Do You Ever Feel Blocked?

What do we strive for?

How is it that, no matter how comfortable or privileged we become as a culture, there remain hurdles to our growth and joy?

And the real question is – what do we make of these hurdles?

If we stop pretending they will magically go away, we begin to look more closely at their nature.

Regardless, we often feel disheartened by obstacles or adversity.

When I graduated from art school, I felt a wave of overwhelm by the sheer number of obstacles blocking me from success.  Among the financial, logistical, and emotional hurdles there stuck out the social and familial blocks – purely psychological.  People often trade around the ideas of “starving artists,” or artists driven only by pain, mania, or alienation. These somehow remain stubborn memes (embedded complexes of ideas, not internet jokes).  

Even if you aren’t an artist, you’ve probably been limited – not only by the actual forces in the world, but by your fears and anxieties of their limitless dark potentials.
You’ve probably stood, so to speak, at the periphery of a dream of yours, only to touch its outermost surface in complete bafflement.  You stare at it like the black box it is.  Any big experience remains a black box, too, until we crack it.  Until we pry that crack open with our child-hands and sneak inside.  We learn what it takes to even apply to nursing school, or what steps one might take to start a business.  We digest the fear of even the swimming thoughts of what the process might be. 
For the few of us who have endeavored past this point, something begins to dawn on us.

A realization begins to take over us as we march through the steps toward our dream.

It encompasses everything from the beginning of a long day to the end of yet another failed attempt, and back again.

The realization becomes – that we deeply need these obstacles.  That obstacles become the mountains on the map through which we navigate, or more precisely, over which we forge a path.  As we begin to flesh out the map of our experience, the process to or through or beyond the obstacles becomes the dream, itself. 
In cracking the black box, we realize that anything is knowable, even as we discover more to know.  

We realize that obstacles, even as they taunted us, beckoned us toward them – invited us to disintegrate them.
We realize that obstacles were simply creative constraints through which we navigate, and thus benefit greatly from having navigated, that these constraints forged our character.


This yak took me several hours to create, and forms the basis for a series of larger drawings collaged onto panel.  I’m pairing the subject matter with a new book I’m writing and podcast that I’m coming out with for a full multimedia experience. Titles for all those still pending…

In the meantime, check out my recent works on my brand new art webstore! or check out my other art merch on my Etsy: CreatingCary on Etsy

Growing Up Artists


My 3 siblings and I around the time I attended grade one. Left to right: Madeleine (5), Morgan (9), Me (7), Natalie (2 1/2)

  All children begin creative.  We played imaginary  friends or imaginary worlds with our human friends, or create whole worlds on paper.

All children begin emotional.  We cried and laughed and spoke our beautifully unrefined emotional language with the world. 

After some time, some of these gifts disappeared.  Even for those of us who consider ourselves artists, or work as artists, certain emotional color palettes get locked away.  

I grew up extremely emotional, creative, and expressive, with regular outbursts into my teen years.  I struggled to control or manage my emotions, especially darker ones like anger, hatred, and resentment.  I don’t specifically remember art becoming an outlet for my emotions, but I also don’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing art.

My first grade teacher once had to pull me aside.  Teachers rarely receive enough praise for teaching, let alone all the unacknowledged therapeutic guidance they offer kids.  She had noticed my emotional outbursts were especially hard to regulate in her already-full classroom of rowdy kids.  She noticed that I got defensive when kids teased me, though I was no scrawny kid or victim of bullying per se.  I’ll never forget the lesson Mrs. Pyzyk (an epic scrabble word, btw) taught me:
“Just like water off a duck’s back.”
She very carefully hammered in a point that I simply could not afford to go through life taking every last criticism personally.  In fact, even insults could be circumvented (or at least vented off) internally with this pithy bit of guidance.

“It’s like water off a duck’s back, Cary. Do you know what I mean?”

I told her I didn’t exactly (and lessons were hard-delivered to my stubborn ears, even on a good day.) She explained that ducks float on top of water and don’t get wet.  Not really.  The feathers act like water-resistant fabric, rolling beads of fluid right off.  
I nodded and said I understood.

