Friday, December 31, 2010
Over the last 12 months, I have come to realize my truth in a few different areas. The first is balance. I feel that I was able to strike a balance throughout 2010 among the various aspects of my life. I have been able to balance work, art, home, journaling, spirituality, cyberspace, and conferences fairly well. Of course there were times when certain areas ebbed and others flowed, but that is life. Things never balance perfectly all the time. But I feel like I have not deprived one aspect of my life to devote energy to another.
The second truth is in the area of spirituality. I have discovered that I am a very spiritual person - not religious. Though I grew up in a Christian household and embraced Christianity as a child, I became disillusioned with the faith in high school and college. For many years I was very agnostic to the point of being almost atheist. I guess that I am still that way, and so it has been no wonder that I have been drawn toward Buddhism, which by the admission of the Dalai Lama is an atheist religion since it does not hold to the belief of a divine creator. There is such logic and rationality to the Buddha's teachings, and I am drawn to the idea that we can achieve happiness from within by training our minds, reflecting on how we react to things and situations, and seeing objects and phenomenon as they really are - empty of inherent existence. But I don't call myself a Buddhist - I have yet to begin really practicing. I have found opportunities for stillness and quiet. I have found opportunities to be present in the moment. I have found opportunities to reflect on what it is that I wish for my life. I believe that these are ingredients for a spiritual life - get still, get quiet, and go inside.
The third truth that I have realized in 2010 is the impact that I can have on people through art and the journal. I have been continually surprised and awed at the reaction that The Journal Junkies Workshop has received, at the excitement and wonder expressed by participants at our workshops and presentations, and at the reception of my endeavors through this blog, Facebook, and now YouTube. To see our ideas of the visual journal and creativity spread has been a humbling experience, but it makes me firmly believe that I am on the right path. Although there are certain aspects of teaching art in a public school that I absolutely love, I feel that I have a limited impact within my classroom. I feel most in my skin when the impact is much wider and broader. I feel that it won't be much longer before I can leave the constraints of public school behind, and take a leap into something greater. I am continually grateful for all those who spend some time with the Journal Fodder Junkies.
And so to wrap this up, I would ask you to ponder these three questions:
How have you found opportunities for balance?
What have been your opportunities for stillness?
In what ways have you found to leap into the unknown?
I wish everyone a bright, happy, and prosperous new year.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
This is the second of the video tutorials that I have posted on YouTube. As with the book, the demonstrations are very basic, but deciding when and where to use them is completely up to the individual. We don't want to can creativity. We want to share some basics and allow you to decide how to use them. To see more videos visit my channel on YouTube.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I don't say this in hopes of receiving lots of birthday greetings and nicely wrapped birthday presents. I say it because my birthday is a time of reflection. With it being so close to Christmas and the New Year, my birthday is always a pensive time when I look back over the previous year. I usually spend some time rambling in my journal, but I thought that I would do it here this year instead.
This past year has been an incredible year - busy and jammed packed - but amazing to say the least.
First a few highlights. In 2010 there was my solo exhibit at UNC-G, the National Art Education Association Convention in Baltimore where we presented twice to enthusiastic crowds, the release of The Journal Junkies Workshop and an awesome book launch party hosted by our dear friend Linda, my 7th wedding anniversary, the beginning of my 15th year of teaching, two state Art Education conferences, acceptance to teach classes at Art Unraveled, and the opportunity to meet and inspire lots of amazing people and to share a profound journey.
Next some acknowledgments. I am grateful to everyone who bought a copy of the book, wrote and posted reviews, attended our presentations and workshops, stopped by to see what we've been up to here, on our website, and on Facebook, and emailed or left comments of the most sincere form. I've said it before, but it bares repeating. It is the positive feedback and the knowledge that we are making a difference that keeps the JFJ rolling on. I am grateful to all of the support from my colleagues, my friends, and my family. And the deepest appreciation goes to my wife who whole-heartedly supports my running off to do conferences, workshops, and presentations, and who indulges my hours spent in the studio, and who understands and accepts the money that I spend on hotels, plane tickets, and art supplies.
And finally some personal reflection.
2010 was a year of personal growth. I read a lot mostly on spiritual and creative matters and gained some valuable insight. The Dalai Lama has been a constant source of inspiration and spiritual consideration as I have immersed myself in more and more Buddhist teachings. Patti Digh and Ken Robinson brought home some great points about living creative lives. I feel like my life has much more balance as I juggle work, art, and home. I feel like my relationships have grown stronger, and I feel like I am having a greater impact in the world.
I look forward to the continued sharing of my journey. I look forward to making more art, to inspiring others, to spreading the power of the journal and creativity, to touching the lives of others, and to being touched and inspired in return.
