"As an artist, my philosophy on art grew naturally from my own experiences with the visual arts from a young age and from inspiration I drew out of my own personal life. For me, art is a way to explore life's very personal and psychologically charged issues visually. I believe that each of us has a story to tell, and because images are such a primary form of communication, art becomes an effective vehicle to communicate our personal vision with others.

I believe art is a shared experience. Our ability to communicate our own personal vision can become realized through an art education that has the right balance between technical & conceptual approaches. Early in my painting career, my focus was to further the development of my own basic perceptual thinking skills and the understanding of more formal art concepts. As a self-taught artist, learning the critical vocabulary needed to discuss art was crucial to furthering my own ability to also talk about the work I create. I furthered my own studies of visual and verbal language while working on my Master's Thesis and pioneering the Visual Journaling movement.

Visual journaling is about documenting your journey. It's also a great portfolio building & interdisciplinary problem-solving experience I've had the pleasure to give workshops on at the local, state and national levels. For me, it's the potential "key" to the art-making process. It helps us to explore the connection between visual and verbal language while further developing our conceptual thought process and observational drawing skills. Visual Journaling encourages me to explore life's experiences, feelings, emotional reactions, and our own inner experiences visually and verbally through art that incorporates both text, imagery and found objects. I often complete a painting series and display a sketchbook visual journal as it's companion piece, so the audience can not only view my finished products, but my thought process too.

I believe the creative mind intuitively evaluates, approves or rejects ideas on how to treat subject matter based on our point of view, which stems from our own personal life experiences. The focus of a more open-ended process-versus-product approach to artmaking creates, for me, a world more conducive to exploring new perspectives, ideas and approaches toward successful, finished products. The more ideas we are free to explore, the more likely a truly creative idea can emerge. I research issues in contemporary art as well as the history of western and non-western art to stay current. These are some of the many ways I approach the overall art experience, and the world I live in.

I continuously examine my life through my artwork, and continuously evaluate roads traveled and paths that lie ahead. This means having a vision, and in the art world, it's about being able to give constructive form to this vision and to life's very personal experiences."

-- Michael Bell