Month: September 2012

Visual Journal Page 8: No Ride Lasts Forever

Every year in my Introduction to Art class I do a collaborative project. Each students gets a piece of an image that they have to enlarge, re-draw, and each piece fits together to create the image. I never tell them what the image is, all they have is one piece with lines, shapes, patterns, and value to work from. I love the reveal day, where I stand in front of the class, slowly unfolding their creation, as I listen to their oohs and ahhs.

Their drawings never line up perfectly, the image is always slightly off, but when you step back it all comes together. Those slight nuances are what make it interesting, it’s what turns the original image into their work of art. I love this project and the sense of community it creates in the class. I was reminded of that feeling as I was sifting through my journal folder one afternoon and I came across this image. It was the first collaborative grid project I did, and it brought up memories of my first semester teaching.

I was reminded of how much I loved and hated my job. How I struggled to get through every day, connect to my “problem” students, prepare for every class, and fall asleep at night. Throughout that first year, especially the first semester, when I had my difficult days I often reminisced about college. I thought about how easy it was, how I was able to spend all my time hanging out with friends, attending football games, going to movies, or just hanging out at our house. I remembered how easy life was when my parents paid my bills, and all I had to worry about was where I would get extra spending money to go out to eat, buy new clothes, or hang out in downtown Athens. That first year teaching I ached for my college years.

The real world is difficult. My first month fully on my own I barely scraped by. By the last week of the month, I was eagerly awaiting my first real-life-grown-up-job paycheck, and I desperately needed it. I couldn’t go to the store to buy more food or put more gas in my car. I had a long commute, which ate up a lot of gas, which meant when I got home from work I couldn’t drive my car anywhere else to conserve gas. I was down to kraft mac-n-cheese, with no milk to make it with, a box of crackers, a few basic items here and there, which I lived off of for a week. I desperately missed my parent’s credit card that month. The next month was easier, as was the next, and slowly my finances, job, attitude, and life in general started to get better.

As I sat in my classroom the beginning of my second year, looking at this image of a carnival ride, thinking back on my first year teaching and college days, with all of these memories and snapshots flipping through my head, I realized that I was happy I was no longer in college. I missed being with my friends all the time, I missed Athens, but I didn’t miss homework, tests, and not making my own money. I love living in a house that is mine, married to a man that I love, and working a job that is emotionally trying yet rewarding. I love the sense of accomplishment at the end of every month when I get my paycheck, pay my bills, mortgage, insurance, go shopping, out to eat, and set aside the extra for my future plans. I truly love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I chose this image for the collaborative project because it fit into a carnival theme, it had interesting texture, and good lines. But, subconsciously I think I chose it because it reflected my life. You get on one of these rides, and while your riding sometimes it feels like you are on it for an eternity, you don’t know when it will end, yet when you get off you feel like it was over in the blink of an eye. While your on the ride your emotions surge from excitement to fear, relaxation to stress, heart fluttering, hair flying, and the tingling sensation left behind as the ride slows, but your body hasn’t quite caught up yet. Life can be over in the blink of an eye, in the worst times it can drag by, but all of the sudden you are years later, thinking back, feeling like it was yesterday.

In every stage of our lives we need to take a moment and remind ourselves of all the things that are happening. Take a breath, think about the day, the last week, or even what happened five minutes ago. The most important thing is to reminisce. We need to remind ourselves how we got to where we are, how good or bad things were up to this point, and where you will go from here. In the blink of an eye this moment will be over, the next moment is quickly approaching, and just as quickly sliding by.  Suddenly, we will find ourselves at the next stage of life, reminiscing on the one we just left. After all, no ride lasts forever, but the best ones will always be remembered.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Scissors
  • Ribber cement
  • Packaging tape
  • Gesso
  • Book pages
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

I knew when I decided to make a page about this image that I wanted to keep it simple, and stick to neutral colors. I immediately decided to create a tape transfer of the carnival ride, and place it on the right corner. To create a tape transfer you take clear packaging tape, and place it on top of an image printed on a laser printer. You then flip the image over, and burnish the back with scissor handles. Once the tape is well stuck to the image you hold the paper underwater until it begins to separate from the tape. Move it to a counter or table, and rub a sponge or your fingers over the soggy paper to remove it from the tape. The end result is the ink stuck to tape, and all white areas are now transparent. For more details on how to create a tape transfer look here.

