“Anything You Can Do I Can Do”…But Why Should I?: Creating My Way

First, the title of this article is not necessarily true in and of its self, but I am trying to paint a picture with words here, so follow along, will you?

I am not sure if you are familiar with the old musical “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. In the movie, there is a song that they sing to each other. It’s more two people shooting arrogant verse at each other as if they are bullets. “Anything you can do I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

As creatives, we are all looking for our own place in the world, our own voice. Even when and while we are inspired by and appreciate the expressions of others, we can sometimes find ourselves looking at fellow creatives with competitive eyes. “I can do that and I can do it better. Maybe I should try.

Being human, no matter what we are aiming to do, we can all go ahead and admit we’ve  done that once or twice. 

In an older post, I quoted Octavia E. Butler on how she became a science fiction writer. (Did I mention she is the winner of the Hugo Award and Nebula Awards?) Anyhow, she said that when she was twelve years old she watched a dreadful science fiction flick. It was so bad that she was determined to write “good” science fiction. And she did, obviously.

…I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make. ~Candice Coates

But her attitude was “I can do better than that.” And that attitude paid off. (If you have not read any of her work, check out Wild Seed.) The thing is, not only did she set out to write ‘better’ science fiction, but she did it her way, in her own voice, without competing with the voices that were already out there.

Since ICFTS began, I have been on a constant journey to identify my voice as an artist. Truth be told, I have been on this search since I have been an artist. I have always been very eclectic. But one thing that has come to mind with all of this is that I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make.

As I have said for years, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. That is when you get stuck in ruts of hollow, soulless work, be it writing, visual art, whatever it is. Always create what you care about.

I am on a hunt to find what it is that I care about. I love doing oil paintings, I love writing (writing will ALWAYS be my thing. I love to tell a story.) but with visual art, it just all depends.

I find that even with oil painting, though I have a talent for it,  I am exploring more pencil work, with ink and colored pencils. And there is always the option of mixed media illustration.  There are so many options.

…just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.” ~Candice Coates

I remember, years ago, in undergrad during a departmental review, my professors telling me “All your work is amazing, Ms. Coates, but it looks like the work of twenty different artists.”

On one hand, this is not a bad thing at all. It’s like being multilingual. I speak twenty different artistic languages. On the other hand, it begs the question, are you perfectly fluent in any of them? Jack or rather Jacqueline of all trades and master of…only a few.




We need to create on purpose, with purpose.”


There are 3 verses that come to mind in this regard. I will pluck at each. One is Philippians 4:13,I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It is comforting to know that if I set myself to do things that He, Christ Jesus, has placed in my heart to do, that no matter what, if I trust Him, He has given me the strength to do them.

I want to make art. He has given me the gift to do so and also the strength for it.

I Corinthians 10:23,You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” but not everything is beneficial.

With the creative strength and gift given unto me, I need to operate in wisdom. So what I can, sculpt. I don’t feel ANYTHING when I am sculpting apart from a loss of time. Dash the great reviews of my audience. (Just using sculpting as an example.)

Where is the benefit of doing something just because you can? You won’t benefit from my efforts and in the long run, no one else will either. The work is void of any life because your heart was not in it. This is arbitrary actions at its best.

Both of these verses bring me to Isaiah 30:21,and your ears hear a word behind you, saying “This is the Way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or whenever you turn to the left.


What is the point? The point is not to be arbitrary, not to be competitive. Art, to me, creation and creativity, is sacred. It needs to be treated with respect and care. We need to create on purpose with purpose. Not in a way to “out do” the person next to us. There has to be meaning involved. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

In conjunction with this, we should not only create what we care about, but we should create on subjects or themes that we care about.  If you are not interested in what you are doing your work “on” you are still going to get the same empty results, a pretty picture with no life to it, even if you are doing it in a medium that you love.

My creative path is still winding forward. I am discovering more about me and what I want out of my career as a visual artist. I am ever on the hunt to uncover my “niche” and voice.

But even where I stand now,  I can be confident in creating what I am curious about and care about, and leave all the competitive  “I can do better than you” mess behind me. And best of all, so can you!

*This article was originally published on February 12th, 2014 & Updated February 19th, 2018.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Do you ever feel like you could be making better use of your creative time, or that you’ve lost yourself in a creative competitive race? Talk about it in the comments below.


Markers & Mansions: Illustrative Sketch

Several years ago I purchased the anniversary box set of Copic Markers…and then I didn’t bother to use them.

House comparisonIt wasn’t anything personal against the markers. I was simply in a place where I was painting and didn’t give any thought to using any other medium but I had enough sense to take advantage of my employee discount and purchase the Copics at a fraction of the cost.


