Tag: relationship

Visual Journal Page 22: The Fall & Visual Journal Page 23: Ouch

This visual journal page was created to represent my clumsiness. Not only am I clumsy, but I also bruise easily, which means I am in a constant state of being covered with bumps, scratches, and lovely shades of purples, yellows, and blues. I don’t think I ever quite grew into myself, my limbs still feel like they are longer than they should be.

Specifically, this page is meant to represent a particular incident of clumsiness, a tumble down the stairs. When I move from point a to point b my goal is to move as quickly as possible without breaking into a run. My fast walking combined with my long legs makes it look like I’m always in a rush. The same is applied when I am going up and down stairs. I don’t take them one at a time, carefully watching my step, I generally jog up and jog down. I blame my need for speed on my father who was the type to wait in the car, with the car running, until everyone finally piled in to leave. I always felt rushed, and that has continued into my adult life.

95% of the time my jog up, jog down stair taking is successful. However, the remaining 5% of the time means I miss a step or slip on a step either falling up, or falling down the stairs. On this particular day I hit a step heading down, my foot slipped out from under me, and down I went.

Unfortunately, the slip happened towards the top of the stairs, so I had a long way to go to reach the bottom. It felt like a cartoon, my butt hit the next step, and there was no going back. I literally slide down the stairs until something stopped by downward fall, which happened to be the side table next to my front door.

My next visual journal page represents my husband’s point of view. He was sitting on our sofa, watching TV, minding his own business, when all of the sudden I came tumbling down. All he heard was bam, bam, bam, bam, as my various body parts hit step after step, followed by a final smash as I collided with our red side table. The commotion was followed by back and forth rock of the table as it tried to rebalance after my collision.

I had to lay there for just a minute to allow my brain to catch up to the events and my body to recover. My big toe made contact with the table first, and absorbed the weight that followed behind it. It caused a bruised toe and cracked nail. My right arm made the first, and only, attempt, and fail, to break my fall and stop the ensuing events. That resulted in a big bruise on my forearm. After the tumble and a moment of recovery, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I could be so careless and I had no one to blame but myself.

Despite the sequence of events you can still find me jogging up and down stairs and falling 5% of the time.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Pencil
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal pencil
  • Pastels
  • Red acrylic paint
  • Book Pages
  • Laser printed images of table
  • Packaging tape
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create these two visual journal pages I wanted to create two very different looks. I wanted the actual fall to look dark and more serious. For the aftermath, I wanted it to look as silly as I felt. I started with the fall page and decided early on to shade on top of a gesso base. Since gesso is a wet material, I opted to rip two pages from my book so I could work on them without the risk of the gesso bleeding through to other pages.

I sketched out the design first using pencil. My staircase at home is simple and straight, but I wanted to create a more dramatic effect so I opted to exaggerate the style. I sketched out the twisting staircase, and centered the final set of stairs between the two pages. To the left of the stairs I drew out my right hand and right foot, to show my injuries. Once I had the base sketches ready, I added water to my gesso, to make it more transparent, and filled in the shapes.

Once the gesso dried I began pulling out details using the charcoal pencil. I added purple and brown pastels to create shadows on the stairs and the bruise on my arm and toe. I added black charcoal around the staircase to make it pop. To create a blended look with the charcoal I colored more heavily at the edge of the stairs, then used my finger and a paper towel to blend the charcoal away from the steps and into the background. I continued to build up details with the charcoal pencil and push my shadows with the pastel and black charcoal.

Once I finished shading I painted my toe nails bright red using red acrylic paint. I liked the sudden pop of color and it created a great attention grabber. I used a thin brush and gesso to add the crack in my toenail.

Once the page was finished I sprayed it with fixative, to prevent the charcoal from smudging, and glued it on top of pages still attached in my visual journal book.

For the second page I wanted a more playful look and I wanted to create a sense of movement in the table. I decided to create 5 packaging tape transfers of the same image of my side table, then overlap them to make it look like it was moving. To do this, I printed 5 copies of the table on a laser printer. I taped clear packaging tape to the front of the pictures, then cut out the table. I then ran the cut outs under water until the paper started to separate from the tape. I carefully rubbed the paper off using my fingertips until only the ink from the printed image was left on the tape. I dried it off using paper towels and set them aside.

I decided to use book pages from two different books to create a space for the table to sit in. I used the lighter, wider book pages first and glued them to the center of my visual journal page using rubber cement. I then layered two smaller, darker book pages in the center of the ones I just glued and also glued them down with rubber cement. Next, I placed my table packaging tape image transfers on the right side of the book spread. I used Elmer’s glue to glue them in place, the chemicals in rubber cement will cause the tape to ripple.

