Friday, April 17, 2015

Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour

I can't believe that I have yet to mention on here that I will once again be part of the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour. This will be my fourth time as part of tour, and the tour celebrates it's 10th Anniversary with more than 60 artists spread throughout the western part of the county. I will open my garage studio in Purcellville, VA to the public the weekend of June 20 and 21. So mark your calendars and make arrangements to head out to Northern Virginia to see some great art in June. For more information, please visit the tour website.

I can't wait to share my work with everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Journal Pages

Today, I simply want to share a journal spread. This is from one of my latest journals - one that I am currently transitioning out of and soon to be retired.

This spread contains a lot of fodder from October, 2014 to January, 2015. Since I don't work linearly in the journal, things from different time periods get juxtaposed creating, not a sequential order, but a general feel of an expanse of time and place.

Though this spread contains little of my own writing, I really like it, and I want to use it as a model to create other work. I really dig how the web ties in to the collaged elements. I want to try this more mixed media approach on some wood panels I have gessoed in the studio. So many ideas.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shifting Focus

I have come to the realization that I have been in quite a funk the last few years. I wouldn’t call it a full blown depression, but I have definitely not been myself. I have been anxious, angry, and frustrated because my life hasn't been what I was expecting - what I was hoping it would be.

When David and I first got into visual journals, we had no idea where it would all lead. We were just two artists looking for a way to stay connected to our own art since our jobs as art educators often pulled us away from the studio and away from our art. For me, the journal was a way to connect with myself and to connect with my art making. It got me back into creating, and I grew in ways I could have never imagined.

After a few years of immersing ourselves in the journal, we saw a need to share our journals and our process with people, and things quickly began to take off. We went from sharing informally with fellow educators and artists, to sharing at conferences, workshops, and seminars. The Journal Junkies Workshop grew out of those presentations and hands-on workshops, and it was an amazing thing to see so many people respond so positively to the book. It seemed like we were poised for things to take off even more - ready for something even bigger, and with the publication of our second book, Journal Fodder 365, my focus began to shift. I started thinking about how much I enjoyed the conferences and the workshops, and conventions, and there seemed to be a growing demand for what we had to offer. I began to consider the possibility of stepping away from teaching public school and into the world of a full time artist that taught workshops around the country, sold books and art, and gave talks motivating and inspiring others.

I was starting to see this as a way to make a living - a way to pay bills - a way to make a buck. I lost track of the reason why I was doing all of this in the first place. All those years ago, I had begun sharing the journal as a way to connect with other people - as a way to help them with their artistic and personal growth, but my focus shifted to wanting to make a living - wanting to make money. My aim became how can I step away from my career as a public school art educator and be a full time artist, presenter, workshop instructor. I became more and more dissatisfied with teaching, and plotted and schemed harder and harder trying to make my “dream” happen. But the more I tried, the further away it seemed. Things popped up that got in the way draining me emotionally and financially. No matter what, I was still were I was and not moving any closer to what I thought that I wanted. Actually, things seemed to back sliding. I became miserable at school feeling trapped and unappreciated - feeling angry and lost - feeling like I was treading water barely keeping my head above the surface.

I got lost in thoughts of “One of these days…” and I begin to despise where I was constantly feeling like I was not moving any closer to my dream. I got lost in the whole ego of the situation feeling that I wanted to be somewhere else - to be someone else. I looked at others who I felt were making it, and I made excuses why they had been successful, and why I hadn’t. It became me against the world. I was a victim of circumstances, and if circumstances were different, then it would be me that had the success. But a realization dawned on me - an awakening that finally made me see that the misery - the dissatisfaction was just a story that I was telling myself - the sad, poor me story that made people into enemies and situations into hopeless circumstances.

I realized that I had lost my way and my reason. I hadn’t written the books with Dave to make money or to make a living. I wrote them to share what I did with people knowing that there were many like me who want to make and create - who wanted to change their lives. I knew what power the visual journal held, and that’s why I wrote the books and presented at conferences and art retreats. I wanted to share and to connect. As I lost sight of that, I had stopped connecting. I had stopped so many things and isolated myself and shut part of myself off. I didn’t want to be shut down and closed off anymore.

One of my big revelations recently has been that we are always where we need to be. If we needed to be somewhere else, we would be there and not here. We might not exactly like where we are, but we are where we are because there is something we need to do - something we need to learn. We can’t ignore our present reliving the past and hoping for a certain future. We have to be in the moment that is NOW. By becoming present and by realizing that it was the thoughts about the future that were making me miserable, I realized that now is the only time that I have, and I can choose to be happy and choose to make of my life what I want now.