It has a been a great year - not perfect, but great. As a token of appreciation. I am offering up my rules in a fairly hi-res format above for anyone to print out for their own personal use. I created a 6x9 mixed-media piece on watercolor paper. I reworded a couple of rules to take the edge off, and rewrote #10. So, please feel free to print the image and hang in the studio, in classroom, or in an office. Or feel free to collage it into the journal as a constant reminder to make life a creative one.
Thank you to all who have shared this journey with me.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Below you will find a description of each of our workshops.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict
Based on their popular book The Journal Junkies Workshop, Dave and Eric designed this class to bombard you with artistic possibilities. Come and explore a variety of techniques and media that are just as at home in the visual journal as they are in rich, mixed-media wall pieces. This workshop allows you the flexibility to work either on individual pieces or in the visual journal giving you a full range of creative choices.
Focus will be placed on how a plethora of techniques can be mixed and mingled, layered and built upon. Stock up on new techniques and add to your creative arsenal, and leave with visually loaded journal pages or mixed-media pieces ready to hang on the wall.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - Mapping Identity in the Visual Journal
It’s all about you in this mixed-media visual journal workshop. Using a variety of prompts, exercises, media, techniques, images, and words, you will begin to unravel the mystery that is YOU by contemplating the questions: Who are you? Where have you been? Where are you going?
The Journal Fodder Junkies lead you through a process of self-discovery and deep introspection as you delve into the visual journal and what its creative powers can mean to you. Prepare to get still, get quiet, and go inside as you learn to encounter the visual journal as a powerful tool for living and dreaming.
Thursday, August 4, 2011 - The Challenge of Beauty
Using a process developed by Angeles Arrien in her book Signs of Life, The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them, this class will focus on the use of personal and universal symbols as a way to explore concepts of beauty and personal challenge. The mixed-media approach of the process will touch upon a variety of art media and techniques, but will also add writing and words to the mix allowing you freedom, flexibility, and choice throughout the process.
Come with an openness to explore, and leave with the beginnings of rich journal pages or layered wall pieces.
Click here to see a full list of all the workshops at Art Unraveled.
Friday, December 10, 2010
It wasn’t what I was anticipating as I headed down the driveway to get the day’s mail right after getting home from work.
But I faced death as a 4 ton Chevy Avalanche came down the road, veered off the road, and slammed into the maple tree at the end of my driveway just 10 feet away from where I stood waiting – waiting for that very vehicle to pass so that I could get the mail. The tree stood steadfast between me and the truck that barely veered a couple of feet off the road. I instinctively began to back pedal just before impact. A loud BANG! and then flying bumper, headlight, and plastic shrapnel. The momentum of the truck rotated it a little around the tree so that it sat diagonally across the narrow road. Then the creaking and snapping of wood as branches rained down and a large dead branch fell just feet away from me. I pulled out my phone and began trying to dial 911, my brain trying to process the collision, the terror, and what I should do to help. The simple act of pressing three numbers became a monumental task as I tried to get a grip on the reality of the situation. Everyone in the truck was ultimately all right. Some cuts and some bruises – but no frantic ambulances rushing to the hospital – no life flight. Thirty minutes after the accident the truck, police, and people were gone. The injured presumably taken to the hospital by a relative or friend, and the truck towed.
Ten feet… This has stayed in my mind since yesterday. Ten feet away from where the right front side of the Avalanche crumpled into the maple. That tree may have been the only thing between me and the grill of the truck. If the tree had not been there, I could have been severely hurt… or worse. But that tree – that now has a two-foot section of bark missing – that was shaken but not toppled – stood solidly, and I was unharmed. But I can’t help thinking that I faced death. It was so close and could have happened so quickly. And it has my pondering.
If that tree had not of been there, and I had an up-close, personal meeting with death, what would I think of my life? What regrets would I have? What would I wish that I could have done differently? I wouldn’t regret much. I have achieved a lot. I have a wonderful wife and amazing friends. And it is a remarkable thing to think that I have touched thousands of lives with my art, my book, and my teaching. But I would regret not doing all that I feel that I am meant to do. My life is full, but I know there is so much more out there for me – so many more avenues of life to explore and so many more people to meet. I want to make the most out of my life no matter how long or short – to have an impact on the world. There’s so much more joy and life outside my front door.
I pondered this today as I walked down the hall, and I saw one of my students skipping down the hall. A freshman, 14 or 15 years old, and she was alone in the hall and probably did expect anyone to see her. But I turned the corner and she stopped skipping as soon as she saw me. As I said hello to her and passed by, I told her that I believed the world needs more skipping.
So I faced death and realized that the world needs more skipping.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
1. Show Up
Make a space and show up every day. Get in the studio. Sit down at the dining room table. Clear off the coffee table. Pull out the journal or a small piece of drawing paper when you have five minutes, when you’re watching TV, and when there’s nothing else to do. Show up at the page, the canvas, the hunk of clay, or the pile of fabric. You must be present to win, so show up.
