Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Couple of Videos

I've recently been honored with a couple of videos posted by others that I wanted to share. If you follow the Journal Fodder Junkies on Facebook, you may have already seen these, but I wanted to share here on the blog.

The first video (above) is a conversation that I had with Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studio. Connie is creator of 21 SECRETS - a mega-online journal workshop that features 21 different artists presenting 21 different workshops. David and I were fortunate to be part of the Spring 2015 21 SECRETS.

Our conversation covered my art making, my journaling, and my motivations. It was a joy to talk with Connie, and I hope you enjoy the video.

The second video is from Dan Fisk. Dan is a Virginia singer and songwriter, and he invited me to be part of a recent Painting the Music event in Leesburg, VA. I had to paint Dan's song "Little Things" as he and other performers did their thing for two hours. It was a fun challenge to marry my style with Dan's song. It was also a fun challenge to try to complete a painting in just two hours, but I have a feeling that I'll work on this painting a little more before calling it complete.

I hope you enjoy the time lapse video of the painting process. It's interesting to see the painting evolve.

I want to thank to Connie and Dan for including me in their endeavors.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Purchase the 15 for 30 Challenge Now!

The 15 for 30 Visual Journal Challenge was a huge success, and I am grateful for everyone who participated. I had several art educators contact me about the possibility of using the challenge in their classrooms, so I have created a suite of items for purchase.

But it's not just for educators. Its for anyone wishing to push their journaling further, and it includes several extras and add-ons that the original challenge didn't have.

For just 5 bucks you get the following:

  • a 40-page PDF of the Challenge. Print it out for handy task cards.
  • a 32-slide PowerPoint ready to go in any classroom.
  • a 3-page PDF of progress charts to keep track of the challenge and to create your own.
  • a PDF of 22 inspiration cards. Print them out and cut them apart for simple creative nudges.
All delivered via email to your inbox.

So head on over to the JFJ Shop to purchase yours today!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Art is not a Competition

Dave and I just got back from Art Unraveled in Phoenix, where we had a great time connecting to people and teaching a few things about our process, but there have been several things that have come up that have me thinking. I want to share.

Life is not a race.

Art is not a competition.

So often we get tangled up in our thoughts about our lives and about our art, that we get lost inside of them building up stories and scenarios in our minds. We run the scripts through our heads so often that we begin to really believe in them. We begin to spiral uncontrollably in them, and we can’t escape them.

These are stories of lack and comparison. Over and over, I have heard these stories from others and from myself, and they are stories that keep us stuck as we look for someone or something to blame.

When we step out of the present moment, when we start to think about where we’ve been and where we’d like to be, we quickly fill our thoughts with all the things that we don’t have and all the people who have it better. We waste energy thinking that if we just had more money, or lived in a different area, or if we just had the breaks that others had, then our lives would be different - our art would be different. We waste our energy spinning these stories around in our heads, and we go nowhere. We stay stuck spinning our wheels.

I have been experiencing such thoughts myself. For years now, I’ve been dreaming of making it as an artist. By making it, I mean making a living off of my art. I would like to step away from being a public school teacher, and live my dream of making and selling work, traveling and teaching classes, and writing books and articles. I do a little of all of those things, but not to the extent I would really like. I do sell a little of my art. I do travel a little to teach, and I have co-written a couple of books. But in order to keep paying the mortgage, in order to keep paying the bills, I have to keep working a full time job that can be demanding and draining. And all the while, I think about all the things that I don’t have, all the things that I have to do and put up with, all the people who I think have it easier than I do, and I continually get lost inside of these thoughts. I compare myself to others and think about all that I don’t have. I tear myself down and bury myself under the weight of these ideas.

What if I let go of my stories? What if every time I began to think of what I don’t have, I let it go and thought about what I do have? What if every time I began to compare myself to others, I let it go, and thought about who I am? This would mean that I would get present with myself. If I focus on where I am right now and what I can offer right here, there is no room for those old and tired scripts.

And so that is what I am working on - staying present and knowing that I lack nothing and that life is not a competition.

