Tag: art book

Visual Journal Page 53: Full Heart, Heartbroken

A visual journal page with a cut out and background created with Mod Podge transfers.

THE STORY

This visual journal page was created back in 2012 I was at a school I knew was a short term situation. After a single year I felt too exhausted to stick it out, but somehow I pushed through an additional two years. My 35 students per class, nonexistent art budget, low administrative support, and the requirements I had to meet outside of the classroom were becoming a daunting tower of reasons I needed to find a way out.

However, despite all the marks against my school and against my job, there was one thing that kept tugging at me to stay. My kiddos. At a school like this it’s more difficult to be recognized as an employee, but it’s easy to be recognized by those who matter most, the students.

I had student who were incredibly difficult. Those relationships wore on me as much as the other ticks against the job. But, the students I connected with went deeper than any student relationships I have made at my current job. These students needed me. They needed my insight, outlook, experience, art tips, and life tips. They came from a variety of backgrounds from low income to upper class, two parent to no parent homes. I had to balance a huge range of needs, it was challenging, but it fulfilled me.

My current job comes with a big pile of plush. I have a well padded art budget, small class sizes, administrative support, and very well behaved students. But I am not needed here. I could walk out of my classroom at any moment and these kids would have ten other teachers more capable and caring than me to take my place. When I walked out of my last job my students didn’t have that. They were left with teachers in the same situation as me: worn out, worn down. Or they were left with teachers only working for their paycheck, unable to be fired despite poor job performance, watching the clock until retirement. I was heartbroken because I felt like I was failing them.

Leaving that school meant I left a huge unknown. I didn’t know who would take my place, I didn’t know if they would have support. I felt like I was abandoning them, letting them down. I felt so much guilt that I couldn’t fess up to my job change until the last days of school, and I only informed those who I felt closest to.

I snuck out of that job with my tail between my legs, but the sense of relief I felt driving off campus the final day is indescribable. For the first time in three years I had hope, aspirations, and excitement for what would came at the end of summer.

a visual journal page made with collage and mod podge transfers.

“It breaks my heart to walk away… but I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”

This visual journal page was created in my last days at my first job. It was my way to process my emotions, to face the fact that yes I was sad and that was okay but I was also thrilled for what was next, which was also okay.

I have been at my current school, my second job in the adult world, for going on eight years. This job comes with its own set of challenges. I am tapped on the shoulder to take on tasks often, I wear ten different hats other than teacher on any given day, I have very high expectations from my students, parents, peers, and administration. I have never worked harder in my life in the last eight years. But the huge different is how I feel at the end of every day. I do not go home exhausted. I do not go home morally torn apart, emotionally worn down. I wake up every morning ready to go to work and start my day. I don’t dread Mondays, the end of breaks. I look forward to the start of every school year.

Moral of the story is that we have to show up for our students. I wish I was able to show up every day for my kiddos at my last job, but the job didn’t allow me to. Although I am far down the totem pole if you stack up the faculty at my current school, I am a better teacher to my students because I am taking care of me. You have to take care of you.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge
  • Printed images
  • Paint brush
  • Book pages
  • Thin Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I primarily used printed images. I wanted the yin/yang of my emotions at the time to be the focus of the page. I looked online and found a range of skies, from dark to light, and printed them out. I also knew I wanted a silhouette representation of me on both sides of the story, preparing to leave and my new beginning. After finding these and printing them out, I began laying out the spread.

I ripped the printed sky into strips and positioned them on the page. After cutting out the silhouettes I played around with placement, but felt like the spread was lacking a focal point. After some brainstorming I decided to include a heart to add a pop of color, focal point, and provide another visual for the way I was feeling.

After finding a heart image and printing it I created a Mod Podge transfer on a separate sheet of paper that I had collaged ripped up book pages on. Mod Podge transfers create a semi-transparent image and they are much more interesting to look at if they have something behind in the image.

MOD PODGE TRANSFER HOW TO

  1. Paint a coat of Mod Podge onto your image and let it dry.
  2. Paint another coat of Mod Podge on your image and let it dry.
  3. Paint a third coat of Mod Podge on your image and while it’s wet place it face down onto the surface you are transferring it to.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Once the Mod Podge is try, wet the back of the paper. Once the water soaks in, carefully rub the paper until it starts peeling off.
  6. Continue to rub the paper off until you can clearly see the image you transferred.
  7. Let the image dry and check to see if you need to re-wet and rub off paper in any other areas.
  8. REMINDER: You are creating a mirror image, any area with text will show up in reverse. To avoid that flip the image before you print.