2. Sit the Hell Down and Make
Turn off the TV. Stop checking email, reading blogs, and surfing the web for inspiration. Get off of peopleofwalmart.com, fmylife.com, and shitmydadsays.com. Forget about the pile of laundry that all of a sudden got rather appealing, and forget about the dishes in the sink. Turn off the cell phone, stop texting, Facebooking, and instant messaging. Sit your butt down or go stand at the easel and start making. Start playing. Distractions are only a way of procrastinating.
It’s all about working and putting in the hours. It’s about the process not the product. So work in the journal, doodle, and experiment. Start a larger work with no idea where it will lead. Work will lead to work, and the more you work, the easier it is to get to work the next time. Inertia applies to art. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. So get moving and working, and you’ll continue moving and working. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit. Forget about what it looks like. Forget about if it’s good or bad. Suspend judgment. The more you work the sooner you’ll get onto something. There’s an estimated 20,000 pieces of Picasso’s art in the world. You might say that’s because he’s a great artist. NO! He’s great because he made 20,000 pieces of art. He worked constantly experimenting and pushing his art. Dan Eldon filled 17 hardbound journals in his short 22 years. He made his life into art. Put in the hours and you will do great things.
4. Ignore Everybody
Ignore what other people may think. Ignore what other people may say. A lot of people can’t except their own creativity and so will not except yours. They may not appreciate your work. They may be jealous of your activity. They may even say that you are wonderful and great. Ignore them. Criticism and praise can stall your work. Who cares if anyone else likes it? Stop comparing yourself to others saying how easy they have it, how naturally it comes to them, how great they are. Ignore them. It’s not a competition. They are not you, and besides they struggle just as you do. They have the same doubts and fears. Make for yourself. You are expressing yourself as honestly and truthfully as you can. And sometimes you have to ignore your honey, your kids, and your pets and lock yourself in the studio. They will understand if they know that this is what you need. Ignore them, but don’t neglect them.
5. Shut the Hell Up
Shut up about ideal conditions and what ifs and maybe whens. Shut up about not having the time and the energy. If it’s a priority, you do it. Plain and simple. Stop giving lip service to how much making art is a priority. Actions speak louder. Stop complaining, whining, and being jealous of others. Stop whining about having no creativity or no talent. You are creative and you are talented, so go make art. Stop telling yourself that you are a fraud and no one will like you or your art. Just shut up and make art.
6. Find Your Tribe
You can do this alone, but then you are alone. It’s hard to grow and evolve without others. Surround yourself with creative collaborators that can encourage and inspire you. Don’t compare yourself to them. Learn from them. Lean on them. Let them lift you up, and do the same for them. Artistic accomplices keep you on track. They challenge you. They support you. They point out areas to work on and ways to grow. A creative journey is best when shared. So, find a teacher, a mentor, a colleague, or a friend and start a creative tribe.
7. Look at Art
Find artists and artwork you admire – past and present, and be inspired by their lives and their art. Find artists that do similar things as you and artists that do things that are totally different. You will learn from both. Look at the choices they have made regarding materials, imagery, and composition. Learn from and be inspired from them. Just don’t use this as an excuse to not make art. See #2.
8. Nothing is a Mistake
Everything that you do is a learning experience, so see everything as an experiment. Have fun and play. Stop judging yourself and your art. Stop comparing yourself to other artists. The inner critic is only the voice of someone who criticized you and your work long ago, and it echoes to this day in your head. Ignore it, and create with reckless abandon. Spill your guts. Don’t tear up your work, tear pages out of your journal, or ball up the clay. Don’t throw away your art. Remember that it is about the process. Remember Picasso’s 20,000 works – they’re not all masterpieces. Keep everything as a record of your growth. Learn to let go of perfectionism. As Ken Robinson says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.”
9. Get Over Yourself
Stop putting yourself down. Stop saying how you and your art suck. Stop reducing and minimizing yourself. You’re not terrible. Get over it. Stop pitying yourself. If you want to create, stop getting in your own way. And don’t listen to the hype. Others may say how great, how talented, how wonderful, how amazing you are. Maybe you are, but don’t let your ego inflate. Stay humble, and always look to grow and evolve. You have a unique story to tell, so just spill it.
10. Do With What You Have
Stop going on and on about ideal conditions. Conditions will never be ideal. You seem to believe that only when you have the time, the beautiful 1000 square foot studio, the expensive set of Maimeri Blu Watercolors, the new laptop with the ultra fast processor, or the exquisite fountain pen, you’ll be able to make art, write, or create. Even if you had all that, you still need to do the work. It’s not the materials. It’s not the space or the time. It’s about making. Grab what’s at hand and make. Picasso did amazing sculptures using cardboard and paintings on newspaper. Don’t have the exquisite hand-bound, Italian journal with the leather cover, so what. Write or draw on the back of envelopes. Make do with what you have. Make and do. That’s what’s important.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Both Robinson and Digh make it a point to say that we are all creative no matter what we have been told by education, society, or our own inner voices. And when we tap into, accept, and embrace that natural well of creativity, we can begin to live our lives deeply and with meaning. Sir Ken shares many stories of celebrities, musicians, sports figures, and academic figures. Patti uses personal stories and her own struggle to be fully alive in her skin. I haven't read all the way through either book, but one thing keeps coming up in the reading, conversations, and my own thoughts. And that is the way that many of us reduce and diminish our own luminous creativity - how we refuse to shine.