When we tell ourselves stories of comparison and lack, we diminish ourselves and our art, and we make ourselves small. We can only do what we can do, but we must do it with an eye on growing, connecting, and inspiring. I shared a bit of advice with someone recently, and I think that I need to heed it as well.

Never diminish what you do, and never make yourself small. Make and create boldly.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Making Space

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the blog and social media during the month of July needing to have a bit of down time, as well as time to focus on other things, but I am back!

One of the key things that I have discovered recently is that I need to make space in all aspects of my life. I’ve been feeling a bit bogged down with the clutter and the chatter of life, so I have been on a mission lately to make space and to declutter mentally, emotionally, artistically, and physically.

I think that we live in an age where so many things vie for our attention that it’s easy to feel a bit lost in the fray. There are many things pulling me in a multitude of directions, and I need to bring some openness and calmness into my life so that I have room for myself and room for what really matters.

Physically, I have been trying to declutter the spaces that I inhabit, and I have begun sorting, trashing, organizing, and rearranging so that these spaces are more open and more conducive for connecting with myself and my creativity. I have also been trying to get myself moving by walking more and being out in the openness more. This is allowing me to bring freshness and energy into my life. And I also just got back from a wonderful vacation to the beach where the vastness of the ocean and sky allowed me to reconnect with openness and space in a very literal way.

Mentally and emotionally, I have been trying to declutter my mind by letting go of much of the judgmental self-talk. I’ve been trying to drop the script when my inner critic begins ranting and raving. I’ve been trying to divorce myself from excuses, criticisms, and judgments. I have also been trying to watch less tv, and read and meditate more. All of this has been an attempt to keep my mind clear and focused and my heart light and open. It seems to be working.

Artistically, I have been trying to declutter my art by simplifying my images and processes. I have a tendency to create complex and complicated spaces, but I’ve been wanting a more meditative approach to my art. So, I have gone back to some old forms and ideas that I explored in my Excavation series trying to reconnect to myself through my art. I have experimented with a couple of small pieces - white colored pencil on black paper - getting back to my drawing roots.

I am hoping to continue making space in my life even as I know things will be getting very busy. David and I will be in Phoenix this week to teach at Art Unraveled (there are still spaces left in our workshops, though you'll have to sign up in person). And my school year will be beginning in a couple of weeks, so I’ll just have wait and see how I hold onto this newfound space in my life.

But for now I am feeling more open, more clear, and more energized.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


What kind of journals do you use?

This is a question that we get a lot, so I have posted a video about the two brands of hardbound journals/sketchbooks that we use. Check it out for more info and a peek into a couple of my journals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thank You! But Now What?

I want to thank everyone who participated in the JFJ 15 for 30 Challenge. I can't believe the 30 days are over. I am so grateful to everyone who participated and shared their work on their blogs, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. It's so humbling to see so many folks actively engaging in the journal, and I am glad that I was able to give people a creative nudge. I think a lot of people were surprised at how much they accomplished, and found that they spent more then 15 minutes each day. And that was one of the major points of the challenge - to build a daily habit of journaling even if it was only 15 minutes a day.

The challenge was a bit of an accomplishment for me as well. First, I was able to sustain the challenge - both the journaling and the posting. No matter how busy or tired I was, I made sure that I completed each challenge in my journal, photographed the results, wrote, and posted each day's challenge the night before. Thank goodness for scheduled posts. That way, the challenge posted at 8:00 AM everyday. But I also accomplished my other goal - to connect to and to inspire other people. There was definitely a sense of community that built up around the challenge, and I checked Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram multiple times each day to see what was being posted. I loved seeing how people took simple ideas and made them their own.

With the end of the challenge, many people are wondering, "Now what?" Well there are three things that can help you sustain your creative courage.

First off, The JFJ challenge has sparked another challenge. Tim Needles, a fellow art educator we met several years ago who participated in the challenge, has launched his own daily challenge for the month of July. You can find Tim's challenge at the blog The Everyday Renaissance. You can also follow Tim on Twitter.

