It's Official!

Journal Fodder 365 has officially been released. I received ten copies of it today from the publisher, and I was able to order copies of it for Art Unraveled in Phoenix next week. It is currently in stock and on sale in the North Light Shop, and I've been informed that Amazon will be shipping for an expected delivery date of August 1.

I am so excited. I can't wait to hear people's reaction to it. In some ways it's a much better book than the first.

I hope that you enjoy it.

Challenge #47: Inheritences and Legacies

What have you inherited from your past? What are you handing down to the future?

Everything we do is built upon the accomplishments, and sometimes failures, of those who have come before us. Think about all that you have been given that has helped you get where you are and keeps you striving to achieve. Consider the artifacts you make and concepts you develop on a daily basis and how these ideas become the foundation for someone else. We all have much to gain from the past and much to give to the future, and if we make the most of everyday we honor that which we have inherited and provide the best of what we leave as a legacy.

What objects, artifacts and stories have been handed down to you? What do have to leave behind for those who follow?

Challenge #46: Feeding the Spirit

How do you feed your spirit?

Without proper nourishment, our body grows weak, and we must feed ourselves to maintain our physical health. Our spirit needs nourishment as well, but dealing with the world can run us down, exhaust us, and put our spiritual health and mental well-being in jeopardy. We all have a different way of feeding our spirit. For some, it is a certain place that rejuvenates and refreshes us. Maybe it’s hiking in the woods, paddling out into a set of double overhead waves, or spending time at an art retreat. But it doesn’t have to be a place at all. Perhaps it’s the people who surround us, the daily phone call or e-mail, or the sharing of the ride to work that provides these spirit-feeding moments. It may be our routines and daily rituals that feed our spirit in small, meaningful ways. Possibly it’s the morning cup of coffee, the daily crossword, or the comfy sweatshirt that gives us the lift we desire. Whatever the source, experience and recognize the connections you need in order to fill up your tanks and keep yourself going.

What people, places or things have the power to recharge your batteries? What daily rituals and routines energize you, fill you with purpose and allow you to tackle another day?

Challenge #45: Accomplices

Who are your artistic accomplices and creative collaborators?

When we work alone, it is easy to become stagnant and lose motivation. We all need a nudge in the right direction or a pat on the back to keep us moving forward and working through the road blocks. Think about the people in your life that get your creative juices flowing, and reflect on how your interactions with these people help you and your art making. Examine the energy giving forces in your world and document their contribution to your practice. Just as others motivate and inspire you, find ways that you nudge and spark others’ creative endeavors. Reflect on how you return the favor.

Who do you turn to when you need some guidance or a bit of motivation? Who are the people who inspire and push your creativity? How do you in turn inspire and motivate others? How do you fulfill your end of the bargain?

Art Unraveled 2012

Art Unraveled is a little more than a month away, and we're excited to be teaching at this annual Phoenix, Arizona event for the second straight year. It's not too late to sign up, and it runs from July 30 - August 7, at the Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale. There are a lot of amazing classes to choose from, and we will be teaching two day-long classes as well as participating in several of the events. We hope to see you there.

Monday, July 30
Meet the Artists - 7-9pm
Come say, "Hi" at this kick-off for the week.

Wednesday, August 1
We have all have our stories. As we deal with our present, we are consistently rewriting our pasts, whether romanticizing or demonizing ourselves. Like it or not, we are defined by the events that have transpired during our lives. This is a process we all engage in to face our uncertain futures. We continually edit the scripts and dialogues running through our heads to reinforce the myths and the stories we construct to define and articulate our lives.
What is your story? What is your history? What are the mysteries of your life? What are the stories that you have told yourself over and over to the point that you believe them and accept them?
This mixed-media workshop focuses on the personal and private use of the visual journal as a powerful tool for self-reflection and self-discovery. Learn to mix a variety of art techniques and media with personal ephemera and reflective writing to explore the stories that you tell about yourself and investigate the mysteries of your life. Bring images, memorabilia, and other ephemera that will help tell the story of YOU. Rose tinted glasses optional.

Thursday, August 2
Transitional Spaces - 9am - 4:30pm

Are you looking to transform your artwork or your visual journal from a static surface to a dynamic, interactive space? Are you looking for ways to create richly layered spaces within and between your pieces? This mixed-media workshop delves into creating this layered and nuanced interaction within and between works whether they are pages in a journal or stand alone pieces.

Discover ways to give your artistic endeavors an extra kick as you explore how to incorporate transitional spaces that bring surprise, interactivity, connection, and hybridity to your art. Learn about windows, doorways, pockets, secret passages, and more as you consider and reconsider how spaces and pages interact and create a dialogue. Make artwork that opens up, flips out, and unfolds into other realms.