Patti puts it this way, "We minimize ourselves in so many ways, and stop ourselves from living our most creative life -- or owning that we are creative beings just because we are alive. Often without realizing it."
The above spread was an exploration on this very idea that I did for the Illustration Friday prompt Pale nearly two years ago. Click here to see the original post. We diminish our gifts and our talents and fade into the background and refuse to shine even though we have so much to share - so much to offer the world. Yet we make up rules and excuses. We compare ourselves to others and deny that which makes us uniquely unique. We look at the negatives and negate the positives because somewhere someone told us that we weren't good enough, weren't talented enough, weren't creative enough, weren't suppose to shine. And we were young enough to believe, and for all these years we have been playing that soundtrack in our minds believing that we are never enough. "Why should we even try?" we ask ourselves. "There are those special people that it's just so easy for, and I'll never be one of those. I'll never be an artist, writer, singer, entrepreneur, or mathematician." And even when we venture to put ourselves out there, we are afraid that we will be discovered a charlatan and fraud. We can't see our own luminosity because we filter our perceptions through these stories that we have been telling ourselves for years. And the scary thing is that someone squelched that creative spark in us. Sometimes in a very direct and mean way, but often in a seemingly harmless remark. I bet if we all look back through our lives we can find examples of the remarks and actions of others have snuffed the creative flame, and we can find instances where they have fanned the flame and sparked our creativity and passion. Why do we focus on the negative?
So, when will we realize that we have so much to offer the world simply because we are human and we seek connection in order to share that which sparks us? We are not alone out there, and if we shine bright enough we might be able to see exactly how un-alone we are as our light falls on the faces and hearts of others.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Although this spread was fashioned from disparate elements, it derives meaning from the list of questions on the right-hand page.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Over the years, we have done a lot of these presentations and workshops at various conferences and conventions, and the enthusiasm, excitement, and personal experiences of the attendees still shocks me. I'm not sure why, but I guess that the journal has been such a part of my life for so long that the power of it seems to be almost commonplace. And to see the excitement and to hear the stories is almost overwhelming and always powerful. It is for all those wonderful people who show up eager to hear what we do that keeps us doing what we doing.
The Journal Fodder Junkies will continue to spread the power of the visual journal in education and in life. Thanks again for all of the support that everyone has given us over the last five or six years. We are simply two guys speaking our truth.
The above spread consists of notes and fodder from the conference.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
In other news, I found out that my artwork was accepted for Patti Digh's new book. I am very excited. See this post to see the art that I submitted.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Nothing beats the feeling of creating when I am in that zen-like state where the painting, drawing, or sculpture is just taking form effortlessly and it just finishes so easily. It's like the work is creating itself. Of course, I have a lot of unfinished work stacked up in the studio that started out flowing like water, but quickly got dammed and came to a screeching halt waiting for completion some day. Both of these feelings - the free-flowing creativity and the blocked creativity - are part of being and feeling like an artist.
And there is such validation when someone else thinks so highly of your work that they want to own a piece. I was fortunate to sell two pieces this past weekend at the NCAEA conference. Modus Operandi 123 above was an 11x14 piece that hung around my studio for a couple of years before I finished it for an exhibit last winter, and Personal Excavation below grew out of my Excavation Series and is a small 4x6 graphite piece that I finished relatively quickly. I appreciate anyone wishing to own a piece of mine, and there is such a release when the work is sent out there to live somewhere else. That release is also part of being and feeling like an artist.
This artwork would have never existed if it were not for the visual journal. The ideas, techniques, and concepts that I have developed in the journal over the last 11 years have laid the foundation for the artwork that I am making now. The journal has been such an integral part of my personal artistic growth. And I am happy to share my art and my journey.
Thank you to all who have supported my artistic endeavors.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Our 3-hour, hands-on workshop was filled with excited teachers - many of whom keep coming back year after year and some of whom came on the advice of a friend or colleague, but all of whom dove into the variety of media and techniques we shared. Our 45-minute presentation on our journey to publishing The Journal Junkies Workshop brought out quite a few people early in the morning as we traced our path form the visual journal to the book. Many stayed for Dave's presentation on 100 Visual Journals for North Carolina (Dave's hand-drawn logo for the project can be seen above). Basically, Dave envisioned one journal going to each county in NC (there are excactly 100), getting filled by teachers, students, and the commuinity - ages 2-102 - and then making its way back to him where they will be donated to the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching as a means to raise money for the center. We thank all those who took on the role of Activist to become guardian of their county's journal. We thank Cheap Joe's in Boone for the donation of the 100 journals. Finally, we supported our good friend Sam Peck in his presentation Fight Club=Graduate School where he credited his acceptance into UNCG's MFA program in part to the visual journal and in part to the discussion he had with the interviewers about the book/film Fight Club and Postmodern Principles. Tying the book/film to Olivia Gude's "Postmodern Principles: in Search of 21st Century Art Education", Sam led a great talk about his journey to and through graduate school and back to teacher.
