Friday, November 26, 2010


I've been reading a lot lately about creativity, namely Ken Robinson's The Element and Patti Digh's Creative is a Verb. I have also been thinking about the role creativity has in my classroom and what my role is as the teacher to bring that creativity out in my students. And finally, I have been having many conversations with friends and colleagues on the subject as well. I am always amazed how a confluence of events can swirl around an important issue in one's life. A friend of mine would call it synchronicity.

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


I just wanted to post a random journal spread from journal #12. This spread evolved over a long period of time from a lot of random juxtapositions. Some of the random fodder consists of small watercolor experiments, to-do lists, a delivery notice from FedEx, and a magazine image. Some of the random drawing consists of the stylized face and tracings of various stencils.

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

JFJ in Norfolk

This past week, Dave and I enjoyed giving a presentation and two hands-on workshops at the Virginia Art Education Association Fall Professional Development Conference in Norfolk, VA. After a long drive in the rain on Thursday, we enjoyed an enthusiastic group in a hands-on workshop where we shared some tips and techniques for layering in the journal. On Friday, we presented about our journey to the visual journal and the book to a packed room where people filled the chairs, lined the walls, and sat on the floor, and on Saturday, we did a repeat performance of our hands-on workshop to another group of wonderful art educators.

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.