fodder, noun
1. something fed to domestic animals; especially: coarse food for cattle, horses, or sheep
2. inferior or readily available material used to supply a heavy demand, i.e. fodder for tabloids

While cleaning up the studio the other day, I realized that I have an inordinate amount of fodder stockpiled in the studio in bins and trays and in piles and heaps. With all of my recent travels, I've collected even more fodder, so I decided to sort through some of it and use it in my multiple journals. Along with starting this two-page spread, I added fodder to my shared journal with Sam Peck, a small journal that Erin Keane made for me, and another large journal that I am currently wrapping up. It was good to have a big old glue session tonight in the studio.

I've got to make a better effort to glue in the fodder as I collect it.

Free Fodder

I'm at it again - giving away stuff. This time, it's a free, hi-res PDF download of Permission and Initiative Prints and Cards that I have worked on recently. I showed a sneak peek of the Permission piece in my Mixed Media Fun post, and shared the images in my Permission and Initiative post.

The image below shows a quick peek at the 5-page document.

The download includes two 8"x10" prints, four 4"x6" cards, and eight 2"x3.5" business-sized cards. The two sheets of 4x6s and 2x3.5s are meant to print back-to-back so that you can have double-sided cards.

So, give yourself the gift of Permission and Initiative. Download the file by clicking here, print them on card stock or photo paper, and have fun.

Hang 'em up, glue 'em in your journal, or laminate 'em so you can always be reminded that you have both permission and initiative to create. You never have to wait around for someone to say so.

You can check out other free downloads that I have on the JFJ site by going here.


An Everything Book

A conversation that I had last night with Bean got me thinking about how people use the visual journal, and I think that many times people pigeon-hole themselves into a certain way of working in the journal - which is perfectly ok, and the journal needs to be what it needs to be for people - but often we need to give ourselves permission to do something different in our journals. Often times artists get caught up feeling like every page needs to be a finished work of art. Writers get caught up feeling like they need to have only their best writing in the journal, and everyone gets caught up in their habits and their way of working. For Dave and myself, the journal is an everything book. It is a place to create art, a place to capture memories and thoughts, a place to experiment with images, words, and media, a place to take notes and work out ideas. In short it is - to steal a Keri Smith quote - "A Portable Life Museum". To that end I wanted to say something about documenting our daily journey through this world, and give people permission to include the mundane in their journal.

Fodder is a great way to document our daily lives - even the mundane elements of our lives. Collecting paper menus, business cards, maps, and even chewing gum packs or a to-do list is a great way to document and remember our lives. The above image is a photo of my open journal with fodder already glued in and it's all about the recent Cincinnati trip. So, there is the boarding pass for the flight from DC to Cinci, the LaRosa's Pizzeria comment card, the Lost Coast Brewery coaster from Dewey's, the airline luggage barcode sticker, and finally under the Extra gum pack is the spiralling tree cutout that I made of Bean's tree she drew in my journal - which is appropriate since she grew up in Cincinnati right around the area where the publisher's offices are. On top is a bunch of loose fodder waiting to be glued in throughout the journal.

So, these items may not have any significance to others, but every time I see them, I'll remember bowling at the Strikes and Spares Bowling Lanes, or trekking over to the Kroger grocery store, or paying 90 bucks for an overweight bag at the airport because I had six large journals in my luggage on the way back.

So give yourself permission to include the mundane or make something ugly or just to be human and make mistakes. But in the end, it is you who will need to decide how to use the journal, and it will become what it needs to become.


I wanted to post something different than my usual "Here Are Some of My Pages" post that I normally post. So I instantly thought of fodder. If you are new to this blog or new to the idea of Journal Fodder, it is simply the "food" for your journal. Over the years I have amassed a bit of digital fodder - images, words, and other things, that I can print out anytime. This saves a lot of actual space in my fodder bins in the studio. So, I decided to post these images. They are relatively large - 8.5x11in., and they should print off quite well.These two images were inspired by paper that I had seen for scrapbooking. I remember seeing some of this 12x12in. paper in a store once that looked as if it had been painted, and it was obvious that it was originally painted and then scanned. I thought to myself, "I can do that myself and save myself some money." So, these two painted papers were created the same way. I crumpled some drawing paper, and then proceeded to paint them with watercolor paint. The wrinkles soaked up the paint differently then the smoother sections and enhanced the texture. Then I scanned them in and saved them. Now I can print them out any time, cut them up and use them in the journal.
Feel free to print these and use them as you see fit. Post to the Flickr group if you like, so that we can all see what you have done. Happy Foddering.

Old Artwork

As an art educator of more than 12 years, I always have lots of demo samples around that I begin and work on with my students when I share new projects with them. Often these samples lie around in a cabinet where sometimes I pull them out in later years to show students. But more often than not, they stay in their cabinet. Occasionally, I purge the artwork and use it as journal fodder. This page was done in Journal #2 (quite a few years ago) using several portraits that I had created from demonstrations on proportion. I cut the drawings apart and recombined pieces to create something new. I need to do more of this.

Illusion vs. Reality

I thought that I would do something different today, and write a bit about something that has been on my mind for some time and ask for your comments and responses. Feel free to use it as a visual journal prompt and share your responses on the Flickr site.

Here lately, I've been concerned with illusion and reality - not the magician on a stage kind, but a personal kind. I've thought so much recently about who we truly are and how we are perceived by others - or how we allow others to perceive us - how we put on masks and play certain roles in certain situations. It's amazing how disparate our inner selves and our outer selves can be. There are parts we hide - out of fear, out of protection, out of necessity, out of habit. Haven't we all forced a smile on our faces when we would rather yell, scream, or cry?

We build illusions both for ourselves and for others. Have we not built great fantasies in our heads about certain people - idealizing them and building them up? Have we not built illusions about ourselves to put on a front so that people cannot see the real us? Have we not kept ourselves disconnected from the world because we were afraid that someone might glimpse the real us?

But we are all human - connected by the experiences that all humans experience - yet fear, greed, lust, aggression, and ego get in the way of those connections. We see people and make instant judgements about them based on the way they look or act, based on the things they say or how they say it, or based on our own prejudices. Our judgements are shallow. In our haste we see only the paper thin shells - an illusion that we place on these people. Yet reality may be so different, but we stick to our snap judgements and pass on by - we take what we want from them and leave them.

Illusions are a way to use people, manipulate them, disregard them, categorize them. Masks are all they are - no deeper - no more complex. And so we do not need to do the work of understanding, knowing, and empathizing. We can go on. We never see the soul. We will never touch a life in this way. We will never make a difference in this world because we can not get beyond the illusions that we all make.

Reality can be ugly and dirty and dark. Yet it can be beautiful and spiritual and bright. We have the power to affect and be affected by the world if we just let it. We all have the need to know how we have changed the world. Unfortunately, too many of us never get the chance because we are trapped within ourselves and we are trapped in the roles that we play. The real human heart beats within all of us. We turn away from the pain. We look for happiness in the illusions we create. We get away from our authentic selves because it is too painful, too vulnerable, too much to bear.

If we cannot embrace our own complexities - our own hearts, we cannot embrace another's. We will always be alone. We are all here on planet Earth reaching out for love, for compassion, for acceptance, for connection. That is what unites us.

Can we pull away the mask, celebrate our authentic selves, and connect with humanity? If we can, we can change the world.

I could go on, but I'll just put my mask back on and step back into my role, but before I do, I would ask for comments and responses. Please leave your comments here and post your visual journal responses to the Flickr Site.