Thanks to all who came out to be part of a great conference, and we hope to see you all in Charlotte next year. The support, enthusiasm, and motivation keeps inspiring us to continue to push the visual journal further and further.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I have been finding my balance more over the last few weeks. Life can be so overwhelming at times when things are stacked up and everything is a priority. Unfortunately, many people want their priorities to become mine. So, it is nice when life balances itself out for a while. Balancing teaching, spending time with family and friends, working around the house, making art, and finding some quiet time is a difficult task at times, but that is what life is about - seeking balance.
Friday, October 8, 2010
I am a big believer that in our lives we give priority to things that we value. Unfortunately we often give priority to things like TV, cell phones, and computers, and to some degree that is what we value at the time even though we may say otherwise. If it was something we did not value, we would not dedicate the time. It is that simple. Actions speak louder than words.
Too often, I have paid lip service to the importance of my art, but I have not dedicated the energy. So, on some level, I was not valuing it at the time. I am not criticizing myself because life easily gets busy and one aspect can quickly take over our focus. I am simply stating a fact, but I am glad that at least for now, I am finding some balance in life with work, play, art, family, friends, and so on. It's not all perfectly balanced, and there will always be ebbs and flows. But I feel more in touch with myself and more centeredwhen I am making art.
Here is to finding balance and prioritizing the things that truly matter.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Patti had readers of her blog write essays for her older daughter giving her advice as she graduated from high school and transitioned into college. She then, selected many of the submitted essays to publish in book form, and then solicited artwork.
I received an essay a couple of weeks ago to illustrate, and it posed a real challenge. First, the essay contained some very literal imagery, and my art is not very literal. Second, the art could not use any legible text, and my art often uses text. After working on it for several days, I think that the resulting work reflects the essay pretty well. But I'm not going to share that.
What do you think the main theme of the essay was?
The work was created in a 9x12 Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
As the sun comes up, as the moon goes down
These heavy notions creep around
It makes me think
Long ago I was brought into this life, a little lamb
A little lamb
Fearless was my middle name
But somewhere there I
Lost my way
Everyone walks the same
Expecting me to step
The narrow path they've laid
They claim to
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
Say keep within the boundaries if you want to play
Say contradiction only makes it harder
How can I be
What I want to be?
When all I want to do is strip away
These stilled constraints
And crush this charade
Shred this sad masquerade
I don't need no persuading
I'll trip, fall, pick myself up and
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
If I have a bag of rocks to carry as I go
I just want to hold my head up high
I don't care what I have to step over
I'm prepared to look you in the eye
Look me in the eye
And if you see familiarity
Then celebrate the contradiction
Help me when I fall to
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
Friday, August 13, 2010
The older I get, the more I realize that life and art are both spiritual processes, and the visual journal has solidified that attitude in my mind. Except for an agnostic/atheist phase in my late teens and early 20s, I have always been a spiritual person - not in an organized religion or new agey kind of way. But I have always felt that the world was held together by forces far greater than we as individuals, and that feeling was always reinforced on solitary hikes in the woods or while leading journal workshops. I have been awed by nature and my connection to it, and I have been awed by the power of the journal. I have seen lives change because people have connected with themselves in the journal.
I think for me that is what this spiritual process is all about - connecting. It is first an individual process - a looking inward and connecting with all aspects of ourselves. Then it is an external process of connecting with others and helping them on their individual journeys through life. Happiness is within us and not with material objects, the love of another, or ordained on us by fate. All beings want to be happy and do not want to suffer, but that happiness cannot come from wealth, electronic gadgets, fancy cars, a young, attractive spouse, or a lavish home. It comes from turning inward and helping others.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Recently I have been working on being more mindful of myself in the present moment. It began dawning on me recently during a vacation to the beach as I sat and watched the waves. The waves rolled in one after another, and though I began to think about riding my body board, I quickly found myself just being there watching the waves. Thoughts about grabbing my board, where we would eat lunch, or what waited us when we got back home just slipped away. It was as if I had become part of the wave as it moved toward the beach. I felt that sensation several times during our six day stay, and each time I sat for hours just watching the waves, listening to their crashes, and feeling the breeze blowing. I was very present in the moment and very mindful of the waves, the sun, the breeze, the people, and the sand.I have also been reading quite a bit of Buddhist writings including the Dalai Lama, and mindfulness is a key component that these various writers bring up. Being present for each moment and being mindful of that experience whether it is eating, meditating, or walking can help eliminate distracting thoughts and dispel afflictive emotions.