I then printed a second heart image, in reverse, to create two sides of the heart. After finishing a Mod Podge transfer of the second heart I glued them to either side of a book page still attached to the binding of my book. I then cut the heart out, added pieces of book pages to create a space to write words, and wrote the words on top.

I loved the look of the Mod Podge transfer of the heart, so I decided to create Mod Podge transfers of the entire background. Once I finished with each strip of sky, I glued it down. I then added a ripped out encyclopedia page to the center of each page in my visual journal and layered another strip of sky on top.

Last but not least I added the silhouettes to each page.

CHALLENGE

Cut a shape out of a page still attached to your book binding to add an extra element to your visual journal spread. Try focusing on a moment when you felt pulled in different directions.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my magazine fade and tape transfer handouts) here.

Want to see more examples of using Mod Podge transfers in visual journals? Check some out here, here, and here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and visual journal page! Help me spread the word about what I do by sharing this post on your social media outlet of choice! Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 5: Year 25

Visual Journal Page 5-Year 25

My birthday is one of my favorite times of year. While I don’t require week, or month long, celebration, I do require a lot of attention the day of. I begin the countdown around a month before, constantly reminding Nick the first of the month is quickly approaching, August 1st is almost here, and it is a very important day.

I love birthdays in general. I love being the center of attention, pampered, and treated like royalty one day of the year. I also love celebrating birthdays. In college, I made it a point to make sure my roommates always had a full birth-day. My friends and I always tried to go above and beyond for each other to  make our days special while away from home. Waking up Theresa at the crack of dawn to surprise her with pancakes and balloons, Elly and I spontaneously buying a happy birthday blow up lion to use every year to celebrate, making all of their favorite dinner dishes, even if it meant fried ravoli and mashed potatoes in the same meal.

Nick knows my birthday enthusiasm. Every year I make a point to make him “big family breakfast,” a feast of bacon, potatoes, eggs, and toast, even if it means getting up an extra hour before work. After all, it is “birth-day” not “birth-dinner” or “birth-coupleofhours,” and everyone deserves a special day to celebrate.

While in school I hated having a summer birthday. I meant less attention was paid to me. I didn’t get to carry around balloons, get my locker wrapped, or be surprised with gifts from my friends. I didn’t get the time in the spotlight when everyone feels obligated to wish you happy birthday, because you have a giant sign, in the form of a balloon, announcing you made it another year.

However, as an adult, summer birthdays are my favorite. It means no work, regardless of whether or not my birthday falls on a Monday or Saturday. It means I most likely get to spend the day doing one of my favorite summer activities, lounging by the pool with a good book and adult beverage. I cherish my days off and the complete laziness I am allowed to enjoy on August 1st.

Needless to say, when I discovered pre-planning started on my birthday in 2011, I was devastated. I was going to have to get up early, make myself presentable, and do work, for the first time in two months, on my birthday. My birth-day was being reduced to what I never wanted, a quick dinner after work. I hoped, at the very least, I would be able to go out for lunch with my coworkers, without having to announce to the world it was my birthday and I needed special treatment. However, being the first day back, everyone decided to work straight through lunch.

It was a difficult day to stay focused, and I was glad when the clock hit 3:30, and I could head home. Nick and I did enjoy an amazing sushi dinner, and I was surprised with the usual pile of presents Nick insists on creating. I was most excited for my Nook, an easy way for me to consume book after book while being lazy at the pool, something to look forward to next summer. I still enjoyed my day, I still appreciated everything I was given, but perhaps this was the final nail in the coffin of my first teaching job. I needed to get closer to home and in a school that did not start on my birthday.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Watercolor
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Sharpie
  • Pencil
  • White paper
  • Book pages

HOW TO

For this visual journal page I wanted to include a day of activities and gifts into one image. After thinking about ways to simplify the page, I decided to focus on the Nook Nick gave me for my birthday, and include snapshots of the day on the screen.

