Art Journal: A New Chapter


I’ve admired the work of art journalers for a long time. In fact, I even wrote about them in my book, Real Women Scrap.

Yet, I always found a reason that I couldn’t make one. Since I’ve been on sabbatical, I’ve been digging up art supplies and going through the ones that inspire me to create. I’m finally diving in and creating pages. Random pages that I someday hope to combine into a book. For now, they are bits and pieces of art, chalk, paint, watercolor, and words.

It just became time to dive in. Are you ready to dive in?

An Artist’s Passion

bluelikejazz If you believe something, passionately, people will follow you.
People hardly care what you believe, as long as you believe something.
If you are passionate about something, people will follow you because they
think you know something they don’t, a clue to the meaning of the universe.
—Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Leadership frequently follows passion, but a lot of times we are unaware of our role as leaders – especially artists.

Unless your art is hiding in the back corner of your underwear drawer or deep within your computer archives, people are seeing it and being impacted.

At the same time, the internet makes it easy for people to view your art silently and anonymously so you never truly know the span of your influence.

It’s almost like a one way mirror: you’re sitting in a room creating your art, but when you look up all you see is yourself.

However, if you hit that little upload button…


…suddenly all the world can stand on the other side of the mirror and watch what you’ve created. It may have started out as pure self expression, but it’s no longer just for you.

This plays out in social media as well. In fact, I made it a personal rule to abstain from posting angry, depressing, or negative statuses.

Here’s why:

  • The world is already so messed up, why put out more negative thoughts?
  • People are already struggling, why increase the burden by always talking about sad things?
  • Isn’t it nice when you scroll through your feed and an inspiring quote jumps out at you?
  • Don’t you love when someone is describing how grateful they are?

It gives me a little shot of hope.

And yet, the one who posted it will never know.

What are you putting out there?

What are you passionate about?

Is that what you want to lead more people to do or believe?

Seek the Mountain View

blue-ridge-mountain-top-light When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new.
This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb,
and to seek the mountain view.

—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia may have been what Ella was describing when she spoke of men seeking the mountain view. Women too, by the way. For this weekend, ten brave and restless women have been spurred on to climb, to seek a greater height, and satisfy a craving. The art that will proceed may change the face of the earth. Such is the way of the creative soul.

Find the Ray of Light

blue-ridge-mountain-top-light-2 Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
Maori Proverb

This is where I am for the next few days and I plan to bask in the glorious rays of light filtering through wide open windows, breathing in the fresh mountain air.

That is all. That is enough.

Pablo Picasso

Good taste is the enemy of creativity.

16 Timeless Lessons from Two Brothers Who Ignored Impossibility

“The Wright Brothers flew through the smoke screen of impossibility.”
-Dorothea Brande

It was the 1890’s and the race to fly was on. Even Wilbur Wright himself in a moment of deep disappointment, remarked to Orville that man would fly, but not in their lifetimes. Somehow the brothers moved past the disappointment, setbacks, obstacles, failures, copycats, haters, and lack of resources to hold a place of national and international acclaim.

Their critical steps and mindset are a virtual map to success.

Analyzing how they did it might very well bring YOU one step closer to flying through the smoke screen of impossibility in your own life, work, and art. Today is the first of three articles that’ll give you 16 timeless lessons from the Wright Brothers approach to invention and innovation. Tune in later this week for the rest of the lessons about ignoring impossibility and making your vision a reality!


Take a Different Approach

From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving “the flying problem”. This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines.

If genius is really about 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration as Einstein said, then approaching things differently in your work can have a significant impact. How are you approaching an age-old problem in a new way?

With Teen Identity Portraits and Magazine, we took the traditional photo studio and turned it on its head… we didn’t do traditional portraits, we didn’t sell big wall prints, we focused on raising the self esteem of teen girls, and empowering them with a voice and vision for their future.

Since its inception three years ago, many other studios and photographers have started to take the concept and claim it as their own… as far as a desire to reach teen girls and raise their confidence and esteem, that’s great! When it comes to copying our approach, our style, and even our name or slogan, that’s not okay… for them or us. For them, it will never have the power it did for us since it came from our hearts, our vision, our idea. For us, it’s treading on copyright and a brand we’ve been building, that has gained traction and media attention, and requires action.

Best solution? Take your own unique and different approach… give it your own unique spin, name, style and brand. That’s where you’ll win.

Collect Accurate Data

Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than any before.

Are you capturing data about what works? What works in your life to inspire you, to force you to take action, to implement change? Are you creating processes, testing them, selecting the best one, and writing it all down? Are you implementing systems that you know work because you’ve collected enough data to clearly see the difference?


Pay Attention to Early Interests

In 1878 their father brought home a toy “helicopter” for his two younger sons. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

Much of who we are and what we love to do started early. It may not have been in the same form or function as it currently looks or you may have abandoned what you loved for more practical pursuits, but now is the time to drag them out again. What was it that sparked your interest? Was it reading, writing, visual images, visiting places, spending time with people, sketching, singing… make a list and see how many of those you are pursuing now.

Then CHANGE SOMETHING! Start doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t.

This is your only life. Live it.

Gain Essential Skills

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery.

There is no shame in early or small beginnings. What you learn along the way can guide and influence your thinking for a lifetime. Become a tinkerer. Not only does it sound cool, but you can gain valuable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t without a huge investment in the outcome. Don’t worry if your tinkering isn’t directly in the field you eventually want to conquer.

Much of what we do and learn today is transferrable… are you learning to be efficient, effective, action-oriented, tolerant or any of a million other skill sets? Those will help you in your future which may be just around the corner!

Conduct Extensive Testing

From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots.

