Wednesday, May 19, 2010

serendipity in a binder

the journal of j.c. mills
My sister Betsy recently stumbled upon this nondescript three ring binder at a local library book sale. Filled with the illustrated journal pages of an art teacher by the name of J.C. Mills, Betsy picked it up, thinking I might like to flip through it.

Might I say that THIS is one of the best gifts my sister has ever given me? A journal...illustrated...by an art teacher...dealing with everyday struggles...trying to see the bigger picture. Sounds familiar.

j.c. mills self-portrait
self-portrait by J.C. Mills

With each page I read [and I'm just a few pages in, mind you] I keep thinking this is so me... Especially this bit. Especially today:

The ability to pay attention...oh how I wish I had the mental discipline to focus absolutely. That ability to cast out the 10,000 things and deal with only one. Successful artists seem to do it...the ones who thirst for an intense probing that reveals the purity of the present moment.

The world of art is so vast, so complex...what a struggle to simplify and focus. You have to fight like hell! You cannot deal with art in a logical, linear, sequential, left brain way. There is simply too much information to process. Take over Mr. Right Brain...teach me to simplify; to focus; to travel intellectually light; to raise the tent flaps of my mind and let the wind blow all the mental clutter away---to pay attention to one thing in a delicious, sensory way. The secret seems to be in allowing---in accepting. Put yourself into action J.C. Mills. Express your uniqueness. There is only one of you..in all of time...record that uniqueness in a special way.

Activities That Help Me Focus:
making a pinch pot
drawing from nature
looking at a painting
a walk alone
playing the harmonica
milking a cow
writing in my journal
being snowbound
repetitive activities
rituals/chants, etc.
listing (such as this)

I believe this gem fell in my lap at exactly the right time. Perhaps you feel the same. If so, let me know and I'll share more. In the meantime, thank you Dr. Mills. I look forward to the time spent opening your sketchbook.

27 comments:

Deb said...

I just love this, and would love to see more from the binder!

edgar cabrera said...

Goodness! It would be amazing if 200 years from now someone would find your sketchbooks hidden in a attic or basement and start reposting them and sharing them with the world. Any dates on that binder? Let's find Dr. Mills!

edgar cabrera said...

check this out!

http://www.etsu.edu/etsu/news/20000143.htm

Laure Ferlita said...

"...teach me to simplify; to focus; to travel intellectually light...."

Is this guy a poet or an artist or are there no lines here?

Great stuff and I do hope you'll continue to share!

Julie Broom said...

what an amazing find, if the self portrait is anything to go by it's a wonderful journal. What a wonderful sister you have.

Genine said...

everything happens for a reason!!!

Please continue to share the good dr's journal.

thanks Suzanne.

aimee said...

gasp! what a find! please tell us you'll share more of his musings and sketches!

DeVona said...

Wow! Great journal! PLEASE keep posting from it AND YOURS! I look to you for inspiration!

michelle george said...

Suzanne! What a terrific gift! Your sister found something truly precious to give you, and the resulting words for your heart and soul are just as precious! I'd love to see and hear more from the journal!

Carlos Smith said...

This makes me think of when I'm up on the roof with my father's roofing crew nailing deck boards. Though it may be monotonous, the constant rhythmical nailing allows me to synthesize my thoughts. I seem to have less bent over nails as well!

Karen Sandstrom at Pen in Hand said...

So cool! Yes, post more. Is any of it dated?

Wendee said...

Oh yes! Do post more! :)

Karin said...
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The Journal Challenge said...

I also like the idea that someone will find your journal in many many years....it's interesting to think about the circumstances in which the journal of Dr. Mills was written....please post more.

Karin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paloma Chaffinch said...

Please do post more. This really resonated with me as I increasingly feel I'm out of control of my life at the moment - not necessarily in an artistic sense, but in a general sense. Everything seems to be a muddle at the moment - too many thoughts drifting in and out of my mind and a total inability to concentrate on one single thing.

Becky said...

Hi Suzanne. I am a friend of your sister Betsy and Dr. Mills. When Betsy called yesterday to find out if I knew Dr. Mills, I thought she was talking about the book SOUL BASED ART: A GROWN UP COLORING BOOK, that Jay and I wrote together and published in 2000 or 2001. We used to teach workshops using the pages that you now have.
Dr. James C. Mills is a remarkable man. A visionary way before his time and a treasure to all of us who have learned from him. I studied with him in the 70's 80's and 90's while working on my BS and MS in Art Education at ETSU.
What you have is one of his personal journals....he must have donated it to some book sale. Lucky are we that received those "pages" as handouts in his classes and lucky are you to now have this collection. I gave Betsy his phone number. Please give him a call. He would love hearing from you and knowing that one more person out there validates his lifes writng. You will make a friend for life and a joy forever.
You have been blessed.
Becky Hope Mallory

raena said...

What an exciting gift! Please share more with us!

Lrc said...

Wow...how cool that J.C.Mills' journal fell into your hands. There is nothing better than finding a kindred spirit doing something similar in the world. I hope to see more pages from it too. It would be awesome if he became a friend too!

Anthony Z said...

This is awesome. It would be fascinating to speak to him after you've read his journal. His list of things to help focus is pure Zen, "playing the harmonica" and especially "milking a cow" are my favorites.

Jennifer Lawson said...

What a wonderful gift—lucky you! Good luck on your adventures and please share more.

Cathy said...

This is soooo great! Do post more about it! It's weird he must have given away his personal journal although he's still alive... Could it be a mistake?

Becky said...

No Cathy, it isn't a mistake that Jay's journal fell into Suzanne's hands. Dr. Mills described people as "givers" and "takers"....and he certainly is a giver. This is just the thing he hoped would happen when he gave the journal away. These pages were his handouts in many of the classes he taught at ETSU! He still has the originals which are beautifully written and drawn on 12 x 18 Strathmore drawing paper. He believes in the syncronicity of the universe and this blog is exactly the kind of thing he would want to happen. He himself is not very computer savy, so I doubt we ever see him on here, but his phone number is in the JC phone book and he would love to hear from all of you.

Georgayne A said...

Whew....strange that this should leave a lump in my throat, but it did. Indeed, thank you Suzanne for sharing and thank you Dr. Mills for inspiring.

Traveller said...

this is just pure magic. I would love to see more of the pages too. Thank you so much for this post.

Wendy Coyne said...

can I have your sister?

Vicki Robison said...

I stumbled upon your blog today as I continue to search for a way to incorporate a sketchbook. I have taught elementary/secondary art education for 20 years. I know all the reasons it is important but got caught with all the reasons not to create (time, white space, lack of beautiful pages). As I read your blog I realize I am just going to put it all down, get it out and it is what it is. Thanks for the inspiration.