Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Challenge #28: Just Let Go

How can you step out of your scripts and just let go?

We encounter many things in life that make us stand still - a lost love or a broken heart, getting laid off or being skipped over for a promotion, or falling victim to bad advice or broken promises. We can’t control these situations, but we can control how we react to them. We run these things through our minds over and over as fears of inferiority and inadequacy invade our thoughts. We struggle with thoughts of how we don’t measure up to the abilities or achievements of others getting caught up in our scripts and self-talk. Don’t give in and allow the doubt to take over your decision making. Let go of your hesitation, and understand that you can do anything that you dedicate your energy to fulfilling.

Do you constantly compare yourself to others? Do you still hold on to the idea that ‘perfect’ exists? Do you always seem to find a way to talk yourself out of the things you want most? What scripts or self-talk do you most want to let go of? Can you find ways of letting go?

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today is my 38th birthday, and with it being so close to the end of the year, my birthday is always a time for reflection. It has become my habit to journal about those thoughts, meditations, and reflections, but following the lead of last year, I wanted to share my thoughts here. Also, like last year, I wanted to share a piece of art that I made stating my rules for the studio. I adapted these from Patti Digh as well as others, and you can read my take on these rules here. Feel free to print this artwork out and post it in your studio or work space.

I am in the process of uncluttering my life. I am amazed out how much stuff - both emotional and physical - has accumulated in my life. When you are in a place long enough, stuff just seems to pile up. The uncluttering began earlier in the year when I moved my studio from the guest bedroom to the garage, and I sorted through so much and got rid of so much. It continued as my wife decided to go through the countless boxes, bins, and bags in our crawl space. And over the last month, I have sorted through old toys, letters, keepsakes, memorabilia, and all sorts of other stuff. I was amazed at what I have held onto for all of these years. I decided to keep only the most treasured and sentimental things, and rid myself of everything else. Most of it went into a number of trash bags, the paper stuff went into the recycling bin, and some if it will go to the second hand store. And all the while, I felt myself clinging to these things and hesitating to get rid of it all. But the realization that it all would just sit in the boxes and bins being all useless and simply taking up space allowed me to let go.

I am just holding onto the most important things and letting go of that which simply does not matter. I am freeing myself of the past that has followed me all of these years and has weighed me down. All of this stuff has taken up space for growth, and I am shedding it and making room. There is still so much more to go through, so much more room to free up, but I am working through it.

What would happen if we simply let go? What if we held onto the most dear pieces and just let go of all the rest? Could we free ourselves and give ourselves some much needed room to grow?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Challenge #27: Bury the Doubt

How can you bury the doubt and champion your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?

We are our own worst critics, focusing on the negative things about our work and about ourselves, especially when we stumble and fall. However, we can be our own biggest cheerleaders, by seeing mistakes and disappointments as opportunities for growth and perseverance, but we must silence the nagging doubts. Picking ourselves up when we have fallen affirms the power we possess to overcome the misgivings and uncertainties that we have been placed upon ourselves. In order to rally towards greater achievements, we must learn from our defeats, bury our doubts, and move forward.

What are you doubting? What inadequacies have you convinced yourself of? How have you persevered through the rough patches, and uncovered your self confidence?

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Work

Search, 5"x7"
I have been busy as usual with school, home, and life in general, but I have been able to experiment with new materials and a new paper in a variety of new works. These two works were created with a process that has become my usual modus operandi lately. See Spontaneity vs. Structure for more details about the process.

Using Strathmore's new 400 series mixed media paper as my surface, I layered Derwent Inktense pencils first, and then used Prismacolor colored pencil to finish them. (You can see parts of these in progress in this post - they're peaking out beside and underneath the Inktense pencils.) I like the variety of colors offered by the Inktense pencils, and I am trying to rethink my color choices so I'm not always going back to the same colors again and again. I am liking the Inktense so far.

