Tag: decoration

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.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals by following and sharing with others on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Visual Journal Page 19: Fancy Days

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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.

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

Encaustic Art: A 36″x60″ Commission

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I created this 12″x24″ boat encaustic a few years back. It was one of the first that I tried carving into the layers of melted and hardened wax to pull out an image. I loved how the boat blended into the background yet popped against the colored wax painted around it. This piece has traveled with me to many art shows and is my most favorited piece on my Etsy shop.

In the spring I was contacted through Etsy by a woman interested in the piece. We went back and forth on price negotiations, and I thought the day had come for me to part with my little boat. I was very surprised when Amber wrote me again requesting quotes for a larger version of the piece. I was intrigued by the prospect, I always love a challenge, and it would be interesting to see how it would translate on a larger scale. I sent back a range of prices and sizes, with the largest size at 36″x60.” When setting up commissions I always assume the buyer will fall somewhere in the middle, so I was surprised when Amber jumped on the 36″x60″ size. I was thrilled at first, then slightly scared. Encaustic can be a difficult medium to work with, especially on a large scale, and this was by far the largest size I had ever tackled. But once the wood panel arrived, I was ready to go.

Layer 1

I started with a bare wood panel. When working with encaustic you must work on a rigid surface, such as wood, to prevent the wax from flexing and inevitably cracking. The first step was to coat the entire panel in layers of blue wax and fuse the layers by heating it up with a heat gun.

Layer 2

Once the panel had a good base layer I covered up the blue with thin, art paper. While it is shocking see all the beautiful blue covered up, once I add and fuse another layer of wax the paper ends up being absorbed into the wax and showing a lot of the layer below.

Layer 3

After the paper was attached I added a thick coat of encaustic medium, a clear wax. This was by far the most challenging step of the process. With every new layer I painted on, I had to fuse it with the layers beneath, while making sure air bubbles were smoothed out. The difficult part of working so large is the wax hardens fairly quickly. I would heat one section, move to another, and before I could get the two sections to blend together one would already be hard. It took many layers and a lot of fusing in order to get a solid, smooth layer.

After the encaustic medium was added I loosely painted natural white wax on top and fused it to create a smokey, hazy layer.

Layer 4

While it was still difficult to get a smooth, even look, it was much easier to work with the white since I had well fused and smooth layers beneath.

Layer 4 detail

Once I was satisfied with the general look of the background I carved the boat shape into the layers of wax using a pointy tool that I scavenged from by hub’s tool box. I lightly marked out the shape before carving in the final lines. If I messed up it meant melting and re-smoothing the entire piece. I then pushed Payne’s Gray oil paint into the lines to make them pop.

Boat Progression

Once the white wax was melted into the piece I painted a repeating diamond pattern in the background using oil paint. It added another interesting layer and helped tie the layers together in the background.

After adding the diamond pattern I added the layers of blue to create the water beneath the boat and the layers of white and yellow to create the sky. I loved how immediately the boat popped. At this point Amber and I were e-mailing daily, hourly, as I worked on the final touches. I would send images, she would send feedback, and the piece was tweaked. While it is important for my vision to come across I think it’s just as important for the commissioner’s vision to also be represented. I love working with my clients to get their work of art just right.

Layer 7

I was so happy with the final product and felt incredibly accomplished to have finished such a large piece.

Finished Product

I loved both the similarities and differences between the mini and the macro versions of my boat. It was fun comparing them before the commissioned piece was packed up and shipped out.

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I was terrified as I packed it in many layers of foam and bubble wrap to be shipped from my little Atlanta, GA bungalow to the other corner of the United States, Seattle, WA. I eagerly awaited Amber’s reply when she received the piece. It is a very different experience seeing an encaustic in person. The layered look isn’t done justice through pictures, and I could only hoped she liked it in person as much as she did through the many photographs she had seen.

Encaustic Reveal

Amber was sweet enough to not only let me know when she received the piece, but she also photographed the process of she and her kids opening it up. I felt like I was there during the big reveal.

Hanging on the Wall

In addition to commissioning an almost 3x larger version of the original, Amber ended up also buying the original to give as a gift to a friend. I love that both my boats live near each other on the pacific coast.

I loved every minute of working with Amber and creating this work of art. She gave me the opportunity to put my encaustic abilities to the test, work larger than I ever had before, and see how one of my smaller pieces would translate to a large size. I hope for many more opportunities like this in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about all things art, encaustic, and made in the south by sharing on your social network site of choice. I would love to hear your comments about this piece and encaustics in general! Comment below or e-mail me at whitneywpanetta@gmail.com


 

Craft Project: Baby Monthly Update Sign DIY

Cooper-Small

Time goes by faster and faster the older I get. Now that I have a little boy it seems like time has hit warp speed.

