We must learn to critique our own work, and part of our critique process is to identify what we like about what we do. There are two practical reasons why this is important.

We have to inspire ourselves to put time into our art. To get good takes practice and effort. I’ve found it’s much easier to put in the effort if I have a sense of hope. Hope is energizing. If I can find one or two things I like about each painting, however small, it’s as if a seed has been planted and just needs time and nurturing to grow. If I’m frustrated with everything, it takes a real act of willpower to return to the studio. I need the counterbalance of small successes. And sometimes they are really small.

We also need to recognize our own developing styles. Identifying just one small area that works within a painting or collage can keep our artistic growth headed in the right direction. When we sense some pleasure in seeing those areas develop, it is valuable to take note. This is not hubris, it’s observation, and it is certainly not necessary to be pleased with the entire painting.

Keep going with the hope that with time, practice, and faith, you’ll get better!

FINDING YOUR STORY Q&A with George Dutch

Q: You write in your book Find Your Right Work, “Writing your life story helps you understand your own life in terms of the forces that have defined and changed you over the years. The facts, people and events of your life have formed a seamless web of meaning that help you to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “What am I trying to accomplish with my life?” How did you come to realize that having clients and readers write their life stories could accomplish these and more insights?


A: The world of work is a hard taskmaster. At some point in a life story, reality breaks everyone. Even though we live in one of the most affluent places in the world in one of the most affluent times in history, the No. 1 workplace disability in North America is depression (according to the World Health Organization). I think narrative counseling is inextricably tied to this sad phenomenon. When we construct a story for ourselves, we construct a thread that we follow daily. If individuals lose the thread of their story and how it relates to the bigger Story that shapes our worldview, our deepest values, our culture … then we put our lives in danger at many levels.

For example, our personal sense of identity might disintegrate and leave us with empty, haunting questions: Who am I? Where am I? Why am I? What’s the point? Even worse, to believe we have no story is to acknowledge that our existence is meaningless. This is an unbearable idea. When stories take such a drastically dark turn, we may find ourselves terrifyingly alone, spiritually blind, psychologically or physically broken. But it’s not just us as individuals who suffer; the rest of society is deprived of our contribution.

Fortunately, our personal stories have the power to help us heal from the inevitable trials and tragedies of life. It certainly helped me, and that’s when I came to realize how journaling, autobiography, morning pages, and other writing exercises could provide deep insights to the unconscious patterns of strength and weaknesses that operate below the radar screen of life. Certain activities and events in our lives — during childhood, teen years, and in each decade of adulthood — are particularly enjoyable and consistently satisfying. These are things we choose to do because we discover them as satisfying; or, we choose to do them in our discretionary time because they energize rather than drain us. So, I give my clients a simple format around which to organize those stories so that they can be easily analyzed for their key success factors. Like mining for gold, the format helps to separate the ore from the gold to get to the relevant material in an efficient and effective manner.


Scripture: Deuteronomy 1:7 & 8 “You have dwelt long enough in this mountain … go and possess the land.”

God had made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to their children after them that He would give them the Promised Land. Moses now speaks to the people and commands them to go forward and possess the land that God had promised their fathers before them. In verse twenty-one, Moses also tells the people of Israel to do this without fear or discouragement.

Israel was given a tremendous promise of a special land, but the possession of that promise came only by facing the giants and engaging in battles. It’s very easy for us to get excited about a promise that we receive from God, but it is another thing to put forth the effort to possess that same promise. Too often, we view the promise from afar and never walk towards the vision that God has placed in our hearts. The giants of doubt and unbelief challenge our hopes and dreams and tempt us to give up. In the midst of the battle, we must remember that God never makes a promise that He can’t keep. When He leads, He goes before us and no foe can stand in His way. His presence clears the way before us, making the crooked paths straight and the rough ways smooth.

God has set before you open doors in an attempt to enlarge your borders and He speaks to you as He did with Moses, “You have dwelt long enough in this mountain. Go possess the land.” Adversity may come as you move forward, but if you allow it, it will strengthen you. Conflicts transform the meek into mighty warriors, fires purify, water purges, and stones polish. It is a known fact that hard times make us strong, and valleys rather than mountains cause us to grow. Your shattered hopes and disappointments will cause you to shift your focus to God and God alone. Your experiences will give you insight and discernment and God will use all of your brokenness to minister to you and equip you to be able to minister to others. The peace and joy that you win in battle will become more precious than the peace which has known no conflict. God desires that you move into your destiny and speaks, “Don’t fear or be discouraged. Go and possess the promise.”