I have recently experimented with Strathmore's hot press watercolor paper, but it has a slight texture which interferes with the fine detail work of the colored pencil. The mixed media paper is weighted like watercolor paper, but has a smooth surface, making it good for my process. The paper is a little "soft" making it a little difficult to get the really dark values with the pencil, but overall, I am quite pleased with it.

Structure 1, 5"x7"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Challenge #26:Hopes and Fears

What are the fears that are holding you back from living the life you hope for?

We have dreams about where we want to be in five years, ten years, or maybe even twenty. However, the things that we want most are sometimes the things we are most afraid to go after. We wish for big things, but are afraid they will not come true. There is always a reason we put off receiving the joy and the happiness we deserve. Many times it is other people telling us why our dream is too lofty and sometimes it is our own self-talk that gets in the way. Subdue the fears and focus your energy towards realizing the hopes and dreams that you value and hold closest to your heart.

What do you want to see yourself doing with your life? What are your biggest hopes and dreams? How can you achieve them? What are your worst fears and nightmares? Are they legitimate or imagined?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Challenge #25: Getting It All Out

Life is finally calming down, and I am finding time to begin the challenges again. The theme for the month is Facing Doubt and Just Letting Go, and what more appropriate theme could there be for wrapping up another year.

What emotional baggage do you need to unpack?

We all have things eating us up inside. There are moments when someone does something to us and we want to give them a piece of our mind, but hold our tongues. We bury the pain and hurt deep within ourselves. Bottling up these negative thoughts and feelings can be very unhealthy. When something is bothering you, just get it out, vent and dump the emotions. View your writing as a conversation with a close friend or a way to get a full release from these energy-draining burdens. Unburden your soul, and get it all out.

What do you have pushed down and buried deep within? What negative thoughts do you harbor inside your heart or mind? What frustrations do you need to uncork and pour our?
Remember to share a link to your response in the comments.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Cover and Other News

A recent search of Amazon showed that the new book is listed for pre-order, so I figure that I would share an image of the cover. The book should drop in July or August 2012. Can't wait.

As for other news, Dave and I have just wrapped up our busy fall with a weekend at the Virginia Art Education Association's Fall Conference in Roanoke, VA and another weekend at Art of the Carolinas in Raliegh, NC. The conference was great, and we conducted two presentations and two hands-on workshops. All were well attended, and we got a lot of positive feedback.

Art of the Carolinas was a blast, and our two workshops went very well. Strathmore Artist Papers sponsored the workshops and generously gave each participant one of their 9"x12" mixed media Visual Journals. They were more conceptual in nature, and we focused more on process than product. We even implemented a few new techniques that will probably become pretty standard in our workshops. One was the idea of stream of consciousness doodling. Similar to stream of consciousness writing, this creativity exercise enables one to let the ideas flow. Thanks to Strathmore rep Don Bradley for setting up the weekend for us.

Along with the workshops, Jerry's Artarama conducts a huge art sale filling a ballroom at the hotel with every conceivable art material. I took advantage of the discounted prices and picked up a 72 color set of Derwent's Inktense pencils. Similar to watercolor pencil, Inktense pencils are water-soluble ink pencils, and I have been having fun this week experimenting with them. Some of my attempts can be seen in the photo above.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy Fall

Dave working in his journal during lunch at the Brandywine River Museum.
It always seems that I'm writing about how busy I am, but this fall has been one of the busiest. So the JFJ Challenge has been put on hold again as Dave and I present at fall conferences and finish up the manuscript for the new book. I hope to start it back up in November or December, but for the time being there is just so much going on.

So far, we have presented for the Delaware and North Carolina Art Education Associations, and we are scheduled to present at the Virginia Art Ed. Conference in a couple of weeks. We gave a well-received presentation to about 65 art teachers from Delaware at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, and we got to tour the museum which features a large collection of the Wyeth's work including N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. We want to thank Jen Boland for setting up the opportunity.

