Month: September 2014

Visual Journal Page 76: The Antiques Book



I finally reached the end of my second book. The last page was sitting there blank, waiting for the last collage, my dedication page to my book.

Since I completed my first visual journal I decided to save the last page for my book. As I work through the pages I rip things out, add them to my visual journal folder, saving them for this page. I want to make sure my book is recognized for allowing me to cover it’s pages, words, pictures, and intended purpose with my own vision. Each page is transformed from an informative text about antiques, to representations of me.

The Antiques Book served as a great backdrop to my creations, and is one of my favorite books I have worked in. It provided inspiration through the images, text, and beautifully, off colored, pages. These final images are discoveries I made as I flipped through the pages. I held onto them and collected them for a year. They have finally returned to their intended places, between the covers of this book.

Thank you… I couldn’t have done it without you…


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • rubber cement
  • Book pages
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Water
  • Book page images
  • Sharpie


When I was planning out this visual journal page I decided to go with a simple color palate. I have always loved the look of the green bleeding tissue paper, so I decided to go with that color as the main color. I had been holding onto a few circular images from a magazine that had similar greens and yellows to the bleeding tissue paper. Once I had my colors picked out, I got to work.

First, I took a few sheets of green and yellow bleeding tissue paper, stacked them on top of each other, then dripped water on them. The green and yellow pigment bleed into each other, making a tie dye pattern. While the bleeding tissue paper was drying, I cut out the green magazine circles, and the antique images I saved from my book. I made sure to cut close to the edge on all of the images, to give it a cleaner collaged look.

I played around with placement for awhile, and decided to have the majority of the antique objects in a row towards the bottom of the page, and the elephant on the top right side of the page. I glued the green circles down first, then a strip of bleeding tissue paper, to create a space for my objects to sit. I included a green circle in the top corner of the page to help bring attention to my elephant. In addition to the green bleeding tissue paper, I also cut out a few pieces of dyed paper towels. I placed these behind the book page cutouts to help bring attention to the images.

After I got the background pieced together I added the images on top. Last, but not least, I added the words “I couldn’t have done it without you” around the elephant with sharpie.


Create a dedication page to your visual journal book. Make sure you use book pages from your book.

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Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates



Recently, a very talented glass blower, Doug Frates‘ work was brought to my attention. His pieces have an amazing sense of movement as the colors and shapes spiral outward. His body of work has been referred to as liquid color, a very appropriate title. His pieces almost seem frozen in time, as if they were still in the process of being heated and expanding outward into crazy and interesting shapes.

Doug Frates Glass 2

I had the opportunity to ask Doug a few questions about his journey to the world of glass blowing. At a time when art seems to be moving into the digital world, with digital photography, graphic design, and computer animation on the rise, I love seeing traditional artists and crafters still at work. Doug’s artistic journey doesn’t take the typical path through art school, but instead, through a war in Iraq, an admiration for handmade glass, and an apprenticeship with two accomplished glass blowers, Tom Philabaum and Fritz Dreisbach.