 I liked the semi-transparent effect I got when I created the transfer, I loved the words in the book pages showing through, and I decided to use ripped up book pages to emphasize the words I was planning on adding. I decided to write the words across both pages, and thought it would be interesting to create a space for the words to be written in. I wanted it to be subtle, so I painted a straight line with watered down gesso. Gesso is an acrylic medium that is used to create a surface you can paint on. It is also great for drawing on top of and toning down backgrounds. I wanted it to be semi-transparent so I added water to make it more hazy. I then outlined the painted line with ripped up book pages. In order to make the book pages blend into the background I used pages from my book, so the color of the ripped up pages would match the color of the background. To finish the image I wrote my words. I used pencil first, so I could make sure everything would fit perfectly, and then outlined them in sharpie.

CHALLENGE:

Create a page that represents your outlook on life at this point in time. Feeling depressed, create a dark page. Excited about something coming up, create something with bright colors and movement. Choose an image to represent your emotion or create something more abstract. Use a tape transfer of words, a pattern, or an image somewhere in your page.

I hope you enjoyed my post! Please comment, share ideas, thoughts, inspiration, and your finished pages! If you would like to send me pictures of your work I would love to incorporate them into my site! Fill out a form here.


 

Visual Journal Page 7: Wandering the Streets of Paris

I love Paris… Who doesn’t love Paris? I will never forget the historic buildings, streets filled with tourists, locals, artists, vendors, and performers. The smells wafting down alleyways and busy streets, fresh bread, fruit, and coffee. The melodic sound of French, twisting between groups, jumbling together, making no sense as it reached my ears, but loving it despite that. It blew my mind how Parisians could live in this city, walk amongst the history, every day. It almost seemed as if it got to a point where they stopped paying attention, as if they forgot they were walking past the Louvre or Eiffel Tower, and how powerful these icons are.

I am in incredibly lucky person to have had the opportunity to travel through France and Italy for ten days with my Mom. It is a trip I will never forget because of all the sites, history, and art I saw, as well as how meaningful it was that I was there with my Mom. Being one of three children I had plenty of opportunities to spend time with my parents, but the one-on-one moments were more rare. Therefore, this trip truly was special. Never in my life had I spent so much time with just Mom and me. Not only was I touring Europe with my Mom, but she is also an art teacher, and we spent ten full days enjoying the incredible works of art that are housed in cities we visited, like Rome, Florence, and Paris.

I will never forget that trip. Every now and then I catch myself zoning out, random thoughts of Venice, Chartres, and Siena. Wishing myself back to those moments, thinking maybe I will open my eyes and find myself in the middle of Europe once again, day dreaming about my next visit. When I began my school year, Fall 2010, Paris was a prospect for the upcoming Summer. The previous year the drama teacher at my school, Lindsay, decided she was determined to take a group of students to Europe. And the best part about taking students is the teacher’s way is paid, as long as enough students sign up. A free trip to Europe… I couldn’t believe it could happen… I knew I had to jump on her bandwagon and try to go.

We planned and planned. Lindsay did the majority of the work, setting up the trip through a travel agency, crunching numbers, and figuring out how many had to go for us to go for free. We advertised at school, and had an overwhelming response. I suddenly felt it could actually happen. I began planning out the things I wanted to do, see, shop, and tour. As the days continued, and my planning grew, we had our first presentation meeting, and began talking money with the parents and students. Suddenly, our numbers were cut in half. My spirits dropped, but I held on, this could still happen, the numbers were borderline, but still strong. We made phone calls, recruited, sent out reminder after reminder about the first, non-refundable deposit. Fundraising began, we pushed chocolate bars and candy, and inadvertently encouraged cavities to develop in all our students’ teeth. The first deposit deadline came and went… and my hopes fell. My dreams of Paris began to crumble away, I quickly realized I would not be attending the trip.

It’s amazing how many people can show interest and just as fast pull out. Once money was discussed and deadlines approached, many students realized they didn’t have the money, they didn’t want to fund raise, or it just was too much work for a trip. It was disappointing to admit defeat, but I was still determined to get Lindsay, and the small group who had committed, to go on the trip. I continued to push candy sales and helped her where I could. Lindsay’s initial excitement and seemingly endless enthusiasm began to wane as the year continued on. Parents cancelled, prices went up, students went back and forth on commitment, and Lindsay was on a constant roller coaster, no one knew if this trip would ever become a reality.

In the end she did make. She got to take her students on a trip, unfortunately it didn’t end up being free for her, but in the end she made it anyway. I was incredibly disappointed that I wasn’t there, but when the realization hit that both of us couldn’t go, I knew I had to bow out. The time and effort Lindsay put in already didn’t match up with the return, and there was no way I was going to attempt to split the little money that would pay a portion of her trip. Before she even left she was over it. However, Lindsay is one of the most caring, enduring, motivated people I have ever met. She rose above the constant battle with parents, students, the agency, and money, and she had an amazing time on the trip. She claims she wouldn’t change a thing, she she could do it over she would still plan it, but she will NEVER plan a trip with students again.