Dave at the Mint Museum in Charlotte
In Charlotte, we presented about the approaches, applications, and assessments of the visual journal in the classroom at all levels. We also presented a hands-on workshop to a small, but enthusiastic group. And Dave gave an update for his 100 Visual Journals for North Carolina Project.

But our travels and presentations are not over yet. In November, watch for us at the VAEA Conference in Roanoke where we present four different times. Our hands-on workshops are already nearly filled, and we are looking forward to sharing new ideas during two general presentations.

Dave sharing his journal during the hands-on workshop in Charlotte.
All through this travel and presenting, we have been working on the manuscript for the new book. We sent off the finished manuscript yesterday and will be tying up some loose ends throughout the week. We can't wait for it to hit bookshelves in 2012.

And if this wasn't enough we have Jerrt's Artarama's Art of the Carolinas coming up the week after the VAEA Conference, November 12-13, where we present two 3 hour workshops. On Saturday evening we present Visual Journals: Personal Mythologies, and Sunday Morning, we present Visual Journals: Compulsions and Obsessions. If you are in the Raleigh, NC area, we still have room in both workshops. We would love to pack each one.

That's it for now. I just wanted to get a quick update out there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Upcoming Events

I'll be part of a book signing this weekend as part of the Waterford Foundation's annual fair. This annual fall festival is one of our favorites, and my wife and I try to go every year. The Waterford Fair is a celebration of the historical heritage of Waterford, VA with 150 juried crafts people, food, entertainment, and Civil War reenactments.

The Book Nook will be hosting signings by local authors all three days of the fair. I'll be signing copies of The Journal Junkies Workshop, working in my journal, and sharing my process with people from 10 AM to 2 PM, on Sunday, October 9.

If you are in Northern Virginia this weekend, I highly recommend stopping by the fair, and if you're at the fair, stop by and say hello.

See the Waterford Foundation's website for more information.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The deadline for the new new book is quickly approaching, and Dave and I are in the middle of some majoring editing. Meeting up halfway between Boone, NC and Purcellville, VA, we sequestered ourselves in a hotel in Roanoke, VA this past weekend to plod through the first half of the book.

We split the book in half, and each wrote six chapters. Although we both have read, reread, and edited our respective chapters, we wanted to make certain that one voice speaks throughout. Slowly we made our way through the intro and the first chapter. These two sections by far took the longest time, mostly because they were written when we first proposed the book back in March, long before we had the photo shoot, sat and discussed the outline, and before we wrote the bulk of the book. But we hit a groove with the chapters after that. We have two and half weeks to get through the other chapters, and are confident that it will be done. There is nothing like a looming deadline to motivate you.

But we feel really good about this book, and it's nice to work with someone who you are so in synch with. Time and again this past weekend, we finished each other's sentences and had the some thought or idea. And the vision of the book became clearer and clearer as we worked. We are really looking forward to this thing hitting stores next summer, and in some ways it is a much better book than the first - at least a lot different and more focused.

We'll the keep updates as frequently as we can, but we both have been very busy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Challenge #24: Inner Connections

How can we connect with others if we don’t connected with ourselves?

Much of contemporary life seems to be aimed at doing anything and everything so that we are are never left alone with our own thoughts. We seem to find a million and one distractions. We text,  email, surf the ‘net, read, play games, crank up music, and turn on the TV. Sometimes we do all of these things at one time. When was the last time that you sat in complete silence, alone, and connected with yourself. Perhaps we are afraid of the self talk - the never ending loop of negativity and put downs. Perhaps we are afraid of what we will discover if we are alone with our thoughts. What do we run from?

