Tag: art

Visual Journal Pages 26 and 27: At Least Pretend You Care…

During this period in my life, my visual journal pages often focused on my discontent with the school I was teaching at. After three years, I felt like I was becoming a bit jaded. I didn’t feel like the art program was recognized as an important part of a well rounded education. I rarely saw my administrators. I would show up for work, do my job, and felt like no one really cared if I was there or what I was doing.

Although my administrators let me down over the years, my students rarely did. I did not like my enormous class sizes (35 students per Introduction to Art class), but I loved all of my students. I especially loved my Intro to Art course, because many of the students signed up to check the “fine arts credit” box in order to graduate from high school, but many of them ended up loving, or at least having an appreciation for, art. There is something incredibly special about seeing the moment that it clicks for a student. They find the subject matter or material they like best, they feel encouraged by the way their artwork is developing, and they suddenly put in the time and effort to their project because they truly care about it.

With 35 students per class, it was nearly impossible for me to display every project for every student in the school. Instead, I would select the top examples from the class. Although this may have singled out some, I felt it gave recognition to the students who worked for it and deserved it.

Every year, one of the majorĀ  projects my students create is a portrait drawing of their personal hero. It can be a celebrity, family member, politician, the choice is theirs. Every year, many of the students are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to draw a person realistically, but every year I am blown away by the results. This year was proving to be no different, and I selected 8 drawings to display outside of the school library.

The following day, one of the students whose work was displayed came into class with a concerned look on his face. His drawing was no longer hanging in the hall. I assumed it had fallen off the wall, had been picked up by a teacher, and taken to a safe place. But after trying to track it down, I began to realize someone had taken it. This student had worked incredibly hard on this piece. He was so proud of the end result, his work was selected to be displayed, and instead of creating a sense of pride, he was let down. His artwork was gone.

I immediately went to my administrators. Items were stolen regularly, the school had cameras, they could often track things down. But instead of finding help and encouragement I was told there wasn’t anything they could do. There was no point in screening the cameras, it seemed like they didn’t even care.

I felt completely helpless. I had a devastated student, an unsupportive administration, and an unfair theft. I was fed up but I could do nothing about it. My sweet student accepted the fact that his drawing was not coming back, and he moved on. But I know how much he cared.

Even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Printed pages with text
  • Watercolor paint
  • Brushes
  • Salt
  • Printed images
  • Black paper
  • Magazines
  • Rubber cement
  • Xacto knife

HOW TO

When I began working on this visual journal page, I decided fairly early on to create two spreads that tied together through a cut out. That would show two sides of the story. the missing artwork and my ever growing discontent with my administrators.

I started with the artwork display. I printed out a few sheets of paper with the text “even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I then added a hint of color using watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet on the paper, I sprinkled some salt on top. The salt absorbs the water, which pulls the watercolor pigment around the salt grains. After the paper dries, you wipe the salt off, and it leaves a speckled pattern. This was done in an effort to create a cinderblock look. I then cut up the paper into rectangles and glued them into my book, leaving a small space between each “cinderblock.”

Next, I printed the actual artwork that was on display. I cut them out, glued them to a black sheet of paper, then cut them out again leaving a thin black edge around the artwork. This mimicked the look of mounted drawings. I placed the artwork in the same formation as the display, leaving a blank black rectangle for the one that went missing. I then used an Xacto knife to cut out the rectangle to tie to the next page.

On the next page, I decided to create a very dark look. I found magazine pages with black and grays and ripped them up into smaller pieces. I then glued the pieces down, going from dark on the left page to light on the right page, using rubber cement.

I then printed a larger version of the text, “even though you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I did the same watercolor and salt treatment to the paper, then cut it into a strip once it dried. I glued the text to the page so the “at least pretend you care” text overlapped the lightest section of the background.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page that utilized two spreads in your book (a spread is two facing pages).

Need more inspiration? Check out cut out pages about book oddities, furniture, and fortune cookies.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about visual journals, art, and crafts by sharing on your social media website of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

DIY The Very Hungry Caterpillar Character Costume

I am extremely lucky in my work situation. I get to do what I love, teach art full time, and bring my almost two year old to school with me everyday. My school provides on site daycare for all their employees. It’s easily half the cost of standard daycare and he is on campus with me. This opportunity has kept me working, which is what I want to do. Before kids I didn’t realize many women had to stop working due to the ridiculous cost of daycare. Even with baby number two on the way, we can justify the cost of full time childcare for two while I stay in the classroom.

