New Online Workshop Launches January 1, 2017

Just six days until I launch my new online workshop, Vision: A Visual Journal Workshop. I've worked hard over the last couple of months to put together this four part workshop that goes through the steps that I used to create the above two-page spread.

Focusing on the theme "Vision", I tried to explore what I am envisioning for my future, and what better way to start off the new year. I use simple materials, and walk you through my process to build this richly layered spread.

I have the workshop marked down to a special discounted rate though January 1st, so act fast to save. Come the New Year, the workshop will launch, but it'll be back at it's regular price.

Click Here for more info and to register. I hope that you can be a part of my little adventure!

A Sneak Peek!

Since October, I've been working on a new book, a book that I'd like to self publish by the spring. This solo venture, is based on a couple challenges I've done over the past couple of years, the 15 for 30 Challenge and the Big Idea Challenge, and I've had the idea of packing a book full of such challenges.

We could all use a creative nudge every now and then, especially when we seem to have run out of ideas. We can easily become creatively blocked, and it’s during those times when we could use a little jolt to get the creative juices flowing again. This book will be full of such creative nudges and sparks, and I'm envisioning a book of 365 challenges, a year's worth. Readers will be able to use it everyday, or they'll be able to turn to random challenges when they need a nudge. Some people have criticized Journal Fodder 365 for not having 365 prompts, and in a way I wanted to answer those critiques with this new book.

It took some effort to brainstorm and develop 365 distinct ideas for challenges, and I found that I had to get very specific in order to come up with them all - 365 ideas is truly a lot of ideas. There are challenges with materials, ideas, tools, and techniques, and I've tried to spread them randomly throughout the book so that there is consistently a good mix.

The biggest challenge for me is design. Since my plan is to self publish the book, I need to design it myself, or pay someone else to design it. I'm an artist, but not a graphic designer. It's a challenge to use the software, but I think that I'm getting it figured out. I've written more than a third of the challenges, and I've begun playing around with the page design for the challenges. I'm thinking that the book will be 144 pages with three challenges per page, and I mocked up the first page of challenges just to get an idea of what the pages might look like (See the image above).

This is by no means the final design for the pages, and I'm certain that things will change drastically over the next couple of months. But it helps me to visualize the book.

I just wanted to give you a sneak peek into what I've been doing. I hope that I can pull it all together by spring.

Vision: A Visual Journal Workshop

I've been pretty busy over the past month or so, and I have quite a few things in the works. I've been working on exhibiting my work more. Check out my work currently at Gladiola Girls in Lexington, VA, and I'm scheduled to have an exhibit at one of the local libraries in January and February. Not to mention an exhibit in North Carolina in the spring. In my new role as Program Manager at the Round Hill Arts Center, I've been busy scheduling new classes for the winter and spring, including a couple of classes that I'll be teaching. In addition to all of this, I've been hard at work on several projects, including the new self-published book that I announced back in October, and I just accepted an invitation to be part of someone else's project (more on this later).

In the midst of all of this, I've been working on putting together a new online workshop. It's been nearly a year since I launched my first online workshop, and I had hoped to have several more out by now, but unfortunately life has a way of interceding and time slips away. However, I'm close to finishing the videos and the written tutorial for this new workshop, and my goal is to launch it on January 1, 2017.

Vision: A Visual Journal Workshop is a mini online workshop where I demonstrate making a two-page spread that focuses on the theme vision (you can see a detail of the spread above). I think the theme is quite appropriate for a New Year's release. The workshop focuses on how I build up layers on my pages, and it is packed with techniques and ideas. The best part is that it gives a good "behind the scenes" look at the making of a journal spread. The workshop, as it stands right now, consists of four video segments and a 20 page written tutorial, and I'm hoping to have it up on the website for pre-registration by the end of the week with a pre-registration discount, of course.

Look for more to come!

The Best Gifts are from the heART!

If you're looking for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for the upcoming holidays, I have a number things in the JFJ Big Cartel Shop. Although most of my larger work is on display in Lexington, VA at Gladiola Girls, I have quite a few smaller paintings and mixed media pieces in the shop, including the radiating design above, and the monster painting below.

I also have some polymer clay monster sculptures and monster pendants.

And for the teacher in your life, there are digital downloads!

Finally, I have an online workshop that I launched last year!

Check out all of my goodies, and act fast so things can ship in time for Christmas!


I've been attracted to mandalas lately. Well, I guess that I have been attracted to them for quite some time. I've always seen my radiating designs as mandalas of sorts, but it hasn't been until now that I have pursued making more formal mandalas. 

It wasn't until I saw the movie Doctor Strange that I decided to explore mandalas of my own. There was something intriguing in the way mandala designs were used within the movie. I've never read the comic books, so I don't know if these sacred circles were part of their visual vocabulary. But I was fascinated by the visual impact in the movie, and I had to start making my own. I didn't copy the ones from the movie, and there are lots of mandala images, resources, and tutorials on the web. But I needed to find my own way.

