Challenge #28: Just Let Go

How can you step out of your scripts and just let go?

We encounter many things in life that make us stand still - a lost love or a broken heart, getting laid off or being skipped over for a promotion, or falling victim to bad advice or broken promises. We can’t control these situations, but we can control how we react to them. We run these things through our minds over and over as fears of inferiority and inadequacy invade our thoughts. We struggle with thoughts of how we don’t measure up to the abilities or achievements of others getting caught up in our scripts and self-talk. Don’t give in and allow the doubt to take over your decision making. Let go of your hesitation, and understand that you can do anything that you dedicate your energy to fulfilling.

Do you constantly compare yourself to others? Do you still hold on to the idea that ‘perfect’ exists? Do you always seem to find a way to talk yourself out of the things you want most? What scripts or self-talk do you most want to let go of? Can you find ways of letting go?


Today is my 38th birthday, and with it being so close to the end of the year, my birthday is always a time for reflection. It has become my habit to journal about those thoughts, meditations, and reflections, but following the lead of last year, I wanted to share my thoughts here. Also, like last year, I wanted to share a piece of art that I made stating my rules for the studio. I adapted these from Patti Digh as well as others, and you can read my take on these rules here. Feel free to print this artwork out and post it in your studio or work space.

I am in the process of uncluttering my life. I am amazed out how much stuff - both emotional and physical - has accumulated in my life. When you are in a place long enough, stuff just seems to pile up. The uncluttering began earlier in the year when I moved my studio from the guest bedroom to the garage, and I sorted through so much and got rid of so much. It continued as my wife decided to go through the countless boxes, bins, and bags in our crawl space. And over the last month, I have sorted through old toys, letters, keepsakes, memorabilia, and all sorts of other stuff. I was amazed at what I have held onto for all of these years. I decided to keep only the most treasured and sentimental things, and rid myself of everything else. Most of it went into a number of trash bags, the paper stuff went into the recycling bin, and some if it will go to the second hand store. And all the while, I felt myself clinging to these things and hesitating to get rid of it all. But the realization that it all would just sit in the boxes and bins being all useless and simply taking up space allowed me to let go.

I am just holding onto the most important things and letting go of that which simply does not matter. I am freeing myself of the past that has followed me all of these years and has weighed me down. All of this stuff has taken up space for growth, and I am shedding it and making room. There is still so much more to go through, so much more room to free up, but I am working through it.

What would happen if we simply let go? What if we held onto the most dear pieces and just let go of all the rest? Could we free ourselves and give ourselves some much needed room to grow?

Challenge #27: Bury the Doubt

How can you bury the doubt and champion your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?

We are our own worst critics, focusing on the negative things about our work and about ourselves, especially when we stumble and fall. However, we can be our own biggest cheerleaders, by seeing mistakes and disappointments as opportunities for growth and perseverance, but we must silence the nagging doubts. Picking ourselves up when we have fallen affirms the power we possess to overcome the misgivings and uncertainties that we have been placed upon ourselves. In order to rally towards greater achievements, we must learn from our defeats, bury our doubts, and move forward.

What are you doubting? What inadequacies have you convinced yourself of? How have you persevered through the rough patches, and uncovered your self confidence?

New Work

Search, 5"x7"
I have been busy as usual with school, home, and life in general, but I have been able to experiment with new materials and a new paper in a variety of new works. These two works were created with a process that has become my usual modus operandi lately. See Spontaneity vs. Structure for more details about the process.

Using Strathmore's new 400 series mixed media paper as my surface, I layered Derwent Inktense pencils first, and then used Prismacolor colored pencil to finish them. (You can see parts of these in progress in this post - they're peaking out beside and underneath the Inktense pencils.) I like the variety of colors offered by the Inktense pencils, and I am trying to rethink my color choices so I'm not always going back to the same colors again and again. I am liking the Inktense so far.

I have recently experimented with Strathmore's hot press watercolor paper, but it has a slight texture which interferes with the fine detail work of the colored pencil. The mixed media paper is weighted like watercolor paper, but has a smooth surface, making it good for my process. The paper is a little "soft" making it a little difficult to get the really dark values with the pencil, but overall, I am quite pleased with it.

Structure 1, 5"x7"

Challenge #26:Hopes and Fears

What are the fears that are holding you back from living the life you hope for?

We have dreams about where we want to be in five years, ten years, or maybe even twenty. However, the things that we want most are sometimes the things we are most afraid to go after. We wish for big things, but are afraid they will not come true. There is always a reason we put off receiving the joy and the happiness we deserve. Many times it is other people telling us why our dream is too lofty and sometimes it is our own self-talk that gets in the way. Subdue the fears and focus your energy towards realizing the hopes and dreams that you value and hold closest to your heart.

What do you want to see yourself doing with your life? What are your biggest hopes and dreams? How can you achieve them? What are your worst fears and nightmares? Are they legitimate or imagined?

Challenge #25: Getting It All Out

Life is finally calming down, and I am finding time to begin the challenges again. The theme for the month is Facing Doubt and Just Letting Go, and what more appropriate theme could there be for wrapping up another year.

What emotional baggage do you need to unpack?

We all have things eating us up inside. There are moments when someone does something to us and we want to give them a piece of our mind, but hold our tongues. We bury the pain and hurt deep within ourselves. Bottling up these negative thoughts and feelings can be very unhealthy. When something is bothering you, just get it out, vent and dump the emotions. View your writing as a conversation with a close friend or a way to get a full release from these energy-draining burdens. Unburden your soul, and get it all out.