Cooper is literally growing up before my eyes. By the time I wrap my brain around the fact that he is making a new cooing noise he is suddenly laughing, smiling, and wiggling more than ever. I can’t believe in a few short months he will be sitting up, crawling, and on the verge of walking and talking.

The time warp of motherhood has also overlapped into my projects. My spare time has greatly decreased and my productivity has gone down with it. I had no idea the amount of time this little guy would need. His unpredictable nap schedule was the only chance I had to work on my crafts, which is why this particular one is three months late. Better late than never, right? This is my new mantra.

While I was pregnant I began looking for the monthly stickers to use when photographing Cooper for his monthly pictures and update. Over the years I saw these stickers increase in popularity, and eventually they were clogging my Facebook wall and Instagram account. When it came time for me to select my own, I was over it. I had seen it too many times, I wanted something different. In my hormonal fog, pregnant state of mind I decided I would have plenty of time to put together a handmade sign to use for the photographs after Cooper made his entrance into the world.

Oscar

Once Coop arrived my time was gone. If I wasn’t feeding him or rocking him to sleep, I was half asleep trying to guess when he would wake up next and whether or not I had the energy to pick myself off the sofa and feed myself. This sequence would end with me ultimately deciding it was too much work to stand, I was more tired than hungry and the sofa was too comfortable to move. If I was too tired to eat, there was no way I was going to put time or effort into a craft project.

Once things began to settle down, and Cooper began to fall into a more predictable schedule, I started to feel like myself again. I was ready to do something other than binge watch TV. I started planning out his sign.

I had no idea what I wanted to create for his monthly updates. Everything I came up with I had seen before. I kept putting it off and putting it off out of lack of inspiration and time. One day while perusing Facebook I saw one of my friend’s post a one month picture of her sweet son, Oscar. Next to him was a beautiful sign with his name on it, made out of a tree trunk round. On the back she put chalkboard paint to allow her to change information about him has he grows. I was immediately inspired, and highly motivated. Coop’s three month birthday was on the horizon, and I was dead set on at least getting pictures for his 3, 6, 9, and 12 month birthdays.

Supplies

For this project you will need a wood round, sander, paint (the colors are up to you!), chalkboard paint, paintbrushes, chalk, and a sharpie (not listed and optional).  At the time my husband just happened to have three trees taken down on our property and he was hard at work chopping them up. I had him cut me a few rounds, approximately 1 inch thick. It took another week to start my project once I had my rounds cut, and when I finally set up to start I realized the rounds had cracked. I assume this happened because it was fresh wood. I chose the least damaged one and get to work.

Step 1 and 2

The surface of my round was pretty rough because of the way it was cut, so my step 1 was taking a power sander to it. I never got it as smooth as I would have liked, the chalk goes down a little rough, but I made it work.

Next, I painted the chalkboard paint on one side. I used the natural pattern of the rings as a guide for the edge of my shape, and I chose to leave a natural wood border around the edge. I applied two coats of the chalkboard paint, allowing it to dry in between layers.

Step 3

After the chalkboard paint dried I flipped the wood round over, and painted the back with a turquoise color. I wanted it to match his room, so I used leftover wall paint from painting the walls. Again, I used the natural ring pattern to create the edge of the shape and left a natural wood border.

Step 4

Using a pencil I lightly wrote out his name in cursive. If you are not confident in your lettering ability, all you have to do is print out typed letters and trace them onto the surface.

Step 5

I used a thin paintbrush and white acrylic paint to paint his name and outline the turquoise shape. It took a few coats to get the white solid enough to pop out against the background color.

Step 6

Initially I planned to outline everything in black acrylic paint, but the details were too small to easily add them using a paintbrush. I instead opted for a black sharpie, and it worked perfectly. Because I was able to control the application of the sharpie more than paint, I was able to clean up the edges of his name and add small details to the border.

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I used chalk to write “3 months” on the chalkboard for his first monthly photo shoot. I set up a white blanket over an arm chair and placed it near our backdoor where sunlight was coming in. I frantically shot picture after picture in between sticking a pacifier in his mouth, dancing around like a crazy person, and making odd sounds to keep him entertained.

Cooper 3 Months

I laid the blanket on the floor for a few of the pictures to allow him to move around more. I love that as he grows he will be able to start holding the sign by himself. I can’t wait to look at how the pictures transition with him growing and the wood sign staying the same size.

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Of course not every picture will be perfect, but I love this one just as much as the rest.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Keep checking back for more Cooper updates and hopefully more craft project how tos, as long as Coop and time allows. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing on your social network site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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.

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