Tag: colored pencil

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 16: Empty Bowls

Visual Journal Page 16-Empty Bowls

Empty bowls was an annual project hosted by the art department at my school. Every year the art students made clay bowls and donated them to a chili dinner hosted at school. Attendees paid to attend the event, and in return they get a hot meal and handmade bowl. The purpose of the bowl is to act as a daily reminder of the millions of people who are hungry each day. All proceeds from the events were donated to a local food bank to help the fight against hunger. Empty bowls began as a grassroots movement in Rhode Island, and has since spread to have an international following. Read more about it here.

When I began working at my school this was an event that was already in place. I loved the project, it was an assignment in sculpture as well as selflessness. Students had to put time and effort into a work of art they couldn’t keep. Many of them struggled with the fact that they couldn’t take their bowl home, which made the lesson that much more important. It was a big event and took a lot of time, planning, and effort. Months in advance we had to start making bowls to allow enough time to create, bisque fire, glaze, and glaze fire them. The kiln would run daily for weeks on end. The event had many moving parts that had to be coordinated and students had to commit to time outside of school to help out. It was a huge project in and of itself, but despite the effort it was all worth it for the good of my students and their community.

My last year at that school I was a solo art teacher, our department was literally cut in half when budget cuts had to be implemented. As I began planning out the year I realized if I wanted to continue the project I would have to go it alone. Many times I considered skipping it, and I honestly tried. However the dinner had become a regular event, something people looked forward to, and those were the ones that wouldn’t allow me to let it go. After giving a number of “maybe” responses to “when is empty bowls happening?” questions, I finally gave in. I was going to go it alone this year, this massive event was going to happen one way or another.

As expected my planning periods and afternoons quickly filled as my to do list grew. It was harder than ever to pull it off, but the night came and went, and was another success. We had a wonderful turn out, delicious food, and hundreds of handmade bowls in the hands of our attendees. My students had another year of learning another valuable life lesson. They are luckier than most. At the very least they get to come to school each day and fill their bellies at lunch. There are so many in the world who don’t always have the chance to eat even one good meal a day. Watching my students work together for the greater good of their community reminded me of the importance of this event. I required them to selflessly give away their artwork and I needed to step back and remind myself that I also needed to learn a lesson, that my time was worth the sacrifice to help out someone in need.

This visual journal page reflects my most hectic and final empty bowls dinner.

Check out my visual journal page about Empty Bowls 2009 here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • To do list
  • Newspaper
  • Yellow notebook paper
  • Colored pencils
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started by ripping up and collaging my very long to do list. It felt good to rip up that list at the end of the event, and it felt even better reflecting on the event by creating this page. I used rubber cement to glue down the paper.

After placing the background, I brainstormed the best way to reflect this final empty bowls experience. It was a ton of time and work, I had tons of great help, there were so many hands involved, but one of the things that stood out most was the number of times I had to run the kiln. Everyday like clockwork I would rush to my classroom, unload the kiln, load it back up, and spend the rest of the day bumping the temperature, checking on the progress, and waiting until it shut off to leave for the day. This was an older kiln that used cones to determine the turn off time. Every day before I started the kiln I placed a cone, a cone shaped piece of clay, to support the latch and shut off for the kiln. As the kiln reaches temperature the cone slowly melts until it releases the latch which shuts of the kiln and allows the cooling process to start. I had piles and piles of used up cones by the end of the empty bowls process, and I thought it was the perfect imagery to use to represent the long process.

Using white paper and pencil I sketched out the variety of shapes the melted cones took. After I completed the outline I added color using colored pencils. I used a variety of red tones to give it a three dimensional look. Once I finished filling them in I cut them out using scissors. I glued them down using rubber cement in rows across the page.

Next, I ripped up a picture and story that ran on the front page of the local paper about the event. I was photographed for the picture that ran with the story holding some of my ceramic pieces that were auctioned off at the dinner. I was very touched when the newspaper reached out about covering our event, and floored when I realized they were running my picture on the front page.

I glued down one layer of ripped up newspaper, then layered a circle cut from the yellow notebook paper I used for the to do list on top. I cut out a circle shaped section from the newspaper story, then ripped it into three pieces, and glued it down. I drew the empty bowls logo on top of that with sharpie. Last, but not least, I added a small ripped up piece of newspaper to the bottom right corner, layered the yellow notebook paper on top, and wrote “2011” in sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page using newspaper. Find an interesting article you connect to and use it as a base for your next page or create a page about the story you discovered.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I hope you are inspired to start your own visual journal. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Visual Journal Page 13: Tape

Visual Journal Page 13-Tape

Our first home is what you would call “move in ready.” The previous owners renovated, updated, and painted every room using nice shades of neutral.