Next, I decided to add another thin bar of the light and dark book pages to the top and write “bam, bam, bam” in Sharpie across it. To balance the layout I added one small section of layered book pages to the right page below the table and wrote “ouch” in black Sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about an unfortunate accident.

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Visual Journal Page 20: Breathe In, Breathe Out

There are many nights I lay in bed, my body exhausted, eyes heavy, and mind racing. The endless to do list scrolls through, the what did I forgets start haunting, the stress from the day just can’t seem to find a way to subside.

When I first started teaching I had many restless nights. Fear kept me awake. Fear of what the next day would bring. Fear of sleeping in. Fear of not being prepared. Fear of forgetting something. Fear of failure. Fear of my students. Many days I felt like a hoax. I had no idea what I was doing. That year, everyday was the first day for me.

My first year anxieties lessened with each passing year. I learned a lot, found projects that were reliable, and developed systems for handling my students. As my stress levels were reduced, my nights of sleep got better. However, I would still periodically have those moments where I would lay in bed, stuck in limbo, unable to pass into sleep or wake up enough to do something else. In those moments I fall back on my old restless night strategies. I would lay still and focus on my lungs. As I would breathe in I would feel my lungs expand to capacity. I would imagine the folds filling out and pressing into my other organs as they expanded. I would breathe out. My lungs would slowly collapse pushing all air out, until they were tiny, limp, and deflated. I would repeat this until I finally drifted beyond the middle into sleep.

This method has helped me through many of my most restless nights. It’s my off button for my brain. A simple strategy to put focus on my most basic body function, breathe in… breathe out…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Black bleeding tissue paper
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Sharpie
  • Old book pages

HOW TO

This is one of those visual journal pages that was fairly simple to create, but had a lot of impact once it was finished. It was also one of those pages that I visualized in my head before starting and it came out just as I expected, if not better, which rarely happens.

I knew I wanted to create an image of a lung. I started this journal page by looking up medical drawings of lungs to reference. I wanted to make sure it was accurate. Once I settled on an image I began thinking about the look. I had recently completed a page about a black widow (check it out here) where I used black bleeding tissue paper and gesso. I loved the look the wet gesso created on the paper. A red hue would bleed into the white gesso from the black tissue paper. I decided this would be a good material to use for this visual journal page as well.

Once I had my image, a sheet of black tissue paper, paintbrush, and gesso, I was ready. I freehanded the painting of the lungs. I started with a loose outline of the shape and went into the bigger sections first, which was the white block in the heart that expanded to the veins in the lungs. I carefully planned around sections that needed to stay black and moved from one area to the next. For the arteries of the heart I used curved lines to show the shape and to give it texture to separate it from everything else. I liked the look of the lines and decided to carry them into the spaces between the veins in the lungs to fill out the shape. I mimicked the circular tissue pattern from the original image into my painting as I moved to the bottom of the lungs. To define the esophagus I used short, hatch lines, that also curved along the contour of the shape. I decided to make it longer than I needed, just to make sure it filled the page.

As I painted each section, the color from the bleeding tissue paper would bleed into the white. I loved the look it created, it added much more interest to the color than a stark white. Once the painting was dry, I cut the shape out of the rectangular bleeding tissue paper sheet. I carefully glued it into my visual journal using rubber cement and trimmed off the excess esophagus.

I overlapped sheets of old and discolored book pages to the top with ripped out pieces of black bleeding tissue paper on top. This tied the top section to my lungs visually, while also giving me a space to write words. Even with the detailed painting, I still felt the background was lacking. I decided to cut out rounded shapes from the book pages to mimic the shape of the lungs and create a sense of movement. I glued them into the background, which helped further tie the book pages into the entire piece.

Last, but not least, I used gesso to paint the words “breathe in… breathe out…” over the ripped up tissue paper. In the sections where the words extended beyond the bleeding tissue paper, I went over the letters with black sharpie to help them stand out.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your method to falling asleep.

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Visual Journal Page 19: Fancy Days

visual-journal-page-19-fancy-days

This visual journal page was inspired by an image. It’s hard to remember exactly where I first discovered this, but I know it must have been from one of the many art school catalogues that arrive in my school mailbox at least weekly. While I tire of constantly throwing out half the items that find their way into my box, I never tire of looking through student artwork.

This woman in her fancy dress is an example of one of the many moments I have as I flip through these magazines. I’m always so impressed with the range of style, level of talent, and crazy creativity people have. These college art catalogues are put together to show the wide range of talent they attract, so you get a piece of each department. An illustration here, a graphic design there, an oil painting in between. So many of these images pique my interest and pull on my heartstrings. When I have a moment with one I carefully tear out the page, and stow it away in my visual journal folder.