What do you have pushed down and buried deep within? What negative thoughts do you harbor inside your heart or mind? What frustrations do you need to uncork and pour our?
Remember to share a link to your response in the comments.

New Cover and Other News

A recent search of Amazon showed that the new book is listed for pre-order, so I figure that I would share an image of the cover. The book should drop in July or August 2012. Can't wait.

As for other news, Dave and I have just wrapped up our busy fall with a weekend at the Virginia Art Education Association's Fall Conference in Roanoke, VA and another weekend at Art of the Carolinas in Raliegh, NC. The conference was great, and we conducted two presentations and two hands-on workshops. All were well attended, and we got a lot of positive feedback.

Art of the Carolinas was a blast, and our two workshops went very well. Strathmore Artist Papers sponsored the workshops and generously gave each participant one of their 9"x12" mixed media Visual Journals. They were more conceptual in nature, and we focused more on process than product. We even implemented a few new techniques that will probably become pretty standard in our workshops. One was the idea of stream of consciousness doodling. Similar to stream of consciousness writing, this creativity exercise enables one to let the ideas flow. Thanks to Strathmore rep Don Bradley for setting up the weekend for us.

Along with the workshops, Jerry's Artarama conducts a huge art sale filling a ballroom at the hotel with every conceivable art material. I took advantage of the discounted prices and picked up a 72 color set of Derwent's Inktense pencils. Similar to watercolor pencil, Inktense pencils are water-soluble ink pencils, and I have been having fun this week experimenting with them. Some of my attempts can be seen in the photo above.

Busy Fall

Dave working in his journal during lunch at the Brandywine River Museum.
It always seems that I'm writing about how busy I am, but this fall has been one of the busiest. So the JFJ Challenge has been put on hold again as Dave and I present at fall conferences and finish up the manuscript for the new book. I hope to start it back up in November or December, but for the time being there is just so much going on.

So far, we have presented for the Delaware and North Carolina Art Education Associations, and we are scheduled to present at the Virginia Art Ed. Conference in a couple of weeks. We gave a well-received presentation to about 65 art teachers from Delaware at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, and we got to tour the museum which features a large collection of the Wyeth's work including N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. We want to thank Jen Boland for setting up the opportunity.

Dave at the Mint Museum in Charlotte
In Charlotte, we presented about the approaches, applications, and assessments of the visual journal in the classroom at all levels. We also presented a hands-on workshop to a small, but enthusiastic group. And Dave gave an update for his 100 Visual Journals for North Carolina Project.

But our travels and presentations are not over yet. In November, watch for us at the VAEA Conference in Roanoke where we present four different times. Our hands-on workshops are already nearly filled, and we are looking forward to sharing new ideas during two general presentations.

Dave sharing his journal during the hands-on workshop in Charlotte.
All through this travel and presenting, we have been working on the manuscript for the new book. We sent off the finished manuscript yesterday and will be tying up some loose ends throughout the week. We can't wait for it to hit bookshelves in 2012.

And if this wasn't enough we have Jerrt's Artarama's Art of the Carolinas coming up the week after the VAEA Conference, November 12-13, where we present two 3 hour workshops. On Saturday evening we present Visual Journals: Personal Mythologies, and Sunday Morning, we present Visual Journals: Compulsions and Obsessions. If you are in the Raleigh, NC area, we still have room in both workshops. We would love to pack each one.

That's it for now. I just wanted to get a quick update out there.

Upcoming Events

I'll be part of a book signing this weekend as part of the Waterford Foundation's annual fair. This annual fall festival is one of our favorites, and my wife and I try to go every year. The Waterford Fair is a celebration of the historical heritage of Waterford, VA with 150 juried crafts people, food, entertainment, and Civil War reenactments.

The Book Nook will be hosting signings by local authors all three days of the fair. I'll be signing copies of The Journal Junkies Workshop, working in my journal, and sharing my process with people from 10 AM to 2 PM, on Sunday, October 9.

If you are in Northern Virginia this weekend, I highly recommend stopping by the fair, and if you're at the fair, stop by and say hello.

See the Waterford Foundation's website for more information.


The deadline for the new new book is quickly approaching, and Dave and I are in the middle of some majoring editing. Meeting up halfway between Boone, NC and Purcellville, VA, we sequestered ourselves in a hotel in Roanoke, VA this past weekend to plod through the first half of the book.

We split the book in half, and each wrote six chapters. Although we both have read, reread, and edited our respective chapters, we wanted to make certain that one voice speaks throughout. Slowly we made our way through the intro and the first chapter. These two sections by far took the longest time, mostly because they were written when we first proposed the book back in March, long before we had the photo shoot, sat and discussed the outline, and before we wrote the bulk of the book. But we hit a groove with the chapters after that. We have two and half weeks to get through the other chapters, and are confident that it will be done. There is nothing like a looming deadline to motivate you.

But we feel really good about this book, and it's nice to work with someone who you are so in synch with. Time and again this past weekend, we finished each other's sentences and had the some thought or idea. And the vision of the book became clearer and clearer as we worked. We are really looking forward to this thing hitting stores next summer, and in some ways it is a much better book than the first - at least a lot different and more focused.

We'll the keep updates as frequently as we can, but we both have been very busy.