Once I had a plan in place, I began working on the Nook. I wanted the screen of the Nook to stand out from the background, so I layered lighter colored book pages on a white sheet of paper. After, I began sketching out the Nook. I focused on all the small details, the battery icon, side buttons, home screen icons, etc., to make it look more realistic. I then used acrylic paint to fill in the the Nook.

To reflect my birthday day I divided the screen into three sections. One area to represent my desk at work, one area for the pile of presents, and one area for my delicious sushi birthday meal. Once I had a rough sketch, I added color and details with acrylic paint. Since the images were fairly small and loosely painted, a lot of detail was lost. To emphasize shadows and line I used an extra fine Sharpie to add detail back in.

Once the Nook painting was complete, I set it on the page. It filled up the space nicely, but overall, the image fell a little flat. I decided to create watercolor splatters to outline the Nook to add a little more interest to the page. On a separate sheet of paper I collage a light brown color book page, then painted a line of green watercolor on top. Before the paint dried, I blew the paint to splatter it. I continued this process until I had enough to outline the Nook.

I used rubber cement to glue all of the elements down.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your last or upcoming birthday.

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Visual Journal Page 4: To My Husband

Visual Journal Page 4-To My Husband

As I worked through my three books, traditions began falling into place. First, came the quote at the start of the book. A way to set the tone for the pages to come. Next, came the dedication to my book. The final page, a space for me to acknowledge the sacrifice and inevitable change in meaning for the book being used. By the time I settled into my third book, I began using the layout of the book as another source of inspiration for my pages.

As I worked through the first few pages of this book, I found myself on the original dedication page. The author of “Early American Dedication” had a simple, yet powerful dedication: “To my husband.” An entire page with blank space made the single line even more meaningful, “To my husband.” The sense of a strong marriage, support, love, care, and encouragement resonated off the page. I made an immediate connection with the three word sentence, and suddenly felt a sense of comradery with the author.

As I approach my 5 year wedding anniversary, and 10 year dating anniversary, I feel a strong set of emotions. When I turn 29 I will have already spent almost a third of my life with the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. At a young 19 I unknowingly met my match. A lot of changes take place between the ages of 19 and practically 30. The years of care-free, irresponsible, fun moved towards the first very broke years of being on your own. As you transition to your mid-twenties the inevitable first life crisis approaches, in the newly coined and very real quarter life crisis. Marriage, talks of children, and more responsibilities are added. I’m still a year and a half from thirty, but I am already terrified of what it means to be thirty. Thirty means real adulthood and real responsibility.

Through many major life changes, difficult transitions, and amazing amount of fun, my main constant has been my Nick. Together we have grown up and grown closer as we dealt, and continue to deal, with the realty of adulthood and the inevitable bumps along the way. A lot happens in the course of ten years, and I still feel just as connected to him today as I did when we first started dating.  I can’t wait for him to get home after work each day. He is the first person I tell exciting news, disappointments, frustrations, and ridiculous stories I read on the internet. I can’t imagine life without him.

As I worked through art school, exhausted myself trying to stay afloat my first years teaching, and as I explore new career options as a working educator and wanna be working artist, he has always been right by my side providing the encouragement I need. When I joke about quitting my full time job, and tells me to do it. He tells me we will find a way to make it work, because he wants me to be happy in whatever I am pursuing. When I look back at my income and expenses for my part time, working artist job, and realize despite a ton of hard work and successful shows, only a tiny profit was made, he points out how great it is that I am in the “black” my first year. He is the positive voice whispering in my ear, counteracting the negative voices in my head.

Nick makes me feel like I can accomplish whatever I want. He gives me the confidence I need to take the first step and try something new. After thinking back on all he has done for me, and how we have only grown stronger through the years, I realized this book also needed a simple dedication with endless meaning behind the words… To my husband.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto knife
  • Laser printer
  • Laser printed image
  • Mod podge
  • Water
  • Old book pages

HOW TO

When I decided to keep the original dedication as a part of my visual journal page, the design came together fairly easy. I had a wedding photo I loved, and it was perfectly cropped with us positioned on the left hand side of the frame, leaving space to allow the original text to show through. To start the visual journal page, I printed the picture on a laser printer. I opted to do a mod podge image transfer, and reversed the image before printing it, because mod podge transfers create a mirror image of the original.