So I dedicating myself to reconnecting - reconnecting with myself - reconnecting with my art - and reconnecting with people. That is why I am here - to connect and share. I can’t do that in a future that will never come. I must do that now. Now is the only time I have. So, I have decided to stop withholding myself and what I have to offer from the world wallowing around in my sad, woe-is-me stories of lack. I have decided to stop living for a future that will never come. I have decided that in the here and now I will lay myself out there for others and try in every way to connect. I have decided to stop making the present an enemy and accept that I am where I need to be, and if I can truly hold that space for others, I will experience such abundance and happiness no matter where I am. I have decided that I am no longer waiting for that one day when everything is right with the world. I have decided that day is now - today - this very moment.

If I can live fully in the present moment, the universe will take care of me. The misery, anger, frustration have eased. I still have my moments when I catch myself conjuring the negative self-talk, feeling the frustration, but then I remind myself that I can only be where I am - HERE and NOW. There is no other place. I will stop trying to force something to happen, and simply abide in the now without resisting, and the universe will take care of the rest.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NAEA CDs and Kits

I just finished updating the JFJ website, and I have included the CDs from our presentations at the NAEA Convention in our Shop. Available for purchase for $13.00 each (includes shipping and handling). So if you missed picking one up, go to the Shop, or click the Buy Now buttons below.

The Journey to Choice
This CD includes a wealth of information and images making it valuable to any art educator who wants to move away from cookie cutter projects and into more authentic means of artmaking for students.
The CD includes:
  • The PowerPoint and Notes from the presentation
  • Assessment information
  • Nearly 40 instructional menus including clay, paint, collage and more
  • 100 images of student work
  • Photos of Eric's classroom and center set-up
  • Several sample lesson plans
  • A free journal tutorial and a free print out of prints and cards
includes S&H

Visual Journals 101
This CD includes a wealth of information and images about the visual journal making it valuable to not just art educators, but to anyone interested in the visual journal. 
The CD includes:
  • The PowerPoint and Notes from the presentation
  • Assessment information
  • Assignments and Prompts
  • 100 images of Eric and David's journal pages
  • 100 images of student pages (high school)
  • Resources and How-tos
  • Workshop Packet
  • A free journal tutorial and a free print out of prints and cards
includes S&H

I have also included two journal kits that we have used in recent workshops including our Pre-Convention Workshops for NAEA. For more information, go to the Shop.

Journal Kit 1 - $37.00, includes shipping and handling.

includes S&H

Journal Kit 2 - $32.00, includes shipping and handling

includes S&H

Monday, March 30, 2015

NAEA in New Orleans

We just got back from six days in New Orleans for the National Art Education Association's annual convention. Over 5000 art educators from around the world ascended on the Big Easy, and it was a truly amazing time.

We arrived on Tuesday, a couple of days before the official start of the convention, and enjoyed walking around and taking in the some of the sights. Of course, we stopped in at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter for coffee and beignets. Well, Dave had the beignets since they're not vegan.

We kicked things off on Wednesday with two Pre-Convention Workshops on the Visual Journal, and we had about 30 participants in each session. We shared a variety of ideas for working in the journal, and there was just a positive buzz in the air.

The official start of the Convention was Wednesday, and it was awesome running into so many friends, like Melissa Ledo above, and colleagues. Dave said that it was like being at a family reunion except you like everyone. We also rocked two presentations that day. The first focused on my journey to teaching a choice based curriculum, and the room was packed (see the photo below). There was such a crazy amount of positive energy flowing in that space, and I was completely floored by the sheer number of people who came in. People were standing in the back and sitting on the floor. Unfortunately, I ran completely out of the CDs that I made with lots of information and resources about Choice Based, but I will be making them available for anyone who missed out. Stay tuned.

photo by Michelle Harrell
Later in the day on Wednesday we had a panel discussion on the visual journal and how it can be used in the classroom at any level - elementary through university. Our friends Sam Peck and Michael Bell joined us for the talk as we all shared what we did and how we engaged our students.

Dave and I did another packed presentation on Friday on the visual journals, and we think that we got a lot of educators excited about the journal for themselves and for their students. Again, we ran out of CDs for the session, so we will be making them available for purchase on our website and blog.

