their negativity. Don’t let them control you. Remember there are seasons for everything – but don’t ever lose the joy in your heart even through the bad times. Happiness, peace and joy are found in the Holy Spirit. Learn about God and relating to him and he will be your strength and joy through the good times and the bad times.

 

If you have questions or need direction on how to begin to make a change, don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or email me – you can also reach out on social media like Linked In or Google+. 

Love will get you to where you need to be~

Get Busy While You’re Waiting on God

Get Busy While You’re Waiting on God

Be ready when God starts moving.

When God moves, things begin to happen fast; in the meantime, take advantage of the ‘wait’ and learn more about him, about yourself, gain knowledge and strength because once things start moving you will not have time at that point to figure out what to do. Either you’re ready or you will be dragging behind – and that’s no place to be!

“For the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly” (Rom. 9:28).

I love it when God moves. It’s precise and accurate and wow does it ever make an impact! God is not messing around, playing games and doing things just for the heck of it. He is deliberate. I love that about him.

There are seasons for everything.

Solomon tells us this. Two seasons I’m very familiar with: sowing and reaping. Or, to put it another way working-waiting-working.

You have to sow a seed, an idea, a dream before you can reap the benefits of it. You have to place it in the ground and let it die – isn’t that what Jesus said?

“I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 CEB

That takes work. Sowing isn’t easy. You have to let some things go, make changes, work on yourself and be diligent in your pursuit even when you can’t see one scrap of evidence that God is doing anything in your life or that anything is going to change. You have to, in essence, start living the change before it occurs. People can think you’re crazy, but remember, with God, all things are possible.

Being productive during the waiting season.

Then comes the waiting season. When the seed is growing, pushing out from the dirt (oh God, is it ever going to happen!?) This can be a very frustrating season. But sitting idle while you’re waiting is not the thing to do! Never wait without also filling your time with productive work.

Waiting on God is a two-part process. You are indeed waiting on him for direction or an answer or a way forward so that you don’t hastily make the wrong decision. This is a good thing. However, you should definitely be learning and growing in all aspects of your life during the waiting season. Never just sit and grow lazy during these times. I know, because I’ve done that – and it is absolutely no fun once God starts to move and I’m totally unprepared! That’s when I encounter disappointment and heartache.

Be learning; about him about you about the aspects of your dream or vision.

Gain knowledge and be ravenous when it comes to learning about his ways and about the people out there who are living in their dream. Learn from them, study missionaries and martyrs and business men and women – anyone who is living for God – and keep growing and stretching while you are waiting for your own harvest to come. By learning, you are in essence watering your seeds that you’ve sown. Your fertilizing and tending what you sowed. This is how to do it!

Then, one day when God says the time has come, your harvest will come in and it will be time to move. And guess what? After all the hard work you put in during the ‘waiting’ season, you’ll be ready to move with him!

 

If you have questions or need direction on how to begin to make a change, don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or email me – you can also reach out on social media like Linked In or Google+. 

Love will get you to where you need to be~

Doing Things God’s Way

Doing Things God’s Way

I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way. I’m trying to get your way your Word’s way. I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m not giving up. -Psalm 17:4-5 The Message

Aligning your way with God’s way doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams and aspirations. Many of us work because it’s necessary, not because we find it deeply fulfilling. Do you ever find yourself pausing at your desk or while you’re waiting at the dock for a shipment to be loaded on your truck and think surly there is something else I could be doing with my time that is more productive and gives me greater satisfaction than this. We’ve all been there. You may find yourself there right now.

But have you ever thought how you might take a step away from your current life and towards the one you always hoped for?  At this point is where we let our current reality dissuade us from making that first step. We get overwhelmed with questions of how and what to do about it. You may have family or financial strain that pops your dream like a frail soap bubble. One moment here, the next moment non-existent.

So we tend to start looking for the quickest way out because frankly, it just seems easier. And sometimes that’s addiction, sometimes it’s going numb and just doing the daily routine without thinking.

Get rich quick schemes that sound so legit, gambling and maybe even opting for crime. The world’s way is always going to seem easier and let’s face it, somebody has to win the lottery, right? But going the world’s way is never successful or fulfilling – especially when we are serving God. God’s ways are legit and so much more rewarding. Are they harder? You bet.

You have to dig down into yourself and pull up answers that you don’t want to wrestle with – the whys and hows of your current situation. It’s hard to look at our mistakes and own them. But sometimes that’s where we have to start – humbling ourselves before God and saying ‘I thought I knew the way, but I was wrong’.

God is always listening and ready to help. He never rubs mistakes in our face or makes us pay. Sin has consequences but God has answers! He will move on your behalf, he even states

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. – Isaiah 43:4 NIV

This is how much He values you! It is nearly unfathomable for us to understand his love. Not even the Apostle Paul could do it:

…that you may be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:17-19 NKJV

If you are ready to begin stepping out of a life that is unfulfilling and into God’s life that is waiting for you, then He is ready to meet you at the crossroads. Pray diligently for direction, for knowledge and for the courage to begin the journey. Remember, small steps are all you need to start out.  Prayer is God’s way of moving on this earth. Don’t neglect this powerful intimate time with God to exact change in your life.

 

If you have questions or need direction on how to begin to make a change, don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or email me – you can also reach out on social media like Linked In or Google+. 

Love will get you to where you need to be~

 

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