Once I had the image printed, I pulled other pages from my visual journal book to use as the base to transfer my image on. While I still planned to incorporate the original text, I decided I still wanted other text to show through the image. By completing the transfer on a separate sheet of paper, then gluing it back into the book, it also keeps the pages flatter, and less wrinkled, after it dries. I painted two layers of mod podge on the image, allowing them to dry between layers, then added a third layer, and while the mod podge was still wet, I laid it face down on the book pages. I allowed the mod podge to dry a third time, then wet the back of the image and rubbed the paper off. The end result is a semi-transparent image. To read more about mod podge transfers check out another post here.

After the mod podge transfer was complete, I laid the page on top of the original dedication page, and marked where the “To my husband” text was. Using an Xacto knife I cut through the page with the mod podge transfer, allowing the text to show through. I used rubber cement to glue the mod podge transferred pages on top of the dedication page.

Through the mod podge transfer process the edges of the image became a little messy. To cover this up, and create a more complete looking page, I ripped up and glued down pieces of paper from an old, discolored book and another print out of the original image. When doing a mod podge transfer details often become fuzzy. I loved the lace at the bottom of my wedding dress, and decided I wanted to re-emphasize it. To do this I printed another copy of out wedding picture, ripped the bottom and top of the picture, and lined it up with the mod podge transfer. I used rubber cement to glue it down. To further emphasize the dedication, I added another section from the picture and old book pages beneath the line of text.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page dedicating your book to someone supportive of your ventures in life.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read today’s post. Help me spread the word about my blog and visual journals in general by sharing with others on your social networking site of choice. Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 43: Face Your Fears

This visual journal page was inspired by a series of illustrations in a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) catalog. I love the playful quality of the images, the clean lines, and the way the black of the owl contrastes with the pink flamingo. I’m not sure what story the owl and flamingo were telling, but as I cut them out, and laid them in my journal, the phrase “face your fears” popped into my head.

The expression of the owl changes so much as he moves from position to position. You wouldn’t think two round-eyed circles could say so much, but this student illustrator did an amazing job bringing emotion across. I love how the eyes turn to pink as the owl finally sits on the flamingo’s back and introduces himself. As my cut outs lay unglued to my page I couldn’t help but create my own story, the story of the owl so curious about the flamingo, but too afraid to approach her, until he finally musters up the courage.

Face your fears, it’s a phrase that has been repeated time and time again. Traditionally facing your fears is supposed to result in a sense of peace, happiness, and success. The basic idea is that once you face your fears you will realize how trivial they were to begin with. But what about those who didn’t come out the other end. The ones that realized their fears were a reality, with a dismal outcome.

What about those knights in shining armor who went to fight for their loves, but ended up dead in a ditch. What about those risk takers who vowed to go down in history as the achiever of this, discoverer of that, never to be heard from again? What about the person who tried something new only to fail; or the girl who was shot down by the guy she always wanted to talk to; or the person who went after their dreams and never found success?

It’s thoughts like these that catch my mind as I consider facing my fears. It’s thoughts like these that creep into each of us, planting the seeds of doubts, and preventing the majority of us from truly facing our fears. The what ifs and how tos transform from simple black and white words on a page, fleeting thoughts in our mind, into giant, unanswerable questions, whose shadows we can never seem to escape.

I believe everyone knows the answer to their “big questions” their “what ifs”. I think deep down inside we all know what will really happen if we face our fears. The answer is the sensation in our guts, the flutter of our bellies, it’s our bodies attempt to reveal the true answer. Perhaps our brains become so inundated what the possible end results and scary outcomes that the real answers have to move down south, to space in the center of our bodies, a simple flutter in our middles that says this is what you really want, this is the right answer.