On Saturday, we got to meet and talk to a lot of wonderful people as we signed books at Chester Book Co. in the exhibitors hall. We are very grateful to Alan and Heather for giving us the opportunity to promote our books.

Dave and Sam also got to share about their collaborative journal project tet[R]ad on Saturday, and they had a bunch of excited people flocking to hall in order to be a part of the project. And finally, Dave presented with a colleague from Australia, Lexi Cutcher, about their international collaboration they organized for themselves and their university students.

It was a crazy busy convention, but well worth it. The energy of the location, the people, the conversations was all extremely positive and motivating. It is a true indicator that we are moving in the right direction. Thank you to everyone who came out to one of our workshops or presentations, who stopped by Chester Book Co. to buy a book, and who stopped and chatted. We are grateful for the support.

Though the convention was fantastic and it was wonderful being surrounded by so many dedicated art educators, it was good to get back home to my wonderful wife and my snuggly animals. I am always appreciative of my wife's support that allows me the opportunity to travel and share, and I am always in awe of the comfort and love my animals bring. It's always nice to travel, but it's always nicer to get back home.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The JFJ Gear Up for NAEA

We're gearing up for the National Art Education Association's annual convention in New Orleans next week. We're excited to be presenting something each day, so make certain to check out one of our sessions if you're an art educator and will be attending.

We fly in on Tuesday so we can kick the Convention off with two Pre-Convention Workshops on Wednesday, and we present at least one thing each day. And there might be a book signing in there as well. We're also going to have artwork, books, stickers, and CDs for sale!

It's going to be a busy four days, but we are excited!

Here's what's going on, so mark your calendar:

Wednesday, March 25 - Pre-Convention Hands-on Workshop - Hilton Hotel/Elmwood/3rd Floor
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Initiating a Successful Visual Journal Practice

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM - Visual Journals: Developing Rich Layers of Meaning

Thursday, March 26 - Presentation - Convention Center Room 223
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM - The Journey to Choice and Authentic Artmaking in the Art Room

Thursday, March 26 - Panel Presentation - Convention Center Room 222
4:00 PM - 4:50 PM - The Visual Journal: Hinge Pin to a Successful Art Curriculum with Michael Bell and Samuel Peck

Friday, March 27 - Presentation - Convention Center Room 206
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM - Visual Journals 101: A Crash Course

Saturday, March 28 - Presentation - Convention Center Room 222
2:00 PM - 2:25 - Building a Creative Community Through Arts-Based Collaborations with Samuel Peck

Saturday, March 28 - Presentation - Convention Center Room 217
5:30 PM - 5:55 PM - International Collaborations: Preparing Visual Arts Teachers Through Shared Art Making with Lexi Cutcher

We can't wait to rock New Orleans!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

And the Winner Is...

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered the JFJ's first materials give away! I loved reading about all of your favorite materials, and I definitely need to try out some of the ones I'm not familiar with.

I went old-school with how I picked a winner. I typed up a list of everyone who entered and printed it out. I cut the list up into strips, and I folded them up and put them in a bowl.

I swirled the names up for a couple of minutes, and drew out one name. And the winner is. . .

Dana of the blog The Daily Dose!!!! Congratulations!

Dana wins the Journal Fodder Junkies basic supplies kit, and it contains some great materials for any journaling practice. Dana please email me, or private message us through the JFJ Facebook page with your contact information, and I'll get you prize shipped out as soon as possible.

Congratulations, Dana!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The JFJ Giveaway!

We had some kits left over from some recent workshops, so we thought that we would give one of them away before putting the rest up for sale. This will be the first of many giveaways to come!

We are often asked what kinds and what brands of materials we like to use, so we put together a basic kit. Now's your chance to enter and win some of our favorite journaling supplies.

The kit includes:

  • a 9.5"x7.5" mesh zipper bag
  • a 12 color set of Prismacolor watercolor pencils
  • an 8 color set of Prang watercolor paint
  • a jumbo UHU glue stick
  • a yellow Crayola marker
  • a black uni-ball Vision pen
  • a silver metallic Sharpie
  • an official JFJ sticker
That's $45 worth of merchandise! And we're giving it away - FREE!