This image sat in my folder for a long time. It took awhile to find a purpose for it. I knew I loved the image, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it appealed to me so much. One day, while in a visual journal idea slump, I flipped back through my saved images, and had another moment while looking at this one. I loved the petal dress that transformed from flower to traditional dress to flower again. And what an absurd, yet beautiful, neck adornment. It took me back to my childhood. To my constant wish to live in the “olden days” so I had a reason to where outrageously puffy dresses everyday. Even as an adult I love the special occasions that call for fancy dresses. Although my preferred daily attire are jeans or pajamas, some days just need to be fancy days.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement or Mod Podge
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Xacto knife
  • Scissors
  • Book pages
  • Packaging tape
  • Newspaper

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with the original image of the girl. I cut out it out, and glued it to the right side page. I wanted to emphasize the image, so I cut the yellow pattern background of the original image into strips that went along the contour of the image. I glued those down using rubber cement.

On the left hand page I decided to write the sentence: “some days just need to be fancy days.” I wanted to mimic the over the top, decorative style of the dress in the text, so I typed the sentence into a Word document, and choose the frilliest, fanciest font I could find. I printed the text, and carefully cut it out using a combination of scissors and an Xacto knife.

Rather than glue the text down and be done with it, I decided to create a equally decorative page on the left side of my visual journal spread. I ripped out and glued down a strip of lighter book page paper in the center of the left page. I ripped out a page from the actual visual journal book, tore it into two strips, and glued them down on either side of the lighter book page. I then created newspaper tape transfers by taking a piece of packaging tape, sticking it to newspaper, and pulling the tape back up. The ink from the newsprint stuck to the tape, and I then taped them down around the lighter center strip of book page paper.

Next, I glued a thin strip of darker brown, older book page paper in the middle of the center strip. I emphasized various areas with small pieces of the old book pages. I then used more of the yellow, pattern background of the original image to create a scalloped pattern around the strips of book page paper. Last but not least I glued the text on top of the center section of the left page.

CHALLENGE

Flip through a magazine and rip out the image that you find most interesting. Create a visual journal page about it.

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Visual Journal Page 15: I Hate Testing

Visual Journal Page 15-Testing

Four years ago I made the decision to switch from public education to private. It was something I considered for a couple of years before making the move, and it was a difficult decision. I loved my eclectic public school kiddos and I felt like I was providing a much needed service to them. In a school day jam packed with academic after academic, with little breaks, and so much emphasis on testing, by the time they came to my class they needed something different.

In art classes students have the chance to breath. Instead of memorizing facts and how to better take a test, they learn how to express themselves, think critically, and communicate visually. This creative breathing space is a necessary part of a well balanced student’s day, and yet the arts continue to lose funding and standardized testing continues to hold ground.

This isn’t the first blog post that I have written against standardized testing, but it just might be the last. After three years of spending my planning period prepping to proctor tests I didn’t believe in, I made the move to private school. Although I still believe in the potential of our public education system, they aren’t there yet. Because private schools don’t have to fulfill the same requirements of public schools, they are free to put emphasis on the individual students rather than a test score. I wasn’t willing to wait out the public schools, so I abandoned ship.

This visual journal page represents my last day of proctoring a standardized test. Sitting in an auditorium full of students, watching them take a test that doesn’t test their knowledge, just their ability to beat a test, I broke proctoring rule #1. Rather than sit there and stare at the kids, watching their every move, on the lookout for wandering eyes, I doodled. It was my tiny rebellion, my last stand against standardized testing.

I love private school education. I love that the students are people, not numbers. They represent more than school funding, they represent the future generation, the next leaders, teachers, and parents. We need confident, well rounded adults to fill those roles and I am confident the students in my classroom are getting what they need because of the freedom of the private education sector.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Doodles
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Old book pages
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I cut up the doodles I created during my final day of standardized testing. After cutting them up I began playing around with a layout. I decided they needed a little something to make them pop, so I glued them down on old book pages, then tore them out, leaving an edge of yellowed paper.

Once again I began playing around with the layout, but I still wasn’t satisfied, it looked too bland. I began gluing down strips of bleeding tissue paper to add color and once again laid out my doodles. I decided to pull the drawing of the auditorium chair to the right page and emphasize it with a square of bleeding tissue paper to create a focal point. I then layered the remaining doodles on the left page, overlapping to the right.

To balance the chair drawing on the right side page, I added the text “i hate” with the yellowed book page and pink bleeding tissue paper behind it to tie to the look of the chair. I then wrote “testing” around the chair doodle to further emphasis it.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your educational experience. Good, bad, or ugly, whatever you think of first when you reflect on school.

