Sunday, January 31, 2016


I've been slowly adding to this drawing that I started some time last week. I've been using the Faber Castell Pitt Pens again to embellish and embolden the work. Working on my art is a way for me to deal with the recent loss allowing me to keep busy and  focus on the present moment.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Goodbye Kyla

On a sad note today, we had to say goodbye to our little shih tzu girl, Kyla. Kyla first came to us back in July as a foster from our local shelter, and we quickly fell in love with her. I tried to resist adopting her knowing that such a sweet, lovely, and silly girl would be easily adopted, but once we found out the shelter felt like she would be difficult to place, we decided to adopt. Kyla was a 13 year old with arthritis and a large lump on her jaw, and these were issues that would have made adoption difficult.

But Kyla was so full of life and love, my wife and I just had to adopt her, but we didn't know how long she would have. We just knew that we would make her life as comfortable and full of love as possible. Shortly after adopting, Kyla's lump grew suddenly and quickly, and we had the lump removed along with part of her lower jaw. We discovered that the lump was a mast cell tumor, and we knew that she wouldn't be with us very long.

Despite having a portion of her lower jaw removed, Kyla never slowed down, and she stayed sweet and loving to the end. Unfortunately, another lump recently formed, and over the last two days, she quickly went down hill. We said goodbye to Kyla  this morning as she went to the rainbow bridge. We are saddened and heartbroken. Six months seems like such a short time, but we loved her very much. In the end, we were able to give her six months filled with love, and she was able to bring a sweetness and a silliness into our lives. We will cherish our memories of her.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Artistic Accomplices

Today was another snow day as the area continued to dig out from the blizzard that hit last week. Most roads are passable, and Dave was able to come down from Shepherdstown and hang out for the part of the day. It was like old times as we sat at the coffee table working in our journals.

When Dave first introduced me to the journal over 17 years ago, we used to get together on a regular basis and work in our journals figuring out techniques and media. So, it was very nice and nostalgic to sit for a few hours and make art together.

Having an accomplice all of these years has been a great motivator to make art. It's a gift having someone there to nudge, encourage, and inspire.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pen Play

I've been enjoying exploring a set of Faber Castell Pitt Pens I got recently. This 8 pen set has a variety  of tip sizes and styles, and I've been using the medium, small, and extra small pens the most allowing me to create lines and patterns with a variety of thicknesses.

The biggest intent of these drawings has been simply trying to be present in the art making and trying to slow down and stay focused on the act of mark making. I'm not certain where these experiments are going, but I'm enjoying the graphic quality of the designs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mindful Mark Making

Today was a day of mindful mark making in the journal. Using my Faber Castell Pitt Pens, I explored a variety of shapes, designs, and patterns. Art making has always been a way for me to stay present and practice mindfulness, and the act of drawing simple shapes and patterns is a great way to focus on the act of making marks.

I've been thinking about ways to share my ideas and strategies with others. The techniques that I used in these doodles are nothing earth shaking, and they are straight forward and accessible to anyone. Perhaps an online workshop is in order.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowed In

The blizzard dropped nearly 30 inches of snow on Northern Virginia, and after much shoveling, I was able to spend some time working in the journal. I worked primarily with Derwent Inktense pencils and watercolor paint adding to a variety of pages, but I spent the most time on a monochromatic two-page spread.

I began by layering Ink Black Inktense pencil gradually darkening the value with each layer (see the detail above). I built up an overlapping structure similar to work I shared in this post

I then spent a lot of time refining the lines, shapes, and values with Derwent Black Coloursoft pencil (see the image above). The colored pencil allowed me to fine tunes edges and shadows. I'll share more when I finish the spread.

It was great to limit myself to a single color. I am a firm believer that creativity can be enhanced by setting limitations on ourselves.

I'll be certain to have more time to make art as the huge amount of snow has lead to the cancellation of school through at least Wednesday. It'll take a while for the county and schools to dig out. Luckily, I got most of my digging done yesterday, with just a little today.

I love snow days!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard - Day 2

The blizzard has completely buried us in Northern Virginia with around 30 inches, and between bouts of shoveling, I've found time to work in the journal. I've been bouncing around in the journal adding to a variety of pages and starting a few new ones.

The above page is an experiment with watercolor just trying to play around with texture and brushstrokes.

This spread was started using an Ink Black Derwent Inktense pencil to build up some layers. I have no idea where these pages will go, but that's all part of the fun.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Blizzard Doodle

A blizzard baring down on the Mid Atlantic meant a day off from school, so I spent the day reading, doodling, and doing laundry. I'm enjoying my set of Faber Castell Pitt pens.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Intrigue and Inquiry

Another face! This time using Faber Castell Pitt Pens of varying sizes. I'm still not certain what's behind these faces, but there is something there that intrigues me. They're very mask like, and I enjoy playing with the shapes and the textures. Thoughts of the "wise man" or the "sage" come to mind, and many of the faces have a sense of calm and a slight smile. I'll keep exploring these faces until I can discover their meaning for me. I am a firm believer that we need to pay attention to the things that keep popping up in our work. These make perfect subjects for our lines of inquiry.

