Journal Friday #85


Today was spent in the studio working on the video components of a new online workshop. Mapping the Journey is based on a workshop that Dave and I have taught a couple of times, but goes much deeper with the techniques and concepts.


As I worked on the workshop, I decided to create two different journal spreads — one while I shot the step-by-step photos for a PDF download and one for the video. Both use the same process, and the results are similar, but it’s good to see how different choices can lead to different results. I’ve gone through this workshop several times, and I always get something different from it.

The workshop is packed with different techniques, both for the art making and for coming up with ideas and concepts to explore. I’m excited to get the workshop wrapped up, and get it online. I originally was hoping to get it ready for release by the end of November, but I still need to do a lot of video editing and writing. I’m hoping to get everything done this week. so stay tuned for details.

Journal Friday #84: Planning, Plotting, and Scheming


As an Everything book, my visual journal isn’t just for making art. It’s for documenting life, exploring ideas, reflecting on whatever, and for planning and scheming. I use the journal as a tool for my art but also for my life in general, and it’s a perfect place to jot down ideas and plans and to work out details for projects and schemes.


For the past few days, I have been doing just that. As the end of the year quickly approaches, I am starting to chart the course for the upcoming year. I already have a couple of things scheduled for 2019, but since I am cutting back on in-person workshops, I need projects and plans for things to take their place. I’m also trying to reach new people and connect in new ways.


I’ve decided to focus on creating a variety of different content — from online workshops to themed blog posts, from a possible series of podcasts to a series of videos . All of that takes planning, and the journal is an ideal place for it. Sometimes, I find big empty pages and begin my thinking and writing, and sometimes, I find little spaces on pages I’ve already started. I like to employ a few different techniques as I plan, like mind mapping and making lists. Sometimes, I create elaborate outlines to work out specifics, and other times, I jot down vague notions.

Eventually, these ideas will get fleshed out more, and I’ll type up, edit, and embellish them on the computer, but for now, I enjoy writing things out and even doodling as I go. The physical act of the hand moving across the paper allows me to think differently than I can in front of an electronic screen, and I’m able to make connections and pull from different sources as ideas and directions develop.


The journal is where all of my ideas start, whether for works of art or for workshops and other projects. I can’t wait to bring some of these ideas to fruition, and I’ll definitely share the journey!

Happy Journal Friday!

Part 12 of The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenges Available now!


I finally got around to wrapping up the last installment of The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge. I wanted to have it published a couple of months ago, but unfortunately other things just got in the way as I got ready for Art and Soul and worked to finish my new self-published book. The Daily Challenges just took a back seat.

365 Part 12 Sample Pages.jpg

But it’s available now! So check it out in the Shop.

Also, you can save 15% on everything in the Shop from now through December 1st by using the discount code holiday15 when you check out.


Journal Friday #83: Collaboration


Today was a day working in three small, collaborative journals. Though I most often work in a large 11 inch by 14 inch journal, I do have other sizes of journals to work in as well, and right now I have three 4 inch by 6 inch collaborative journals that I’m working in.


Perhaps you have taken part in a round robin where a group of people send their journals around to each other, working and adding to each other’s journals. Well, this is similar, but a little different. These journals are part of the tet[R]ad: Draw and Play Here project developed by two close friends and artistic accomplices, David Modler and Sam Peck. With this project, journals are usually exchanged one-on-one, so you always know who has the journal. Also, the journal is a true space of collaboration. In a traditional round robin, each artist has their own pages, but with the tet[R]ad project, any and all pages can be worked on and added to by each artist making the process about negotiation and response.


That means looking through what other artists have done, and deciding when and if to add to a page. Sometimes a page is completed by primarily one of us, and other times, a page is a blend of each of us as lines and imagery, color and text, style and techniques of different individuals merge and blend. This collaboration offers surprises and new directions, and it also offers risk and vulnerability. It’s like a conversation as I put something on a page and wait for a response, and so I’ll put down some watercolor or lines or a little collage. I might layer a few things together allowing room for the other person to add and expand upon the things that I’ve started. I also “listen” to what has been said by the other person and respond to the ideas, images, and elements already on the page, and I can continue a thought or change the direction all together.

It’s a challenge to collaborate with another artist when that collaboration is strictly on the pages since they most often live far away in a different state. It’s a collaboration with in the space of the journal since we don’t talk about, discuss, or plan what happens within those pages, and that’s what is fun and challenging about it.

To find out more about the project, check out the Draw and Play here website (which by the way, I designed!)

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.