art unraveled

Art Unraveled 2016

I've been back from Art Unraveled for a couple of days now, and I'm kind of scratching my head wondering how it went by so quickly. It's all such a blur, and I realize that I didn't get many photos from the workshops that we taught. But I thought that I'd share some of the ones I did get.

Our classes were on the small and intimate side, but the energy was just phenomenal. Sometimes with just a handful of students, things can be on the quiet and sedate side, but that definitely wasn't the case this time. We had awesome students and high energy.

Our first workshop was Stencil Savvy where we led students through the process of making several stencils out of Grafix Stencil Film. We started the day with simple shapes, and finished up with more complex art and portraits. Most even took time to try out their newly cut stencils with some simple paint or watercolor pencil.

We spent the second day hanging out in friend Sam Peck's printmaking workshop, Life of Lines, and we enjoyed helping out his students as they explored traditional relief printing. Dave and I taught an evening workshop that same day, Collaborative Art Challenges, where we challenged students to work collaboratively in fun-filled activities. There was a lot of laughing going on that night.

Of course, there were other moments of silliness and shenanigans outside of class like in the above picture of Dave and Sam. Friend and artist Lisa Cheney, was in the midst of drawing Dave when Sam decided to stick his finger in Dave's ear. The resulting drawing was rather interesting.

My monsters even got in on the act, and I was able to find new homes for several of them. All in all, it was a pretty awesome time in Phoenix. It just went by so quickly. But next year will be here before you know it!

In the meantime, if you're interested in taking a workshop with us, check out our Events page.

Goings On!

I was just looking over the calendar and finished updating our Events page with some things that are coming up over the next nine months, and I can’t believe that we’re almost into August already. Where has the summer gone? Art Unraveled is next week! How did it get here so quickly? If you haven’t registered yet, online registration closes tomorrow. After that you’ll have to register on site. We still have plenty of room in our workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and we’d love to have you.

Beyond Art Unraveled, the Fall is definitely shaping up with lots going on. But since I am no longer gainfully employed as a public school art teacher, a busy schedule is definitely a good thing. Dave and I will be traveling to Florida and Colorado for their state’s Art Education Conferences. We’ll be giving a keynote speech as well as one or two workshops at each conference. If you’re an art teacher in either state, come out and see us in the fall. We’re looking forward to connecting to all the art educators.

In a departure from our normal thing, I’ll be presenting at a veterinarian conference in October. I’ll be presenting about using the visual journal as a tool for coping with a beloved pet’s illness or passing. I’m looking forward to taking the visual journal to a different audience. My wife, who is a licensed veterinarian technician, says she can’t wait to take a workshop with me. It’s nice that our worlds can come together.

Dave and I will be heading back to Portland, OR for Art and Soul in Spring 2017. We’ll be teaching three workshops at this annual retreat. It’s never too early to plan a trip to Portland, and registration is open. I’m hoping to set up more workshops for the Fall and Spring at other venues both near and far, and I’ll keep things updated.

Besides all of the workshops, I have other things going on, and I’m busy working on things and figuring out the details.

First, I want to get an online shop going. I’ve dabbled in selling things through the JFJ website on and off over the years, and right now there are some resources available along with one online workshop. But I want to get a dedicated shop up and running by mid August, and I’ll have artwork for sale along with some downloadable resources. The plan is to sell paintings, drawings, and sculptures including my monsters along with a few downloadables.

Second, I want to get some more online workshops going. I had really hoped to have several up and running right now, but it wasn’t possible with teaching full time. So look for a couple to launch between now and the end of the year.

Third, I have a big project in mind that I’m giving myself until the Spring to bring about. David and I have talked about trying to get another book published, and we’ve submitted a few ideas, but nothing has taken off. So, I want to self publish something and make it available for download - another reason I need an online shop. Look for something more formal in a couple of months after I hammer out some logistics.

There’s a lot cooking in the JFJ kitchen, and I’m excited to be teaching workshops and working on lots of other projects. Stay tuned for updates! In the mean time, check out our Events page for an update of all the workshops, and check out the JFJ website for details about our currently available resources and online workshop.

Art Unraveled

Are you looking for some creative fun this summer? We will be in Phoenix in one month along with our good friend Sam Peck, teaching at Art Unraveled. Please join us for some artistic fun in the desert!

August 2-3, 2016 - Art Unraveled, Phoenix, AZ
  • Wednesday, August 3 - Life of Lines - 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (Sam's Class)

Upcoming Workshops

School's out and the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour is over, so it must be summer time. If you've been looking to take a workshop with us, now's the time. The Journal Fodder Junkies will be returning to teach two workshops at Art Unraveled in Phoenix at the beginning of August. Good friend, Sam Peck will be there as well to teach a workshop.

Dave and I will be teaching an all-day stencil making class on Tuesday and an evening collaborative mixed media class on Wednesday. Sam will be teaching his all-day printmaking class on Wednesday. Click the links below for more info.

August 2-3, 2016 - Art Unraveled, Phoenix, AZ

We were also slated to teach at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach, but unfortunately, the classes had to be cancelled because of very few sign-ups at this time. We are very sorry to anyone who had signed up or was planning on signing up. We'll have to try again in the future.

So, we're focusing on getting as many people to sign up for Art Unraveled. We ask your help in spreading the word. Please post, share, tweet, and get the word out. Thank you so much!

We hope to see you in Phoenix in August, and we'll keep you posted as we add workshops for the fall!

Upcoming Workshops

If you missed out on one of our recent workshops or presentations, don't fret. We have some opportunities coming up this summer and fall with Art Unraveled in Phoenix and Art and Soul in Virginia Beach. We hope that you can join us!

Join us in August in Phoenix, AZ for two workshops at Art Unraveled.

Good friend, Sam Peck will also be teaching at Art Unraveled.

If the desert in August doesn't appeal to you join us on the beach in late September at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach, VA. We'll be teaming up with Sam and teaching the entire week.

We hope that you can join us for one or more of these awesome workshops!

Shifting Momentum

Today I wanted to share another two-page spread that I began in Portland last week. This spread was begun during our workshop on Sunday - Alternative Approaches to the Self-Portrait. I've been contemplating a big life change lately, and I have been working hard to shift the momentum of my life and my circumstances.

If you like what you see, think about signing up for a class or workshop. We have a current self-guided online workshop. I'll be Galax, VA this weekend. We'll be in Chicago at the NAEA Convention. We''ll be at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach in the Fall. And we'll probably be at Art Unraveled in the summer. As new venues and dates are added, I'll post them!

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.

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.

Art Unraveled - August 2015

If you're looking for something creative to do this summer, set your sights on Phoenix at the beginning of August. Arizona might not seem to be the most ideal place to be in August, but Art Unraveled is happening and we're going to be there teaching three workshops. Artist and author, Danny Gregory is also scheduled to be the special guest at the Saturday Evening Gala.

We'll be flying in on Wednesday, August 5, so come out and join us for a hot and creative time. We'll be doing the following:
Spots are filling up fast, so register today! We hope to see you there!