How do you connect and reconnect with yourself? How do you disconnect from yourself? How do you distract yourself from meaningful dialogue with yourself? How do you find the quiet space to hear your inner voice? Do you run from yourself? Do you wallow in negativity and untruths about yourself? How can you make those authentic connections within?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Challenge #23: Challengers

We all have people in our lives who challenge us, and not in the inspiring, nudging kind of way. These challengers are people who push and provoke us, who may be down right mean and rude, and who do not elicit any warm and fuzzy feelings from us. These are our challengers and at times our arch nemeses. It might be a mother-in-law, a brother, a nosy neighbor, an office bully, or our boss. We may even call these people enemies believing that their main purpose in life is to torment and provoke us. Buddhists believe that our enemies are our greatest teachers because they provide us the opportunity to show compassion and understanding.

Who are your challengers or enemies? Why are they challenging to you? How can you see these people as fellow human beings who, as you do, desire happiness and joy? What can you learn from these people? How can you regard your enemies as your teachers?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Challenge #22: Inspirations and Nudges

We can’t do it all alone, and at times, we all need a little nudge to get us going. Whether it’s in our art or at our job, we need a bit of motivation that can only come from someone else being there to prod us and encourage us. It is always a good to have collaborators and accomplices in anything that we do, but especially in our creative endeavors. These are people who support us, encourage us, and at times, pick us up and carry us when we need them the most. These are our everyday heroes.

In your everyday, who inspires you and nudges you? Who shows up like magic when you need them the most? Who has your back and is always on your side? Who is your hero, your mentor, your collaborator, and your accomplice?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Challenge #21: Connections and Misconnections

How does the time slip away so quickly? It has been quite some time since I was able to post here because life has gotten extremely busy. With the end of summer, the beginning of a new school year, working on the new book, working at the gallery, and arranging a variety of workshop and presentation opportunities, I am back with a gentle nudge from a few readers. I am starting up the the challenge again, and have some new things to share. So enough of the "Oh I have been so busy" whining and on with the challenge.

We seek connection in our lives. Many of us have spent an amazing amount of time seeking a spouse, a significant other, or a soulmate. Many of us have found that person, and many are still searching. Whether we have found that special connection or not, our lives are still filled with connections and relationships from family and relatives to friends coworkers. Sometimes we connect and sometimes we misconnect.

What are your connections in this life? What are your misconnections? Who are you most connected to? Who are you least connected to? How have you connected and misconnected with people in your life? What do these connections and misconnections mean to you? How can you deepen the important ones and disconnect the not so important ones?

What role do connections and relationships play in your life?

Don't forget to include a link to your response in the comments.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Art Unraveled

It has been a very busy summer, and I am finally finding time (on vacation no less) to share some of our adventures in Phoenix at Art Unraveled.

Dave and I spent the week between our trip to Cincinnati to shoot photos for the new book and our trip to Phoenix working in my studio completing art and making artist prints to sell. We shipped three boxes of supplies and artwork to Phoenix and had two boxes of books shipped from the publisher.

We arrived in Phoenix on the first day of Art Unraveled, and checked into the hotel. We had a great view of the golf course and the mountains from our window. I was taken aback by the landscape around Phoenix. I had never been in the desert before and to see such flat land with mountains just popping out was a bit strange - as was the brown. I'm used to hills, grass, and tall trees. The desert felt alien to me.

That evening we took part in the Meet the Artist Event, and participated in answering questions from some of the participants of the event. Several of the questions brought up some good debate and good discussion, and I mulled over several during the week. I will share my thoughts on those at a later time.

We taught three workshops during our week there. We had a nice space with a lot of natural light, and since our classes were small, everyone was able to spread out. All three went especially well, and I think that most of the participants appreciated our approach which I gather is a bit different from what many of them are used to. We focus on process and not product sharing a bunch of concepts and techniques allowing the participants to experiment and to play. The six hour format was great, and we were able to cram a lot into the time. We had three participants that took all three of our classes. It's exciting when someone is really into what you do.

We had the opportunity to work on our own things, and I especially enjoyed the Identity Mapping activity we did in our second workshop, and I laid the foundation of a few really good pages and ideas.