Cooper has been attending his “school” since he was four months old. We both get a nice summer off, but come August we are back at it. Although I teach high school, I work at a K-12 school. This makes daycare even better, the kids get a glimpse of life in elementary school and they get to participate in a number of their events. One such event is the annual book character parade. All the daycare and elementary students get to dress up as their favorite book characters and parade around the quad for their parents, middle and high school students, and faculty to see.

This was the second year Cooper got to participate, and this was the second year that I waited until the night before to pull it all together. Although I put myself in a stressful situation by procrastinating, it made me realize that I love making his outfits for events like this and I can do it on a budget and tight timeline.

SUPPLIES:

For his “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or as I like to call it “The Very Hungry Toddler” costume I had fabric leftover from his book character the year before, the “Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom” tree. It made the project that much easier to have most of the supplies on hand.

  • White shirt (or any old shirt you have laying around)
  • Red beanie
  • Purple, dark green, light green, and brown felt
  • Brown, purple, green, yellow, and white paint (I used acrylic paint to make sure it stayed on if it got wet. Fabric dye is also a good option)
  • Green and yellow construction paper OR if you feel artsy, watercolor paper and watercolor paint
  • Cardboard (thin strips to help the antennas stand up)
  • Hot glue gun/hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water

To get the Eric Carle illustration look on Cooper’s costume, I painted on top of fabric. His illustrations have a beautiful range of value in each object. You never see something one solid shade of green. Instead, you may find a range of value from yellow to yellow-green to light-green to dark-green, and even more in between.

I picked two shades of green, yellow, and white paint to mix together on my green base fabric. I watered down acrylic paint, and loosely added color with big paintbrushes. I painted the fabric before cutting it up to make it easier to paint and to give it an even more Eric Carle look. I tried not to follow a stripe pattern. I randomly introduced colors, blended them together, and made a mess in general.

I used the same colors on the dark green fabric. On the purple fabric, for the caterpillar feelers, I used a different shade of purple and white. On the brown fabric I used yellow, another shade of brown, and white paint.

After letting the fabric dry, I started cutting everything out. I cut strips for the body of the caterpillar, round foot shapes for the feet, and long narrow pieces for the antennas. This is the type of crafty project that looks cute and crafty, so I did not worry about fraying edges or uneven cuts. In situations like these, I tell myself if everything looks a little funky it all comes together to create a beautifully funky end result.

 

Next, I started hot gluing all the pieces to his white shirt. I started with the feet, overlapped them on the front, and glued them down. I then added the strips of green, alternating between dark and light. I wanted the sides of the stripes to look cleaner, so I folded the ends and glued them down. I then glued them directly to the shirt. I left the seam line exposed, covering the front completely, then adding the strips to the back of the shirt. This allowed the shirt to still stretch (somewhat) to put it on him.

Since the parade happened mid-October, it was a little chilly outside. I opted for a long sleeve white shirt (bought on the cheap from Amazon), but decided to only add the green stripes to the center of the shirt. It also made it a lot less complicated not adding them around sleeves.

It was tricky adding the pieces to the collar. A lesson I learned from last year’s costume is to leave the seam line on the shoulders exposed. After attaching all the leaves for the tree around his collar, there was no stretch left in the head opening. Cooper has an unusually large head, so I ended up cutting slits on either side just so we could put it on.

After the shirt was complete, I moved onto the beanie. I cut out four, thin purple strips of fabric, hot glued a piece of cardboard to one, and covered it up with another piece of purple fabric. I left a little extra fabric at the bottom, so I could “pinch” it to the hat using hot glue.

Next, I hot glued the eyes. You could use yellow and green construction paper, cut out ovals, and overlap them. I decided to paint them with watercolors on watercolor paper, then cut them out. I wanted to continue the painterly look of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” illustrations.

In addition to painting the eyes, I also painted a few examples of the fruit the caterpillar ate. I used watercolors, and combined multiple colors to imitate the color variation in the book. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate them into the costume, but decided to have them on hand in case an idea struck me. In the end I glued the apple to the front of his shirt and attached the rest on a string for him to carry during the parade.