Doug Frates Glass 3
When did you become interested in art?
I really did not know this would be a Career until I saw that people were recognizing my work as something different.  I probably really started as a professional artist in 2003.
Was there a particular person or people who helped guide you towards a career in art?
I have worked for a phenomenal artist by the name of Tom Philabaum in Tucson, Arizona.   I also was guided by Fritz Dreisbach.   It was through their commitment to me that made this possible.   I thank them very much for the opportunities that led to the direction we are heading.   
Did you go to college and study art or learn through an apprentice like experience?
I guess you could say that I was lucky enough to apprentice under Tom Phillabaum. It was a paying job, but I was taken under his wing.   
What is your favorite part of working with glass?
The colors and the options available to me are what is most interesting.   Between transparent and opaques there are so many variations allowed.   The hard part is the characteristics of making those colors work within the style we work.   It can get very tricky and sometimes they just don’t work.   
What are you trying to accomplish through your artwork? Do you have a particular statement your are trying to make or is it more about pushing the glass into different forms that you find interesting?
 I love creating!  I am always trying to push myself into unknown directions.   This allows us to concoct new style and flair in the industry.
-Do you have a particular piece you like best or are most proud of?
I am proud of everything we send out the door.   If it does not look right or has the slightest flaw it will not work for the client.   I have learned over the years that only quality will pay.
-How do you live off of your work? Is it primarily through commercial sales, gallery sales, or commissions?
We are primarily commission based.   This allows us to constantly be creative.   We work closely with our customers to get the what they want.   That is the fun part about my job!!!
What do you say to people who say you can’t make a living with art?
People can be skeptical about art as a living.   Truth is everywhere you look there is art.   Without it there would be no sense of creativity and prosperity within life.   Yes it is very hard to make a decent living with art, but understanding that you have to run a business first is very important.   So you make it work. Just like any other small business it can be challenging.   We have found a way to do it and others can to.   We employ 6 at our shop and they love what they do.   Surrounding yourself with employees that are team oriented is key.  As a veteran myself we have half employed that are veterans.   This really makes for a great team atmosphere within our business. 
Do you have any advice for students interested in pursuing art?
 For the students.  Give it a try,  if you don’t succeed at least you tried but you did not fail because you tried.   This happens all the time in the art world and I think it only makes you better as an individual.
Doug Frates Glass
Looking through Doug Frates‘ work, I am very impressed by his range and creativity within the glass medium. I love introducing new, interesting artists to my students, and I can’t wait to add Doug to my list of inspirational, working artists. Thank you Doug for this interview, your amazing talent, and good advice to upcoming artists. Doug’s list of awards and recognition is proof enough that it is never to late to pursue your passion.
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Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor Classroom

sculpture garden

When I started at my new, fancy, private school, I was amazed at the classroom I was given. I had so much space, it was fully stocked, and it was set up to specifically serve as a sculpture classroom. I barely had to change a thing, it was practically perfect. I even had double doors leading outside, to a walled in patio space. I already had a beautiful classroom, and now I even had an outdoor workspace.

While my classroom was well put together, the patio space was a blank slate. There was nothing but a concrete slab and a beautiful brick wall enclosing it. For a year I sat at my desk, stared out the double doors, and saw a space going to waste.

At the beginning of my second year I decided it was time to spruce it up. I put in a few wish list items to our school’s arts alliance, and was granted enough money to make the space useful and more aesthetically pleasing. I purchased two planters, one round planter, and two picnic tables. I am blessed to have a landscape architect husband who helped me fill the planters with interesting flowers, wonderfully smelling herbs, and interesting foliage to look at and touch.


When everything was put together I was excited at the transformation, but I quickly realized it wasn’t enough. Walls still stood empty, space was being wasted. The next year I added even more. I purchased two more large planters, 4 round planters, a storage shed, a storage box, and succulents to add as centerpieces to my picnic tables. Once again Nick came to my rescue and helped me select the many plants necessary to fill up my planters.


I couldn’t believe how beautiful the space was becoming. The piles of straw for my raku firings was hidden away, my propane and acetylene tanks and a protected space to live, and my planters could barely contain my plants. My watering system was working well, automatically watering every three days, causing growth spurts in everything I planted.



The final touch I added to the space were four sets of three slip casted tiles. These beautiful pieces sat unglazed and abandoned in my storage closet for years. Once I added bright coats of glaze and fired them, they were the perfect addition to the walls of my sculpture garden.


I love seeing my students working out there. This forgotten space has finally reached it’s potential, and is being put to good use. I can’t wait to continue to add student made sculptures to the space, and continue to grow my beautiful sculpture garden. Check out my first blog post about transforming this space here.

IMG_8106Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by!


Visual Journal Page 75: Rylie Bug



July 15, 2012, baby Rylie was born. I was officially an aunt, Nick’s sister had sweet baby girl.