I've only done some small pieces, and this one is merely an experiment on cheap drawing paper to try out the pens. But, I definitely think larger works need to happen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Watercolor Layers

Using a lot of watercolor techniques from the Cultivating Creativity workshop, I layered the paint onto these 5x7 papers. I simply immersed myself in playing with the techniques and playing with the paint.

I really like the richness created in the layers and textures. They seem to have a certain glow to them.They have been sitting around the studio for a while now, and I'm not certain what I'll do with them. Perhaps I'll add one of my faces or monsters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Variations on a Theme

I'm working on small pieces exploring faces. The small papers are ideal for exploring an idea from different points of view.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Myths About Creativity

For a while now, I've had a lot of ideas about creativity bumping around in my mind. I've even written about some of them here and here. Over the years I have read quite a few books on the subject such as Ken Robinson's Out of Our Minds, and I am currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic.

I am a firm believer that everyone has the innate capacity for creativity, but so many people buy into common myths about it. If we can see past these stories, we can see just how straight forward creativity can be. I am looking forward to exploring my ideas on creativity and how I can help people reconnect with theirs.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dream Big

Another favorite spread of mine. This one contains a lot of reference to the summer when my wife and I went to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. The journal is a perfect place to document travel memories.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Walk Unafraid

Inspired by the song "Walk Unafraid" by R.E.M., this two-page spread is one of my favorites. It's been quite a few years since I did it, but it's always good to look back and be reminded of the work and the message.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Text and Even More Layers

I continue to layer on this spread of crisscrossing text. I used watercolor to paint in a few shapes  throughout the spread, especially painting some of the cutout shapes.

I used watercolor pencil next to layer some blue on top of large sections of the spread. It is slowly taking shape!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Art Trends and Authenticity

It seems that every few years there is another trend in the arts and crafts world. Scrapbooks, altered books, artist trading cards, Zentangle, and now adult coloring books. I was reminded of the adult coloring book fad as I walked into a local Barnes and Noble, and saw a display of couple dozen books in the entry way. I am intrigued by these trends since they seem to last a few years, and then it’s onto something else.

I think these all simply speak to our innate need to create. There’s something inside of us all that we want to share with the world, and we have this feeling that this thing, whatever it is that we want to share, will bring some meaning and some purpose to our lives. Creating something, whether it’s painting, drawing, singing, dancing, writing, or inventing, is a way for us to have a piece of ourselves out in the world. It’s an act of manifestation as we try to bring forth a part of our inner world, our inner vision.

Everyone has this desire to leave their mark on the world, and the struggle to fulfill this desire leads many into the "creative arts". They see someone painting, or building, or singing, or writing, and the say,”Hey! I’d love to do that.” For many that is where the little voice in their heads takes over spreading doubt and fear, and the initial excitement subsides into negative self talk. People talk themselves right out of even trying, and they say “Hey. I’d live to do that, BUT I don’t have the talent or the imagination. I could never do anything like that.” So, they look for something safe, something with a known outcome, something that keeps the inner critic at bay while quelling the urge to create.

Many people turn to the latest trend to try their hand at creating. It’s less intimidating, it involves less risk, and it often involves less thinking and imagination. For a while this foray into the latest crafty craze feeds that urge to make and create, but then, it can lose its appeal. These trends can be unfulfilling in the long run because the Spirit is always looking for authenticity. Following someone else’s directions, leaving all the decisions to someone else, and coloring in someone else’s drawing or design can leave a hollow feeling. We want to be original. We want to create and not simply make, and if we can't find a way to turn these fashionable art forms into authentic expressions, we can lose interest in them. We then look for the next greatest thing, and the cycle continues.

It's no easy task to be original if we’ve had a lifetime of people, even ourselves, telling us that we are not creative, imaginative, artistic or talented. When we’re filled with fear and doubt we need to let go of the past, not worry about the future, and focus on the present. We can only create in the here and now.

But how do we do that? How do we quiet the inner critique and stay present? How do we find an authentic inner vision? Well, that’s my mission, and I have some vague notions and ideas right now. I am looking forward to sharing more when those ideas have gelled into something more concrete.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


My journaling process is not linear. I am not one who has to finish one page before I move onto a new page. All pages are fair game at anytime, and when I want to add to something in progress, I flip through those pages that already have something going on. When I need more room, I flip to blank pages to tackle a space that is unfettered and uncluttered.

These two spreads are perfect examples. The spread above was started in early November shortly after the Arizona Art Education Association Conference in Prescott. I started the page by gluing in some fodder from the trip, and over the last couple of months, I have been slowly adding to it building up layers of watercolor, watercolor pencil, and ink.