If you don’t have access to these supplies or don’t have the knowledge on how to do it you can always print pictures of the illustration and add them to the costume.

He loved shaking the fruit on the string. This is the best picture I have of him holding it, and it barely lasted the day, but I loved the touch it added.

Cooper in his “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” costume in fall of 2016, almost at a year old, and in his “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” from this year. I can’t believe how much he has grown in a year!

Although these are short term costumes, I love being able to make something for him. My wallet also appreciates it. Thanks for taking the time to check out my latest how to post. Help me spread the word about DIY, crafts, and all things art by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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Visual Journal Page 24: They Are Finally Complete

This visual journal page is one of many that focuses on my furniture. As I have said many times in the past, I believe all furniture has a personality. I carefully select the pieces I include in my house, and I will wait until I find the perfect piece before I purchase something.

This requirement to find something unique, special, and that speaks to me is the reason our beautiful, blue, Crate & Barrel chairs sat awkwardly in the corner of our kitchen for months. I had a vision of a black, round table to finish our breakfast nook space in our kitchen. I searched and searched, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.

One day, after exhausting the many antique stores around me, I decided to try a new one I had heard good things about. However, the store was on the other side of the city from me, in Marietta, GA. To top it off Nick happened to be out of town that weekend, and with me in my Mini Cooper if I wanted to purchase a table I would have to commit to driving his truck, which terrified me.

Enough was enough, it was time to complete our kitchen. I climbed into his truck, and headed to the downtown connector to make my way to find a table.

I survived the drive, despite feeling like I was driving a bus after being used to the mini size car I drove on a daily basis. I walked into the store full of confidence, did a quick walk around, and didn’t see my black, round table. I decided I need to do one more loop, and look more carefully under the piles of items on display.

Suddenly, I saw it. It was not black, but it was round, white, and had some beautiful detail in the legs. It was the perfect size, and the white was better than the black would’ve ever been. I immediately purchased it, loaded it into the truck, and made my way home.

I survived the way back, but realized once I pulled into the driveway that Nick was out of town. I couldn’t leave a wooden table in the bed of the truck for the weekend. Now I had to figure out how to get it into the house, me vs. the table.

It took some serious muscles, and some serious breaks, to get it to my front door. While balancing the table on it’s side, on our tiny porch, I managed to open the door, keep our two dogs in, while I angled and reangled until I found a way to slide it into our living room.

I collapsed on the floor out of breath, took a moment, and moved it into our nook. It was perfect. Our kitchen was complete.

This blog post is the end of the story to this blog post. I also made a point to visually tie the two visual journal pages together. See below for more details about how this page was made.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Xacto knife
  • Packaging tape
  • Laser printed image
  • Old book page
  • Colored pencil
  • Glue

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I took advantage of an odd page in my book and inspiration from the first blue chairs page I made.

A few pages in my visual journal book weren’t cut correctly. The paper was connected on the edge, rather than being cut, which created a loop. I already experienced this odd oversight in this visual journal page, and now I had run across it again.

I decided to once again take advantage of it. Rather than remove the page, or slice the edge, I used an Xacto knife to cut a rectangle out of the left side page. This created a space on the page it was connected to, it was a unique way to highlight my image.

I used inspiration from my blue chairs page to create the background strip, which reflected my kitchen. I cut a strip of paper from an old book, then used colored pencil to add details, as if I were looking into my kitchen. I glued it inside the space I just created, then continued it on the right page. The right page offered a great space to write text, I used colored pencil for this.

To create a sense of unity and visually tie to my other chair page, I opted to also draw the table and chairs using colored pencil. I drew each piece on a separate sheet of paper, then cut them out, collaged them, and glued them down using rubber cement.

Since I had this rectangle cut out of the book page, overlapping another page, I decided to turn it into a picture frame. I printed a black and white image of a picture frame, the exact size of the space I wanted to frame, on a laser printer. I then placed packaging tape sticky side down on the front of the printed frame image. I cut the frame out, then ran it under water until the paper started to peel away. I continued to rub the paper off until all that was left was the printer ink stuck to the tape. All the white areas of the image were now transparent, since the white washed off with the paper.

I taped the tape transfer down, and my page was complete.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about something you recently completed. It could be a personal project, a work assignment, or a carton of ice cream.