One night we were part of the book signing where we participated in a discussion about inspiration and signed books. We got to meet several other authors - people we had known from their books and blogs. I felt like I was meeting celebrities for these were some big names in the journaling and mixed-media world - Michael deMeng, Traci  Bautista, Pam Carriker, and others. It was great to meet these folks in person. 

We were able to see some of the sights on our one free day. Dave's godmother Peggy lives in Phoenix and played tour guide for us. She drove us into the downtown area and then out to see the Cardinals' stadium where we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. She then drove us out into the desert, and once again I was fascinated by the landscape. It's just so different then Virginia.

We were part of the Shopping Extravaganza the following day where we met and talked to a lot of great people. We had the opportunity to sell work, prints, and books, and we made a lot of contacts. Next year we need to remember to bring an actual mailing list for people to sign and business cards.

We participated in the Artist Showdown our final night in Phoenix where each artist had to select from a bunch of random materials and create with them. The actual piece that I made is the small canvas in the lower left of the above image, but I couldn't help spilling over onto the kraft paper covering the table.

It was a great first art retreat experience. We met a lot of wonderful people and had a chance to relax by the pool, see the sights, and mix and mingle with fellow artists. We definitely want to do it in the future, and we will be submitting proposals soon.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Challenge #20: Show Up Like Magic

We all have those times when we need a little support, when we need to be lifted up, and when we need the help of someone else. We can look back through our lives and remember times when someone showed up for us when we needed them the most as if by magic. It may have been in a dire hour or it may have been when we just needed someone to take us out for a cup of coffee. And hopefully, we can remember times when we have been there for someone else.

How have you been there for someone else and picked them up when they needed it the most? How have you supported and done small things for those who have needed you? Who in your life, right now, needs you to show up like magic – to be there – to make them smile – to feel your support? How can you show up like magic?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Challenge #19: Come Out and Play

Play. When we were children there was nothing more important than play. School, church, dinner, baths, and sleep were never as important as play. We counted down the minutes to recess where we could tear around the playground, swing as high as possible on the swings, play favorite games like Four Square and Red Rover, or make up our own games. Then we grew up, and too often we have stopped playing.

When was the last time that you simply played and had fun - not compete, not glued to a screen or phone, but played? When was the last time you headed outside, ran, romped, and carried on until well after dark on a cool summer evening?

Is someone calling you to come out and play? Reflect on how YOU can come out and play – how YOU can disconnect from the TV, the computer, the phone, and go enjoy yourself without worrying about all of those things that we have to worry about.

New Book and Upcoming Workshops

Dave in the photo studio at F+W Media, Inc. working on a page for a step-by-step photo.

The summer is in full swing, and Dave and I have had a very busy summer so far. There's lots to catch up on.

We just got back from Cincinnati where we spent a week shooting the step-by-step for our second book. Titled Journal Fodder 365: Daily Doses of Inspiration for the Art Addict, it will be a follow-up to our first book. Centered around the idea of a year-long workshop, the book will consist of 12 chapters, each with its own theme. Each chapter will contain 4 prompts, several new and specific writing, drawing, painting, and mixed-media techniques. Where our first book is a resource of a lot of techniques, Journal Fodder 365 will emphasize the application of concepts and ideas. We took a close look at how we use ideas and techniques, and put that into book form. We are very excited. The new book will release July 2012 - just a year away. We'll post more at various stages, and we'll share an image of the cover a little later.

Dave saying bring it on.

We are spending this week working on the new book and gearing up for Art Unraveled in Phoenix. We will be at the Embassy Suites from August 1-7, and we will be teaching 3 workshops. On Tuesday the 2nd, we will be teaching the all-day workshop Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict based on our first book. On Wednesday the 3rd, we will be teaching Mapping Identity in the Visual Journal. On Thursday the 4th. we will be teaching The Challenge of Beauty based on Arrien Angeles book, Signs of Life: The Five Universal Symbols and How to Use Them. It is not too late to sign up for Art Unraveled, and registration is taken up to the day of the workshop. So hopefully, we will see some of you in Phoenix.

