Monday, May 18, 2015

New Workshops

All I have to say is that things are starting to snowball, and the next year is going to be an exciting and busy year for the Journal Fodder Junkies. There are many things in the works, and it seems like new opportunities are opening up and falling into place. I’ll share more as dates and plans are firmed up, but for now, I do want to share two wonderful events that are a definite.

First, David will be teaching a workshop in Austin, TX this summer, so if you’re in the Austin area July 25 and 26, consider signing up for his two-day workshop at Jerry’s Artarama. Check out Jerry’s website and the above flyer for more info. I wish that I could be there with him, but maybe you can!


Second, we are excited to announce that we will be teaching three workshops at Art and Soul in Portland, OR next March, but registration opens, June 1. Please checkout the Art and Soul website for more info and to register.

Friday, March 4, 2016 - The Journal Stripped Bare (Evening Workshop)
Saturday, March 5, 2016 - Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict (Full-day Workshop)
Sunday, March 6, 2016 - Alternative Approaches to the Self-Portrait (Full-day Workshop)

We hope you can make it, and stay tuned as we announce other workshops and events over the coming weeks!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Celebrating a Small Milestone

The Journal Fodder Junkies Official Facebook Page hit 700 likes today. It’s a small milestone, but a very meaningful one. Since the end of December I have been on a mission to connect with myself and with others in more meaningful ways, and to that end, I have tried to journal more, blog more, and post more to Facebook. It has been wonderful to see new subscribers to our YouTube channel, new followers of the blog, and new Facebook likes. Focusing just on Facebook for the moment, we have gotten over 120 new likes over the last five months. It’s a very modest number, but it means that we have connected with 120 people who are looking for inspiration or who simply want to keep up with us. That’s pretty fantastic, and I wanted to celebrate it. It has been my sincerest wish to grow our audience, to connect with more people, and to share our message. I think that we have something unique to offer, and I am very appreciative of the growing connections.

So, thank you so much to those 120 for the new likes, but also thank you and the deepest of gratitude to anyone who has been following us for any amount of time online and in person. We feel truly blessed every time someone signs up for our workshops, attends a lecture, leaves a comment, sends a message, or emails us. To know that we are connecting and reaching people is what this journey has been all about. We certainly do appreciate the support.

Of course, we are always looking to connect to more people and spread our message and our inspiration even further, so please keep commenting, sharing, and connecting. You have all been an inspiration to us.

Thank you once again, and maybe soon we can celebrate 1000 likes!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Creative Courage and Confidence

I wasn't surprised to hear recently that adult coloring books have started to become a trend and have even landed on top of some bestsellers lists. I think this new trend along with many current and past trends in art and creating are all very telling. Over the last twenty years or so it has been interesting to watch the ebb and flow of various art making trends that have become somewhat pop culture phenomenons. I think of Zentangle, art journals, knitting, quilting, artist trading cards, altered books, scrapbooking, and so forth as speaking about the need and desire that so many people have to create and to make. I’m not bashing or making light of these trends because I think the need to create is an innate need. We all want to bring something into being that hasn't exist before. Little kids are a great example. They make, create, build, imagine, and explore without much prompting or hesitation. They take creative leaps and are open to simply trying. Over time this innate drive to create gets pushed down, buried, and often forgotten.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I think that a lot of people have systematically closed themselves off to creativity. It probably wasn’t a conscious choice, but the interesting thing is that creativity has a way of working itself back up to surface. For many, there remains a lingering desire, a gnawing wish to make and create, but fear holds them back. Words like art, artist, creativity, and talent are all kind of scary. So, these folks hold onto the fear of taking a risk, and find something that’s safe - something where they can follow some simple directions and be successful, where they can make something with little to no risk. They can satisfy the desire to make and create, at least for a little while, by coloring in someone else's designs, using someone else's ideas, and following someone else’s directions. This is often fun and enjoyable, but is often only a momentary fix. They move onto something else that allows them to feel the sense of accomplishment - the sense of creating. But these activities can never fully satisfy, because they are not authentic expressions and creations - they are not original and true to the maker. They can ring hollow because we often want to bring our own vision to life - to create our own direction, but fear and doubt get in the way.

For so many reasons, so many people lack the creative confidence to take an artistic leap. But what if we could build the creative courage that would allow us to take risks? What if we could create with an authentic voice and original ideas? What if we could silence the inner critic that judges and shames us? What if we could embrace our vulnerabilities and the messiness of our attempts? What if we could open ourselves up again?

I think that’s exactly what Dave and I have been trying to do for the last ten years as the Journal Fodder Junkies. We have shared the visual journal, conducted workshops, and written books, all in the hopes of opening people up to that need to create. We want to help others connect to their creativity and discover their own authentic voices. We want to help others discover the innate potential they have to make something that is true and comes from the heart and not just a copy of someone else.

To that end, there are several things in the works. A plan is taking shape, and things are falling into place. I’m not going to spill it all out there right now, but I have already posted about this over the last few months, and most recently, I have given a glimpse in our latest newsletter. So please stay tuned over the upcoming days and weeks as I reveal more.

I am very excited to see what the near future has in store for us, and I hope that many of you are up for a creative journey!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Journal Spread

For the past several months, I have been very thoughtfully considering this idea of authentic connection and what that means in this digital age and how it can be cultivated and strengthened. I haven't come to any firm conclusions, but I am putting myself, my art, my thoughts out there seeing where, how, and why they connect to others.

Here's to connecting, cultivating, and changing lives!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Our latest newsletter is available for your perusal. Click here to take a gander.

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.