Tag: watercolor

Visual Journal Page 21: The Perfect Combination

I have said it many times, I have the sweet tooth of a 7 year old. My sugar palate never seemed to mature to the dark chocolates of my peers, I have always loved the 100% sugar, fruity varieties of candy that are marketed towards children. For many years, Skittles have been my reigning favorite, a fact that my hubby knows well.

Nick will periodically come home after a grocery trip with a share size Skittles bag. When we go see a movie, no questions asked, Skittles are the staple after popcorn. On road trips he will stop for gas, even if we don’t really need it, just to go get me a bag of Skittles.

Over the years, not only has Nick stored my favorite candy somewhere in his brain, he has also noted my favorite color combination: purple and red. I don’t know what it is about purple and red, it is the most perfect flavor combination out there. I don’t seek out purples or reds to eat individually, it is a combo deal, otherwise any color will do. I can’t even refer to them as their flavors, because a skittle flavor is unique to it’s color, and trust me, purple and red is it. As Nick and I snuggle up on the sofa to watch TV or sit in a movie theater, he will pass along Skittles to share. Without fail, if he ends up with a handful that has purples and reds, they come straight to me.

This is not something I ever made a point to tell him I needed. It was never a discussion, argument, or requirement. It was just something he noticed I liked and did for me unprompted. Moments like these define our marriage. It’s not the buying of houses or birthing of children, it’s the fact that I get every purple and red Skittle Nick comes across. The little things matter the most, because the little things add up to better days, weeks, months, years, and a continued growth together, not apart. The little things mean the other person is still paying attention, wants to know more, and do more to make you happy. Not because you are supposed to buy that house or procreate, they do things to make you happy just because they care enough to want to.

It’s scary how well you know me.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Gesso
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor
  • Thin Sharpie
  • White colored pencil
  • Rubber cement

HOW TO

For this visual journal page, I decided to focus on the colors of the red and purple Skittles. I brainstormed different ways of including them, an avalanche of purples and reds, a Skittles package with nothing but purples and reds, but I ended up deciding that it isn’t the quantity that is important, it’s the combination of a single purple and a single red. Once I decided on just two skittles, I opted to draw hands cradling them, as if they were something delicate and special, not something I am about to chew up and digest.

To create the visual journal page, I started by ripping a page from my visual journal book. I did this because I wanted to make the arms and hands stand out against the page and decided to use watered down gesso to do that. Since gesso is liquidy, I didn’t want it to soak through the other pages of my book. I lightly sketched the outline of the arms and hands, then filled them in with gesso. Once dry, I added details and shading with a pencil. Gesso creates a nice, smooth surface to draw on top of.

After I finished my hands, on a separate sheet of paper I drew my skittles and filled them in with watercolor. I didn’t add much water to the pigment so I would end up with a nice, vibrant color. While waiting for the Skittles to dry, I moved onto my paint splatters. I added more water to the watercolor pigment, painted a thick line on a sheet of paper, and blew it at an angle to make the paint splatter. After the skittles and paint splatters dried, I cut them out.

I glued the skittles down first, then added a highlight and the “S” using a white colored pencil. Next, I alternated red and purple splatters around the hands, and glued them down with rubber cement. Last, I used an extra fine Sharpie to add the words on top of the paint splatters.

CHALLENGE

Dedicate a page to your favorite sweet.


 

Visual Journal Page 44: The Georgia Arches

Visual-Journal-Page-44-The-Arches

THE STORY

The University of Georgia is the stereotypical “college town”. It’s a small town, with a huge school, an amazing downtown, music scene, restaurants, and so many other things to entertain the thousands of twenty somethings that invade it each year.

I hate to admit it, but my college student years are now four years in the past, and continuously moving further back in time. Although I have a love hate relationship with my adult responsibilities and moving into the “late twenties” stage in life (I turn 27 in 3 1/2 weeks!!!), I am glad I am no longer a student.

By my fifth year in Athens I was a little over it. I was tired of finals, homework, and having no money. I was sick of going out to get a drink only to see obviously 18 year olds doe eyed and slightly scared about sneaking into a bar with a bad fake id. I was only 23 but felt like the oldest person in town. I was ready to move onto bigger, better things and there was no remorse as I packed up my final box, moved it out of my college-town-cottage-house, and into the big city of Atlanta.

Although I didn’t miss it then, it eventually caught up with me. As I headed into my first job and experienced real exhaustion as I tried to adjust to my 9-5 and crazy students I began to miss college life. More than anything I missed the idea of it, the lack of responsibility and having 10 am classes I could show up to in pajamas. As the adult world kicked my butt I missed college life, but it eventually grew into missing the town. The great city of Athens which seemed so small when I left it, but really does have all the character and charm you need.

