Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Purchase the 15 for 30 Challenge Now!

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

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

For just 5 bucks you get the following:

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

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Art is not a Competition

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

Life is not a race.

Art is not a competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Making Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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