Month: September 2013

Visual Journal Page 51: AP Due Dates


I think it’s hilarious when I hear students say they are taking AP Art because they think it will be an easy AP. As I smile and nod I think to myself, “Soon enough you will realize this is going to be one of the hardest classes you will ever take”…

The thing about AP Art is there is no such thing as cramming for your exam. You could potentially not keep up with your work, not study as much as necessary, and pull an all night study session the night before an AP history, science, or math exam. However, I do not believe it is physically possible to churn out 24 works of art, photograph them, upload them, label them, quickly write up your two artist statements, and submit without a great deal of planning. What students don’t realize is 24 works of art in a single year is more art than these kids will create in any college level art class.

Despite this every year I have students who attempt the cram. One year I had a student complete 6 paintings in one day… on the day it was due… completed an hour before the submission deadline. The level of stress I felt for me and for her as we rushed to tape up wet watercolors to quickly snap a photo, down, to the next one, and on to photo editing, uploading, and labeling was beyond me.

Problem number one with completing this huge task is the number 24 somehow doesn’t seem daunting to students in August when school starts up, after all they have all the way until May to get it done. Piece of cake… I try to explain, I encourage, threaten, hand out zeros, have one on one talks, and still it doesn’t seem to sink in until the week before due-date-day. At the beginning of the year I stand in front of the class and map out our year together, “You must turn in a finished project every week in a half starting now and continuing until May in order to meet the 24 piece requirement”. As the weeks come and go artwork is submitted, half finished pieces here, almost completed there, and the stress builds as I count down to the final day.

I stress for my kids all year long. All year I wait for them to process the amount of work ahead of them, and all year I feel the pressure for them. By the time the deadline rolled around my first year teaching AP, I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack in the middle of class. Too much artwork still needed to be photographed, too much still needed to be completed, Miss 6-paintings-in-one-day was still sitting in the corner frantically churning out piece after piece…

Perhaps I can only blame myself for the level of stress AP Art put on me. After all it is my responsibility to hold my students to deadlines, push them to do their best, ensure they are producing AP quality work, and help them maintain their drive to create art from day one to due-date-day. Two years I taught AP, and while the second year was infinitely better than the first, I still felt helpless as my students became burnt out, lost their inspiration, and their desire to even turn in a portfolio.

Their loss of faith was contagious and spread quickly in the class, my amazing artists were dropping of like flies and eventually I felt it creep into me too. I felt like giving up, letting them give up, but I pushed it aside and continued forward. By the time I hit the submit button on each of my students’ portfolios I felt a wave of relief wash over me, it was all over, we are finally finished. But in this process I always have to wonder how many of them hit the quitting point and didn’t turn back. I have a few students I wonder about, will they ever find their passion for it again? Did AP Art ruin their drive for art?

I continued on to teach AP Art one more year, but when I began my new job I dropped it all together and began teaching sculpture courses instead. I have to admit I am relieved I don’t have that additional stress in the spring and seeing them go through the wave of emotions and doubt in their ability that comes with an outsider evaluating your creation.

After my first year teaching AP I did feel a little cynical as I collected my AP Art memorabilia to create a visual page dedication. As I was shuffling through I discovered a six word memoir from one of my AP babies, it simply said “best class you will ever take”… Perhaps it was all worth it after all.


  • Visual Journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • AP submission forms
  • Collected items (post its, writing prompts)
  • Brown paper
  • Colored pencils
  • India ink


To create this page I opted to make a visual journal collage to represent my year of AP. I had a small pile of scrap paper, notes, and signs from the class I could incorporate. I decided as a base the actual AP submission forms would work well since they were large, didn’t have a lot of detail, and represented one of the most stressful days of the year.

After using rubber cement to glue my submission forms down I began placing and gluing down my AP scraps to the top. After gluing these items down I decided I needed a focal point. I immediately thought of the brown AP portfolios used to submit the 5 physical works of art for the quality section. Since I felt like my life was being consumed by this class I decided to make mini portfolio to represent each of my 9 students and have them piled on top of poor, stressed me.