I really realized this when two years later my fellow art teacher and I took over fifty of our students on a field trip to Athens to tour the campus, downton, and Georgia Museum of Art. As we rolled through the tiny streets in our extra large yellow school bus, with me pointing out my freshman dorm and favorite restaurant the nostalgia set in. How could I not miss such a great town?

After the field trip I began making a visual journal page to represent the busy, chaotic day of keeping up with 52 teenagers. I decided to paint the most iconic part of campus, the Georgia arches, and add our big yellow school bus on top. But after I painted the background I couldn’t bring myself to add anything else. That day wasn’t just about introducing my students to the University of Georgia, it was also about me rediscovering my love of this small town and developing a new appreciation for the five years I spent there.

It may be a plain visual journal page, but it’s meaningful to me. A snapshot, a single moment of reflection not on the field trip but of the five years walking around those arches until the day I graduated and could finally walk straight through.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Paint brush
  • Watercolor set
  • Water

HOW TO

This page took only a few supplies and a short period of time to make. It was meant to be a loose painting, completely freehanded, with no base drawing to go off of. It was supposed to be the background, which is why I worked quickly to complete it.

After I finished I really liked the loose quality and decided to keep it as is. If you have never worked with watercolor before grab a scrap sheet of paper, preferably something thicker like poster board or actual watercolor paper. Experiment with adding a lot of water to the watercolors to get a transparent look, add less to get a bolder color. Put a blob of water on  your paper and add paint to just the edge of the water, which creates a bleeding effect. Try painting with the watercolors and adding water to the paper to spread it. The point is to have fun with it, experiment, and see what works best for you.

Once you have your technique down grab an image and try to recreate it. Challenge yourself to not do a base drawing, jump straight in with the paint on your paintbrush. My best tip is to never just us one color, if you have four shades of brown use all four, it will look so much more interesting than just one color. In my Georgia arches painting I use multiple shades of one color in every section.

CHALLENGE

Whip out your watercolor set and create a visual journal page using just watercolors, no pencil, no scissors, no nothing. If you don’t have watercolors go pick up a cheap set at your local arts and crafts store and give it a try!

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Visual Journal Page 39: My Snuggle Bug

Visual-Journal-page-39-Snuggle-Bug

I love my little 1940’s cottage settled in the outskirts of the city. I love the details, the layers of paint, the historic feel, and most of all I love standing in my kitchen, and gazing out to my giant backyard.

As Nick and I went on our house hunting adventure we looked at houses of all shapes, sizes, and states. Some were too big, others too small, some were recently flipped, others were falling apart, some had three feet of backyard, and others 6. As we searched for our perfect home we quickly realized one common theme was small property size. We would’ve loved a large yard, but we had to accept the fact that we were searching within city limits, and urban living doesn’t typically come with outdoor space. Nick and I had both come to terms with it, and our focus was on the interior, until we found our house.

The interior was beautiful, it was recently flipped, and the three bed, two bath was perfect for our small family of four, two humans and two dogs. I was already in love before I walked out back and saw the backyard that seemed to go on forever. I felt it was a done deal before that moment, but that moment solidified it. This was going to be our house.

One of our first purchases, after a lawnmower to mow our giant lawn, was two hammocks. We hung them, side by sid, between two of our oak trees. My spring and fall aren’t complete without afternoons spent reading, and gazing up at my leafy canopy. I love the mixture of birds, swaying branches, and city buses. I hear the hustle and bustle out front, but out back I am in my own oasis.

Our babies, Kody Bear and Jacob, also love our little oasis. A large fenced in yard means a lot of playing time, and sun bathing. I get my relaxation in my hammock, softly swaying, as I watch my babies playing. Shortly after hanging the hammocks, I made sure to get good use out of them, making it a priority to spend nice afternoons in my blue and red striped cocoon. This particular day was a nice 74 degrees, with a light breeze. I was catching up on my second read through of the Harry Potter series, and the dogs were running out their energy, when all of the sudden Jacob came barreling towards me, and lept into the hammock.

I squealed, and tried to free myself before he flipped us, but the sides of the hammock swallowed us both, and we were stuck. I assumed as soon as his four legs hit, and realized his safe haven was moving beneath him, he would jump out just as quick, but I was wrong. Instead, my 50 pound beagle mix snuggled up at my feet and fell asleep. I adjusted slightly, got back to reading, every now and then peeking at my sleeping baby, in awe of the fact that he was actually hanging out in a hammock.