In November, we will be teaching at Jerry's Artarama's Art of the Carolinas 2011. We will be teaching two workshops sponsored by Strathmore Artists Papers. On Saturday, November 12 from 5-8pm, we will teach Visual Journals: Personal Mythologies, and on Sunday, November 13 from 9am-12pm, we will teach Visual Journals: Compulsions and Obsessions. If you will be in Raleigh, NC that weekend, hopefully we will see you there. 

Unfortunately, our workshop at NCCAT (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching) which was scheduled for November 14-18 has been cancelled due to budget issues. NCCAT's budget was drastically cut this year which meant the cancellation of most of their Renewal Seminars. We are very sorry to not be teaching this workshop at such a remarkable place. Maybe in the future, NCCAT will get its budget restored, and we can once again offer this seminar to the teachers of North Carolina.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Challenge #18: Self Talk

It is sometimes said that as humans we think too much. Often this thinking is self-talk – a dialogue that we have with ourselves about the past or about the future. Dr. Phil McGraw calls these “tapes” because we replay and loop the same thoughts and words through our head focusing on negative aspects. Many of these tapes or scripts focus on the past and are thoughts about failings and shortcomings. Many others focus on the future and are thoughts and obsessions about what is yet to come or about waiting for “the other shoe to fall.” Still many others are general thoughts of self-denigration and are about our sense of worth. Whatever it might be, this self talk takes us out of the present and has us worrying about things that we cannot change, that we have no control over, or that are not grounded in truth.

What is your self-talk? Do you fill your mind with thoughts about lack, failure, and your own perceived worthlessness? Do you relive the past wishing you could have done something differently? Do you think about the endless possibilities of the future worrying about what has yet to come?

How does your self-talk pull you out of the present and cause worry or anxiety? Reflect on the tapes that you have looping through your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Journal for the Second Book

I've been working recently in a journal that I specifically started for our second book. I decided to go through all the prompts and techniques we plan on using in the book and use them in a journal that I will ultimately send to North Light (our publisher) to use as artwork for the book.

Though both Dave and I have used many of the prompts and techniques throughout the years that we have been doing journals, we have a lot of other techniques, ideas, and media in those journals that we are not really covering in the book. I thought that this type of journal would more clearly illustrate our ideas.

It's been interesting keeping two journals. I plan on posting more glimpses as I work.

And speaking of the new book, we have a title and have seen a couple of design possibilities for the cover. I'll share more on that when I can. But in the meanwhile , Dave and I will be traveling to Cincinnati next week to shoot photos for the step-by-step. It's all coming together quickly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Challenge #17: Being Present and Being Absent

In today’s culture, there are many things that can distract us, amuse us, and eat away at our time and our attention. So many of us seem fascinated by what happens to celebrities, by the latest reality show, by the last gadget or gizmo, by apps and games, by texting and messaging, that life seems to pass us by so quickly.

There is a deceptively simple concept that seems to be key in a lot of Buddhist philosophy: Be Present. By being present in every situation, from eating a meal to feeling your emotions, and not allowing your mind to run away from you, you can control your suffering and move toward happiness.

What is garnering your attention at this point? How do you distract yourself and allow yourself to be absent from your life, your emotions, your friends, and your families? How are you being present in your life? In what ways do you find for living in the here and now?

Remember to post a response in the comments or to share a link to your response.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Challenge #16: Making Personal Space

We all need a bit of personal space – a place that is just for us – a place that we can call our own. It might be a lavish studio or a cabin in the woods. It might be the kitchen table or a big, comfy chair. It might be the backyard or a place in our bag for a journal or book. Whether it is a space with walls or not, whether it is large or small, it is ours – our own little corner of the world.