So, I have tried to be more mindful as I go through my days. My biggest mindful experiment was a recent hike. Usually as I hike, thoughts of all kind flash through my mind - everything from thoughts about previous hikes to imaginary conversations to ideas for future books and blog posts. And often miles can go by and I find myself thinking "How did I get here already? I don't remember passing that one part of the trail." Basically my thoughts take over, and my body moves through the woods without paying much attention to my surroundings. I find that I often cannot remember large pieces of the trail.
This past week I tried to hike while being more mindful of myself and the hike. It wasn't easy. I found all kinds of thoughts entering my mind, and I simply acknowledged them, and let them go always bringing my thoughts back to the hike. I looked around much more as I hiked, I "listened" to my body so that I did not get winded, and I trusted that my feet would find the best spots to step so that I wasn't hiking with my eyes staring at my feet scouting out each step. And whenever a stray thought entered, I just tried to let it go. I didn't allow myself to follow the thought and get caught up in reliving the past or trying to plan the future. I let it go and turned my thoughts back to the hike. I found myself hiking more softly and gracefully. I didn't plod along tripping over rocks and stomping down the trail. I felt much more like a deer moving through the woods ever on the look out for trouble.
It was an amazing experience, and though I hiked that section of trail a hundred times or more, that was the first time that I really experienced the hike. I can remember the hike much more vividly. Everyday now, I try to find more ways of being present and being mindful.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This spread began with the large stylized self-portrait in the center, and I soon after added the web-like, black ink lines and blue watercolor pencil on the right-hand side. It remained in that state for quite some time, months in fact, as I began and worked on other pages. I just was at a loss. I couldn't think of what to add next, and it lacked direction. Finally, after looking back over these pages time and time again, something needed to happen, so I just started adding random things to the pages - the collage elements, the blue watercolor on the left hand side, the random rectangles, and the green watercolor pencil. I added the word "disconnected" and the writing after feeling very much disconnected from my art and my journal. I finished off the spread with the yellow, acrylic spheres floating.
When I began this spread, I had no idea where it was going to end. And my approach reflected those feelings of stagnation and disconnection. The art flows much more easily when I am in the middle of it - when I get a head of steam and am constantly working. But if I get torn away for a while with work, family, or sheer laziness, it is difficult to get back in the groove and allow things to flow. Sometimes I just have to dive head first into a page and just do something even if it has no rhyme or reason. Art is risky.
This spread evolved over months, and it took a while for it to find it's voice. My pages seem to do that a lot. I can't force something, and so the pages evolve. I have even done a little more to this spread since taking the photo a couple of weeks ago.
Art like life is always in a state of becoming.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Memory Makers - part of F+W Media, Inc., our publisher's parent company - is running a contest to give away a copy of our book. Simply follow this link and leave a comment about your favorite mixed-media technique. The contest closes at 11:59 PM July 30. They will pick a random winner and announce the winner on August 2.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I began in my own front yard, and snapped the above photo of the echinacea in wife's flower garden.
I always pass this grassy lane on my routine walks around town. I have often wondered what is at the end of it.
Looking for a place to sit so that I could pull out my journal, I ended up in front of Magnolias at the Mill. Magnolias is a very nice restaurant and bar in Purcellville that once was an actual mill, and since it was the best view from where I was sitting, I decided to draw the facade. After a quick sketch (I later added the blue in the studio), I popped inside for a cold beverage. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
In other news, I stopped by a local bookstore later in the day to pick up the latest issue of Cloth Paper Scissors (below). A friend recently told me that The Journal Junkies Workshop was reviewed by the editor. See the review below. It is definitely nice to see good word of our book in a popular magazine with a large readership.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
But I will cherish the memories of him. He would curl up behind my wife or me on the sofa as we watched tv and place his head on one of our shoulders content to be snuggling closely. From the same position he would often try to snatch potato chips and Doritos as we snacked on them. He was a bit of a stinker in that way, but most orange tabbies have that mischievous streak. He would often plant himself firmly on my wife's pillow and sprawl across her neck and shoulders especially on cold mornings, and my wife never seemed to mind. And he was known to strike out at any of our dogs who just happen to enter his personal space. He was top cat in the house, but he was such a sweet boy.
We will miss him tremendously.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Despite being very different than my parents, my sister, and my brother, I am grateful for their support and encouragement. I am certain that I would not be where I am if it hadn't been for them. If it weren't for sibling rivalry and sharing, I wouldn't be the artist that I am. Being the "family artist" I always had to outshine my brother in any artistic pursuit - from drawing characters from the comics to drawing portraits of our cousins, and it was my sister who taught me all about the art concepts she learned in high school art. I was in middle school, and I was awed by one point and two point perspective. And my parents never discouraged my countless hours of drawing. But the biggest thing that my parents taught me was to believe in myself. If it wasn't for that belief, I never would have gone to college. I never would have moved so far away, and this life - my wife, my teaching, the journal and the book - would have never been possible. I am grateful for that belief.
