Thinking Thursday: My Story


I think that I take it for granted that people just know my story. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’ve been on Facebook since 2008, so it’s easy to forget that there are people that are just now discovering what I do, and they may not know who I am or where I come from.

So I wanted to take sometime as this New Year begins to reintroduce myself and share my story.

In the most concise way, my story is that I am an artist, writer, and educator that believes that everyone is creative, and I am on a mission to help people reconnect with their creativity. Now a lot of people will argue that they don’t have an ounce of creativity, but that’s just not true. It might be buried. It might be closed off. It might be locked away, but like writer Patti Digh would say, if you are human, you are creative.

Why do I believe that? I don’t believe it, I know it. I have been making art for more than 40 years, and I’ve been teaching for more than 20. I feel that I’ve learned a thing or two about creativity in all of that time. I have always loved art. I drew and colored continually as a child, and I pursued it and went to school for it. I taught art for 20 years in the public schools of Maryland and Virginia. In 2016 I stepped away from public school teaching, but I continue to teach at retreats and workshops across the US. I also manage and teach at a local art center in Round Hill, Virginia. I continue to make my own art, and I draw, paint, sculpt, and work in a visual journal. I have spent my life exploring my own creativity, and figuring how to help others be more creative.

Now creativity isn’t just an art thing, it’s a human thing, and you don’t have to want to make art to be creative. As Sir Ken Robinson says, creativity is about coming up with something new that has value. Creativity stretches across all human endeavors. Without creativity, we wouldn’t have landed on the moon, and we wouldn’t have the internet, and we wouldn’t have the music, the movies, the clothes that we love. We always have problems to solve, things to figure out, and lives to make the best of. This all takes creativity. As a visual artist, I approach creativity from that direction, but we are all creative.

When I first got into teaching, I thought that I wanted to teach my students about art, but as the years went on, I found out that, yes I was teaching them about artists, materials, and techniques, but more importantly, I was teaching them how to connect with their creativity. I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of children and adults, and I am always blown away by the things they can come up with when they can let down their defenses and create from an authentic place.

This notion is why I don’t teach projects — why I don’t craft recipes for people to follow to make the things that I make. I’d much rather share ideas and techniques, and help students find their own voice and create the work that is meaningful to them. This philosophy led to the two books that I coauthored with David Modler, The Journal Junkies Workshop and Journal Fodder 365. In these books, we share ideas, concepts, materials, and concepts, but never tell people to make and create certain things. In everything that I do, I want to help people realize that they are truly creative individuals capable of creating meaningful lives.


Of course, I’ve left out a whole lot of details, but I’m not setting out to write a memoir, just to set the stage for my story. And I hope that I can help you to reconnect with your creativity and inspire you to create the meaning that you seek!