Journal Friday #73: Legacy


Although I normally dabble here and there in a journal and rarely focus on a single page or spread, today I decided to devote much energy to the spread above.


It all started with a hike this morning. I live very close to a section of the Appalachian trail here in Northern Virginia, and I've hiked it hundreds of times, but I haven't hike it much lately. With the weather a bit on the cool side this morning, I decided to head out to the trail. Without going into much detail, as I hiked, my mind wandered and twisted with the trail, and before long I had a bit of a cathartic moment. It was quite unexpected, and I became quite emotional as I realized how we all must contend with legacy - not only our legacy, but the legacy that is left through us. This legacy can, at times, be something that we must contend with and deal with.


In that moment, I confronted a legacy of darkness - a legacy passed onto to me, and I realized that I am tired of carrying around the negativity, the judgment, and the anger. I want to carry light and compassion and wonder. I want to shine. I'm not sure where to go from here, but having a moment of realization is a start.

We all have to deal with legacy in one way or another.

First Day of School


Today is the first day of school for area kids. This will be the third first day of school since I stepped away from teaching a little more than two years ago, and as many of my teacher friends have already been back at school for a while getting their rooms ready, planning for a new year, attending professional development, and sitting through meetings, today will be the first day with students.

I don't miss it! I miss working with students. I miss the friendships with colleagues, but I don't miss the hassle and the hustle of being a public school art teacher. Two years ago I stepped away, and I don't regret a minute of it.

Although it hasn't always been easy, things have been working out. Bills have been getting paid, and I am surviving. It's still a hustle to schedule and promote classes. It's still a lot of work to make art and to sell it, but month after month things fall into place. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for everyone who comes out for a class, for everyone who has purchased art, and for everyone who has supported me in any way - small or big.

So, while I wish all of my teacher friends a good first day of school and an awesome new school year, I am glad that it's no longer me in the classroom.

I'll be in the studio, plotting my course and planning what's next!

Journal Friday #72


This week I had a bit of a break from teaching summer camps, so I was able to make it into the studio a few times, and I focused on a couple of things in the journal.

First, I began developing ideas further for a possible book and/or workshop. I haven't solidified anything definite, but I've been thinking about creativity a lot lately. I began some preliminary reflections a few weeks ago, but this week I started running through some of the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head trying to flesh out some of them. I've come up with a few things, and hopefully, I can start putting together a bit more formal soon. But the journal is the perfect place to develop the ideas and to experiment and explore a variety of techniques and processes.

I also worked to fill in certain shapes and spaces - everything from simply coloring in drawn letters with highlighter to experimenting with a couple of faces to adding some connection imagery to a page.

I'm more than 7 months into the big journal, and I probably have something started on about half of the pages, but I would say that there is probably only a handful that feel resolved. That's one of the nice things with my approach. Pages get slowly built up over time, and there's no stress on "finishing" pages.

Journal Friday #71: Ball Point Pen


I feel like a broken record, but it's been another busy week, so I turned to a simple material and a simple technique as I found some time to work in the journal this week. Sometimes it's nice to turn to a straight forward idea that doesn't take a lot of thought, planning, or prep time. So this week, I pulled out a mundane ball point pen and added shading to several pages. the materials used in the journal don't have to be top of the line artists materials, and often ordinary, everyday materials can have great results. This cheap, ubiquitous pen is no different and can be used in sophisticated ways to create value changes and bring focus to shapes, letters, and areas.

It's been a while since I've used ball point pen in my journal, and I used to use it quite often. So it was nice to spend some time revisiting such a simple and easy material. Sometimes simple is better.


Teaching at John C. Campbell Folk School

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I am beyond excited! I'm teaching a week long class at the renown John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC! Since Dave and I began teaching workshops thirteen or fourteen years ago, I've dreamt of teaching at the Folk School, and thanks to good friend and artist Erin Keane, I have a workshop scheduled for January 2019. Erin has taught at the Folk School and put me in touch with the right people. Thank you so much, Erin!

As I talked with the folks at the school, it became apparent that the workshop couldn't be your ordinary journal or mixed media workshop, and I kept coming back to this notion of what do you do with a blank book. The center offers a variety of bookmaking classes, but what happens to the book when completed? Many students create these amazing handbound books but don't know what to do in them afterward or are a bit intimidated by the blank pages. So, I developed a slightly different approach to working in a blank book, whether handmade or store-bought. I began thinking about creating a visual narrative or thread that ran through the book - about how one page relates to the next, and a workshop was born.