IT COULDN’T BE DONE by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin On his face.
If he worried he hid it.He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.


What can any artist set on fire but his world? What can any people bring to the altar but all it has ever owned in the thin towns or over the desolate plains? What can an artist use but materials, such as they are? What can he light but the short string of his gut, and when that’s burnt out, any muck ready to hand? His ( artist’s) face is flame like a seraph’s, lighting the kingdom of God for the people to see; his life goes up in the works; his feet are waxen and salt. He is holy and he is firm, spanning all the long gap with the length of his love, in flawed imitation of Christ on the cross stretched both ways unbroken and thorned. So must the work be also, in touch with, in touch with, in touch with; spanning the gap, from here to eternity, home.


I began this series in the 1980s and it sprung up from my newly revitalized faith and my need to express this in my work. As I dug into the often inexpressible truths, I sought a vocabulary of visual expression.
“Genesis” was the first painting and I began my painting journey with the first book of the Bible.

Art, writing, faith, self-help, and the intersection of faith and art.


The difference in writing a report, a novel, and a poem about the same subject.

The Police Report, The Novel, and The Poem
by Keith Bond

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.

Suppose a crime happened in your city or town. Three people write about it.

First is a police officer who responded to the incident. The officer writes in exacting detail everything that happened. Nothing is left out. It is a completely thorough and meticulous report. But reading it is very cumbersome and tedious. It puts you to sleep on about page one.

The second writer is a novelist who is able to explain the same event in an exciting way. The novelist’s version is enthralling and captivating. The details are controlled so that you read them only when necessary. They are carefully composed to lead you over and under, in and around the events. The author creates a narrative to tell the story. You find the read thoroughly enjoyable and suspenseful. It is a page-turner. You cannot put the book down, because you need to know what happens next. Hours go by and you find that you read all night to finish the book. The twists and turns kept you guessing, but in the end you really weren’t prepared for what really happened. It caught you by surprise. You wonder why you didn’t see it before – the butler really did do it!
Yes, the novel would be much more exciting to read than a police report. But once you have read it, what then? Would you read it again? Perhaps in a few years.

The third writer is a poet. What would his/her version read like? Likely, it would give you only the most essential details. But the poet would also leave much to the imagination. The poet captures the feeling or mood of the events. Rather than telling you what everything means, the poet would subtly point you in the general direction, but you would be faced with the task of coming to your own conclusions. Each time you read it, you find new things hidden in the words. You think the poem means one thing one time you read it and something entirely different the next time. Thus, you never tire of reading it.

It is the same with art. Three people paint the same subject, but in very different ways (actually, the possibilities are far more than three, but for the analogy’s sake, we’ll keep it simple). What kind of artist are you? Do you tell your viewers everything in such exacting detail that they are bored out of their mind? Are you a story teller? Do you create wonderful narratives in your art? Is it exciting to view the first time, but there is little to bring the viewers back time and again? Or are you the poetic artist who merely implies themes and allows the viewers to interpret the art in his or her own way? Do they come back time and again to view the painting because it keeps drawing them in, revealing more to them each time?

Before I go further, I must clarify what I mean by these different classifications.

The Police Report

I am not picking on the highly detailed artists here. I have seen highly detailed works that are very poetic. Though the analogy is built around recording every last detail, it is really about not knowing how to edit and compose. This is the artist who cannot decide which details are important and which are not. This is also the artist who can’t arrange the details in a compelling way. This artist simply records things just as they are. A police report has no emotion. It is simply an outline of facts and events, regardless of whether the work is done in photorealism or impressionism or abstraction.

The Novel

I don’t use the term narrative in the typical sense. We all have seen those works of art which depict a story – a narrative. But even these can be done poetically. I am talking about the method of painting, not the subject (I hope it’s not too confusing). Do you lead your viewers through your painting in a controlled way? Do you keep the painting exciting and enthralling at every turn, but in the end, the viewer comes to the point that you wish them to get to? This is a novel in this analogy.


Or do you simply create a painting in which the viewer gets a gist of what your intent is, but it is left open to them to interpret? Do you put in only the most important details and leave the rest out? Do you imply rather than explain? Do you search for new ways of expressing the old ideas? Do you say so much with each passage, that more is revealed each time your work is viewed? Are the works felt?

What kind of art do you create? What kind of art do you want to create?

Best Wishes,

Keith Bond