The Fear List

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Since 1993 I’ve been keeping a fear list. A list of quotes, sayings, and proverbs about fear. Here’s what I have so far:

A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

—Spanish proverb, from Strictly Ballroom

A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.

—Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing… Only I will remain.

—Frank Herbert, Dune

Some weakness can be cast out by denying its existence, but most weakness must be acknowledged and analyzed to benefit from the application of logic and positivity. Acknowledged but not accepted. So when those moments of weakness come—and they will—I am prepared to look at them, not away.

—source unknown

I have no fear, for fear is the little death that kills me over and over. Without fear, I die but once.

—dune.wikia [citation needed]

Hope is not a strategy.
Luck is not a factor.
Fear is not an option.

—James Cameron

People don’t fail. They just stop trying.

—source unknown

I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.

—Michael Jordan

You don’t become great by trying to become great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

rule #896 of XKCD

Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back

—graffiti on the side of a trailer

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

―Joseph Chilton Pearce

Run towards your fear.

—source unknown

Your inner critic is just the manifestation of your fear.

—source unknown

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

—from “Our Deepest Fear,” by Marianne Williamson

The way to move forward is to let the monsters be seen and the scary voices be heard.

—Amber Rae, Choose Wonder Over Worry

Sometimes, people who are invited to express themselves freely will react with feelings of paralysis, fear, and intimidation. … The cocoon is spun partly from fears of self-disclosure. … If we allowed our simple essence or ungroomed emotions to show, we might look foolish, vulnerable, or unattractive.

—Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

Some people are unable to surrender to aimlessness because they fear losing themselves and don’t realize that the structure of the art material or the limits of the physical space will always act as container for our expressions.

—Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process

2018 goals: midpoint

Posted on: July 1st, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

This is the halfway mark. Not much has changed in my initial goals, but I still feel like I’m making decent progress. Additional things have popped up that I’ve had to address, above and beyond my personal goals, so in one sense that may be slowing me down, but in another I’m pretty pleased with being able to address everything that I have. Regarding my more artistic personal goals, I’m sharpening my tools and about to get to the real work. Here’s the current status of my 2018 goals…

By the end of 2018 I’d like to have:

  • Painted 50 paintings: Expected: 24; Actual: 0, because I can’t get out of my own way.
  • Ran a cumulative 1000 miles: Expected: 500; Actual: 107 miles, although I’m 400 miles behind I’ve still got time to make it up.
  • Written 50 blog posts: Expected: 24; Actual: 21.
  • Posted 12 videos on YouTube: Expected: 6; Actual: 0, but there will be video soon.
  • Created a portfolio of 12 graphic design works: I have 2 designs, and more to be completed. Will post them soon.
  • Practiced the trumpet for 50 hours: Expected: 0; Actual: 0.
  • Run a 5k race in under 24 minutes: Expected: By end of Q3; Actual: ?
  • Run a marathon in under 5 hours: Expected: November; Actual: ?
  • Lifted 1000# in the big 3 lifts: Expected: not yet; Actual: I’ve started lifting again.
  • Settled my remaining SF/F/H debts: I’ve written an apology letter.

Projects I’d like to complete this year:

  • Launch a new SF/F/H online magazine with an associated podcast: still trying to sync up with potential host; launch in Q3.
  • Edit and publish one anthology/collection: in the queue.
  • Create and publish a mobile app: v1 requirements are being worked on.
  • Write and submit a technical article: no, but I know what I’m writing.
  • Write a fiction story: no.
  • Write one non-fiction book: no.
  • Write a novel: no. I think I’ll schedule this for NanoWriMo in November.

Additional notes for the past three months:

  • I’ve pulled myself away from my intended path in Art History. I felt a great need to attend to tackling the creative theory books on my list.
  • I’ve skipped ahead a bit in Art History and read a few books on M.C. Escher. I guess I’m having some nostalgia for college. I absolutely love Escher.
  • I’m still working on Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists. Taking it slowly.
  • I’ve created a page called A Very Artistic Library to list out the most useful art books I’ve found so far.
  • Tackled some integration between Facebook and some of my existing sites. There’s a Space Western Magazine page that I’m experimenting with. Other pages for other sites to follow.
  • I’ve launched a journal to explain my attempts at raising money to help fund my daughter’s college education at How Am I Going To Pay For This?
  • I’ve been teaching my daughter web design, and she’s been doing light HTML work to earn money for school. By the end of the summer I expect her to be doing CSS and design.
  • At work I’ve had to up my development skills. I’ve read a plethora of Web Performance books and watched over 100 hours of Web Development classes. I have even more classes to watch next quarter.
  • Have a small list of technology projects to accomplish.