Saturday, August 4
Shopping Extravaganza - 10am - 4pm

 We will be participating in the Shopping Extravaganza and will be selling artwork, prints, and copies of our books. We're hopping our new book will be out by that time.

"Top Artists Showdown" - 7-10pm

Random News

With wrapping up the school year and participating in the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, it has been a busy couple of weeks, and it appears that my summer is going to stay just as busy. So, I wanted to share a random smattering of things today. I apologize for the mishmash of news and thoughts.

First, this summer is a big time of CHANGE for the Journal Fodder Junkies in at least one big way, and for those that have been following my change initiative, you may find this all a bit synchronous. Both Dave and I are changing jobs. Dave recently accepted a job at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. So, after three years in Boone, NC at Appalachian State University where we were a six and a half hour drive from each other, Dave will be moving to my wife’s home town, where he will be a mere 45 minutes away. Closer proximity means better collaboration, and hopefully more ideas, projects, and events that we can put out there.

As for me, after ten years of teaching high school art, I’ll be returning to the elementary level as I move to Tolbert Elementary School in Leesburg, VA. I taught elementary art for four years prior to teaching high school art. I am very excited for the change after feeling rather burnt out and stagnant teaching at the high school level. Actually, the move has been part of my recent busyness. Although my official last day was early last week, I spent the rest of the week packing up the classroom that I have been in for the last ten years, and moving the 40 or so boxes, bins, and pieces of art. I’ve also started organizing the new artroom, and I still have quite a lot to do. I’ll be spending most mornings next week trying to finish up.

 Sixteen years of teaching packed up in 40 boxes and bins.

 The last look at the classroom that was my "home" for 10 years.

Second, the Studio Tour was another success this year, and I had about 150 people come through my studio last weekend. I did a little better this year than last, and sold quite a few pieces and quite a few books. Events like the tour reinforce my commitment to my art and have me jazzed to make new pieces. I appreciate all those who stopped by to take a look, to buy some art or a book, and to talk about art. I am really in my element with these types of things, and again and again I had people tell me that they came to my studio because my art was very different than others on the tour. After seven years, the tour is definitely a big event for the artists of western Loudoun County, and I big heartfelt “Thank You” goes out to the folks who organize and promote the event.

My studio during the tour.

Third, I got a couple of wonderful surprises over the last couple of weeks. First was a beautiful handbound, mini journal from my wonderful friend Erin, aka Bean. I’ll share more about that in a later post. The second surprise came from Strathmore Artists Papers. I came home yesterday to find a box of new hardbound journals from the company. I didn’t even know they were launching a new line of art journals. Similar to their Visual Journals, the hardbound art journals come in a choice of fine art papers and include a 80 lbs. recycled drawing paper, 80 lbs. toned sketch paper (gray or tan), 140 lbs. watercolor paper, and 90 lbs. mixed media paper. They also come in three different sizes; 5.5” x 8.5”, 8.5” x 11”, and 11”x 14”. Because of the heavier paper, the journals contain fewer pages than traditional blank, hardbound sketchbooks, and they are a bit more expensive. I am looking forward to trying them out once I finish my current journal. The timing is interesting because, I was recently thinking about ordering a few new blank journals to have as I wrap up my current journal, but I held off buying any only to receive these wonderful journals. I haven’t seen them available yet at online retailers, but I’m certain that they’ll be coming soon.

Well that's about it for today. There's still more to catch up on and to post, but it will have to wait.

Teen Visual Journal Class

I am teaching a visual journal class June 18-22, 1pm-4pm, for teens (ages 12-18) at the Round Hill Arts Center in Round Hill, VA. It's not too late to sign up, and I am trying to pack the class. If it goes well, I'll offer more in the future, both for teens and adults - maybe even for the younger crowd as well.

And don't forget the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour this weekend from 10am-5pm both days. My studio is almost ready to receive visitors, and I am in a frenzy to complete some last minute artwork and wrap up all the odds and ends.

I'll continue postings for my Change Initiative and the JFJ Challenge after the tour.

A Present for My Readers

One month ago, I declared my resolve to change my life, to become more centered, to reconnect with myself, to be happy. I called this The Change Initiative, and I must say that it's going rather splendidly. I am finding my center. I am finding my calm, and I am finding my balance. Life is such a joy now, and I smile so much more. A lightness has entered me, and I am trying so hard to shine that light onto the world.