How do you carve out a chunk of personal space? Where do you go to find space for yourself and your thoughts? How do you recharge and re-energize? What gets in your way of being there? How do you make your personal space? If you haven’t, why not?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the Studio

I am fortunate today to be in the studio working. It has been a while since I have had the time because of the end of the school year and the studio tour.

I am working on several things (as usual), but the above image is of a journal that I am specifically using for the new book due out next year. I am trying to use the techniques and prompts to create a journal that will used for the artwork of the book.

I also wanted to try out a new app for my iPhone that allows me to create posts with images and video. If it's easy to use, expect more posts from me.

Well, I must be getting back to my work.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I am finally finding a little time to post about my new studio space. For the last nine years, my studio has been sharing space with the guest bedroom in our house. It was a tiny room that often became a mess that had to be cleaned up when we had guests. As mentioned in a previous post, once I was accepted into the Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour, I spent a lot of time converting my garage into a viable art space. After all the work, I decided to keep it as a permanent studio to the delight of my wife. The above image was taken during the winter, when I first began cleaning out the garage preparing to apply to the tour. The photo below shows the cleaned out garage, but far from being in a state for a studio.

Once the weather turned warmer, I began purging a lot of junk that had accumulated in the garage, and I made multiple trips to the dump. Look at all that stuff under the work benches - most of it is gone now or at least stored in the back shed. I cleaned, I purged, I painted, and I cleaned some more. I moved all the lawn and gardening equipment, bags, and tools out to a shed in the backyard, and began to move studio stuff in. I planted grass seed in the backyard as well as around the garage, and my wife did a lot of gardening around the entire house to get everything ready for the tour. We even had the driveway redone with new drains and new gravel. Check out the photo below to see how the new grass, new gravel, new plants, and the general onset of spring transformed the exterior. I would still love to paint the outside of the garage.

Inside I painted all the walls white, put up new lights, and brought out all of my artwork and all of my studio materials and equipment. I put in an air conditioner, bought a couple of tables and chairs, and organized and displayed all of my artwork for the tour. The photo below shows the studio set up and ready to go for the tour. The other photos show the set up throughout the studio.

The tour went very well, and I had quite a few people pass through both days. I sold some art, some prints, and a lot of books. The journals were a huge hit, and many people were very interested. Since the tour, I've been trying to organize the studio into more of a working space. I've brought out pretty much all of my art materials, artwork, books, and such from the house. I moved a set of selves from the old studio to the new and got rid of the two black shelves that can be seen in the right hand part of the above photo. I still have a lot of organizing and cleaning to do, but soon, I'll have the transition complete, and all remnants of the old studio will be gone from the guest bedroom.

I can't wait to get producing in the new space.

Challenge #15: My Sanctuary

We all need a place to go when the world seems to be too much where we can get away for a while and reconnect with ourselves. We need a cave, an island getaway, or a mountaintop retreat where we can go, be by ourselves, and gain some perspective. Sometimes these are literal caves, islands, and mountains, but very often they are closer than that – the studio, the gym, the garage, or the library – ordinary places where we can get away and be with ourselves.

What is your sanctuary? Where do you go when the world becomes too much or when you just need to be by yourself? Where is that place of solace and comfort or that place where you can reconnect with yourself? What gets in your way of being there? How does it feel when you are kept from your sanctuary? If you do not have an actual sanctuary, where would it be? Where would you like to go?

I've been away for a while with the ending of the school year and traveling to North Carolina, so I'll be posting  Challenge #16 later this week.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Challenge #14: Wants and Needs

We all have our wants and our needs. To many, they seem to be the same thing, but what we want is not always what we need. We often want things that are not good for us and that are sometimes outright harmful. Those wants can be influenced by so many factors. Friends, family, and the media all can put direct and indirect pressure on us to buy the latest gizmos, gadgets and stuff, to make unhealthy eating choices, and to zone out in front of TVs and computer screens.

