Tag: art how to

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.

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Visual Journal Page 33: My Sweet Tooth

Visual-Journal-Page-33-Sweet-Tooth

It is no secret I have a sweet tooth, and apparently this wasn’t missed by my students either.

I love anything 100% pure sugar, flavored, and dyed. I like skittles, starburst, the kind of candy that guarantees cavities and to pull out your old fillings. My sweet tooth is a thing I struggle with as an adult. I try to eat healthy, not take in too much sugar, and at this point in my life I feel I should be over these types of treats. To the very best of my ability I try to push these sweets out of my mind, and keep them out of my belly.

It is a constant struggle at the grocery store. The carefully placed displays and rows of candy in the check out aisle taunts small children, and full grown Mes. As my healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables are being scanned and placed in bags, my eyes scan the candy trays, looking for my vice.

Over the years I do feel my sweet tooth has slowly begun to subside. If I can stay off skittles for a couple of weeks, the cravings appear less and less. However, it is hard to not consume these tasty treats when they are waiting for you at every corner. I try to keep them out of my grocery list, car, and house, but at school they appear, as if from thin air, to tempt me.

At some point in the three years I spent at my last school my students picked up on my sweet tooth. It began towards the end of my first year when one student would periodically leave skittles on my desk (read about that story here). I suppose I threw such a fit over it, my other students decided they also wanted to be showered with thanks yous, and your are too sweets. Suddenly, every couple of weeks a new sweet would appear on my desk, just as my body finally began to cleanse itself from my last sugar binge, airheads, skittles, and gummies would appear out of nowhere.

In between my surprise treats I was continuously tempted with sugar as my students begged me to buy yet another pack of skittles from them to raise money for the band, soccer, or who knows what. My  guilt would make me consider just a second too long, and before the word no could be uttered my sweet tooth would stop it, and start my tummy grumbling, asking for just a few morsels of sugar.

Despite the fact that my students have made it difficult to overcome the sugar addiction I continue to battle, their little surprise would make my day. I felt like it was their coy way of saying thank you, at least that was how I justified always accepting their gifts. For those moments of appreciation I guess I am okay with people knowing I have a small sweet tooth.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber Cement
  • Scissors
  • Candy wrappers
  • Watercolor
  • White paper
  • Paint brush
  • Masking Tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Skinny sharpie

HOW TO

This page was very easy to make using two techniques I continuously use in my book: whole sheet patterns and wood grain. I love the look of cut out characters, as if they were cut from patterned paper with no shading, highlights, or three dimensionality. I love the look even more when it is paired with objects that look more realistic. After I saved a few gift candy wrappers I decided to incorporate them into a page, and play with the flat/realistic method.

I started by painting a large sheet of white paper with browns, yellows, whites, and oranges. I wanted a variety of color, but I wanted them to flow into each other to create an interesting texture. I loaded up my watercolors with water, to make them flow more easily, and got to painting. Once I was satisfied with the colors I allowed it to dry before I added the grain texture. I used a thin sharpie to draw the lines of the fake wood grain, being sure to stay loose, after all there are no straight lines in nature (except snowflakes). To read more tips about recreating wood grain visit my skittles page here.

Once I was satisfied with my wood grain I cut it smaller to cover 3/4 of my two pages. I carefully glued it down with rubber cement, and used a credit card to force the paper into the seam of the book. I then glued the wrappers with hot glue, rubber cement isn’t strong enough to glue down the plasticky wrappers, and added a piece of masking tape on top. I then added the repeating yummys and words around the wrappers with sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a page about your vice.

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Visual Journal Page 9: That was Going to be My Kitchen Table

It all started with a grill out. It was Fall, the weather was amazing, we were finally settled into our house, and the decorating was coming along, which meant it was time to host our first house party. Nick and I sat down and decided to have a rib cook off, the first annual rib off of hopefully many more to come. I couldn’t wait to host our first party, and it encouraged me to tie up a few loose ends, hanging up pictures, organizing rooms, and doing my first post-move-in deep clean of the house. It was a whirlwind the day of the rib off, I was preparing for the multiple rib entries that were heading our way, the a slew of people who were coming, and I was frantically cleaning, cooking, and prepping. The cook out was a huge success, everyone had a good time, Nick won the rib competition, and although the cost of the party brought our bank account down a little, it was worth it. If only I knew what was coming next….

Post-party the house was a mess, dirt was tracked in and out of the back door, it seemed like all of the silverware, pots, pans, glasses, and plates were dirty, there wasn’t a trace of the deep clean I did pre-party. The following morning I dragged myself out of bed and downstairs to face the wreck our house had become. I spent the second day in a row deep cleaning, and by the end of Sunday I collapsed onto the sofa, and allowed myself to relax before work the next day.

With my cleaning frenzy and Sunday night deep relaxation I didn’t pay too much attention to Jacob and Kody Bear. After all, I convinced myself, they got so much attention at the party, everyone loving on them, giving them treats here and there, I could let them rest and it would be okay. I assumed Kody was being lethargic because he was as exhausted as I was, he was partied out, he spent all day outside the day before, and didn’t want to go outside because he wanted indoor time. If only I knew…

I got up Monday morning, still recovering from the weekend, and took the pups on their morning walk. Jacob did his business immediately, and I waited as patiently as I could for Kody to do his. I waited and waited, continuously checking my watch, counting down the last minutes and seconds before I absolutely had to be out the door. I looked at Kody, shook my head, and said “I guess you will just have to hold it until I get home, it’s not my fault you are going to be uncomfortable all day”.  With those last annoyed words I put the dogs inside, grabbed my much needed coffee, and headed out the door.