Second of all, David and I will be conducting several workshops this summer.

  • If you're in the Austin area, David will be teaching a two-day workshop the weekend of July 25th, at Jerry's Artarama. 
  • In August, David and I will be conducting workshops in Phoenix at Art Unraveled. We will be teaching three different workshops August 9-11. Check our Events page for more info. 

Finally, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Journal Fodder Junkies official online community.  This community is a place where we can share our online workshops, resources, videos, news, and more. We also want to give people a chance to connect to one another and to share their experiences, their processes, and their journaling with one another in a safe and closed community. You must sign up for membership to enjoy the benefits. Your membership is completely free, but it must be approved. Once you sign up, I'll try to approve your membership within 24 hours if not quicker. Once your membership is approved, you will have access to a number of free tutorials, downloads, and resources. Eventually, we would like to house our paid online workshops there as well. I've been putting together the last bits and pieces over the last few days, and things might be a little rough and sparse for now, but I plan on offering more as time goes on. Please click here to check it out and to sign up. I'd love to get some feedback.

Thank you once again, and please keep the journaling habit moving forward.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

JFJ 15 for 30 Challenge - Day 30: Reflection

We use the journal to reflect on our art, to reflect on our lives, and to reflect on our relationships. The journal helps us figure out what’s important, and it helps us figure out what we want and where we need to be. It is a valuable tool for living and learning.

Spend time today reflecting our your journey. You might want to reflect on specifically what you have done over the last 30 days or you might want to reflect on your life or your art in general. What is going well? What needs work? What is an area of strength? What is an area for growth? If these questions don’t work for you, come up with your own. Write, collage, paint, and/or draw.

Don’t forget to share! #jfj15for30

Monday, June 29, 2015

JFJ 15 for 30 Challenge - Day 29: Connection

Through journaling we connect to ourselves, and we connect to the places we inhabit. Through sharing we connect to others and we build relationships. It is through these connections that we begin to see our place in the world and figure out what is important to us. The journal grounds us in our lives as we discover the ties that bind us.

For today focus on the idea of connection. Explore the connections that you have made to yourself and to others over the last twenty-eight days. Focus on how these connections have brought about clarity, confusion, questions, and answers. In what ways have you connected to yourself, to places, and to others? In what ways have these connections affected your relationship to yourself and to others. Write, paint, collage, and draw. Respond in any way you see fit.

As always, share and strengthen those connections. #jfj15for30

Sunday, June 28, 2015

JFJ 15 for 30 Challenge - Day 28: Drawn Text

As we’ve mentioned before, words are an important part of our journaling practice, and we use words in a variety of ways. Sometimes we want the text to become more graphic in nature, and we could use collaged or stenciled words. But drawn text is a great way to bring a graphic and a personal flair to our words.

For at least 15 minutes today, draw words and text. Perhaps you highlight some of those operative words with drawn text, or perhaps you illustrate your favorite quote. Perhaps you create a specific theme word for your page. Use any stye of lettering you want such as block, bubble, or graffiti letters. Feel free to draw or sketch your letters with pencil before using materials like pen and marker.

Keep sharing those responses. #jfj15for30

Saturday, June 27, 2015

JFJ 15 for 30 Challenge - Day 27: Tearing

Who needs scissors? Tearing and ripping can create interesting lines and textures, and we, at times, tear pages and fodder as we work in our journals. Tearing a series of pages creates a lot of interaction and surprise. Ripping fodder brings in a lot of contrast to the straight and uniform lines and shapes we normally use. We try to be purposeful and careful as tear and deconstruct images, pages, and text. We then are free to reconstruct the images, pages, and text in any number of ways.

For today focus on tearing as a means for working in your journal. Try tearing off parts of pages. You can even tear a series of pages. Try ripping up colored paper, pictures, or old artwork and gluing in the parts and pieces. Think about tearing up some of your writing and randomly gluing in pieces so the meaning becomes obscured. Begin tearing and see where it goes.

Don’t forget to share! #jfj15for30