Journal Friday #81: Discovering Ideas


The journal is definitely a place for ideas to develop and grow, and I often pay attention to the things that keep popping up on my pages — images, colors, words, themes. There are always new ideas to discover, and over the past couple of weeks, I have been discovering something new.

And it started with my monsters. For the past three years, I have been drawing, painting, collaging, and sculpting cute, grumpy, sad, and silly monsters. I was inspired by a fourth grader my last year of teaching, and since then, monsters have been a line of inquiry that I’ve explored, often separate from my journal and my other work. However, over the past couple of weeks another idea or line of inquiry has been taking root.

Artwork by John Kenn Mortensen

Artwork by John Kenn Mortensen


Looking for new directions for these little beasts, I looked at the work of Danish artist John Kenn Mortensen. He draws monsters that are definitely creepier and scarier than mine, and he often draws them on sticky notes. Has has even published a book of these monsters called sticky Monsters. There is a quality about his work that fascinates me. But I don’t want to simply copy another’s work, so as I was looking through images of his work, and idea struck me. I noticed that some of his monsters didn’t seem scary or threatening, but rather more protective, as if they were guardians of sorts.

That notion of guardians got my creative juices flowing, and I began to doodle and draw, eventually adding these guardians to my journal. I don’t see these as monsters, but as spirits, and yesterday, I solidified some of these ideas as I added to my pages.


I’m not certain where these ideas will go, but I’m enjoying taking my art in a new direction.

Journal Friday #80: Animated Journal Spread


For this week’s Journal Friday, I just had to make an animated video of a journal page. Using Stop Motion Studio, I created a short video that shows the evolution of a spread.

I began with using Prang watercolor paint. These inexpensive paints are bright and vibrant, and are perfect for the journal. I then used purple Prismacolor watercolor pencil to add some rectangles on top of the dried paint. Next I used a black uni-ball Vision pen to draw rectangles and straight lines, and I outlined the shapes with watercolor pencil. Then I added some cut paper collage using Daler Rowney Cranford paper. I wrapped up the video with red ink spirals and a stylized face in black ink.

This was only my second attempt at animating artwork, and I am quite pleased with it. I hope that you like it!

Animated Art Video

Last week, I was in Richmond, VA for the Virginia Art Education Association’s annual conference, where I presented two lectures and a hands-on workshop. I was also able to attend several other talks and workshops, as well as catch up with colleagues and friends.

The session that had my mind buzzing the most was a workshop by Greenwood Elementary art teacher, April Barlett. This simple workshop was all about using stop motion animation with elementary students, and it really had the ideas popping.

More than 20 years ago, I took an animation class as part of my education at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, but back then, it was all done with traditional film cameras. You were never certain how it turned out until the film was developed weeks later. It’s amazing that there are apps now that you can download to you phone, tablet, or computer.

I played around with the app on my iPad during April’s session, and though I no longer teach public school, I couldn’t help thinking of a variety of ways that I could use this with my kids classes at the Round Hill Arts Center. But more excitedly, I couldn’t help think of ways that I could use it in my own studio. So, I made this short film using Strathmore mixed media paper, Prang watercolor, Prismacolor watercolor pencil, and my uni-ball Vision pen.

I can’t wait to try it out with other art.

My Creative Journey is now available!


I can’t believe that my new book My Creative Journey has been published! It seems like I just started working on it, and it was just a week ago that I was announcing that it was finished when I shared a look at the cover. It’s amazing how different self-publishing is to traditional publishing.

When David and I published our first book, The Journal Junkies Workshop, it took about two years to go from acceptance to publication. With My Creative Journey, I mulled over the idea of self publishing for a couple of years, but I’ve only worked on the book for the past two months. In early August, I began photographing and editing pages from my journals figuring out things as I went along. I’m computer savvy, but I am by no means a wiz with Photoshop or InDesign, and there were a lot of challenges. But I plodded along putting in hours and hours of work to get the book together.

I wrapped everything up a week ago, and uploaded it to Kindle Direct Publishing, and ordered a proof. I don’t sound very excited in the video that I recorder this past Monday, but I really was. The book looks gorgeous, and it is truly how I imagined it. The quality is awesome - from the paper to the printing, and I’m even more excited now that I got notification on Tuesday that the book was live on

I mean, wow! Wow! WOW!