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Visual Journal Page 11: Take Responsibility

Visual Journal Page 11-Take Respondsibility

It was the time of year when hot sticky summer nights transition into the cool crisp fall. It’s my favorite time of year, witnessing the changing season through every sense. The air smells crisp, the air moves from warm to cool, the leaves crunch under toe, and goosebumps come and go as the changing atmosphere tickles my skin. It was the perfect fall evening, and I decided the best way to fall asleep was to the sound of the great outdoors, with a cool breeze coming through a slightly cracked window. Or so I thought.

As I finally began to settle and felt the first drifting of dreams coming in, a low howl rose to our second story window and in through the crack. It gradually pulled me from the brink of sleep to full awake, until I could no longer focus on anything but the howl. I tried my best to ignore the sound, to cover my ears, and once again find sleep, but it kept finding a way in.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor dog. While it was a beautiful night, not a bad night to be sleeping outdoors, I knew exactly which dog it was, and this wasn’t the only night they would be spending outside. A sweet pup down the street, on the corner, confined to a backyard wrapped in a chain link fence. Whenever my pups and I walk past the house, we stop for a moment and visit. Tails wagging, huffing and sniffing sounds exchanged, everyone excited to see a new face. I have never walked past that house without seeing her outside. Whether it’s in the dead heat of summer or the frigid chill of winter, there the dog sits. I have never seen another human interacting with her. I have never seen another dog playing with her. She is all alone, most likely kept only to keep others out.

Why spend the money to have a dog? Why spend the money to feed a dog? Why have a dog if you aren’t going to enjoy the amazing company they can provide? If you are concerned about security, make a one time purchase of an extra bolt for your door, a fence for your yard, a sign advertising an alarm system, whether or not that system exists. Why subject a living being to a lonely existence? Even if said dog was well feed and watered (which was questionable in this situation) they are still lacking the basic need of interaction, contact with another living, breathing being.

That howl haunted me all night, until I had no choice but shut the window, and attempt to ignore the situation down the street. I wasn’t able to sleep with the window open again, the howls continued, and continued to break my heart, until one day my pups and I passed the house, paused for a visit, and she was gone, never to return again. I can only hope she was taken to a loving, happy home. We have very active neighbors who rescue stray and abused dogs in the area, and this particular situation had been a recent topic. I choose to believe my neighbor was able to take action, and rescue the sweet girl. I need to believe that in order to maintain some belief in the existence of humanity, and to be able to walk past that house everyday. At the very least, she hasn’t been replaced by another “security system” doomed to the loneliness of an empty backyard.

When you choose to own a pet you choose to be responsible for their physical and mental well being. Your animals rely on you to meet their needs. They need food, water, and play. They need love, snuggles, and kisses. They need to be pet and held as much as they need physical sustenance. There is nothing like the connection between a dog and their owner in a happy home. I would recommend it to anyone, I think my life would be a little emptier without my babies in it. As much as I give to them, they give right back in every wag of the tail and desire to be near me. But, you must take responsibility.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Tissue paper (black, blue, white)
  • Silver sharpie
  • Book page paper
  • Pencil
  • Prisma markers
  • Fine and extra fine sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I decided to use a variety of material. Other than sharpie, I hadn’t experimented with art markers, and decided this could be a good opportunity. Living with a landscape architect husband means I have a whole separate set of art materials to test out, and his Prisma colored markers were just what I was looking for.

I decided to draw the back of my house, focusing on the left side, second story where our bedroom is. I sketched it out in pencil first, then went in with the markers. To maintain an even look, I applied one layer at a time, and always continued my lines off the page, rather than stopping in the middle, and accidentally crossing marker lines, creating a darker color where they cross. Once I filled the drawing in with color, I went back over the detail lines with an extra fine sharpie.

Once I completed my marker house, I cut it out. I decided to cut out the window of our bedroom, to emphasize the fact that it was open. To create the background I decided to layer strips of tissue paper. I love the texture it creates, and by including both blue and black, I hoped to show it was dusk, just after sunset, but before total darkness fell.

Once I glued down the strips of tissue paper and the house cut out, it felt a little empty. To add interest, I drew a tree silhouette on white tissue paper with sharpie. I carefully cut the tree out, leaving a thin white outline around the tree. I glued it to the left side of my visual journal.

To visually represent the howling, I used a silver sharpie to write “howl” all over the page. To complete the visual journal page I wrote “take responsibility” on a ripped out piece of book page, and layered it on a cut out piece of black tissue paper.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about something you want to take action on. It could be as small as helping your elderly  neighbor or solving world hunger.

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