Chester travels to Bolivia

I've been a sponsor of a child in Bolivia through World Vision since November 2009. Denilson was 4 when they first sent his photo along with some other information about his community. Over the past 5 years, it's been heartwarming to watch him grow up. Often times the updates from World Vision would arrive at a time that I needed a little pick-me-up. It's uplifting to know that you are making a difference in a child's life for just a about a dollar a day.

I have been in a pen pal and letter writing mood lately. So when I got this recent package about Danilson and his community, I finally got around to writing him back. I know. I feel like a terrible person for not doing it sooner, but what do you even say to a kid in some poverty stricken country half a world away? I've always been concerned that my letters would fail to be uplifting. Or worse, my letter would be full of platitudes or just sound like a bunch of "first world problems".

But lately I've been doing some little things like buying and reading The Bridge. I also try to keep a simple Care Pack to give out when I see a homeless person. I've never see a person so grateful for new pair of socks. Maybe something as mundane as sending a letter will brighten a kid's day.

So I made up a little packet and included a pencil, a little notebook, a pencil sharpener, a photo of my family, a Chester drawing, and watercolor pencils. Hopefully, it gets through customs and arrives whole and undamaged. It's unimaginable to me how this letter is going to make such a long journey. What an adventure it must go on. Planes, trains, automobiles. Maybe the final leg by bicycle or packed on a llama. I really wish I could see the letter's journey like this interesting mail project by Matthew McVickar.

But since I can't accurately picture it's journey, I'll just imagine this instead. Chester boldly sailing an ocean of letters on his valiant quest to meet Danilson. Smooth sailing, my friend.


An unexpected curly commission

I believe one of the best complements an artist can received is to be remembered. Even if she'd been following my blog or Facebook page, I had hardly posted any art last year. I basically took the year off. So when Jodi contacted me out of the blue to create a custom piece for her, I was rather surprised. It's been a 3-4 years since she contacted me for some art. Then I learned that she was expecting a little girl and wanted a Chester style piece for the nursery. Now that's an honor. As an artist, it's always fulfilling to know that your art is being displayed and treasured in someone's home, but it feels extra special that this piece will be in a nursery. I hope its cherished like a favorite children's book.

I haven't been asked to draw a girl with curls before and I think it turned out very sweet. What a great way to start off the new year.


Current Reading List

Here's what's stacked up on the bedside table:
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Here, There, Elsewhere by William Least Heat-Moon
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
Manage Your Day-to-Day edited by Jocelyn K. Glei
Pursuing Christ. Creating Art. by Gary A. Molander
Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson Marie Miller

Now I'm not reading all of these at the same time or just one at a time. I just finished two of them. Manage Your Day-To-Day is a collection of essays on routine, focus, and creativity. Again and again the book promoted harnessing the power of frequency and routine. Even something as small as 15 minutes everyday will add up. So every morning beginning January 1st, I'm reading a book instead of watching the news while I drink my first cup of coffee. I've polished off two books this month so far doing this.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is hard to describe and flat out amazing. I enjoyed the themes and concepts that she explores. So much so that I'm considering exploring them in a few paintings. More on this later. 

I do have this tendency to read more than one book at a time. Instead of reading one at a time, stack of books will tempt me into trying just a few pages. Just to see what it's like and if I'm going to really like it. And then I can't stop and I'm reading three books at once.

I'm currently these three:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Here, There, Elsewhere by William Least Heat-Moon
Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson Marie Miller

Permission to Speak Freely is one that I started and then probably put down because I started reading some addictive novel. It's a collection of essays. So it's easy to read a short essay and then switch to another book and switch back later. I am impressed with Anne's honesty and openness throughout the book. I find her whole concept of "gift of going second." By sharing your brokenness, your imperfectness, and your story first, it makes it a little easier for other person to share their brokenness.

I'm re-reading The War of Art because its been awhile and I'm feeling extremely stuck. I've become a professional time killer and I'm not making any art. I hate it and me for not getting back to painting.

Here, There, Elsewhere is another example of unfinished reading. I started this on vacation in October. I really enjoyed William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways and was hoping this would be similar. It's good but since it's a collection of travel stories, it's not as captivating as one epic road trip.

As you can see, I'm not reading any fiction at this time. I have a hard time finishing non-fiction books unless that's all that I'm reading. I've tried having one fiction book on the night stand and one non-fiction book, but the non-fiction book usually turns into a dust collector/coaster.