Tag: painting

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 17: Fear Itself

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I have heard the saying, “the only thing to fear is fear itself,” (by Franklin D. Roosevelt) many times in my life. It’s a positive saying, a tool to motivate, a way to conquer your worries and move ahead. It makes sense. After all there are many things in life that cause unnecessary concern. Perhaps the only reason you hold back is to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of fear. It’s often the feeling, the knot in your stomach, heat rising to your face, that causes more distress than the actual thing or action. Once you conquer the sense of fear you can conquer the fear.

But, what happens when you are faced with the fear, you experience it, you survive it, you move on, and the fear still lingers? If facing your fears is supposed to conquer them, why am I more afraid than ever?

Let me rewind.

It was just another morning. I was at Nick’s apartment in Athens, GA preparing for my first class of the day at the wonderful, beautiful University of Georgia. I had just gotten out of the shower, I grabbed my jeans that were draped over the weight bench in his room, got dressed, and quickly took his dog (now our dog) Kody for a walk before heading to class. I had only made it a few apartments down before I felt a burning sensation on my leg. I lifted my pant leg to investigate when suddenly a spider fell to the ground right in front of me. I didn’t think much of it, my leg was a little red, but no big deal. The spider was very creepy looking, but I continued on the walk.

As I rounded the turn at the end of the street my leg suddenly felt like it was on fire. I checked one more time and a welt had appeared next to my knee. It was a sensation I had never felt before and my mind started turning trying to figure out what had happened. I suddenly connected the dots back to the spider. Could that have fallen out of my jeans? What type of spider was it? I decided to backtrack to take a closer look. The spider was still there, laying half dead on the sidewalk. I bent down to take a closer look and my heart dropped. A bright red hourglass decorated the belly of this very black spider. It was a black widow, it was in my jeans, it had bitten me.

As a child I have a very distinct memory of my dad bringing in a mason jar from outside. He gather my sister, brother, and I around the kitchen table and showed us what was inside. It was a very frantic spider he had captured from the wood pile next to our house. He explained it was a black widow. He flipped it over with a pencil to show the distinct hourglass marking that immediately identified it. He warned us to never play in the wood pile, it was full of them, and they are poisonous. He then took the pencil and killed the spider. Life lessons before dinner.

From there on out my sister and I would always joke about black widows to try and scare each other. The thoughts of them in my bed, crawling over my face, poisoning me with there venom would keep me up at night. A very real fear began to develop. As I grew older I never encountered another black widow. My sister and I stopped teasing each other with the possibility of middle of the night spider attacks, and my fear moved to the back of my mind, where it stayed and ruminated until this morning my junior year of college.

Despite not thinking about these creepy crawlies for years, the first thought that popped into my head was my worse fear was becoming a reality. I honestly had no idea if I was going to live, die, get sick, or be fine. I was a healthy adult, the spider had obviously seen better days, it bit me on a lower part of my body, it wasn’t near my heart, my leg only burned a little, I was going to be fine, I was going to be late to class, I needed to go ahead and seek medical help just in case, I better get in the car and go to the health center, what if I passed out on the way and get in a wreck?, I need to go, screw this spider!! After the long train of panicked thoughts my next action was to stomp on the spider many more times than was necessary to ensure its death before I loaded myself into the car to get to the university health center.

I could barely follow my own frantic thoughts as I walked into the building, when my spinning mind was interrupted by my roommate. It was the most random coincidence that she was in the parking lot at the exact same time as me. As soon as I saw her and registered her “what are you doing here?” question, I burst into tears. I realized right then that I was more afraid than I realized, my eight year old phobia had never diminished, it had just relocated to a quieter spot in my brain.

Elly walked my mess of a self into the health center, sat with me through the visit, and helped me home. I still don’t know why she was there that day, but I’m glad she was.

To make an already long story less long, I was told I would be just fine and to go home and take Advil for the pain. After hours of full body muscle cramping I called back to the health center to see what other options I had, they told me to come back in, and immediately sent me to the emergency room after seeing me. After arriving at the hospital, where a shocked staff wondered why I didn’t come in hours earlier, I was hooked up to morphine to help with my high level of discomfort and I spent the night. Despite the bite mark continuously beading with sweat for weeks after, I was just fine.

I survived. A black widow bit me, I saw the perpetrator up close, I confronted the spider (unfortunate for the spider), I survived. I was fine. No big deal. Yet, to this day I am even more afraid of black widows than ever before. I lived for years without seeing one between my dad’s introduction and my one on one meeting, but now I find them everywhere. I find them in every nook and cranny outside. I have seen them in my garage, in the doorway to my house, scrambling under my dishwasher. I’m fairly certain they are stalking me.

So I ask you, Mr. Roosevelt, if the only thing to fear is fear itself, why am I more afraid than ever?

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

I knew from the beginning that I wanted this to be a dark visual journal page. I had worked with bleeding tissue paper many times in the past and I knew the black that came in this pack would turn a red color when wet. It was the perfect combination of colors, the black, black with the blood red. I took a sheet of black and splatter water to encourage some of the red to come out. Once it dried I decided I wanted to splatter gesso to create a creepy looking web. I dipped a brush into watered down gesso and began splattering the paint across the tissue paper.

As I worked I realized the white gesso was being dyed a pinkish hue from the pigment in the bleeding tissue paper. Although I had planned on a white web, I liked the look. I allowed it to dry and began working on my spider.

I sketched it out with pencil and painted it in using black, white, and red acrylic paint. I wanted it to be realistic and creepy. I added some shadows and highlights to help it look three dimensional and left it to dry.

While the spider was drying I glued the now dry sheet of water and gesso splattered bleeding tissue paper into my visual journal. I carefully cut out the spider and glued it on top of the gesso web using rubber cement.