While house shopping it was nice to walk into a space I could visualize myself in. There was no off putting color, family pictures, or personal mementos to distract me from seeing it as my future home. This made me fall in love with the house from the get go and made move in extremely easy.

Neutral goes with everything. While some rooms weren’t perfectly painted to match my decor, there was no immediate need for a fresh coat of paint. This allowed my focus to be on organizing and finding new spaces for my much beloved furniture and artwork. However, after a few months, the neutral tones began to get to me.

It started with the kitchen. I decided I wanted a nice bold color, and tried out many shades of green until Nick found the perfect color with the perfect name, “recycled glass.” Read about that process via visual journal inspiration here. Next, I moved to the dining room, which turned from a lovely light gray to a very bright turquoise. After the dining room I moved to the “office” space and converted the gray-blue to a light green. I then tackled our bedroom.

I tend to be attracted to bright, bold, and graphic sprinkled with a layer of old, antique, and peely in interior design. Sometimes this combination works in my favor and other times it is a disaster. Because of my past experiences, I was worried about my latest venture. I wanted to paint five wide, horizontal stripes in my bedroom. Not only was the design bold, but I wanted to use a dark gray and a light gray, a strong contrast, in a small space with very odd angles. Our bedroom is essentially the attic, which means the roof line invades both our master bedroom and bathroom spaces. It was either going to look beautiful and impressive or like a fun house.

I spent an entire weekend measuring, marking, taping, painting, watching paint dry, re-taping, painting, and finally the big reveal.

I was instantly in love. The stripes highlighted the interesting architecture in our room without making me feel like I was at a carnival. It was a bold design, but the soft neutrals complimented it well. It felt like a spa, a place to relax, and I loved it.

What was most astonishing about the entire process was the amount of blue painters tape it required to create the stripes. I was left with a ball of blue tape that could barely fit into my kitchen trashcan. As I packed up my painting supplies and disposed of the mess, that giant ball of blue tape almost felt like a trophy, a representation of my hard work that weekend.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Wall paint

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I decided to recreate the stripe pattern in my visual journal using the actual wall paint I used. I once again took the time to measure and mark out stripes, and filled them in with shades of gray. After completing the background I began brainstorming ways I could convey the time and energy it took to paint those stripes, and my mind kept drifting back to the giant ball of painters tape. I decided I needed to recreate it using colored pencil.

I first used pencil to sketch out the tape shape, a single stripe running across the top to create a space to write, and a large ball of tape. I made sure to twist and intertwine my lines to make it look more three dimensional. I used various shades of blue to create a sense of depth in the tape. I started with darker shades, filling in color where the tape lines overlap. I slowly build up lighter and lighter blues, and finally added white to areas that needed bright highlights.

I cut out my tape drawing and used rubber cement to glue it to the page. I used sharpie to write “tape” to finish the look.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal project about your most recent DIY project.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and today’s visual journal post! Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Visual Journal Page 8: Books

Visual Journal Page 8-Books

 

I was captivated by the world of books at an early age. Books were constantly surrounding me on the shelves of my house, scattered in my bedroom, and on the shelves of the library I frequented as a child. I still remember reading my very first book to my Mom on the way home from the library. It was a treat if we were allowed to stay up a little later to read at night. I was that kid who sat at the front of the bus in middle school, my nose buried in a book.

As the years have passed my love for books have only grown. Which is evident in my house with my overflowing shelves, books stuck in any nook or cranny I can find, and of course, my bedside table, which practically looks like it is made of books. Every night, I curl up in bed, and read as long as I can before the sentences stop making sense, and my eyelids grow heavy. Getting lost in these stories helps to settle my mind, and help me forgot the endless to dos I have waiting for me in the morning.

Books give me the ability to travel the world, become a different person, go on an adventure, do magic, solve a mystery, raise the dead, time travel; without ever walking out my front door.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Magazines
  • Old book pages
  • Colored pencils
  • White paper
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

When I began planning out this visual journal page, I decided I needed to recreate my bedside table and have endless piles of books scattered around the pages. I started by hunting through magazine after magazine, ripping out any page with a book on it. After getting a nice stack of magazine pages, I began cutting out the individual books.

Once I had the images of books ready, I began working on my bedside table. I sketched the outline on a white sheet of paper, then began adding color, highlights, shadows, and details using Prisma colored pencils. To read a few tips about using colored pencils check out my blog post here. After my table was complete, I cut out it out, and began laying out the page.

I decided to place the bedside table in the center of the right page, then added stacked books around the bedside table. On the left side page, I ripped up strips of old book pages, and wrote out my words. Before gluing down the strips of paper, I collaged pictures of books on the page, then glued the book pages on top.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about one of your obsessions. Use a combination of magazine images and drawings on your visual journal page.