How it works:
We're going to pick one lucky winner from the comments to this blog post, and only this post. To be eligible to win, you must leave a comment below describing your favorite material to use in your art or your journal. You have until midnight Eastern Time on Friday, March 13 to enter. We will randomly select and announce a winner from all eligible entrants on Saturday, March 14. The winner will then have until Wednesday, March 18, to email us with their shipping information, and we'll ship out your prize - FREE! All you have to do is leave a comment. That's it!

Don't need the materials? Enter anyway! The kit makes an awesome gift for a friend or relative.

Enter now by leaving your comment below. You have nothing to lose, and make certain to share with all of your artistic accomplices!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Heroes - Dan Eldon

Dan Eldon was born to an American mother and a British father in 1970, and at an early age he and his family moved to Kenya. Despite his extensive travels, he always considered Kenya home. As a child, Dan received his first camera and developed an interest in photography that he would pursue for the rest of his life becoming one of the youngest photographers for the international news agency, Reuters in 1992.

Moved by stories of famine in Somalia, he travelled to the country to see for himself. He stayed in Somalia as the civil war raged on documenting the strife and the UN’s attempts to manage the situation. His photos find their way into Time and Newsweek. Dan’s life was unfortunately cut short at the age of 22 by a mob that turned on him as he was trying to cover a bombing in Mogadishu.

Dan is probably best known for his 17 volumes of visual journals that he began keeping around the age of 15. He filled his journals with newspaper clippings, photos, labels, writing, and much, much more. He poured his life into the bulging books as he cut, glued, painted, and drew. He included pictures of his family and friends and evidence of the places he travelled and visited. Dan’s mom, Kathy shared a wide selection on Dan’s journal pages in 1997 in the book The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon published by Chronicle Books. It quickly became a great source of inspiration for many, many people who were moved by Dan’s story and his rich journal pages.

These layered pages hint at a life filled with passion and adventure, and Dan documented the people he met, the places he went, and events that took place in his life. As a photographer, his journals are filled with many of his own photos, contact sheets, and negatives which he often cut apart reimagining the pictures and the stories of his life.

Dan’s journals and his life have inspired me greatly as I have tried to record my life and to think about the kind of legacy that I will leave behind. In many ways, Dan’s short, yet inspiring life makes me wonder about what I have done in my life and the impact that I have had on the world. Dan seemed to have lived life to the fullest, and his journals reflect that packed life in rich, luminous detail. I am constantly amazed that Dan filled 17 volumes of journals in about 7 years. He put so much time and energy not only into his journals, but into the art of living.

It is because of Dan Eldon that I continue to work in my visual journals and that I continue sharing with anyone willing to pay attention. In continuing Dan’s legacy, I hope that in some small way, I am changing and challenging the world.

For more information about Dan, his life, his activism, his art, and his journals, visit

Monday, February 23, 2015


David and I spent the last couple of months working on our part of the 21 SECRETS project for this spring. We are joined by twenty other talented journal artists in this ebook and online workshop by Dirty Footprints Studio. Over the coming weeks we will be giving away two memberships to this awesome venture. Stay tuned.

Our Workshop:
Rethinking the Page: Creating Interaction and Connection Within Your Journal

The Journal Fodder Junkies guide you through an open process that will transform your mundane journal pages into surprising, interacting, and secret filled spaces. Using an arsenal of prompts, techniques, and ideas, David and Eric take you on a journey that will have you delving and discovering, painting and writing, cutting and ripping as you transform the static surface of your pages into dynamic places filled with cut outs, fold outs, flaps, pockets, hidden spaces and secret passages. This workshop focuses on the use of prompts to guide you through a creative process that will have you engaging and transforming your pages in a whole new way.

On April 1, 2015, the 21 SECRETS ebook will be released, but pre-orders are being taken now, and you can even save if you act fast. Order now, and you will receive the following in the spring:

A downloadable 150+ page eBook that contains 21 art journaling workshops packed with videos, full color photos, printouts and instructional content.

Unlimited access to all the workshops at once! You pick and choose which ones you do when and go at your own pace!  There is no time limit--these workshops are yours to keep!

Membership to the private 21 SECRETS Facebook community where you can share your art work, be inspired by others, and receive warm, supportive feedback from your peers.  In the 21 SECRETS community we celebrate everyone's unique expression while supporting each creative spirit to become more confidant as an artist.

The opportunity to learn a variety of art journaling approaches, techniques, and processes that will energize your creativity and touch your Soul while in the comfort of your own home or studio!

To find out more about the artists, their workshops, and general information about 21 Secrets, click here.