I started this image a while ago but put it away and didn’t finish until today. I have decided this year that I will spend Wednesday afternoons listening to spiritual teachings while I sketch. I am ‘stretching’ my old artistic muscles and I have to say I am pleased with the results today.


~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Looking Up: A Drawing

Original Drawing by Candice Coates done in Prismacolor Colored Pencil
Original Drawing by Candice Coates done in Prismacolor Colored Pencil

Looking Up: A Drawing

Back at the dawn of this blog in December of 2013 I had made it a point to draw or sketch at least 5 days a week for at least 15 minutes a day. I am beginning that trend again and I feel incredible about it. This drawing “Looking Up” was done just shy of an hour.

Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Taking Hold: A Sketch Part 1

Original art by Candice Coates done in Prisma Color Colored Pencil
Original art by Candice Coates done in Prisma Color Colored Pencil

Taking Hold: A Sketch

It’s been far too long since I allowed myself the time to sketch and breath. I took somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes to hash this out and although I feel like a knot has been worked out of my creative muscles, I still have the itch that says ‘you could have done better.’ For this reason I’ve decided to give this image a few more tries. Stay tuned…

Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Trees: A Sketch & Meditation

Gnarly Trees

It has been a long while since I have sat down and drawn something out of nature. It has been a few weeks since I have drawn something at all, and I found that more than my fingers were itching to create visually, but also my heart.

Change groans for new creation.

I have always had an affinity for trees and their form, especially how they relate to us as humankind. Trees dance like we do. They go through seasons of change, but even in their barren seasons they continue to hold strong their roots because they recognize spring will come again. Their glory will come again.

There is so much we can learn from them, lessons of life, faith, love, new beginnings, growth and fortitude.

Job 14:7-9  For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.”*

At the scent of the Living Waters from Heaven, the Holy Spirit, given through faith in Christ Jesus, we too can live again. There is hope for us as well.

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

*Scripture taken fro the KJV bible

Fairest Lily : A Poem and Illustration

Fairest Lily padded away

Original Illustration by Candice Coates. Done in Ink and Watercolor
Original Illustration by Candice Coates. Done in Ink and Watercolor

Her footsteps light as the glow of the day

Breaks and ripples upon the streams

Of wispy wanderings

And hopeful Dream

Sickles and crystals of laughter in flight

The loveliest  music

And sweetest Delight

Through forest of fancy

Of hearts left besotted

Through fields of lemongrass

Rimmed with palms of white Cotton

Candied with springtime

Winds of lightning and Thunder

Rolled in her musings

Of footsteps and wonder.

And FINALLY She Is Finished: My LARGE Painting of Bobbie Gentry

After nearly 3 years (That’s right! 3 YEARS!) I have finally finished working on my last oil painting commission. I present to you, Bobbie Gentry.

Original 3x5 ft oil painting on canvas by Candice Coates
Original 3×5 ft oil painting on canvas by Candice Coates

I added photos of the image, the first is a picture taken by day, and the other by night. I don’t have the best camera on my phone so the image quality is a bit cloudy. Nevertheless you can still see the fruits of my labors, even if they are not in the highest of their shining glory.

Am I tutting my own horn? Maybe HA! But this painting gave me the run around for nearly 3 years, with a love hate relationship to go along with it. Now that she is finished I have officially given her her eviction notice. She is to be shipped off soon.

Here is the skinny on both the painting and the person in the painting.

First, the painting is done on a 3 foot wide by 5 foot tall stretched canvas in oils. Although I have been working in oils for the better part of 15 years I have never painted a canvas this large.

That in itself made this a very hard project to tackle. To put things in perspective I stand at 5 ft 4 inches tall (Yes, I am a giant among men and women) and the canvas is 5ft tall and 3 feet wide. Being that we are practically the same size (no I am nowhere near that wide) it took me a lot longer to get things properly proportioned.

I also didn’t like my first attempts at the painting soooooo I painted over the entire thing like 3 or 4 times…I lost count. Anyhow, this final image was born just six months ago so technically it took me 6 months to paint and nearly 3 years thinking about it.

Now to Bobbie Gentry. In short, she is one of America’s gems. Writing and producing her own music, sometimes touching on themes that exposed the lives of the every day working class man or woman.

Below are a couple of her songs: Ode to Billie Joe (Which became a movie) and Fancy (Which is a song Reba Mcentire covers)  The video Ode to Billie Joe will give you some fun facts about her. Enjoy!