Since that moment Jacob freely hops in the hammock with me, finds his space, and spends some quality time with his mom. I love every moment of it. It makes my hammock time even more special, he can be my snuggle bug any day of the week…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Watercolors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Colored pencils
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

I already had this visual journal page design in mind when I got to work. It was a mental snapshot of that afternoon, the image of Jacob eagerly waiting in the hammock is something I see every time I reminisce on this moment, and it was just a matter of translating it onto paper.

I decided to first re-create my background. I decided to use watercolors, since I hadn’t used them recently. I ripped two pages from my book, and set them aside to work on. I chose to do this, rather than work directly in my book, because the paint is water based. If I painted directly on the pages it would’ve bled through to the other pages, causing them to wrinkle up. By working separately, and gluing the pages back into the book, I prevent wrinkled and dyed pages.

Once I had my pages I sketched out the back of my house and backyard. Once outlined I used watercolors to fill in colors. I always mix a few shades of colors together to create a more interesting color palate. Once the painting was finished, I set it aside to dry. I then pulled out a piece of white paper and drew out my hammock and Jacob. I opted to color them in with colored pencil, to create a bolder look, and help it pop against the background. I slowly added layers of color and built them up until they looked solid and bright. I then added highlights with white, and shadows with black.

Once my drawing was finished I cut it out and glued it to the background. I then took the two book pages and glued them on top of two blank pages in my book. After that I stepped back to admire my handiwork, but it didn’t look complete. The background was a little too washed out, and contrasted to much with the bold colored pencil drawings. To help balance it I outlined the watercolor with a thin sharpie. This added detail, texture, and helped it blend with the drawing. Last but not least I added the words beneath the hammock with sharpie.

I hope you enjoyed todays post! Help me spread the word about my blog, and the joy of visual journaling, by emailing it to others, liking, sharing, commenting, and subscribing! Thanks for supporting me and visiting!


 


 

Visual Journal Page 30: Postsecret Projects

Visual-Journal-Page-30-Postsecret-Projects

As a teacher my goal is to create a sense of community in my classroom. Although the majority of the time my students work on individual projects, I still want them to respect, interact, and grow with each other. Often my projects focus on teaching and refining skills such as drawing, painting, and building with clay, however there is always a deeper learning goal. I try to include topics that can be personalized to each students’ interests, experiences, and tastes in order to make it more interesting and relevant to them.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a student connect to a project. I love seeing how far they reach, how deep they are willing to go to express themselves.

While in college I created lesson plan after lesson plan, and discovered artist after artist in the process. During one of these lesson making binges I stumbled upon a very interesting artist, Frank Warren. He started a community art project by placing blank postcards all over Washington DC, in art museums, bathrooms, and handing them to strangers on the street. The directions on the card were simple enough, it only asked that the recipient share a secret on the card, and mail it back to Frank.

What was so amazing about this project is after he received his original postcards back, they continue to roll in. People began making their own postcards, and decorated them with their secrets through words, images, drawings, and collages. The art project grew, and continued on, by word of mouth. Now, nine years, five books, multiple speaking tours, and thousands upon thousands of secrets later, Postsecret is still going strong.

This project inspired me to create a dead end lesson plan, a lesson I thought I would never teach. It was interesting to research and consider, plus it fulfilled a graduate assignment, however my fear made me realize this project would never see the light of day in my classroom. This fear was solidified when my former co-worker did a Postsecret assignment the year before I began teaching with her. The secrets were put on display at a school art show and disillusioned parents, who couldn’t handle the secrets their own children held, demanded they be taken down, and shortly after they were.

My fear stayed with me for a year of teaching, until I ended up with a very special class my second year. It was an interesting group, a divided group. I had never seen cliques, whispers, or glares like I had in this class. By no means was the class out of control or poorly disciplined, it was the passive aggressive that got to me, as if they had vendettas that could only be carried out through empty smiles, double edged comments. At the end of the semester, before I lost the group for good, I decided it was time to give Postsecret a try. I wanted to show them they really didn’t know each other, if you only take a person at face value, you don’t truly know what lies beneath. I wanted to show them they still had a lot to learn before they made their final judgements.

I presented the project in all of my classes. I showed an in depth PowerPoint, shared the two Postsecret books I own, and played a couple of video interviews with Frank Warren. They were enthralled. The majority of class was consumed by flipping through the books, discussing the range of secrets, and passing out the blank cards they had to take home and confess to. I was pleased with their engagement, however the fear was still there, prepping me for the following days.