Reflect on what you want and what you need. See where you want and need the same thing. See where you want much more than you need. See where you deprive yourself of things that you desperately need.

What do you want? Why do you want those things? What do you need? Why do you need those things? Do you want more than you need? Why or why not? What are things that you need, but do not give yourself? What if you only wanted what you needed? How would your life be different?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, June 11-12

Nest 2, 4"x6", Watercolor and watercolor pencil
The Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour is almost here. It will be this Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, from 10-5 both days. This self guided tour opens the studios of about 50 artists around Leesburg, VA. There is a great variety of artwork being offered by the artists. I am stop 23 in Purcellville. It's my first year on the tour, and I am looking forward to the weekend.

I'm pretty much done with all the major work. The studio is ready and I have a lot of artwork to offer for sale. But I still have a lot of little things to do, but it will all get done.

The two works pictured here are two more that I have just completed for the tour. The work pictured above will be mounted on a wooden cradle and will be ready to hang on the wall. The ink image below is from a series of drawings that I have been exploring using only line. The idea is to have this series of ink drawings as loose, unmounted pieces. I'll package them with a foam core backer inside a plastic bag.

Stretch 2, 4"x6", Ink on paper
This is the outside of my studio (my garage) as it looked last winter. I've spent the last couple of months converting it from a garage that housed my woodshop and all the lawn and garden equipment into a large, working studio. I've decided to make this my permanent studio because it such a large space. Besides my wife will be happy to have a room that is just simply the guest bedroom.

I'll share more images of the finished studio in a later post.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Challenge #13: Solitude

As humans we tend to be social creatures, but there are times when we need to be by ourselves – to be alone, but not lonely. For some solitude equates to isolation and despair and to others it equates to reflection and time to be with our thoughts.

Reflect on how you are when you are alone. Try to determine if you are comfortable or uncomfortable with being on your own.

What does solitude mean to you? Is it isolation or is it reflection? How do you react when you are by yourself? Do you distract yourself with email, housework, text messaging, or TV? Do you surround yourself with noise? Do you sit and reflect on all that has been going on mulling it over in your head? Do you surround yourself with quiet?

In what ways do you embrace solitude or push it away?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old Artwork

While cleaning out my crawl space looking for older artwork to include on the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, I discovered these six pieces. All are from 2001 and 2002, and all are oil on canvas. The first three were completed during a graduate painting class that I was taking at the time, and I had just gotten into the visual journal. The painting above was from an idea that showed up in one of my first journals. The visual journal profoundly influenced my painting. Before coming to the journal, my paintings had very dark and muted color, and they were nearly always figurative.

The journal brought color into my art, and allowed me to explore more abstract and non-objective work. The painting above was a direct result of the swirling, spiraling images that I was exploring in my journal. Since I never signed the work, I'm not certain which side is the top. I wonder what it would look like flipped.

Near the end of the class, I wanted to bring the color that I had been exploring into more representational imagery. I referenced a photograph of some old machinery near an oil well at my parents house in the above painting. I never really finished this painting, and I was never really happy with it.

The two paintings above were done independently, and I brought together some of the figurative work that I had been doing at the time and the color that I had been exploring in my class.

This final painting was from another graduate painting class the following year. I began the class working abstractly and non-representationally, but soon turned to portraits, something that I have explored since I was a teenager. I applied what I had learned with color, and focused on expressive brushwork and odd croppings. This self-portrait is, by far, my favorite painting from the time.

I am fascinated to see how much my art has changed over the last ten years. I work with a variety of water based media now, and my imagery has evolved and changed. The one thing that has stayed constant has been the exploration of self. No matter the material or the imagery, I have always looked within and tried to express the soft vulnerable truths hidden there.

The studio tour is in about a week, the weekend of June 11 and 12, from 10 AM to 5 PM each day. If you are in the Purcellville, VA area that weekend, stop by my studio to see these pieces, and much, much more.