I am glad I have had the chance to tackle this painting. I am now more confident in my ability to paint super large images. Praise God for VICTORY and GROWTH!


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News for a New Month: Actions and Progress from June 1st NaNoWriMo and Such

Happy June 1st, lovelies!

I don’t know about you, but I, since 2013 have held a great anticipation for this month. Why? Because I since that year have been using this 30 day period as my own NaNoWriMo.

No, I have never participated in November as I find June to be the perfect mid-way mark of a year to focus on such a task as writing  a novel in 30 days. Here in the States, June, unlike November has not national holiday, so there is not a single day that must be dedicated to any other celebration besides being creative.

Still now idea about the final cover BUT that will come along as I near my final draft of the novel.
Still now idea about the final cover BUT that will come along as I near my final draft of the novel.

With that in mind, I have to mention that today is the one year anniversary for Ascension Graveyard. Bless that novel, it is a year old and still not finished. That being said, I have decided to not use June to write anything new BUT to correct the errors that I have made within the plot of Ascension Graveyard.

This month (should other plans tarry) shall be used in trimming AG’s fat and cutting out the crap…getting the novel back on track. Gosh it sounds like I am trying to create a poem here.

Cutting the CrapAnyhow, within the next 30 days I will be setting my heart to making my blog novel everything it is intended to be…for a first/second draft that is. This means that in the coming weeks those of you who have been following the Blog Novel will begin to see old chapters disappear from the blog menu, while new, tighter one’s show themselves in all their glory.

I am pretty excited about this!

What else? Weeeeellllll, I have found a home for the second face of Asaph Timby and it is in the place of a villain for another novel that I came up with years ago called Thief or Blur…still undecided about the title as of yet. I actually spent sometime last night doing a bit of writing for that story line so that is something to be very excited about as well.

Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic
Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic

This is not to mention the two other manuscripts that have begun to speak their pieces into the ears of my imagination and thus my fingertips have been on fire. I have also been living in my head a lot as a result which doesn’t make me a good candidate for a phone conversationalist.

I am okay with that.

I am also seeing flashes for new art that is begging to be created. Asaph #2 is the catalyst for that. Which brings me to my old, neglected Etsy store front page. Five years ago, around the time I opened my Ketubah shop, I opened an original art shop as well.

It was a great idea, just before its season. I really wasn’t in the right place to focus on that kind of creative expression, until now. That being said, my plan is to start making prints of my original art available for purchase by this coming fall.

Here is the link to the page since we are talking about it: www.thecandishop.etsy.com. Asaph #2 will be one of the images made available for purchase as an archival giclee print.

So that is it in a nutshell, a very delicious nutshell at least in my opinion. I am excited for the month of June. I am excited about new art and new adventures. And I am very much excited about writing new novels, whilst getting older ones back on track.


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Asaph Timby 2: Drawings and Sketch


Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic
Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic

Yesterday I posted a profile drawing of the character from a novel I have yet to write, Asaph Timby. Since I couldn’t shake the need to draw again, (not complaining) I have spent the better part of 4 hours doing just that.

Asaph Timby Front.jpg Double


As far as artistic expression goes, the front facing image of Asaph is quite nice, BUT too handsome for the character I am seeing in my head. Yes, the front facing image is with his head slightly (and I mean slightly) tilted forward, whereas his profile is slightly angled upward. I have to say I am pleased with both, but as far as the character goes the one in the Pink is more Asaph Timby than the one in blue.

So…I made the one in blue scowl a bit…

Asaph Timby Front.jpg 3


…I mean being creative is all about taking chances even when we can’t undo what we have done…Its all good though. And STILL the PINK ASAPH wins as the closest image to the character.

Here is how the front view drawing all began.

Asaph sketch


In the end I feel full. I am also relieved that I have jpeg images of all the drawings so I am not out of one image.





Asaph Timby: A Drawing

Original Colored Pencil Drawing done with Prismacolor 2015
Original Colored Pencil Drawing done with Prismacolor 2015

Asaph Timby is a fictional character who I have been thinking about for at least two years. I have yet to write his story, but I have thought about him often, his four children and his love interest.

For me, a big part of my writing process is to have a face to go with each character. I generally look for images of people who resemble the characters that I am imaging. Asaph unfortunately has such a hard lined masculine face (I mean he just looks like “man” for lack of a better description.) so it was kind of hard to place him until the other day.

Although Asaph is a Black man, the closest face to his is that of model, David Gandy. I would say he has charisma but he is not pretty. Ruggedly handsome, definitely.

This is my interpretation of the character yet to fully be born. I plan to do a face forward illustration soon.