Purging, Letting Go, and Making Space


As I get ready for the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour in a couple of weeks, I have tackled not only cleaning and organizing my studio, but also painting the floor which means clearing the studio of pretty much everything. Though I began sorting and organizing a couple of weeks ago, I am feeling the pinch now, and I’ve kicked up my efforts quite a few notches. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished, but it’s a very daunting task.


One very positive thing has already emerged from all the cleaning and organizing. I have been purging — a lot. I’m probably like many artists who have tons of stuff — materials and supplies, unfinished work, old artwork, scraps of paper, experimental pieces, books, papers, and so much more. But here lately I have been really hating all the stuff that’s crammed into my studio, which is a one-car garage. Despite multiple purges over the past couple of years, there’s still so much that it’s downright overwhelming, and I’m tired of the clutter and the junk.

So, I’m purging, clearing space, and combatting the clutter.

It began a couple of weeks ago, as I began sorting through my fodder, ephemera, and scraps. Now, I’m not one to go to a store and buy stuff, but I collect a lot in my day-to-day life. I pick up postcards or business cards from businesses, restaurants, and shops. I get maps when I travel, and I keep my metro passes, bus tickets, and parking vouchers. I get stickers from everywhere, and coasters from breweries and bars. I collect much much more with the intention of gluing it all into my journals and art, but I don’t do a very good job of keeping up. It piles piles up.

As I began sorting through the fodder, I used some of it, held onto some of it, but got rid of so much more of it. Even though there was a part of me that wanted to hold on to it saying, “But I might need it in the future. I can use it in some art,” I had to let go, so many things ended up in recycling. Then I moved onto my artwork. This was a bit harder, and the emotional pull to keep it was even stronger. But I pressed on and sorted and purged and let go of so much. A lot of old, experimental artwork ended up in the trash or in recycling, and some of it ended up on the fire pit. It was a symbolic release of the stuff that keeps weighing me down. It was a symbolic purge by fire.

It’s liberating yet emotional to let this stuff go, much of it has been sitting around the studio for years, and though there’s that tug as I toss it, I truly know that I’m better off letting go. I’m never going to finish these or do anything with them, and much of this artwork is not my best. They’re pieces from long ago. Pieces where I was figuring out my style. Pieces that were experimental and crude and just not things that need to be out in the world. I have to let them go.

As an artist, it’s so easy to cling to the things that I have made — to the things that I have brought into existence, and there is a real attachment to these pieces because of the time, effort, and thought that I have put into them. But if I cling to these things, if I hold tightly onto all of these things from the past, I can’t move forward. The past can weigh us down, and the only way forward is to make space for the future by letting go of the things of the past. As long as all of this stuff clutters up my environment, my space, and my mind, I stay stuck when I so want to move forward, grow, and evolve. I need to let it go, clear the ground, and start new.

The process has continued with many other things in the studio, and I’m eager to get it all sorted, to let go of even more, to make space for new ideas, new work, new adventures, so I am slogging forward, digging through, and making space.

I can’t wait to share the final outcome.

2018 Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour


I am excited to announce that I'll be part of the 13th Annual Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, and I'll be opening my home studio to the public the weekend of June 2 & 3, 2018. After missing the tour last year because of a teaching engagement, I am looking forward to sharing my art once again as part of this annual event that showcases the talents of such a diverse group of Northern Virginian artists.


So save the date, and stop on by June 2nd & 3rd!

Clear the Studio Sale!


I recently cleaned up the studio, and realized that I have a whole lot of artwork taking up space. So, I want to clear the studio of as much old artwork as I can to make way for new work. So, just in time for the holidays, I'm having a Clear the Studio Sale! It'll start this Friday, November 24th, and go for three weeks through Friday, December 15th.

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I'm putting all of my drawings, paintings, mixed pieces, and sculptures on sale in the Shop, and you'll be able to save 25% off all of it! I'll have everything from small 4"x6" exploratory pieces to full scale paintings ready to hang on the wall. Just use the code CLEARSTUDIO to get your 25% off starting this Friday, and I'll get it shipped out to you as soon as I can. And all prices include shipping and handling!

Thank You!

I want to thank everyone who came out this past weekend for the 11th annual Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour. It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend with a lot going on, and I appreciate everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to spend time with me in my studio.