As part of that attempt, I have a present for you, dear reader. I'll get to that in a minute. Let me explain what has lead up to this point and to the above journal spread. Back in January, I was feeling an overwhelming need to change my life and to expand my reach. So, I envisioned creating an online workshop centered around the idea of change. A quick search of other online workshops showed me that there had to be a lot of content including pdfs, videos, live chats, and ongoing support. I began to piece together ideas and started to create some content. Well, life began to swing wildly out of control, and the online workshop never materialized (maybe in the future), but I still had a nice document that I had begun. So, I have finished up a 22 page document that walks the reader through the steps that I went through to create the above spread. I photographed a total of 15 steps and wrote up ideas and considerations for each step.

I want to make this short workshop in pdf form available to anyone who would like to have it - my present for all of the support.

Although I document the steps that I took in creating my change spread, I don't want readers to use it as a recipe to make my spread. As with all of my workshops and even with The Journal Junkies Workshop and Journal Fodder 365, I want people to bring their own ideas, techniques, and concepts to the work. I just supply a framework and a peek into how I work.

If you would like a free pdf of this Change workshop, please email me, and I will gladly send you the pdf. As an added bonus I will include a free download of my Change journal spread to the first 30 people who take advantage of this offer.

Please remember that these are for personal use only, and all copyrights apply. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without explicit, written permission. Under NO circumstances can any part be used for commercial purposes or redistributed in any fashion.

Here's to making positive CHANGE!

Mind: Projecting the Shadow

I have been enthralled with the Shadow as of late, and I devoured The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. The shadow is an idea that keeps resonating with me, and I am continuing the exploration of my shadow and beginning to understand when I am projecting.

I often sleep walk through life, unconscious of the many motives that drive me, and in this state the shadow thrives. I have stuffed down all those undesirable things and have denied their existence. I have covered over my anger, my fear, and my desires, and I have gone on with life as normal. Though buried in the unconscious, the shadow manifests in many ways in my everyday life, and it finds way to sabotage my peace of mind. I just need to pay attention to these moments so that I can begin to embrace and disarm the shadow. Only then can I find peace and bring a sense of wholeness to my life.

How do I know when I am projecting?

Projection is actually quite easy to spot, and I am amazed at how readily the shadow shows itself when you know what to look for. However, when I am not mindful, the shadow easily stays disguised, but I am learning to recognize its disguises.

I am projecting anytime my temper flairs for the littlest reason and I lash out. I am projecting when I get defensive and I make others wrong so that I can feel right. I am projecting when I blame someone else and feel that it’s “us vs. them”. I am projecting when I am repulsed and disgusted by others or when I feel good at another’s suffering.

It’s all too easy for me to see these reactions as justifiable - as merely reactions to bad situations or bad people. But this is how the shadow stays hidden. It cloaks itself in reasonableness. But these outbursts and gut reactions are indicators of my shadow lashing out and projecting my fears and my anxieties onto others. When I get angry and lash out at others, I am really angry at myself for certain failings and certain feelings. When I get defensive and see the world as “us vs. them” I am justifying behavior that is probably hypocritical. I seem to say, “It’s not me. I’m not that way. It’s them. It’s their fault.” But it IS really me. I AM really that way. When I am repulsed or disgusted by others, I am only projecting my own revulsion and disgust at myself. In all of these cases, I see something of myself in others - something about myself that I do not like, something that I am ashamed of, something that I fear about myself. These are the dark and negative aspects of my shadow.

The shadow’s projection, however, is not always negative. As Robert Johnson says in Owning Your Shadow, we bury a lot of gold in our shadow. We bury a lot of our strengths and a lot of our potential in our shadow afraid to be seen as bragging. We have learned it’s better to be humble, it’s better to dim our brightness then to shine. “Who does he think he is?” and “Don’t get too big for your britches!” are the sentiments of society that often echo in my head. So, I bury these strengths in my shadow afraid to shine, and whenever I am enthralled, inspired, and overwhelmingly drawn to another, I am projecting. Like the negative projection, these are times when I see something of myself in others, but it’s a much more positive. In The Shadow Effect, Debbie Ford says, “Whatever inspires you is an aspect of yourself.” If I am inspired by someone’s amazing creativity, then I see a glimmer of that creativity in myself even though I may vehemently deny and downplay my creativity. If I am drawn to someone who is spiritual and compassionate, those are qualities that I, too, possess even though I may feel myself to be cold and apathetic. If I am inspired by someone’s charm and charisma, I have these same aspects buried inside of me even though I may believe myself to be socially awkward. All of these qualities that attract me and inspire me are aspects of myself that I see in others. I may need to coax them out of my shadow. I may need to develop them to their fullest potential, but they are there. I possess them, and I can shine brightly if I can only fully embrace them.

The key to embracing the shadow is to catch myself at those moments when I am projecting. Then I can shine a light into my shadow and begin to recognize what’s triggering the projection - the darkness and the light. Only then can I become whole.