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Combining Drawing and Technology into GIFs

Over the summer, one of my goals for my Teachers Pay Teachers store was to add an animated element to the quote section at the top of my site. It was years before I realized other, much fancier, TPT sellers had this element, and mine was a simple gray box with a quote. When you go into the TPT edit mode, the only option is to add a quote, there are no color, font, or image change options. Despite this, somehow someone found a work around. When I finally realized I could do this, and a tutorial existed to teach me how, I tried to make it a top priority.

With the craziness that is life, it still took me months to finally get around to it. The task was a bit daunting, I had never made a GIF before, and I didn’t know where to start. When I finally got around to reading through the tutorial (check out two great resources here and here) I realized how simple it was. I began brainstorming ideas, and quickly settled on emphasizing the little bee that has become a part of my brand.

I drew out the bee, scanned it in, and uploaded it to Photoshop. Using Photoshop, I added each sequence, and saved it as a PNG file. Once I had all the PNG files ready, I uploaded them to a GIF maker and downloaded my compiled GIF. While it took me awhile to figure out the best way to save my files, and it took three times to edit, re-upload, find an error, and edit again, the process was actually fairly easy.

It was extremely satisfying to add it to my TPT store, hit that refresh button, and see my page come to life. I was so impressed with the process, I decided to make GIF headers for my class pages as well.

First, I created one for my painting class. I wanted it to reflect the main purpose of the course, so I used a pencil, paintbrush, palette, and paint to illustrate the header. Again, I used Photoshop to compile my drawings then move the individual pieces. Between each movement, a new file was saved. This GIF had over 40 files that had to be compiled to create the final GIF.

Once I completed my painting header, I created my Advanced 2D Design header. This one took the most drawing prep and the most files, 60 PNG files were compiled for this one, and it honestly could’ve used more to create smoother transitions. Because we cover so many different types of art in this class, I wanted to make sure it was properly represented in the header, and I couldn’t bring myself to save anymore PNG files. So the quick drawing pencil and painting brush are here to stay for awhile.

The process of creating a GIF was so satisfying that it inspired a project. I plan to incorporate this assignment into my drawing class. After focusing on drawing techniques and basics, this assignment gives students a week of breathing space. They get to create whatever they want and transform it into a GIF. It’s a perfect way to bring technology and art together to create something that many students are very familiar with.

This lesson plan is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site here. It includes a PowerPoint to introduce the assignment, a detailed lesson plan with step by step teacher instructions, a supply list, big ideas, a rubric, and national standards. It also has a PowerPoint with detailed instructions on how to compile images into a GIF, with a handout for students to reference once they start. At the end of all my lessons I try to make time for a class critique of the project. This lesson plan pack also includes my critique worksheet and a fun addition to the critique process with emoji signs.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my fancy new GIFs and my GIF drawing lesson plan. Help me spread the word about art education and art in general by sharing this post with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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Adventures in Cabinet Refinishing a.k.a Making it Work is Cheaper than Moving


Over the past 7 and a half years since we moved into our historic Atlanta bungalow our family has expanded, but the walls of our house have not. With each passing year, and addition of more stuff and tiny humans, I feel our 1400 square foot house getting smaller and smaller. Now with baby number two on the way, we are having to get creative with our storage.

Over the summer I finally hit a wall with our kitchen. I realized that I needed space for Cooper’s toddler food items as well as baby girl’s (coming end of November, yikes!) baby feeding items. You would think such tiny humans wouldn’t require much space, but it took a great deal of reorganizing and purging just to clear a single shelf to accommodate Cooper. Plus I was sick of dishes, pots and pans spilling out of my cabinets every time I opened a door. In addition to the cabinet space issue, the overflow from our pantry to the top of our refrigerator had also found it’s way to the top of our cabinets making our kitchen look like a complete mess even at it’s most picked up.

I was over it. Something needed to change and Nick and I decided moving was too much. This kitchen is my reality for the foreseeable future, it was time to make it work.

So my wheels started turning. There was enough space at the top of our current cabinets to fit another row of cabinets to give us more storage space. I began researching our brand of cabinets and my options. I quickly discovered that even cheap, laminate cabinets are pricey and they didn’t make the size I was looking for. I started on plan B, what creative way could I add space? I thought about building something custom, with stain glass window doors, and all kinds of fancy things. But the reality was all the fancy things came with fancy thing price tags and it was going to be difficult to match the stain of our cabinets, which I was not a fan of anyway.