To create the portfolios I cut out brown rectangles from construction paper. To make some of them look like they were in perspective I opted to cut the top and bottom of the portfolio at an angle. I then glued a small white rectangle on top and added details with colored pencil. I glued them down in a pile on my page, colored in the space in the middle, and added eyes using colored pencil.

To create a sense of ground I used a paint brush, India ink, and loosely painted a scribble pattern along the bottom third of the page. To finish off the page I glued down the six word memoir in the bottom right corner of the page.


Create a visual journal page to represent a stressful time in your life.

Visual Journal Page 50: Spin Art


This visual journal page is a nice reflection of creativity and procrastination, which are qualities of many of my high school art students.

This visual journal page began its start during a particularly difficult AP art day. One of my talented and wonderful students, Annastasia, was beginning to start down the slippery slope of not being able to focus anymore. I couldn’t blame her, we were on block schedule, which meant hour and a half classes, and she had me for two classes in a row, which meant 3 hours straight of art.

This may seem like a dream for many, and the norm for college level art courses, but some days and some moods don’t lend themselves to such a long dedication of focus and continuous flow of creative ideas.

Annastastia is one of the students who wows you. She is the type to create beautiful artwork not only well executed but with incredibly deep meaning and thoughtfulness. However, she is also the type to not realize her ability and doesn’t believe she is as good as I know she is.

This day started to become one of those days where she was tripping over her own feet, getting in her own way, unable to see past small imperfections in her art. The small things began to get to her until she laid down her work and walked away, requiring a much needed, and deserved, break.

As is typical with teenagers her break ran over and head straight for procrastination and goofing off with her fellow AP Arters who also had two art classes in a row. They began to gather around the pottery wheel, not doing what they were supposed to be doing, discussing this and that, not getting any work done.

Right as I was about to “redirect” their attention to their artwork something began to happen. Suddenly sheets of paper came out, paint and paintbrushes appeared, and pottery wheel spin art was invented. They played, made a mess, and continued to not work on their portfolio, but they were having fun and they were begin creative.

After allowing the spin art to possibly go on for to long, I got everyone back to work, and things began to settle down. As Annastasia refocused there was a change. She was starting back fresh after a much needed break and a release of frustration through splattered paint and pottery wheels. She suddenly was able to look at the big picture, brush away some of her self critique, and create beautiful things once again.

As I flipped through the many pages of spin art I discovered this little gem by Annastasia. It looked so loose, so carefree, and yet so perfect. It represented her return to her nice creative flow. It taught me a lesson that day, not all procrastination is bad procrastination. Sometimes it is simply a much needed break, making us more successful in the end.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Book page from my book
  • Annastasia’s spin art


To create this visual journal page I simply glued Annastasia’s spin art to the left page and layered a page from my book on top to make it look like it was actually settled in the page.

To create this effect I ripped a page from my visual journal in order to make sure it was the exact same size as the original page and ensure the color blended with the right side page. I then ripped the middle of the page out, leaving only the boarder. I glued the spin art down with rubber cement, allowed it to dry to make sure it was well stuck, then glued the book page boarder on top, making sure the edge of the cut out page lined up with the original page.

I considered adding words to the page, but in the end I decided I liked it nice, clean, and simple.


Today is the day for procrastination. Take a break from what you should be doing and procrastinate. Put it all off, do something fun instead, find a new way to express your creativity. Splatter paint, make spin art, have fun. Incorporate your finished product in your visual journal.

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Etsy Shop of the Month: Eilquinn Personalized Tote Giveaway (closed)

Tote Full ViewA few weeks ago I found myself beginning yet another school year and my fifth year teaching. I couldn’t believe summer was already over and another first day of school was upon me. As with past years before heading back to school I went on a mini shopping spree. In order to properly start a new school year I believe you really need a few new outfits, pairs of shoes, and other necessary accessories. It’s nice to start the year fresh and new.

For the past year I have been searching for the perfect school tote. My search began this time last year, but I never found something I absolutely had to have. After many fruitless searches I put of the purchase, and put it off, which caused a very unorganized school year. After months of carrying everything I needed loose in my arms day in and day out of school I made it my mission to find the perfect bag before I went back to school.