Using a variety of materials, techniques, letterforms, and much more, students will spend five days delving into pages of their own. We will explore painting, cutting, printmaking, and so much more. I am truly excited to work with a group of students for such a sustained endeavor!

I invite you to join me Sunday, January 20 through Friday, January 25 for Beyond Blank Pages at the John C. Campbell Folk School. You can find more info on the Folk School website.

The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge: Part 11 - Ebook

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This summer has been extremely busy, and I've fallen behind in getting the last two installments of the The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge completed. I'm afraid that I've fallen a couple of months behind, but I finally have Part 11 finished! It's up for sale in the Shop, so stop by and check out the latest installment.

In the latest part you'll find 30 new daily challenges to get your visual journaling and art making going. Use it for your own personal inspiration, or if you're a teacher, use it with your students. Like all the books in the series, it's just 5 bucks for a 80MB PDF!

Check it out!

Journal Friday #70


For the past couple of weeks I've been doing a lot of reflecting in my journal in the form of writing and text embellishments. Specifically, I've been reflecting on creativity and the possibility of creating a workshop designed to help people connect with their creativity.

Though there was some actual reflecting with writing, most of the reflecting was done while embellishing text. By working on outlining, filling, and drawing text, I was able to allow my mind to turn the ideas over and over. I haven't worked out the details, but the ideas are starting to take shape and gel.

Art and Soul: Virginia Beach 2018


I'm excited to be heading to Virginia Beach in October to teach another round of Art and Soul. I'll be teaching three workshops, and I'd love to have you join me in the creative fun.

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I kick off the week with my Monster Maker Workshop as an evening class on Monday, October 1 from 6:30-9:30 PM, so come on out and get in touch with your inner mad scientist as we create cute or scary or silly creatures and monsters!

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On Tuesday, October 2, I'll be teaching my popular Stencil Savvy class where students learn the basics of creating and cutting their very own stencils. So, if you love using stencils, but want to learn to create your own, please join me from 6:30 to 9:30 PM.


And finally, I'll be teaching my Luminous Liquid Layers as an all-day workshop on Thursday, October 4, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Come out and join me in learning to use liquid acrylics to create layered work that seems to glow!

I hope you can join me in one or all of my workshops in Virginia Beach!

Journal Friday #69: Subtlety and Investigation


It's been a busy week, so I've turned once again to some simple techniques to keep myself working in the journal. I focused mainly on shading with graphite and colored pencil to keep my hand moving. This added some subtle results to the pages, but not everything in the journal has to be big and grand. 

Like I said, it's been a busy week. I've been teaching a high school summer art program, but as the students worked, I was able to explore some ideas in the journal. Based on some recent colored pencil work on black paper, I've been investigating the notion of holes. I've explored these ideas on and off over the past five or six years, and the ideas have floated back up to the surface. I want to explore them more and figure why this notion appeals to me and what I want to do with it, so, I've been sketching and reflecting in the journal. I haven't come to any solid conclusions, but that's the beauty of art - the journey to discovery.


Journal Friday #68: Processing


The journal is an ideal place for processing the good and the bad of life, and over the past few weeks I have been feeling a lot of anxiety over what has been happening in this country. I don't want to get all political, but the divisiveness, the eroding away of so many things, the hate, and so, so much more. It's all been getting to me, and so I turned to my journal throughout the week.

I really thought that I'd delve into a new two-page spread or at least work on a spread that I already began, and create something specific and purposeful. But instead, I found myself returning to some simple techniques like embellishing words, doodling, painting, working with watercolor pencil, and even drawing in a calendar. All of these techniques are simple and don't require a lot of concentration, so my mind was free to wander and ponder. And it dawned on me that you don't have to do something poignant and deep to process emotions. Just giving yourself the space to sort through the thoughts and feelings can do wonders.

Now I'm not a licensed art therapist. I'm just a guy that's done a lot of work in my journal, and I know that the journal helps me to sort through issues. Though I didn't come to any cathartic conclusion this week, I've been able to come to terms with some of the anxiety and worry, and I'm filled with a bit more optimism.