The prospect of Europe was enough to develop a slight pull in me. Every now and then I feel a small tug, an urge to act on the plans I created in my head. I will make it back, sooner than later, and I can’t wait until that day comes. After all, there is no place I would rather be lost than the streets of Paris.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber Cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Magazine image

HOW TO

Although this page may appear simple when you first look at it, it is far from it. I feel this page is under-appreciated because of it’s simplicity, but it took me a long time to put it together. The page is based off a magazine image I found, and map of Paris. I held onto, I felt it was appropriate since I was attempting to go to Paris, but I didn’t actually create the page until after I realized the trip wasn’t happening for me. Even though I wasn’t going to Paris I have plans to visit again, and what better way to remind myself of that than to make a page about it? I took the magazine image and carefully cut out every single building. I took away the streets, and glued the buildings on my page to recreate the map in my book. I carefully cut and glued, piece by piece, always making sure it was following the same pattern of the original image. I wanted my book page to transform into the streets of Paris, and although this process was time consuming, I couldn’t think of a better way to do it.

CHALLENGE

Reminisce about a trip you took or create a page for a trip you plan to take in your lifetime. Use photographs, magazine images, or draw your own. Reconstruct your trip or create an image to represent your ideal trip. Try to push yourself to incorporate the page you are using as a base. Have fun with it!


 

Visual Journal Page 6: New Inspiration from Old Places

I was thrilled when I finished my first visual journal cover to cover, and I couldn’t wait to start my new book. When I first found my second book I was in love, as I flipped through the pages I could visualize all of the things I was going to create. But just four pages in, I hit my wall.

Inspiration block can come out of nowhere and prevent you from moving forward with your projects. I had ideas to get me started in my journal, but once I had a few pages complete I felt stuck. I didn’t know where to go from there. Whenever I picked up my book I found myself overwhelmed. Rather than visualizing future pages I became sucked into the emptiness of all of the blank pages in the book, and the amount of work required to fill them up.

There is nothing worse than feeling a sense of obligation when trying to create work for yourself. The purpose of a journal is not for it to be a chore, it is meant to be a place to vent, reminisce, and store memories. I knew when I hit this point it was time to take a break. With another school year starting, and all of the stress and busyness that comes with that, it was the perfect time to put my book away for awhile.

For a couple of weeks I didn’t make anything in my book; however even though my book was out of sight, it wasn’t out of mind. Anytime something happened I wrote it down on my to-be-created journal list; or anytime I stumbled on an image that struck me, I ripped it out and saved it. Slowly, as things began to slow down at school I decided it was time to revisit my journal.

I started by going down my list of things I wanted to make pages for, but still nothing inspired me. Next step was to explore my overflowing visual journal folder. I flipped through the pieces of paper, random pictures, and leftovers from past journal pages, everything I saved since I began my first journal. Suddenly, stuck in the back, I found the easel I traced around to create the cover of my first journal. It made me smile, and a page began to form in my mind.

When you are stuck and have no idea where to go looking forward can be difficult. In these situations, when the future is daunting, there is nothing better than to look to the past. Remind yourself what inspired you before, and use that to get you moving again. Find new inspiration in old places… (click here to see the book cover that inspired this page).

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Book pages
  • Watercolor
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with the easel cut out I traced around to create the pattern on my first visual journal cover. I decided to use it as a basis for the page, and I took a square piece of paper, and traced around the easel to create the circular, snow flake shape once again. I played around with placement on the page, and decided to put the tracing on the left side page, and glue the easel cut out on the right side page. However, before I glued them down I thought about the background, and decided to rip up pages and glue them down to add texture.

I ripped up book pages from the book I was currently working in and used rubber cement to tack them down. As I got close to covering the entire right side page, I decided to do something different, leave a space, and then finish covering the page. Once everything was glued on the right I stepped back, and thought about the left page. I didn’t want to do the same thing to the left side, but I wanted them to tie together. I finally settled on placing ripped up book pages around the square with the easels, but leave the rest of the page blank.

I began placing the other pieces and quickly realized I needed color. Since I had a somewhat opposite look going with the way I glued down the book pages, I decided to take it a step further. I left the ripped up paper white on the left side, and painted the rest of the page with red, orange, and yellow watercolors. On the right side I painted the book pages with the same color watercolors, but left the right corner white. In order to contrast the white pages I then painted the background of the drawn easels and the actual easel cut out with watercolor, and then glued them down.