The second to last day of class the students returned, secrets in hand, and one by one they placed them into a a covered box. It was completely anonymous, no names, signatures, or initials. The completion of the assignment was based on faith alone. As the day wore on the box filled up, and the knot in my stomach grew. Christmas break was upon us, first semester students were wrapping up classes, ready to start a brand new schedule in January, and I began to prepare myself for our final critique, the big reveal of the secrets.

On the final day of school I walked into my classroom, it was dark, the sun just below the horizon, about to start off a new day. Dread slowed my trek to the box, I took a breath, and mentally prepared myself for what confessions lay inside. One by one I pulled them out, and taped them up on my critique wall. As the wall filled up it grew heavy with secrets. I felt my heart lift as I read about love for sisters, friends, and secret crushes, and my heart sank as I discovered drug abuse, sex, self mutilation, and molestation. My students, my innocent, teenagers had the deep, darks I feared most. What was I going to say, how would I lead a discussion of such disturbing truths?

My challenging class was the first to participate in the critique. I put my stern face on, ready to silence snickers, finger pointing, and whispering as soon as they walked in the door. Slowly they began to file in, backpacks thudded against the floor as they hurriedly abandoned their items and made their way to the wall. I stood and watched them, carefully eavesdropping on each conversation. Secrets were pointed out, chuckles rippled as the lighter confessions were read, faces dropped as they moved through more difficult ones. I realized as I watched them absorb the secrets of their peers I did not need to be stern, they understood the weight and meaning of this assignment. I began the critique by pointing out a variety of cards, and putting in my two sense before I handed it off to them. Once I was done talking they didn’t stop until the bell rang. I have never seen my students so genuine and concerned. Former rifts, judgements, and preconceived notions were put aside, at least for an hour and a half, as they began to scratch the surface of their classmates’ confessions.

Every class came and left, and my fear began to lift. Each student was respectful, caring, and truly appreciated the opportunity to be honest, despite what was put on paper. Once the day was done I was exhausted, excited, and sad. I was thrilled with how well the project went, and how meaningful it was, however, the weight of those secrets stayed with me. I couldn’t help but wonder which secret matched which creator, and how I could help them if only I knew. I can only hope the opportunity to release it was help in itself. The secrets were packaged up and mail off to Frank Warren himself, to be confessed once again.

Since then I have yet to do this project again. It disappoints me to admit it, but the fear is still there, the worry of what I will discover. But I have to remind myself it scares me to think about it… but it’s worth it… because I think it’s so important… for you…To learn more about Postsecret visit the website here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Magazine images
  • Book pages
  • White construction paper
  • Water colors
  • Paintbrush
  • India ink
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

I am in love with the way this page turned out. It is so simple, yet the background is so interesting, and I am incredibly happy with my splatter “Postsecret” logo. I decided when I began the focus needed to be on the postcards, so I choose random, but interesting images for the background. Once I chose a few images I realized I was using a lot of yellow and green, and decided to stick with that color scheme. By using only two color variations it kept the background less busy. Once I had all of my images selected I ripped them into strips and glued them down.

Next I drew out the Postsecret logo on a piece of white construction paper cut into the size of a postcard. I then took India ink and used a thin paintbrush to outline the “Postsecret”, filled in the hand, and carefully wrote “community”. I then took the paintbrush and created a small puddle of India ink along the outlined “Postsecret”. Once the puddle was placed I lowered my face parallel with the card and blew the ink to make it splatter. By getting close to the puddle and blowing away from the words I was able to control the direction of the splatter. I repeated this until the words were completely surrounded by splatters.

After the logo was added, it still didn’t look complete. I decided I needed to make it look like an actual postcard by adding all of the elements of a real postcard. I carefully drew out an American flag stamp, and the post office shipping stamps. I then painted them in with India ink and watercolor.

Next, I glued down three blank postcards, with book pages glued along the overlapping edges to help them stand out from each other, with the Postsecret card on top. Last but not least I wrote the words along the edge of the postcards with sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Submit your own secret to Frank Warren (go here for more information) and then create a page about the secret you sent in, without revealing what it was.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Please help me spread the word about my blog my liking, tweeting, digging, e-mailing, subscribing, and please share your opinions and ideas by commenting! Thanks for stopping by!


 

Visual Journal Page 14: Spaghetti and Baguettes

Ward is an easy last name. It’s easy to spell, pronounce, boring perhaps, but easy. Panetta is difficult. People seem to stutter every time they say it for the first time. For weeks at the start of school I am referred to as Mrs. Ppppp….. until my students can finally roll it off their tongue. When I was a Ward I never spelled my last name. Now it has become a reflex, Whitney Panetta, P-A-N-E-T-T-A. Apparently Panetta also reminds people of everything that starts with the letter P. I have been called Mrs. Panera, Panera Bread, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Pinata, Pimento, Papaya, and most recently, Pinocchio. At this point I respond to Mrs. P-anything.