Just like that, the book is out there and people are ordering it. I’ve ordered a bunch to be able to sell in person, and I can’t wait to get them. But it somehow feels a bit surreal, like did I just really do that - put together a book and publish it in two months?

And, YES! Yes I did, and I can’t wait to hear what people think of it! If you get a copy, please let me know what you think, and please leave a review on Amazon.

Journal Pages Cover.jpg

Oder your copy today! And of course, I appreciate any help in spreading the word! So, please share, post, and give shout outs where you can. As always, Thank you for all of the support!


New Book!

Journal Pages Cover.jpg

I am thrilled to say that I am publishing a new book, and this time, it’s a physical book that you can hold in your hands and flip through. Ever since David and I published The Journal Junkies Workshop and Journal Fodder 365 with North Light Books, we’ve been wanting to publish a book of just journal pages. Unfortunately we’ve been turned down by North Light, as well as several other publishers, but I’ve been mulling over the idea of self publishing a book for quite a while now. Well, it’s almost a reality.

I know that I’ve posted on various social media outlets over the past couple of months and written a couple of blogposts, but I wanted to drop an official announcement and release an image of the cover. So, with any luck My Creative Journey: Select Journal Pages, will hit some time within the next two weeks.

I’ve worked for the past two months to photograph and edit pages from the first 10 volumes of journals (I have over 24), and I put together nearly 70 two-page spreads in chronological order in this new book. I ramped up my work this past week and finished photographing, designing, writing, editing, and creating the cover, and last night I uploaded the completed manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon is phasing out their CreateSpace platform). I’m just waiting for a proof copy of the book, and hopefully, it will be ready for publication very soon. Despite the name of Amazon’s new self-publishing platform, an author can publish Kindle and/or print versions.

This is a book of just my journal pages, and hopefully, we can get a volume of David’s pages published in the near future as well. But in the meantime, I wanted this new book to fit in with our other books, so it’ll be the same size - 8.5”x11” with 144 pages. I even designed the cover to be similar to our other books, but inside you’ll find a series of 2-page spreads, no techniques, no writing prompts, just pure journal goodness.

I’m super excited!

I’ll post once the book is available.

Journal Friday #77


As I work to put together my book of journal pages, I am struck by a few things. First, I’m struck by the amount of white in the earlier journals. The early journals contain a lot of pages that feel empty and unresolved. Even the more resolved pages have a lot white.

Second, I’m struck by the amount of photos and image transfers in these early journals. I had access to a color laser printer, and I printed a lot of my own photos, especially of myself. I used a lot of these print outs as collage materials for the pages and as image transfers.

Finally, I’m struck by the shallow layers. Though there’s some layering in the pages, they’re not as richly layered as my later pages. It took me quite some time to develop the techniques for layering that are a hallmark of my journals now.

It’s always nice to take a trip down memory lane with these early journals. Here are some pages that probably won’t be in the book.

Journal Friday #76: Artistic Acts and Going Back


I have mentioned before that the visual journal process for me is not a linear process. I don’t complete a page or spread and then move to the next. I add bits and pieces completing little actions that accumulate in the journal and allow pages to develop slowly.

Some pages stall, and I come back to them months later and add to them. Revisiting pages time and time again allows me to reflect on them, mulling over the possibilities. Underdeveloped pages often catch my eye, but I often pass them by until finally an idea strikes and I add to them.


Such was the case this week, as I turned to two simple artistic acts using two of my favorite materials to add layers to pages — some of which were started months ago.


I love water-soluble pencil, and Derwent Inktense pencils are some of my favorite. These pencils contain a water-soluble ink that is bright, and most importantly, transparent. I love building layers with them. So I flipped through my pages and found some underdeveloped spots to add color and layers. I simply used water to spread pigment — a technique that I probably use 95% of the time.

Derwent Inktense Pencils

Derwent Inktense Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

I also turned to colored pencil to develop one of my two-page spreads as well. I’ve been using Faber-Castell Polychromos a lot recently in some stand alone works, so I decided to use them on the spread at the top of the post. These pencils are smooth and rich, and they are ideal for working in on top of the Inktense. They allow for a more finished and polished look, and they’re great for fine tuning color and edges. I find that I can get a lot of depth with them.

So, this week has just been about returning to some favorite materials and some simple artistic acts to go back to pages that were begun months ago. I love when these stagnant pages can find new direction and momentum.