However, I still wasn’t happy. Suddenly the easel shapes were blending in and the book pages weren’t popping against the watercolor, so I went to my go-to-supply when nothing seems to be working, a sharpie. I decided to make some of the drawn easels break out of the square, and continue onto the page, and I finished by tracing every other easel. I then traced around the white book pages with sharpie to create enough contrast to make it pop and added my words on the right side corner. After one last look I decided to take a color sharpie and scribble the space between the white book pages and painted book pages to make it pop, and I mirrored the color on the left page by coloring in one of the easels.

Although this page is simple compared to many of my pages it was a challenge from start to finish. I couldn’t come up with an idea, I couldn’t decide how to layout the page, and nothing seemed to be working together. However, despite this, I kept going and in the end I am very satisfied with the outcome. Sometimes the uphill battle makes the end result even better.

I hope you enjoyed my post! Please help me spread the word, share with others, e-mail, like, tweet, subscribe!


 

Visual Journal Page 5: It is One of My Favorites… Thanks

25… a quarter of a century… mid twenties… I was getting old. Although twenty-five isn’t really old, it did feel a little bit like a milestone in my life. I had reached my mid twenties, I was freshly married, starting my second year in my career, a new homeowner. I felt like a grown up.

I always look forward to my birthday, and I can sometimes be a bit of a “birthday brat”. I start a countdown to my birthday a few weeks out, I share with everyone I come into contact with that it is approaching, I can’t wait to rip open gifts, and I want to be pampered on my big day. Although I was still looking forward to this birthday, I really wasn’t expecting much. Nick and I had just tied the knot, bought a house, and our bank account reflected that. I told Nick that we could just cook something in, hang out for the day, there was really no need to make a big deal about it.

I wasn’t expecting much. However, on my birthday I woke up to homemade breakfast and a pile of presents. After opening a couple, and with great difficulty convincing Nick that I should save some to open later that day, we headed out for my next birthday event. We met my best friend, Elly, and our friend Ben at the Atlanta Zoo. I hadn’t been since I was a child, but the excitement was the same. I felt slightly giddy as we walked up to the entrance. I oohed and ahhed over the different animals. Like the children surrounding me I leaned over the fences, begging the animals to come closer, or get up and move around in general. I loved seeing the monkeys bouncing around their cage, the giraffe eating leaves from the tip top of the tree, the panda bear rolling around in it’s hammock, there wasn’t a single part of the zoo that I didn’t enjoy. No matter how old I get I believe I will revert to a five year old in the presence of an animal.

Once we wrapped up the zoo, Nick and I headed home to open more presents. I finished opening them, and sat amongst my many books and video games. I had more than enough things to entertain me for the small remainder of my summer, and many weeks beyond. I planted a big kiss on Nick, and thanked him for a wonderful birthday, only to find that the day wasn’t over yet. He was taking me out for Japanese, a birthday tradition. The first time my parents took us to hibachi we were in elementary and preschool. We were hypnotized with the tricks and fire the chef used to prepare our meal. I will never forget the last, very large fire the chef created, which was promptly followed by my preschool age brother shaking his finger exclaiming: “Don’t EVER do that again!”. Since that first time I have been hooked and we go every year for my birthday. Every restaurant we go to the chefs do the same tricks, but I always respond with the same, surprise, excitement, and awe. I was excited that my birthday tradition would continue with my husband, and I couldn’t wait to see the same old tricks done over again, a perfect ending to the perfect birthday.

Nick and I enjoyed our dinner out and spent the rest of the night at home watching a movie. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday, spent with my friends and family, doing the things I love, and eating the things I love. Nick always takes the time to think through every detail in order to make my day perfect, and it was. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my birthdays with my amazing husband.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Zoo brochure
  • Colored pencils (Prisma brand are the best)
  • Book pages
  • Thin sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I layered cut up pieces of the Atlanta Zoo brochure and my own drawings of the day. One of my goals with this new visual journal was to rely less on magazine images and to draw and paint my own. I looked through the pictures I took throughout the day, and referenced them to create my own drawings. I drew them on white paper using a pencil first, then went back in and added color and detail with colored pencils. I cut them out, making sure to cut right up next to the drawing in order to create a more unified collage, and began layering them. I wanted the page to reflect the progression of the day, so I placed the images of the zoo on the right and the images of dinner on the left. I wanted to incorporate the words in a more interesting way, so I decided to glue down a drawing of chopsticks at the top, and write my words in between them. I was very satisfied with my page when it was all finished, but unfortunately sharpie bled through from my next page onto this one, which caused me to go back and glue down ripped up pieces of book pages to cover the sharpie. Remember if you ever incorporate sharpie into a page, glue two pages together to prevent it from bleeding through.