Which brings me to the lovely Etsy shop, Eilquinn. During one of deep Etsy tote bag searches I was getting tired of scanning page after page until something caught my attention, made my eyes stop, and my mouse click for a better view. Before I knew it I had favorited three of her bags and looked at every single thing in her shop. The only question that came to mind after my shop visit was how hadn’t I discovered her earlier?

I e-mailed Eileen, owner of Eilquinn and tote bag creator, right away and began setting up my custom order. I went back and forth about color, style, whether to add a doilie or not. I took every tiny custom option into account, after all this was a decision a year in the making. Through the entire process Eileen was so helpful. She sent me pictures of how the different options would look and quickly answered my many, many e-mails.

Finally I decided on a design, letter color, burlap color, and to add a doilie; but I still had no idea which lace color to pick. After going back and forth I finally sent her my order and payment with three lace colors I wanted her to pick from. I was over decision making and figured she would have the most informed opinion. I eagerly awaited my bag and when it came I was over the moon. Eileen selected a lovely yellow, which was perfect. In the back of my mind this was what I wanted, but was worried the yellow would be too bright, some how Eileen must have known all of this and made it exactly right.

Eilquinn Tote Details

I use my tote every single day, filling it with heavy books, my laptop, and my change of clothes for daily softball practice. It has held up beautifully and I don’t remember my unorganized life pre-tote bag. One of my favorite parts of this process is Eileen has agreed to giveaway one of these amazing, personalized totes to one of my readers! See details below to enter…

Eilquinn Tote Bottom and Interior

To enter to win one of these beautiful totes all you have to do is “like” Eileen’s shop, Eilquinn. Comment below with the name you liked Eilquinn under and which tote you would want to take home! You may also earn extra entries by sharing this giveaway on facebook or twitter and “liking” my Etsy shop here. To earn a second entry comment with a link to your facebook share or tweet. To earn you third entry comment below with the name you liked my shop under. Good luck to everyone, the contest will close next Thursday 9/12 at midnight and the winner will be notified by Friday. The winner will be randomly selected from the comments using the plugin, And the Winner Is…

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and entering my giveaway! Help me spread the word my sharing, liking, tweeting, commenting, and e-mailing to others! I can’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by!

Mixed Media Artwork: “Caged” and “Trapped” Re-Re-Interpreted

A couple of months ago I posted about a student’s reinterpretation of my pieces, “Caged” and “Trapped“. I was incredibly flattered as an artist and high school art teacher that she chose me to study for her high school art project. I answered a few questions about myself and my artwork, and asked only that she send me an update with pictures when her piece was complete. As soon as her e-mail came through I couldn’t help bragging on her (and myself) by sharing it on my blog (check it out here).

Shortly after I was contacted by Amy I received an e-mail from another student, Alice, regarding her high school art project:Mixed-Media-Caged-and-Trapped-1024x485

“Hello, my name is Alice. At the moment I’m doing my GCSE art, and my chosen topic is caged. So that is how I found ur very unique and quirky art, “Caged” and “Trapped”. Which I can honestly say I love, with the tones of blues used. At the moment we are branching out our ideas by looking at other artists, so I chose u as an artist. However, while looking at ur website, I found no information about u, would it be okay if u could please allow me to have some information about ur education, and why u really become inspired by art and interested in many different types of craft art. Thank you very much for reading.”

I couldn’t believe it, once again I was being interviewed, studied, and presented by a student. I excitedly answered her questions about my background, making me realize I really need to include an artist bio/statement on my blog, and once again I asked if she could send me images of her final project. As spring semester came and went, followed quickly by summer, Alice’s project was pushed to the back corners of my brain, until last week when I received an e-mail with photo attachments:

“Hello, you probably don’t remember me but I e-mailed you late January time explaining that I had took GCSE art and my chosen topic was caged. I Caged Interpratedpromised myself then and there, that I would e-mail you once I had got my results for my GCSE art. This was because you were such a key influence in how I explored the topic and how I made it my own. I become quite obsessed with blues and mixed media, and am still obsessed with it now, after your piece “Caged” and “Trapped” (which I love so much). So I would like to say thank you, for being such an inspiration for me. And also, I managed to get an A* in my art, which I’m rather chuffed with (A* is the top grade). I have also attached some photos, I’m afraid I never photographed my final exam piece, of trapped, but have added some of my own pieces that I did and my final exam piece which is the artwork with a hand holding a vulnerable child. But to end this e-mail, I’d like to say again, just thank you very much.”