How to get better at drawing

Posted on: June 30th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly
  1. Just start drawing.
  2. Don’t stop drawing.

Just start drawing

This, in theory, is the easy part. It’s especially easy for children. Older, less naive, people find that they make excuses when they should be drawing. Whole careers have been wasted simply through the inability of someone to start something. Pure procrastination. Fear of failure. Waiting for the right time, the right mood, the right milestone. Just start drawing.

Don’t stop drawing

When an artist says “I’ve been drawing since I can remember” what they really mean is, “I never stopped drawing.” They didn’t stop drawing when their mother stopped putting their drawings on the refrigerator. They didn’t stop drawing when they didn’t win a prize in their school’s student art contest. They didn’t stop drawing when they got a real job. Don’t stop drawing.

I promise you that if you do those two things that you will get better at drawing. You will be better every day. In ten years you will be better than you are today. It doesn’t have to be hard work, but you do have to work it.

This is the advice I want to give to everyone about everything. There are no shortcuts. The people who you think are inherently talented: just started and never stopped.

Just start. Don’t stop.

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Creative Theory

Posted on: June 29th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. This page, A Very Artistic Library, will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

These are the books that I’ve recently read that address my creative issues. I think I’ll be reading them more than once. I’m spending all this time trying to figure myself out. I’m trying to get out of my own way. I’m trying to harness whatever muse, genius, or creative spirit it is inside of me that will take me where I want to go. And, as I’ve told myself for the last 20 years, trying to figure out what I mean when I tell myself, “let go.”

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

A 12-week program to get your mind together as it relates to creativity. I’ve worked through it twice last year. I’ll be picking it up and working through it again and again.

Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff

Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Time and again I’ve heard people talk about flow. This was the book that started the discussion of the experience.

Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae

I heard Amber Rae on the Your Creative Push podcast. She discussed what she called her Multiple Personality Order. I realized that I needed to read this book. I didn’t want to read it. The first chapter was a struggle for me. I had to drag myself through the book, because it was so relevant.

Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham and Pema Chodron

I originally read Sakyong Mipham’s Running with the Mind of Meditation book last year. I purchased this one without realizing that it was by the same author.

Tales From Both Sides of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga

I purchased this book first. It was one of the blurbs on the back that sold me: “…the idea that we all have ‘multiple minds’ operating as a ‘confederation’…” It was too relevant to pass up.

Drawing on Escher on Drawing

Posted on: June 25th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

If you’re ever feeling that you’re not good enough, remember that no artist thinks that they’re good enough. Here’s a quote from M.C. Escher, one of the finest draftsman you could encounter.

“Good God, I wish I’d learn to draw a little better! How much effort and persistence costs to try to do it well. Every once in a while the stress of it all drives me to the point of a nervous break down. It is really strictly a matter of persisting tenaciously with continuous and, if possible, pitiless self criticism. I believe that to produce prints the way I do is almost strictly a matter of wanting so terribly much to do it well. Talent and all that is really for the most part just baloney. Any school boy with a little aptitude can perhaps draw better than I; but what he lacks in most cases is that tenacious desire to make it a reality, that obstinate gnashing of teeth and saying, ‘Although I know it can’t be done, I want to do it anyway.’”

— From a letter by MC Escher to his son November 12, 1955.

Hot bacon grease dressing

Posted on: May 24th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly
  • 4 ounces of bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup mild vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of mustard

Dice the bacon, this will serve as bacon bits after it has been fried. Mince the onion. Fry bacon to a light brown; remove the bacon bits and into the hot grease add the minced onion; fry lightly. Add one-half cup mild vinegar. Finally add the salt, sugar, and mustard and stir well.