I have no idea what happened at school that day, what project my classes were on, if anyone acted up or said something sweet, all I remember is coming home, walking in the door and seeing blood splattered on the floor in the living room. My heart dropped, the air rushed out of my lungs, I immediately called for my babies, terrified that something bad had happened, only assuming the worse. Jake ran right in, Kody followed much slower. I checked them both out, every nook and cranny, and found nothing. I sent them outside, and went to work cleaning up the mystery massacre in my living room.

I was still freaking out, I had no idea what was going on, until I looked outside to check on the pups and saw Kody in an endless squat. Something had disagreed with him, something was making him bleed. In my head I immediately returned to the party and saw all of the handouts he was given, the rib bones, the easily accessible trash can, with even more rib bones. I ran to my computer and looked up the affects of a dog eating bones, and of course my imagination ran wild with all of the ridiculous stories people posted, I was convinced my baby was going to die from a punctured stomach or small intestine, I imagined blood filling him up, him keeling over, all from a stupid cook out.

By the time Nick got home I was practically in tears, we loaded him in the car and sped of to the emergency vet. We frantically waited in the waiting room for Kody to be called back. We finally made it to the tiny examination room and I felt terrible as they took Kody back to get blood work done and to be examined. It felt like hours, but finally the doctor came back with her prognosis. He was fine. Yes, he probably ate some rib bones which splintered and probably cut him a little on the way out, which caused the blood. Yes, he was a little bit backed up, but it would pass. In the end Kody got some antibiotics, a couple cans of soft food, and was 100% okay. On the other hand, Nick and I got a very long lecture about giving dogs bones and a $400.00 vet bill for antibiotics and a 15 minute check up.

I was beyond relieved when he was fine, and showed absolutely no signs of the previous mess over the next few days. However, every now and then I would stop, and gaze at the bare area in the kitchen that was meant to have a table. I would think about the $400.00 that literally went into Kody’s butt and how that could’ve been the kitchen table (and chairs at that price) that I had been dreaming of and wishing for. Although we could’ve skipped the vet visit and the ridiculous bill and Kody would’ve been fine, I would still do it all over again. I don’t think I could’ve ever forgiven myself if something had gone wrong and I didn’t do anything about it because of money. My dogs are my babies, I would fork over more money than I have to save their lives if it came down to it. And in the end, even though I didn’t have my table, I still had my baby, and that is all that matters.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • White paper
  • Sharpie
  • Gesso
  • Watercolor or bleeding tissue paper
  • Vet pamphlet
HOW TO
As soon as this fiasco happened, I began thinking of how I would incorporate it into my visual journal. I had already been brainstorming ways to incorporate a skeleton into a page, I love the way they look, and it seemed to fit perfectly with what happened. I considered drawing a picture of Kody, with an x-ray in front of him, drawing an entire dog skeleton, or a pile of rib bones. That got me thinking about rib bones, I don’t think any bone in our body is as interesting as our rib cage. I love the shape, the curves, and the space it creates as the bones wrap from back to front. This train of thought prompted me to look up images of dog rib cages, which brought me to the idea of creating a medical diagram of just a rib cage. After all, it was the perfect visual. The rib bones were the downfall, and they ended up passing through his rib cage and into his stomach. Inside the rib cage drawing I would place the pamphlet the vet forced on us about what not to feed your dog, which we will pass out to all of our guests the next cook out we have.
I started by drawing the rib cage on a separate sheet of white paper. I used pencil, erased a lot, and went through multiple drafts before it was perfect. Once the proportions were correct, I decided to add value. I wanted it to look more graphic, so I scribbled with a sharpie to create the cast shadows between the overlapping bones. I liked the effect, but I wanted more gray. I brainstormed ideas, but I knew I couldn’t erase the black sharpie that was already there, so I had to cover it up with something else. Immediately I thought of gesso. I watered some down, and tested a small area. It look perfect, it toned it down to a lighter gray, but you could still see the scribbles. I coated the rest of the rib cage in gesso, let it dry, and went back one more time with the sharpie to punch up the dark shadows. I carefully cut the rib cage out with scissors, and used an Xacto knife for the small interior areas. To learn more about gesso click here.
After the drawing was complete I glued down the pamphlet and rib cage. In order to push the paper into the crease of the book I used a credit card, and ran it along the crease before the glue dried. I knew I wanted to splatter red watercolor for blood. Coming home to the blood splatter is something I will never forget, and it had to be included in the page. I chose the right corner, put a drop of red paint down, and blew it to create the splatter. To finish the page I added words on top of the splatter with sharpie, and labeled the bones to make it look like a medical diagram.
CHALLENGE:
Create a page that incorporates a skeleton. Use an animal, human, or even an insect exoskeleton. Play with the position of the bones, do a close up or a far away drawing. Have fun with it!
I hope you enjoyed my post! If you have any questions or comments please contact me! If you like my blog, help me spread the word like, tweet, link over, or subscribe! Thanks for your help getting the word out about visual journals!