About Me Assignment

I absolutely love seeing how my work can influence someone else, it’s incredibly flattering for someone to use the words “inspirational” and influential” about me. Moments like this make me feel like a true artist, rather than a weekend creator and afternoon blogger.

Alice and her Work

In addition to boosting my ego I also love seeing what assignments students are doing in other art classes, especially in other countries. I enjoyed seeing her sketchbook about my artwork as well as other assignments she completed in and out of class. Based on her sketchbook assignments, I am very impressed with the amount of planning and prep that goes into each project. Alice is obviously a talented young artist and I hope she keep sup the good work! She just might have inspired me to have my students research and contact their favorite artists to see if they can also make someone’s day.

Artwork by Alice

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Paperhouse Production Giveaway: Scrapbook Paper and Stickers (closed)

Paperhouse Product Sticker and Paper Giveaway

This week I have two amazing giveaways to offer! The first is a multi-winner giveaway, one lucky big winner will get a 6″x6″ pack of art inspired scrapbook paper and two packs of hydrangea and leaf stickers. 6 additional winners will receive one strip of hydrangea and one strip of leaf stickers. On Thursday I will post my second giveaway of the week, an adorable tote from Etsy shop: eilquinn.

Scrapbook paper detailPaperhouse Productions is an online shop that specialized in most things paper and some things mangets, stickers, and home decor. Over the summer I was approached by them to try out some of their products, I readily agreed on one condition, they would send me enough items for me to giveaway to my readers. I awaited my box of goodies and was shocked at the size of it when it finally arrived. I opened it to find piles of products, enough for me to try and giveaway to a number of my readers.

I went for the art paper immediatly, flipping through quickly at first, then taking my time, admiring the patterns and designs the second time through. I love the abstract pages, with colors softly bleeding into each other as if watercolor was recently applied to a damp sheet of paper. In addition to these pages are more obviously art inspired pages, with images of paint blobs, messy palettes, and coated paint brushes printed on the pages.

As a collager, scrapbooker, and visual journaler I prefer to use more simply patterned paper in my pages, but I know these image printed pages are perfect for my students. I can imagine them flipping to these pages, instantly inspired by the paint covered paper, cutting it up, and incorporating it into their next visual journal page.

In other words, the vibrance and variety of pages in this paper pack will appeal to a variety of people and tastes.

Next out of the box were the leaf and hydrangea stickers. I picked these patterns because a: I like trees and often use them in my visual journal pages and b: my bridesmaids carried blue hydrangeas in my wedding, and they automatically appealed to me.

I love the realistic quality the stickers have, and the bright colors I was sure were Hydrangea Sticker Detailonly enhanced via photo and web editing. I was very pleased to find they looked just as good in person as they did on my computer screen. I opened my first pack, and peeled off a green leaf sticker and was instantly pleased with this product.

Rather than having a very sticker like white edge around the image, ruining a perfectly pretty leaf, this sticker has a clear edge. This lovely change makes it look even more realistic, and allows you to layer the stickers without having an unattractive white edge distracting you from the overall look. I picture these stickers as your not run of the mill two year old forehead sticker or middle schooler locker stickers. These stickers are meant for more artistic uses, such as scrapbooking and visual journaling. I will be sure to post a picture of my first creation using these amazing products!

Overall I am very pleased with Paperhouse Productions. They have quality products and a very easy to navigate website. In order to enter this giveaway all you have to do is either tweet about this giveaway or share it on facebook and like Paperhouse Productions on facebook here. Comment on this post with a link to your tweet or facebook share. In one week, on Monday 9/9, I will randomly select the winners from the comments using the plugin, And the Winner Is… The first winner selected will receive the scrapbook paper pack and the hydrangea and leaf sticker packs. The next 6 winners will receive one strip of hydrangea and one strip of leaf stickers.

Thanks for visiting my blog and entering this weeks giveaway! Help me spread the word about my blog by liking, tweeting, and sharing with others! Thanks for stopping by!