I think we should all learn to trust our gut, like our little owl friend in my visual journal page. I think we all need to risk the nose dive to find out the end result, to discover whether or not our gut was right. The outcome won’t always be what we expect, hope for, or want, but at least you tried, at least you now know, at the very least you can say you mustered enough courage to face your fears.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • India ink
  • Paint brush
  • Sharpie
  • Beige Paper
  • SCAD Catalog images

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started by cutting out the owl and flamingo characters from a SCAD catalog. Once I had the pieces of my image I began to lay them out on the page. After I had a rough idea of where I wanted them, I decided it needed more. I needed to add a ground for the flamingo to stand on, and a branch for the first owl to sit on. To create these pieces of the puzzle I used a beige sheet of paper and loosely painted a branch shape using a thin paint brush dipped in India ink. I like the thick/thin quality it has, and it moves very easily. Once I had my branch complete I painted overlapping strokes along the bottom of the beige paper for grass. I made sure I left space between the very bottom of the page and the bottom of the grass because I wanted to cut it out.

Once everything dried I began cutting out the branch and grass. I then glued the characters down, and overlapped them with the India ink pieces. To connect the owl images together I took a sharpie and created a dashed line between the owl gut outs, to create a sense of movement, and show the progression of the owl moving across the page. To incorporate the words into the page I incorporated it into the dashed line.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a fear you faced or a fear you know you need to face.

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading today’s post! Please help me spread the word about my blog by subscribing, liking, tweeting, commenting, and sharing with others! Thanks for stopping by!

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Visual Journal Page 40: Accidental Artwork Collage

Visual-Journal-Page-40-Accidental-Artwork

At times I truly believe my students think I am a maid rather than their teacher. If this isn’t the explanation for why they continuously leave a mess behind, they must think small elves skip into our room every night, do sing-a-longs, and joyously clean as if there were nothing greater in the world.

The truth is there are no elves and I am in fact a teacher not a personal cleaner upper. I would much prefer spending my mornings, planning periods, and afternoons actually prepping for new lessons and my next class, rather than picking up scrapes of paper, wiping down tables, and sticking my hand in yet another mystery blob of paint. If I turn my back for a second at the end of class, my kids will zip out as soon as the bell rings without a second thought to their mess. It amazes me how they think I won’t realize they didn’t clean up when a pile of paper and unwashed paintbrushes are sitting right in front of their seat. The next day all I get are blank stares and I must have forgotten excuses when I approach the subject.

I hate to admit it but the thought “what would your mother think” often rolls through my head and off my tongue. I am turning into one of those teachers. The type that points and shakes their finger, taps their foot with a hand on their hip, and questions student behavior outside of school. I blame it on the students, they drive us all to that point eventually.

Although I strive to keep a clean room and hate to see a mess left behind I can find a silver lining on the trash cloud that hoovers over my classroom tables, countertops, and floors. As I pick up projet leftovers I often stumble upon the most beautiful accidental works of art. Streaks of paint are left behind a poor attempt to clean off a brush. Random doodles grace scrap papers that have been abandoned. Experimental colors and techniques appear, and are quickly forgotten as the end of class bell rings.

These are my students’ after thoughts, their progression of style and discovery of their voice. I love finding these gems, it almost makes cleaning up worthwhile. I take these accidental works of art, stow them in my visual journal, and incorporate them into my own works of art. However, these particular pieces were so special I had to create a page celebrating them, because I wish they would clean up… even though it is fun to find their accidental artwork.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber Cement
  • Accidental artwork
  • Colored pencil

HOW TO

This page is all about the student work, which made my job easy. I simply took the painting scraps I had hung onto, and ripped them into more manageable sizes and layered them into a collage. I glued them down, overlapping them between the left and right pages (in order to get the paper to stick in the crease I use a credit card to push it into the crease of the book), and overlapping the torn edges. As I glued the pieces down I made sure I allowed a blank space in the center to write my words.

Once all of the pieces were glued I used a pencil to lightly write in the words. I wanted them to fill up the space, look messy, and blend with the background. After I was satisfied with the wording and placement I traced over the words with colored pencil, alternating between colors. I made sure to choose colors that were similar to the background to help it blend in.

CHALLENGE

Take a blank sheet of paper, a variety of paint colors, and have fun. Blend colors, create patterns by playing with brush strokes, or even finger paint. Allow the paper to dry, then rip it up and use it in your next visual journal collage.

This for visiting my blog! I hope you find some useful tips to help you in your next visual journal collage. Help me spread the word about my blog by liking, tweeting, sharing on facebook, e-mailing to others, subscribing, and please feel free to comment! Thanks for stopping by.

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