Next I used a thin brush and more watered down gesso to write the words on the bleeding tissue paper. I wanted to make sure the words were legible while still blending into the background. I wanted to make sure the spider was the main focal point. Because of that, the gesso was the best material to use. I chose to write some words with sharpie, to help it stand out against the layers of gesso, and to outline the gesso words with sharpie to help them pop.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your biggest fear. Perhaps journaling about it will help you conquer it. Although despite facing my fear, journaling, and blogging about it, I am still pretty fearful of black widows.


 

 

Craft Fairs: Setting Up My Outdoor Booth

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After a year of collecting the necessary parts, I finally set up my outdoor booth.

On a very hot day in March, I spent a day in pursuit of a booth picture. My hubby and I spent the afternoon pulling out my tent, grid panels, “S” hooks, tables, decor, and of course, artwork. I loved watching all the pieces finally come together.

After three years of dabbling in indoor art shows I decided I wanted to expand to outdoor shows. They are more frequent and have a lot more foot traffic than the indoor exhibits. After finally deciding it was time to make the transition, I began looking for shows to apply for. Every single one required a picture of the booth set up in order to apply. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to submit, and see what happens. I was going to have to invest a lot of up front money in the hopes of being accepted to a show.

Over the next year I spent hours on Craigslist, garage sale and discount websites. Slowly, but surely, the components came together. The tent came first, I finally gave in and bought one new. A few months after the tent was purchased a coworker contacted me about selling his booth parts. He tried selling his artwork for a year before deciding it just wasn’t for him. I was able to get six grid panels and weights from him. I then pulled tables from my indoor set up, two of the three panels I use to display work at indoor shows, and hanging supplies.

After getting all the pieces it still took months for me to work up the motivation to set it up. For hours I was running in and out of my house hauling artwork. I quickly realized I would never be able to do this solo. The tent is too cumbersome and the panels are too heavy. My first lesson in outdoor festival participation is making sure Nick is always available for set up and break down.

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I decided I wanted my largest pieces along the back wall. They helped fill the space, and would hopefully catch the eye of passerbys. The trickiest part I have to figure out is where to set myself up. I enjoy having a table to hide behind. I am a passive seller. Perhaps I would earn more money if I pushed my products on people, but I want them to purchase one of my pieces because they feel connected to it. My tiny little table is my comfort zone. My safety net, preventing me from getting my hopes up as people come in and peruse my work.

DSC_3750 I decided to hang my letter pieces on the right side panel, and my 6″x6″ silhouette paintings on the left side panel. My hope is these pieces will be more approachable as people walk by. They may assume the large pieces are out of their price range, but with $35 and $25 price tags, these are easy to pick up and take home.

I also wanted to set up a table with my letter prints, at $10 each these are an even better impulse buy item. I decided these would be best set up next to my letter encaustics and extending slightly out of my booth to break up the space.

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One issue that always lurked in the back of my mind was how my encaustics would stand up to summer Georgia heat. I got a little taste of it during the practice set up, the pieces that were directly in the sun began to melt. It was worse case scenario. After all the time and work I put into my set up, I was now questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to do this at all.

As soon as I discovered the melting pieces, I snapped my pictures, and began disassembling. As I carefully took each piece down, I examined it for signs of tackiness and liquid wax. Luckily, only the pieces in direct sunlight showed signs of the wax turning to liquid. The pieces with the sun hitting the backside of them felt slightly tacky and the rest of the pieces were fine. Although I felt a little better, I was still concerned. These were only up for 30 minutes, an hour at the most, what would happen at an all day festival?

After cleaning up I began doing some research. There are brave artists out there who display their encaustic in the dead of summer at outdoor festivals. You do have to play a game of rearranging as the sun enters your tent, but it gave me hope. A lot of the sunlight was coming in through the sides of the tent, but at a festival, in theory, there will be tents on either side. I decided I just needed to give it a shot, and I applied for my first show. The Chastain Park Arts Festival, opening the first weekend of May.

6%22x6%22 Oil Painting Studies

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To ease my mind even more, I have begun mini oil paintings. These will hang in the sunlight when my encaustics have to be moved. I am ready to expand my art career, and this is the next logical step. I will not let a melting work of art get in my way.

Today I find out whether or not I have been accepted to the Chastain festival. Whether or not I make it, I have a long list of other festivals to apply to. Hopefully I will soon have an opportunity to take my booth set up out for the real deal. Stay tuned!

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


 

2015 Marist Holiday Traditions

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After a very successful year last year, I decided to once again participate in the annual Marist School Holiday Traditions art festival. Don’t miss this amazing event and opportunity to start your holiday shopping. The festival is opening this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Marist’s campus: 3790 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30319. There is a $3.oo admission fee, but it is will worth the cost!

I love this event not only because of the sheer size of it, but also because of the range of items they have available. Last year I shared an area with a few jewelry artists, a ceramist, glass blower, candle maker, baker, as well as the illustrator of the very famous book and holiday tradition: The Elf on the Shelf. I packed up Saturday afternoon with a lot less artwork, a little extra money in my pockets, and an assortment of purchases I couldn’t help but make as I hung out with these fellow artists for the day.
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For this festival I will have my standard items, encaustic letter paintings, 6″x6″ silhouette paintings, and letter prints. In addition, I will also have some new encaustic collages, carvings, and other mixed media items. Items range in price from $10.00 to $850.o0. My set up will look much the same as it did last year (pictured below) but with some of my latest creations on display. Check out my Facebook page here for more updates with pictures on what I will have available.


marist craft fair

Find out more information about this annual event on their website here. I hope to see you this weekend! 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!