I look back all all that I have achieved, and my family has been a part of the success - not always directly. But they are there - the foundation and my roots. I want to thank my mom and my dad, my sister and my brother for always being there for me.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
In the photo above (taken by Linda), Dave and I sign copies of the book, and in the photo below (taken by my friend and colleague Al) we settle a disagreement about whose signature is actually cooler. Dave is such a brute.
I especially appreciated the fact that my family drove the 4.5 hours down from southwestern Pennsylvania. It was special to be able to celebrate with them. The photo below (also taken by Al) shows the beautiful space we had at the Hill School.
Dave and I are grateful to everyone who came out to help us celebrate, to Linda for setting us up with such a great location and playing the excellent hostess, to our friends and families for being there and snapping photos, and to anyone who bought a book. Let's face it - it's all about the money. It was a very special evening.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
These two pages illustrate that point perfectly. There's the mundane - a key card sleeve from an Asheville Sleep Inn, a Burt's Bees lip balm package, and the doodles. There's the special - a flyer from a friends art exhibit (which I unfortunately did not see). There's the reflective and the deep - the truth quote and the list of reflections. There's the finished and the unfinished.
Many people get caught up in making these finished works of art for each page with deep themes and related imagery, and that's fine. Each person works in the journal his or her own way, but we approach the journal as a catchall - a place to dump ourselves, store memories, and process life. It is a special place simply because there is the freedom to include all of life - a scrap of envelope, a meaningful quote, a photo, or a random thought. And like life, the journal isn't always polished, complete, deep, and extraordinary. It can be messy, random, and unfinished.
So, I encourge people to break out of their normal journal habits, and try something different - try to bring in more of everyday life or try a different media or try a different mode of working. Allow the journal to reflect you and your life more.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The theme of this spread, "Find Yourself", is an appropriate theme for any visual journal, and my journals have always been about being still with myself and looking inward. Too often I am so distracted with all the noise in my life that I have a hard time listening to myself. My art and my journal allow me to get in touch with myself and to reconnect with my hopes, my fears, my absurdities, and my wisdoms.
I hope that the journal can help you find yourself.
Monday, May 31, 2010
It is often interesting to play with how pages interact with one another. Cutting holes into pages is one way to create areas of interaction, but with a simple tearing technique, you can only tear two pages and have it look like four torn pages. By gluing in the torn parts of the pages, you do not waste good paper. See our book for detailed instructions.
The above images from volume 12 show how the torn pages interact with one another. The pages were started at a session at NCCAT in 2008 and contain a lot of fodder, quotes, and imagery from the week. Notice how the word "Grow" changes to "Flow" in the fourth image. It was a great way to remember such an amazing week.
This technique is a great way to tie several pages together allowing colors, images, and themes to flow beyond a normal two-page spread.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Now for what you all have been waiting for. Well, at least some you. Signed copies of The Journal Junkies Workshop are now available. Dave and I were able to find some time to get together this weekend and were able to sign a few copies. Those copies are now available on our Website for $25.00. While you're over there, check out some of our other merchandise as well.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Besides the imagery, I like the fact that this page is pretty much one medium - except for the collaged raffle ticket and coffee stain. There is something refreshing about this more minimalist approach compared to my more normal mixed-media approach. It's nice to limit the media and the imagery.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I am asking anyone who has purchased the book to please offer a review of it on sites like Amazon. If you posted one on your blog, I ask that you copy your review to those same sites. I would love to get the word out. I really believe in the book, and think it's a great resource for anyone interested in the visual journal.
Thanks again to all you who have supported us and have taken an interest in what we do. You are the reason we wrote the book and have offered workshops and presentations. We're just spreading the journal love.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The visual journal has power. And I am more convinced than ever that the journal is a powerful tool for life. The journal is not about making “pretty pages” or simply recording life. It is a living document changing to fit mood and circumstance – an Everything Book that aids in the experience of life. It is a place to collect memories, to dream, to dump our emotions, to change our lives, and to make sense of our crazy world.
I wholeheartedly believe the visual journal has the power to change lives, and new life paths can emerge within the pages. I have seen the journal’s power to transform in my own life as well as in the lives of my friends. I have seen how the journal was a large part of Dave seeking and getting his MFA, and I have seen how many of my friends have reconnected with their art and were able to make art a priority once again. Because the visual journal is a place for us to hope and dream it helps create new direction in life and helps us to figure out what we most want from life.
The visual journal goes beyond being a place to plan the future, and it is place to get in touch with our vulnerable aspects – to get to know our selves intimately. Because it is foremost a journal, we deal with the heartache, the drama, and the confusion of everyday life. We pour our doubts and our thoughts into the pages allowing us to process the emotions and the energies that grip us. With words, images, color, and lines we deal with life and make sense of it. The visual journal connects us with ourselves.