I will never forget the moment I first realized I was going to be an aunt. It didn’t happen when Randi announced her pregnancy, it didn’t happen when Randi began to show and came in town for her baby shower. It happened during a very casual conversation with my sister-in-law, and Randi’s sister, Stacey. We swapped our excitement for the coming baby, discussed how cute she would be, and how much we spoiled her. Out of nowhere I said, with 4 brothers and 1 sister I guess there is no competition for you for favorite aunt. As soon as the words left my mouth I paused, wait a minute… I’m married to one of the four brothers… I was also going to be an aunt…

We had a good laugh, and my excited increased just a touch. I was going to be an aunt… Aunt Whitney, it sounded good.

A few months later, Rylie-Bug came into the world. Nick and I made the hike to Kentucky as soon as we could, and for the first time in a long time I held a tiny, fragile, unbelievably adorable, two week old infant.

It’s amazing how much you can love something you don’t even know. A connection is inherently built through family. Although the same blood that runs through my veins isn’t the same as Rylie’s, she is my family. She is my family through love of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents. The connection was formed through family reunions, trips to the lake, and dinner at the Panetta’s. I got to know Rylie through spending weekend after weekend getting to know my husband and his five siblings. Through seven years of time with the Panettas, 2 years of marriage to Nick, a base was being set for future family members, additions through marriages and births. As soon as I held Rylie I felt I knew her.

Although Rylie has moved from Louiseville, KY all the way to Italy, I am still Aunt Whitney. Although visits are few and far between, I still have that title, making each visit a family reunion, rather than a new meeting.

I can’t wait to watch that baby grow up. I have already witnessed her 2 year journey thus far, from snuggly infant to a sassy, energetic, and hilarious little girl. In one month she changed so much, in two years she was a transforming into a person, I can’t image what the next 10, 18, and 20 years will bring.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Book pages
  • Construction paper
  • Printed picture
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie


From the minute I saw this picture, that my amazing photographer sister-in-law Randi took, I was in love. This had to be the “Rylie” visual journal page picture. I decided I first needed to create a neutral, yet interesting, background. I opted to rip up pages from an older, and slightly discolored book. I glued them down layered on top of each other.

Next, I carefully cut out baby Rylie, and glued her to the left side of my visual journal. I debated various ways to write the words, and in the end decided I needed to make the words pop with a little more color. I took different shades of pink construction paper, to mirror the pink in the netting, ripped it up, and glued it down in an arc shape to fit with the picture. I placed the paper going from the lightest pink to the darkest pink.

I wrote the words on top of the pink paper, took as step back, and evaluated. Somehow, it still looked incomplete. I played around with layering black construction paper just under the words, and I liked how it tied in the black sharpie. I quickly glued it down, but was still unsatisfied. The page suddenly turned too dark. The final piece I added was another layer of ripped up book pages on top of the black paper, leaving a small edge of black. This helped tie into the background, while keeping an interesting space around my written words.


Create a visual journal page about your family. It can be a single member or an large group. Good luck and have fun!

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Visual Journal Page 74: The Water Incident


It was springtime, on the verge of summer. May was slowly turning into June, warm air began its transformation into a hot blanket of humidity, and school had just let out for summer vacation.

I couldn’t wait for my first summer trip, a journey to Nick’s family lake house. It was a four day weekend I couldn’t wait for. The lake water and warm sun was calling my name. I needed a time for reading, relaxing, and working on my first summer tan.

The day we left I ran around the house cleaning up, packing, and checking things off my to do list. Nick would be home soon, and as soon as he walked in the door we were headed straight back out, into the car, and on the way to the lake.

As I finished up my chores inside, I headed outside to do a little work in my garden. Only a month ago I carefully laid out and planted my tomatoes, bell pepper, squash, zucchini, and grape tomatoes. Every day I took a stroll to my garden, pulled out weeds, and watched my tiny plants grow. At this point, the flowers were beginning to show signs of tiny tomatoes, squash, and peppers, only a little more patience and I would have home grown vegetables ready to eat.

