Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Today our oldest kitty lost his battle with a recent illness that saw him wither slowly as he lost weight. But he was spirited up until the end, and he fought hard. It's a difficult loss coming just two months after the loss of our dog Rudy.

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


I think about my recent successes, and I am grateful that I have a supportive family. I've mentioned my wife and her wonderful encouragement and support before on this blog, but not my parents or siblings. Actually, I haven't shared too much personal. But looking to post something new, I came across this photo taken at the book launch party, and knew I wanted to mention something about family - not to go too personal, but to take an opportunity and thank my family.

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

Book Launch Party

I am finally getting around to posting some photos from our book launch party that we held on Saturday, June 5. Our friend Linda hosted the party at the Hill School in Middleburg, VA - a small, private school. About 50-60 family members, friends, and colleagues came out that night to celebrate with us - some coming from great distances, and it was truly a great night.

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

An Everything Book: Allowing Life to Enter

With the reviews for The Journal Junkies Workshop popping up on various blogs and on Amazon.com, I've been thinking about what separates the Journal Fodder Junkies' approach from many that are out there. I think it boils down to one thing: We use the journal as an Everything Book. I know that I have brought this up in other posts, but I want to bring it up again. We don't worry about having "pretty" pages or finished pages or deep, thoughtful pages. We merely throw everything in there. It is a place to heap our thoughts, our ideas, our experiences, and our experiments. The depth, meaning, and completeness emerge and develop as the journal becomes that living document of life.

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

Find Yourself

This two-page spread is from volume 12 of my visual journals - I'm currenly on volume 13. I got very introspective in this journal, and wrote a lot. And there are several pages of just writing - like the right-hand page. But more often than not, the writing is incorporated into a more completed page like the left-hand page.

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.