You cannot be afraid to test. Most people would say they aren’t afraid of testing, they are afraid of failing. However, testing and being open to extensive testing requires a willingness to fail repeatedly and not give up. You must develop the emotional maturity and mental loyalty to stick with your idea even when it doesn’t work right the first time. That goes for building a business, pursuing your art, or even building legos.

Develop your skills. Hone them. Test them.

Stretch yourself beyond the current limits of what you think is possible.

There you have it! Five incredible lessons for how to blow through the smoke screen of impossibility. It’s been done before by people less talented but more willing to invest their energy in doing the work.

Will you be one of those people?

Take the first step… Identify one of the above strategies and tell us in the comments what you’re going to do to make it happen today!

The Inspiring Power of Customized Creativity

The customization revolution started with personalized names on mugs, keychains, fake license plates, and notepads. But if your name wasn’t John, Jennifer, or Jason, fat chance finding something custom.

Then it evolved and more names could be found… still no Tasra or Imahni, but definitely more variety. And then, you could order something direct… with your name… even Tasra or Beyonce.

So when everything is custom and you can buy it, how does a company take customized creativity to the next level?

Give people something custom they can’t buy… at least not directly.

Starbucks mastered it with the gold card.

My son… he mastered it with a Lego creation that stole my heart.

After many times looking through the Lego Magazine with him, I always said I liked the Volkswagen T1 Camper Van best. He didn’t understand. There were Ninjago weapons and Superhero fortresses… and I liked the VW? Despite that, he made it for me… as a special surprise “because he loves me so much.”

Melt my heart, sweet boy.

Here’s what the Lego version includes:

This authentic camper van is a replica of the classic Volkswagen Camper Van from 1962. Every iconic feature is here! On the outside, the terrific detailing includes ‘V’ shape three-way color split at the front, rounded roof and window frames, opening ‘splittie’ safari windshield, opening doors, iconic pop-up roof with textile curtain surround, roof rack, rear side air intake vents and lots more! The detailing is equally impressive on the inside, from the authentic VW air-cooled flat four cylinder boxer engine, front cabin bench seat, gear stick, angled dashboard and iconic spherical speedometer, to custom LEGO® features like folding rear bench seat, folding dinette table, closet with mirror and even a painting!

Here’s what MY version included…

This custom camper van is an original camper van from 2012. Every fascinating feature you could want is here!

  • driver/guard to take me anywhere I want to go and guard me at all times (because I’m “mommy queen”)
  • server to conjure up amazing dishes in the mini kitchen
  • fireplace
  • adjustable bed
  • magical blue light that turns on with the touch of a button
  • flat screen TV
  • custom designed sink and two drawers
  • table with chairs and 3 coffee mugs (because mommy loves her coffee)
  • 4 doors that open on hinges to let the fresh air in
  • blue-tinted windows on side and front and back windows for sight-seeing
  • sunroof that opens
  • cylinder-style closet for storing clothes
  • treasure chest with treasure from all places we visited
  • shower
Want to blow away your clients, customers, friends or loved ones? Give them something custom.

The Time of Knowing Who You Are

This is the age of the linchpin, the creative, the indispensable.

No more cogs, automatons, and mindlessness.

Creativity, growth, and change are the norm, the requirement, the new standard.

This is the time of knowing who you are.

Are you prepared?

I’m writing a series of posts called The Awkward Series, because there’s liberty in being real, authentic and honest with who you really are, how you’re wired, and what matters to you. I invite you to do the same.

I invite you to explore this idea with your images, your blog posts, your reading.

Are you game?


If You’re a Photographer, Declare Yourself the BEST Photographer

Some photographers are so good at what they do, seeing their images makes me want to hang up my camera and call it a day.

But I don’t.

Honestly, you could replace the words “photographer” and “camera” with any creative art and be right on target.

Writers and their pens.
Artists and their sketch pads.
Musicians and their instruments.

We must overcome the desire to compare our work to that of others. On a practical level, too often we compare our raw images to their processed featured images. Or we compare our images after three years to their images after thirty. Or we compare our studio work with their photojournalism. (Feel free to replace “we” with “I” in all the previous sentences!)


If you are a photographer, declare yourself the best photographer.

I’m paraphrasing Ernest Hemingway’s character in Midnight in Paris who said the same of being a writer. He also said, “You’re too self effacing, it’s not (wo)manly.” I agree with both statements. Declaring yourself the best doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t, it means that you are the best photographer you can be at this time, in your given set of circumstances, with your current equipment list, and level of experience.

Embrace that truth and you’ll challenge yourself to make incremental improvements so that your best becomes better each and every day.

You have a voice. You are the best person to express that voice to the world through your images. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

If you can acknowledge and accept the potential of your story showing up in each image that you capture, you will find your creative eye liberated and push your boundaries to learn and grow at levels you may not have experienced before.

You knew this before you grew up and forgot. My son is six and he embraces it without hesitation:

“My name is Joshua and I’m the best LEGO builder in the whole wide earth.”

Who are YOU and what are you the BEST at?


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Delivering Creativity Out of Chaos

Meet Ben. He’s the co-founder of MailChimp.

With over 1.2 million users, it’s one of the most successful e-mail marketing companies. MailChimp was recently featured in “Fast Company” for its non-traditional corporate culture and creative environment. This is what Ben says:

“If you’re working for me and you’re a creative person,
it’s not my job to make you happy.”

Okay, that’s not all he says. But he’s pretty brilliant. In fact, his presentation for Creative Mornings was the result of 10 years of thinking about creativity, chaos, and culture.

You don’t want to miss this…

CreativeMornings is a free monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types started by Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss-Miss). Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk plus free coffee! For more on the bigger picture, check out