As I headed back inside to start loading the car, I turned on the sprinkler to give my plants a final drink of water before we left. Before long we were on the road, headed to a weekend of complete relaxation.

It was a lovely weekend. We caught up with Nick’s family, ate good food, enjoyed beautiful weather, and the pups got some very much needed time running around in the woods. In a blink of an eye the four days were up and it was time to head home. Although I wasn’t tired of relaxing in the sun and playing in the water, I was ready to get home and work on my summer to do list. I was ready to paint the guest bedroom, work on artwork, and check on my garden.

As usual the first think we did when we got home was let the dogs out. Nick walked to the back deck, and watched the pups frolic in the yard. With him supervising the dogs I began unpacking from our weekend. Suddenly, Nick said “why is the sprinkler on?” I froze. Why was the sprinkler on? Nick turned around, looked straight at me and asked again, “why is the sprinkler on?” I felt the panic begin to rise. Why was the sprinkler on? I turned it on before I left, but I turned it off. I know I turned it off. There was no way I was that irresponsible.

Nick stomped into the yard, towards the garden, and to the light spray of the sprinkler. I couldn’t move. I was frozen in place. Someone must have come over and decided to water our plants for us. There was no way I left the sprinkler on. Finally, I got up the nerve to follow Nick out. Halfway to the garden I knew it was me. The incredibly saturated, puddled, wet ground was evidence of a four day, continuous watering.

My first thought was my garden. Had I killed every plant I so lovingly looked after for the last month? My next thought was how much is this going to cost us? Nick shut the water off, walked back in the house, and straight to the back room. I decided he needed a minute. I immediately went to our last water bill to do some calculations. It wouldn’t be that bad… it couldn’t be that bad…

I tried my best to calculate the worst case scenario, however the Atlanta water system is very convoluted. Between sewer charges, meter readings, and additional charges after using so much water in one month, I really had no idea what our next bill would look like. One month our water bill would be $75.00, the next out of nowhere, a $200.00 bill would show up. I decided at best the bill would be around $700.00, at worst over $1000.00. Our discovery was getting worse.

Nick emerged from the back room, and before I could say anything he said, “it is what it is, there is nothing we can do about it.” It was done, it didn’t need to be discussed, there was no reason to dwell. Now we just had to wait for the water bill to see what damage was going to be done to our bank account.

The next day, Nick ran a few errands and came back with an auto shut off watering system. After the “water incident” there was no way I was going to water the garden for the rest of the season, but I looked forward to using it the next year. I successfully killed every plant, except a few tomatoes. At the end of the month the bill came, and my forgetful moment cost me $550.00. A simple forgetful moment turned into a dead garden and unexpected expense.

“The water incident” remains a sore spot, something not mentioned, a hard lesson learned. I still can’t believe I did it, I still don’t understand how something so harmless could cause so much damage.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Black Pen
  • Colored Pencil
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Paper towel
  • Magazines


When it came time to make this page, I already had a very specific vision in mind. I wanted to keep the sprinkler simple, with the focus on the water. I decided to draw a simple ink outline, fill in the hose with blue water, and emphasize the water lines leaving the sprinkler with blue. I decided to incorporate my words into the water lines, so I left breaks in the lines to fill in with my text. After completing my drawing I carefully tore it out, and began working on the background.

I wanted a big difference between the sprinkler and the background. I decided to use bright colors and a completely different material, magazine pages. The shiny surface of the magazines contrasted nicely with the matte finish of my drawing. I ripped out page after page of green from magazines, began ripping them up, and gluing them down. I left a small space in the top left corner for a little blue sky.

Once my background was filled in I glued my sprinkler drawing on top. After taking a step back I decided I wasn’t completely satisfied yet. I went digging through my visual journal folder and discovered a piece of paper towel that had been dyed with watercolors. I ripped out the half circle and glued it just under the edge of the sprinkler. It tied the image together and emphasized the saturated ground.


Create a page about a lesson you learned the hard way.

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