Like most of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Pyzyk saw my potential even amidst the tumult of my emotional character.  She noted that I want to be an artist when I grew up (specifically in grade one a “producer who makes movies about dragons.”)
I don’t know how she did it, and perhaps neither did she, but she managed to un-ruffle my feathers.  She managed to fold them into each other – emotional awareness and creative potential back to emotional awareness.  
Not until my late 20s did this lesson truly sink in, truly absorb like that water on the back didn’t.  A connection between emotions and creativity had been established that day in my childhood and only now could I set to exploring it.
On the continuum between emotional awareness and creativity we find all of the states in which I thrive and survive and dive: mania, elation, depression, sadness, fear, and the prized one of the flow state.  In the wilder of times, I give full license to my own creative-emotional self and let it splash paint around, scream and dance, even.  Other times, like a good dad, I offer the firm grip of discipline, meting out the creative flow in measured pieces, attempting something like practice mixed with just a healthy amount of spontaneity and fire.
In this life, creative or not, we all walk the line between building up and breaking down.  We all throw together colors and hope for the best.  We all give up and give in and give over power that we could at any point take back.  We go back into our past and rescue our subtlest lessons, only to forge forward, adults with the wild, creative hearts of children.



To see or purchase my artwork.

To purchase my memoir, The Naked Unicyclist.

For anything else, like social media and other blogs.

5 Things You Must Do for a Successful Kickstarter Launch Date

How I Raised 50% of my $5k Goal on Kickstarter in the First 12 Hours.

As of 11:55pm eastern time March 30 (12 hours into campaign) pledges total: $2,581

  1. Start months ahead of time.
    Start by creating your kickstarter at least 2-3 months ahead of time.  Kickstarter recently launched their pre-launch page, which people can sign up for.  They click “notify me on launch” and kickstarter sends them an email.  All you need to get this off the ground is a compelling main image for your pre-launch page (it’s not like the campaign page, where you’ll need a nice video and fully fleshed out product or idea.). ***One thing I love is doing grassroots organizing to build the buzz before launch day.  Use Sticker Robot to create a sticker with an image of your logo (mine is a heart, pictured below) and be sure to add the option for “back printing.” This is where you put the promo information and ***a QR code (use Flowcode) for people to scan on to the Pre-launch page.  That link becomes the campaign link, so don’t worry about changing it over on launch day.


2. Create an email list using Mail Chimp and leave “breadcrumbs” (aka Teasers. And again, way ahead of time.)
My list only accounted for 50 emails, but of those a chunk pledged on day one.  I sent only 3 or 4 emails over 2 months (good not to overwhelm them ahead of time.  Pressure and buzz should build up to Day 1 and really hit Week 1 hard and keep the momentum from there.  Pepper your followers with some kind of tease, a gift they can sign up for to get in the mail, an early bird deal, etc

3. Build Trust with a key group of followers.

I don’t even have to exaggerate.  For me, I have 1.3k followers on one instagram, and 2.2k on another, and of those, this “key group” consisted of about 9 people.  I kept an eye on who was watching my stories, reels, and other posts, and reached out directly to them.  I put polls on my instagram asking questions, and I engaged with those who responded.  When it came time to tease with a free gift, in this case, a 10-card “trial deck” for my then-upcoming tarot deck, they signed up for the freebie.  I followed through on my end, sending each of them a care package of previous  kickstarter games  I created and the current trial deck.  When it came time to launch, I could count on these folks to pledge AND share on their social media.

4. Create a Compelling Product or Idea.

For me the idea came first, but for some the audience might come first.  Depending on whether you consider yourself more of a creator than an entrepreneur, or the other way round, you will need to decide.  If you selling something totally new, you run the risk of it being misunderstood or perceived as not “needed” like a product people are familiar with.  Something too familiar, and well, you’re vanilla and no one cares.  Create a great product.  Present it in a colorful and compelling way.  People will feel attracted to it.

5. Let Lovers Love. Let people share the love, with services like Kickbooster.

Kickbooster helps creators share their campaigns and spread reach by offering a referral tracking system.  Powered by google analytics, Kickbooster creates and tracks links that people can post, all of which lead a wider audience to your campaign.  You set the rate and whatever those folks pledge, that percentage (say 10%) goes to whoever posted the link.  People can basically earn cashback by sharing your link with their audience.  Kickbooster charges $29 for the service (monthly, so either keep using or cancel) and 3% on top of whatever percent you choose.  Take that into account before going hog-wild.  It’s easy for those wanting to refer to sign up, and payouts are made through PayPal, so no credit cards are necessary!

Here’s that kickbooster link for mine, and you can see how easy it is!!

Click the image to check out the campaign.  Happy Creating!


Just launched my Etsy!

Hi everyone! I am super happy and proud to announce that my art shop on Etsy has just been launched!
This has been a long time coming, as I’ve always wanted an easy online platform to sell my creations! Right now, there are affordable 8×8 canvas prints of Black Bears I designed this past year, custom poetry, and a cardgame that I’ve been working on most of 2019 and which was just printed!!