I grabbed a compass, a ruler, pencil, eraser, and my Faber-Castell Pitt Pens, and began exploring. I'm in the initial stages now of experimenting, and I don't know where this is leading. But that is the fun and excitement of art. An idea takes root, and through cultivation, you get to see it grow and change and bloom.

Have you created mandalas? What drew you to them? What insight did you take away from making them?

21 SECRETS Retirement Sale!

21 SECRETS Spring and Fall 2015 are being retired by Dirty Footprints Studio, and that means Retirement Sale!

If you want to save $30 off the $98 regular price on this jam-packed set of workshops, act fast. This sale starts today, November 28 and lasts through Saturday, December 3! After this date, the 2015 workshops will no longer be available for purchase, but buyers will have lifetime access to all content and videos.

We were very grateful to be part of the Spring 2015 workshops, so if you want to take advantage of this awesome deal, use the coupon code: RETIRE, and check out the 21 SECRETS website!

New Job!

I am excited to announce that come December 1, I'll officially be the new Program Manager at the Round Hill Arts Center. Right now I'm doing some work behind the scenes as I learn the ropes and ease into things. It seems a little strange that after 20 years of teaching art in the public schools to have a position that isn't directly linked to public schools, though this new position is all about art and teaching. In my new role, I'll be responsible for scheduling a variety of classes, events, and programs the center has to offer. Not only will I be bringing in some fabulous local artists to teach at the center, but I will also have the opportunity to teach some workshops myself. It's a part-time position which will give me time to work on my art and my own projects, and I'll still be able to travel and offer workshops in a variety of venues.

I'm so excited to start this new adventure, and I think that it will fit in well with what I'm envisioning for myself. So keep a look out for things to come!

Fall Conferences

The view from the hotel in Naples, FL
This fall has been extremely busy with travel, exhibitions, yard sales, and more, but the biggest thing has been the conferences. Over the past few years, Dave and I have been very fortunate to be able to attend at least two fall art education conferences each year, and this year was no exception.

Working on the keynote for FAEA
October found us in Naples, Florida presenting at the Florida Art Education Association's Conference where we gave a talk about being artists and educators. We even tied in my analogy of teaching being a giant hairball, and aptly enough we titled it The Artist, the Educator, and the Hairball.

Dave giving some directions during our workshop

We also led a hands-on workshop on the visual journal, and had a good group of art educators engaging, reflecting, and creating.

Dave's journal during the FAEA workshop
Later in October, I presented solo at a completely new venue for a completely different audience. I was honored to present at the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Conference in Tysons Corner, VA. At the urging of my wife, who is a licensed veterinary technician, and a good friend, who is a veterinarian, I put in a proposal for using the visual journal as a means to cope with the stress and grief of pet loss. It was nice to present to a different audience on the power of art and the visual journal.

The conference packet and my journal page for the IAAHPC Conference

Dave was able to attend the West Virginia Art Education Association's Fall Conference in Daniels, WV. He presented multiple seminars and hands-on workshops to a new audience of art educators. (Sorry, I don't have any photos.)

A view of the mountains from the town of Breckenridge.
And finally, Dave and I just got back from Breckenridge, Colorado for the Colorado Art Education Association's Fall Conference, where we presented a keynote and two hands-on workshops. We stuck with the same topic that we used in Florida for our keynote, and we presented a workshop on opening up to creativity and one on the visual journal.

Journaling in our room at the CAEA Conference
It's been an awesome month of connection, and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with and inspiring not only art educators, but also folks in the veterinary field. I feel truly at home when I'm sharing my art, myself, and the power of the visual journal, and as a self-employed artist, I am now free to do more of this type of thing. I am truly grateful to everyone responsible for making these events happen, and allowing me to share my journey and my passion.

Workshop participants priming the pump of creativity
If you'd like to share in the journey, make certain to check out all of our upcoming events. If you'd like for us to come to your school, your association, or your studio, please contact us, and we can work out the details. We are always looking for more opportunities to share and connect.

Dave gearing up for our CAEA keynote
Thank you to all the board members and all the membership of the FAEA, IAAHPC, WVAEA, and CAEA for making it all happen.

Keynote selfie

Art teachers just gotta make some art!

Artwork in Lexington, VA

I spent a beautiful day yesterday driving to Lexington, VA to hang up sixteen pieces of art at Gladiola Girls at 34 S. Main Street. Although the shop sells mostly women's clothing, they do sell some homewares and other miscellaneous accessories, and there was ample wall space for my pieces.

I took primarily newer work, much of it completed in the past four or five months, but I also took a couple of my larger, older Excavation pieces to hang.

I might be biased, but I think that my art complements the contents of the shop quite nicely. If you're in the Lexington, VA area, make certain to stop by and check out my work. It'll be up for all of November, and original artwork makes for the best presents for the holidays!