This spread was started a couple of days ago when I broke out the liquid watercolors. I wanted to do a little experimenting with these concentrated paints, and I had a yearning to tackle some blank space. So, I turned to a blank spread, and I used yellow, orange, and brown to begin a haphazard painting across the pages. Tonight I added the watercolor pencil squares to give the spread more structure. As always, I have no plan for these pages, and they'll develop over the coming months. As I've said before, Art is about the discovery.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Keeping the Hand Moving

I've been trying to up my journal game recently, and though I haven't kept any official tally, I've probably worked in my journal everyday for the past couple of weeks. It was easy to find time during my winter break to journal, but now that school has started up, I have been trying to maintain the habit. Doodling and writing seem to be the dominant forms of work, as I always have a pen or two handy.

I started the page above with the large face, and then I added orange watercolor to fill in the negative space. I randomly glued in a small piece of paper with a quote during a collage session in the studio sometime last week, and I added the squares and writing as a way to create a pattern on top of the watercolor.

Everyday, I am taking time to get my hand moving.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Text and More Layers

Slowly I have been adding to my pages with the crisscrossing text. (Check out this post to see how they began.) It's nothing earth shattering, but the accumulation of actions is building into something interesting. I recently added to both pages by creating black frames around square cutouts with ink. Placing a scrap of paper underneath kept the ink from getting onto the next page.

Next I glued in some raffle tickets that I've been holding onto since Art Unraveled since August. There was a big Saturday night event with Danny Gregory as guest speaker, and everyone got a raffle ticket. Prizes were given out, and at the end of the evening, there were raffle tickets left on nearly every table. I decided to gather up as many as I could. They have slowly made their way into quite a few pieces of art and quite a few journal pages. I like collecting fodder this way because of the stories and associations behind it. I could easily go out and buy a big roll of tickets like this, but they would have no meaning and no memories embedded in them.

I am enjoying seeing where this spread is going.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Getting Something Started

Doodling straight lines and shapes in the journal. It's a great way to get something started on a page.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Over the last few months I have been experimenting with a few different types of images. I guess I'm in a period where I'm not focusing on just one thing. I think as an artist, it's good to mix things up and try new things, even if they seem somewhat contrary to a current line of inquiry.

I've explored mapping and monsters most recently, and over the past two weeks, I've been drawing faces. I'm not sure if they'll go anywhere, but it's always good to open your practice to new ideas.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Art as Discovery

If I'm not discovering something about myself through my art, what's the point of doing it?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Living on Purpose

I came across this phrase as I read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, and it resonated deeply with me. I had to stop immediately and write the phrase down before I forgot. The power and simplicity of this phrase struck me.

For far to long, I have been living life mindlessly, going through my days being pulled here and there by the whims of fancy. My life had become routine, and I was caught in a cycle of self-defeating thoughts. I had been swept along by the current of events and happenstance, and my life, at times, seemed like an endless stream of disappointments and resentments. Life was passing me by, and I definitely wasn’t living on purpose.

Over the last year, I have been trying to be more present in my life, and this idea of living on purpose sits so perfectly with where I am on my journey. Living on purpose is about living consciously and with attention and intention - attention to the present moment and the intention that I will stay fully aligned with my purpose and my joy.

In the past I felt like I was not living the life that I wanted to live. I kept waiting for the right time and the right circumstances, but that’s not living. I have made a conscious decision to live the life that I want to live, right now in this very moment instead of allowing life to pass by. I am a firm believer that we create the world in our own image, and the universe returns to us that which we put out into it. If we are filled with anger, frustration, and resentment and allow that negativity to flow out into the world, our world will be an angry, frustrating, and resent-filled place. If we stay fixed on the present and fill ourselves with joy, love, and purpose, we can allow that positivity to flow freely into the world. Our world then will be a joyful, loving, purpose-filled place.

I am working on staying present and aligned with my purpose.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Journal Spread

Life is a spiritual process. Creating and making art are a part of that process for me. I wanted to share this spread from a couple of years ago because it resonates with where I am in my journey.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Text and Layers

Writing is a big part of my journaling practice, and I write to record my thoughts, to work out ideas, and to reflect on life and art. But it's not always important that the writing stays legible. Actually, using the writing as a visual device and more like an artistic technique is a great way to get pages started. I wanted to share some ways I have been building layers with text.

I began a two-page spread by writing with a water-soluble graphite pencil and filling both pages. I washed over the graphite with clean water allowing the pencil to spread. 

After a few days, I highlighted some of the words with metallic, black, red, and yellow ink. The ink creates a lot of contrast with the surrounding page. Dave and I call these operative words.

I wanted to give the spread a bit more texture, and turned the book and wrote with black ink. The crisscrossing text helps to obscure some of the writing and creates a more even feel.

To create more interaction among pages, I cut holes through the pages with a craft knife. I cut through several pages and glued down the rectangle of text.

I haven't done much else to this spread, but I'll keep adding to it. I plan on adding some watercolor paint and collage, and I'm sure that I'll end up using some watercolor pencil as well. I love that I don't know how this spread will turn out. For me making art is always an act of discovery.

I'll post more as it develops.