I have always loved connecting to people through my art, and the Studio Tour affords me that opportunity on a large scale. I am so thankful to everyone who came out to support me and the other artists on the tour.

I would say that my monsters were the hit of the weekend in my studio, and many of the polymer clay sculptures found new homes. I'll definitely be making more of them in the near future.

If you couldn't make it because of distance or time, I will be putting some of my artwork for sale on the JFJ website within the next couple of weeks, so that people near and far can take a closer look. So, in the meantime, I thank everyone who has supported my art in anyway. I am very grateful to everyone who I connect to through art! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour

Mark your calendars!

The 11th annual Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour is just over a month away. Come out on June 18th and 19th and spend some time checking out over 60 awesome Northern Virginia Artists. I'll once again be on the tour, and I'll have my garage studio open to the public from 10am to 5pm both days. I'm stop number 17 in Purcellville, VA, and I hope to see you there. It's a great way to kick of the summer.

The Child Within

I have been experimenting a lot lately with techniques and images, and I feel like I'm at a very unsettled place with my art. At times, I feel like I'm all over the place with things, and that's perfectly fine with me. It's giving me the opportunity to try out all kinds of things to see what sticks.

I have noticed that my work has been getting more representational - more figurative - from the monsters to the faces that I've been pursuing over the last few months. In a small way I've been trying to move my art back toward the recognizable, but I haven't gone back to the highly accurate renders that enthralled me long ago. I don't seem to have the patience anymore to try to make something "just right" with all the complex shading and detail. I'm more into simplifying my approach, and I'm liking the direction the art is taking.

Over the last couple of weeks, two things have inspired a move into yet another experiment with a style and imagery type. I've been trying to tap into the child within and just let the drawings flow. The first source of inspiration came from reading Gordon MacKenzie's book Orbiting the Giant Hairball. The book is about the things he learned during his 30 years at Hallmark cards, and it is a very inspiring read. But it wasn't so much the words that have inspired my art, it was the illustrations scattered throughout the pages. These simple line drawings are reminiscent of the way little kids draw, and they intrigued me and mesmerized me. I knew that I need to try something like it in my own art.

The second source of inspiration has come from watching several of my students draw. As an elementary art teacher, I teach about 630 students a week, and some of my students amaze me with their confidence when they draw and the whimsy and character of their drawings.  These students have yet to be tainted with the "is this good" bug. They draw and create with such pure joy and spontaneity, and I've been trying to capture some of that with my latest experiments. I'm trying to connect with that simple and joyful quality, and I've been greatly enjoying myself.

So, when you start to see more works like the one above, you'll know why.

Studio Clean Up

Now that my recent bout of traveling is done, I can focus on the next big thing, the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour which happens the weekend of June 18 & 19. Though it's a couple months away, I need to get busy making some art, and getting the studio ready for visitors.

The first step is to clean up the studio a bit so that I have some room to work, so I spent some time tonight cleaning and organizing. It's amazing what happens to accumulate in the studio over the months, and I have the habit of simply moving piles around. The studio has become quite cluttered, so I began the preliminary process of sorting and organizing, and hopefully I'll soon have a functioning studio again with space to work.

Making Progress

I spent a couple of hours in the studio on this warm February day working more on pieces. I started earlier in the week. I added a layer or two to several of them, and my favorite so far is the small painting pictured above. This 4x6 inch piece has a certain glow - a certain richness about it, and I am really loving the deep ruby color. I'm not certain what I'll do with these paintings or how far I'll go with them. I may leave them fairly simple and more abstract. But then again I may paint something on top. I just don't know.

Rocking the Cradles

I've been experimenting with a lot of ideas in my journal and with small artworks on paper, but I haven't made any larger work in a while. So, today I spent time in the studio building cradles from masonite and pine boards for future larger work. I built three cradles and had a fourth lying around the studio, so now I have a 24"x24", an 18"x24", a 10"x10", and a 6"x9" cradle ready to go.

I used to work primarily on canvas and most often would stretch my own, but when I got into mixed media, I began working primarily on paper. Needing a way to display the work, I would mount the artwork onto the cradles. Recently, I began simply priming the cradles and creating directly on top. I'm looking forward to getting some new pieces going.


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.