I know that my own life gets focus and direction as I work through a myriad of things in my journal, and it has helped change my life. The book, the workshops, the presentations, the seminars, have all come from the journal. Long before I began presenting about the journal with Dave, I kept a journal. Slowly I began to realize its power as I poured myself into it. I dumped my hopes and dreams, my pains and disappointments, my triumphs and passions into the pages of my journal figuring out who I was and what I wanted and needed. And then I began to share. My life took on a new direction as I began to feel like an artist and began to see how the visual journal could affect lives.
To this day, I use the journal to deal with my life and to affect change within it. As I grieve over my recent loss, I work directly and indirectly with that grief, and though I may not be specifically addressing the loss at points as I work, it informs my choices and embeds the pages with an emotion only known to me. My mind turns and churns as I lay down layers of watercolor or ink creating an unconscious subtext. At other times I specifically address the pain and the grief, and it all helps me to cope – helps me to be present with the loss and not bury it inside. Again and again, I have turned to the journal to celebrate the good – to deal with the bad – to discover my true humanness.
So, I keep sharing my journey hopefully helping others in their journey on this earth.
Friday, May 7, 2010
I couldn't help experimenting in the new Visual Journals from Strathmore, and I love the heavier paper. I think folks will really like them when they come out in the summer. So, I had begun several pages in a couple different journals, and when Jeanette of Strathmore asked me if I would be willing to create a page that she could use as a visual journal example, I quickly finished the above two-page spread in the 5.5x8 Watercolor Journal (140 lbs paper). The beginnings of this spread can be seen in the previous post. Titled "Lost and Found" this is much more of an art piece where I really sat down and worked on it from beginning to end over a three day period. Most of my other journal pages evolve slowly over time and I incorporate a lot of day-to-day things. But it's nice to be able to focus on something and see it through in a short period of time.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I got home the other day to find a package of samples from a new product line to be released this summer by Stratmore Artists Paper. Strathmore is set to release a line of visual journal spiral bound books in three different sizes. More on that in a bit, but first the story.
Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Jeanette from Strathmore asking if she could use some of my journal page images as a way to show how people use the visual journal. In exchange, she would send me some free samples of new products and mention the book. I said, "yes," and sent her some images. So, I got a whole variety of Visual Journals, and couldn't wait to experiment with them and share with everyone.
So, here's the scoop. Apparently Strathmore realized that visual journaling is becoming big and that many visual journalists are not satisfied with the quality of paper in traditional sketchbooks - too much bleed through, tearing, and broken bindings. So, they are releasing a line of blank books featuring a number paper qualities to satisfy the rigors of the mixed-media nature of the visual journal.
Paper types that will be available:
Drawing - 100 lb
Bristol - Vellum and Smooth
Watercolor - 90 lb and 140 lb
Of course with the thicker paper, each journal will contain fewer pages. The Drawing Visual Journal will contain 84 pages (42 sheets) and the 14o lb Watercolor Visual Journal will contain 44 pages (22 sheets). But all journals will be spiral bound on the side with heavy-duty wire and heavy-duty front and back covers. All Visual Journals will be available in three sizes: 3.5"x5", 5.5"x8", and 9"x12".
So, I've been experimenting in the small Drawing Visual Journal and the medium 140 lb Watercolor Visual journal (both of which are open in the photo above). I'm loving the thicker paper quality, and permanent marker does not bleed through the drawing paper - great for those Sharpie lovers. The small journal makes an excellent pocket journal, and the medium journal will be a great travel journal to use when visiting museums and galleries.
I'm just not a fan of spiral bound journals. I know that they offer benefits - they lay flat and the offer expandibility. But the spiral gets in the way of a two page spread. I'm hoping that they will offer a hardbound 11"x14" version, and after emailing Jeanette, Strathmore may be considering it. But in the meantime, I will be getting some of the small journals when they are released in June or July.
Friday, April 30, 2010
I'm not certain if the book has dropped in bookstores, but if hasn't yet, it should soon. I'll make certain to have the camera ready for the next time I go into a bookstore just to snap proof that our book is indeed there. I think that's when it will really hit me - when I can see it in person for sale in a store. It's one thing to see it online and to see the stack above sitting on my coffee table, but to walk into a store and say, "Hey, that's my book!" will be beyond words.
We thank all of those who have pre-ordered it and who plan on buying it, and if you ever see us at a conference, convention, presentation, workshop or on the street, we will be more than happy to sign your copy.
We think that the book looks awesome, and the folks at North Light/ F+W have done a great job. We think it's a great resource, and we would appreciate any reviews anyone and everyone could offer on blogs and on online vendor sites like Amazon.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The above picture was taken by my wife. Rudy was known for jumping up in his favorite tree trying to get closer to the squirrels and birds who seemed to tease him so much, and Joanne was able to capture one of those moments.