Transitioning from a simple Ward to a complex Panetta was a challenge, but it has it’s upsides as well. It has now become a conversation starter, are you Italian, Spanish? And one of my favorites, are you related to Leon Panetta? Which I sometimes respond with, yes in fact he is my father-in-law, and I delight in the shocked yet impressed expression that veils their face.

It was strange starting off my second year teaching as a Panetta. I forgot who I was. Students would shout “Mrs. Panetta”, over and over, without a response. Previously Mrs. Panetta was my Mother-in-law, not me, and it took time. Even writing my name I struggled to fluidly write “Mrs. Panetta”, although it was strangely satisfying to sandwich an r between my typical Ms. After a week I began to adjust. Having over 100 students a day repeat your name, over, and over, and over certainty helped in my transition. But one day it suddenly clicked, I responded quickly to Mrs. Panetta, and Ms. Ward began to fade. I started to fall into my new name, and life as an MRS.

One day while starting my AP Art class I glance at my board and was surprised to see a work of art. A giant bowl of spaghetti with a side of bread was snuggled between my Introduction to Art and Drawing class instructions. Beneath the masterpiece was a simple sentence, “Panetta makes me think of spaghetti and baguettes”. It was instance happiness, and I can’t even explain why. I had already learned the ways people could twist Panetta into many different words, and this was icing on the cake. My new name, my new identity, it was full of surprises, and happy moments.

It continued to make me smile for weeks, and months after, until it’s final finger touching demise. Although it eventually disappeared from my board, I wanted to remember it, and what better way than to make a visual journal page. This is a page for Maryiah, the spaghetti and baguette artist. Although there is much debate between Maryiah and Annastasia about who actually coined the term, I have to give credit to Maryiah for the amazing dry eraser art. Thanks for brightening my day.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Construction paper
  • Watercolors
  • Water
  • Paint brush
  • Gesso
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

Coming up with the image for this page was a piece of cake, because the image was already created. All I had to do was take Maryiah’s drawing and translate it into a collage. I love illustrations that play between a flat design, and a three dimensional look, so I decided to try out the technique on this page. Rather than cutting out shapes, and painting them according to the contours of the shape, you paint a sheet of paper, and cut the shapes out of that. By doing this you create a flattened look, with texture that seems to extend beyond the parameters of the shape.

I started by painting four sheets of paper, one with browns, yellows, and reds; one with yellows, browns, and whites; one with yellows and whites; and one with reds, oranges, and yellows. I used a large brush, and made sure to show the brushstroke texture by painting thick, and not spreading the paint out once I laid it down. Once the paper dried I cut out three circles from the brown paper, for the meatballs, an arced shape, for the sauce, two long ovals for the baguettes, and about a million long, squiggly lines for the spaghetti. Because there was so much color and texture in the food, I opted to keep the bowl a solid color, and cut it out of blue construction paper.

Once I had all of my pieces, I set them aside, and began working out the background. I decided to place the food on the right, and wanted to make sure it was highlighted. To compliment the browns in the bread and meatballs, I decided to use my older, stained book pages, rip them up, and glue them down. Once I had the background laid down, I began adding the food. I started with the baguettes, and then overlapped with the bowl. I used rubber cement, and glued them down. Next came the noodles, which was harder than it looked. I glued a section here and there, and had to press them down for long periods of time to make them stick. To make it look more realistic I carefully glued down one end of a noodle cut out, overlapped it with another, and glue them down section by section. Once the noodles were finally all stuck to the paper, I glued the sauce on top, followed by the meatballs.

Once everything was glued, I took a step back. I loved the way everything was coming together, but it didn’t quite pop. I whipped out my handy dandy sharpie, and began scribbling away. I added long scribbles on the left side page to separate the brown book pages from the actual book. I emphasized shadows on the bowl, noodles, and meatballs, and added details in the baguette. Again, I stepped back. Something still wasn’t perfect. I decided to use my next go to material, gesso. I dipped a paint brush into the tub, without watering it down, and splattered on top of the spaghetti dinner. Suddenly, it was perfect. Just how spaghetti isn’t complete without parmesan cheese, my collage wasn’t complete without my gesso sprinkles. I loved the end result.

CHALLENGE

Create a page using the flat pattern, collage technique. Paint an entire sheet of paper with watercolor, then cut out shapes to use in a collage in your book. Have fun, try different colors, add more water, less water, and find out what works best!

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