Pour dressing over the greens or your choice (dandelion greens are nice) and mix well. Garnish with bacon bits and hard-boiled eggs (sliced), and serve at once.

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Painting

Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

Art Manuals: Painting

Learning to paint — how to make a compostion, sketches, different painting techniques, tools, supports, etc. These four works give a comprehensive review of painting, from painting what you see, to painting what’s impossible to see, to explaining what it is that you actually see. These are the books that you should pour over, read repeatedly, and constantly review year after year.

Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid with Katie Swatland

Richard Schmid breaks down the components of the craft, techniques, and process of painting. It’s no longer in print, but if you can find it, it’s an excellent resource.

Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist by James Gurney

Imaginative Realism isn’t about painting aliens and dinosaurs and dragons. OK, it isn’t just about painting aliens and spaceships and dragons. It’s also about painting real things that you’re unlikely to see: ancient civilizations, historical personages, and extinct animals. And to top it off James Gurney reviews what you’d need to consider in the process of getting work done — everything that I learned in Commercial Art — thumbnails, color studies, drawing from photographs, and more.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques by Patrick J. Jones

Patrick Jones gives us another comprehensive look that serves as a complement to Imaginative Realism. While James Gurney explored the traditional process, Patrick Jones gives more detail for working from photos and using digital painting.

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney

Color and Light is well worth the price if all you take away from this book is the understanding of the following gem: “Under normal lighting conditions, the rods and cones cooperate to give you an interpretation of reality.” but the book contains so much more and many more gems just like it.

How am I going to pay for this?

Posted on: May 20th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

My daughter is earning her college degree. Which is a peculiar phrase because really she’s paying for the degree. Which is another peculiar phrase because most young adults fresh out of high school don’t have $80,000 or more to pay for a four-year degree. So I guess the actual phrase is more like she’s promising to pay for the degree. In the meantime that leaves us with a question. I’ve started a journal in which I hope to answer this ultimate question: How am I going to pay for this?

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Drawing

Posted on: May 18th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art. I’m kicking off the series with Drawing.

Drawing is the first skill that you need to learn as an artist. Initial sketches are used in every other art: painting, stained-glass, jewelry, sculpture, and more. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards will teach you how to learn to draw what you see. If you can’t make art in simple black lines then it makes it so much harder when you try to add value, shape, and color. Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin will teach you what you should’ve been taught in art school: the process that classical and master artists used to create their drawings and a good foundation for creating thumbnails and sketches that will eventually become other works of art. These two books together will help you create the drawing for your painting; what the Renaissance artists would have called the composition or cartoon.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards

Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin

Being Bad

Posted on: May 3rd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

I don’t think I’m getting my thoughts out properly. It feels like there’s a gap between what I want to say (portray, write, etc.) and what I actually say. I’m clumsily groping for the words to express what I’m trying to say. The solution: allow yourself to do things badly.

  • Make 1000 bad drawings
  • Paint 1000 bad paintings
  • Write 1000 bad blog posts
  • Play 1000 piano songs, badly

It’s not that I’m setting out to make anything that’s bad, but that I’m making things and allowing them to be bad. The only way to get better is to allow yourself the opportunity to do bad work.

I forgot that I was doing this (this blog; this artwork; etc.) for myself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted for display to others. Sometimes it’s more important to get the ideas out as they happen. That’s the reason why I promised myself to do 50 posts in a year. Some of it will be rushed, premature, poorly thought out, but the main goal is to just get it out. This isn’t a place to withhold.

Doing something badly isn’t a waste of time. The biggest unknown challenge for an artist is to get good before they realize that they’re doing it badly. That’s why so many people give up art when they’re still children. They realize that they’re not very good. People who do art well into adulthood blissfully keep making art until they’re well past the point that they realize their childhood art wasn’t very good. They’ll look back at their early art and think to themselves, “I can’t believe I thought that was good.”

The hardest obstacle to get over is for an artist is to not be very good; to know they’re not very good; and yet still need to do art, to know that they need to do art to get better, and to know that they won’t get better without doing the art that they know will be bad.

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