Plan C: I began researching all styles and finishes of cabinets. If I could find something cheap, I could bite the bullet and commit to fully repainting our cabinets. This plan started to develop into reality when I discovered the perfect height and unfinished cabinets, for a cheap price tag, at Home Depot (check out what I found here). The width of the cabinets was limited to two sizes, which meant they wouldn’t perfectly line up with our current cabinets, but I thought I could make it work regardless.

Next, I began researching how to refinish laminate cabinets and realized it was a lot less overwhelming than I thought. I knew it would be a time consuming project, but it was summer vacation, and I was ready. I used Bob Villa’s tips on cabinet refinishing as my guide, check it out here.

As soon as I had my strategy worked out, I was ready to immediately get supplies and get started. For this project I needed:

  • A screwdriver, to remove the cabinet doors and all hardware from the cabinets
  • Rags, gloves, and a product called TSP to heavy duty clean the sticky, kitchen dust and grim that had accumulated on my cabinets. Gloves with TSP is a must, it’s a not very environmentally or human friendly product, but I tried to be very responsible while I used it and it seriously got the job done. I purchased heavy duty gloves for this.
  • A power sander and 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the cabinets. I pity the person who attempts to do this project without a power sander, my arms don’t need to see that kind of action. Bob Villa recommended 120 grit to rough up the surface without damaging the laminate surface.
  • An angled paintbrush plus foam cabinet rollers. The cabinet rollers were cheap, cheap, cheap. I went through 1 and 1/2 packages (each packaged had 4 rollers) for my project, they tore up very quickly, but they were so worth it. The rounded end allows you to press paint into all the nooks and crannies and the finished surface was very smooth. My hubs, who is full of constructive criticism, even commented on how nice the finish looked.
  • The paint department employee told me to purchase a primer that specifically said “bonding” on the front to ensure the paint stuck to the laminate surface. I doubled down and bought a primer/paint combo for my top coat, although I still had to paint 4-5 coats to get a solid look. I went with a bright white for my cabinets.

I hit a moment very early on when I felt overwhelmed and questioned what I was doing. Simply seeing the amount of junk we have in our cabinets piled all over our kitchen, with a 2 year old trying to get into everything, was enough to make me want to quit. But, the mess is worth it, I promise. I moved all my drawers and cabinet doors to our deck to clean, sand, and paint them. For everything else, I had to leave windows and doors open, to ensure I had good airflow, and clean, sand, and paint in my kitchen. The TSP did the trick, but it did discolor the wood as soon as it touched it. That was the point of no return.

After cleaning everything with TSP and allowing it to dry, I sanded everything down. I went over it enough to feel a slight texture when I ran my hand across the wood. I then wiped everything down with a damp rag to make sure no sawdust was left behind. Over the course of the next two days I felt like I was in a constant loop. I would put a coat on the front of all drawers and doors, move inside and put a coat of paint on all the hanging cabinets. By the time I made it back outside, the paint was dry to the touch, I flipped everything over, and painted the backs and interiors of the doors and drawers. I went back inside and continued the cycle.

I was wishfully hoping for a single coat of primer and a single coat of paint to complete the job. In reality it took a layer of primer, two layers of paint, and two more quick layers of paint. Once everything was dry and re-installed, I continued to touch up any spots I could see.

Once all the cabinets were painted, I had hubby help me place the new cabinets on top of the original ones. We removed the molding from the top of the original cabinets, and calked the seam. We then reinstalled the molding along the top of the new cabinets. The cabinets were secured by screwing the backs into studs in the wall.

This process also allowed me to clean the inside of my cabinets, put liners on every shelf, and reorganize everything. It felt great to move back in and donate a 1/3 of the items we were previously storing in our tiny space.

Although the lighting is terrible in this picture, I felt it really showed the additional storage space we were able to achieve. We may not have a brand new, top of the line, modern kitchen, but it aligns much better with my aesthetic and storage needs.

It’s amazing how much brighter our kitchen feels with the white cabinets. We already get a lot of light in there, especially in the morning, but something about the white makes it feel more airy and larger.

I no longer have to stare at piles of dry food and Costco size oil, plastic wrap, and dog treats on top of my refrigerator and cabinets. I love the clean look.

In addition to refinishing the cabinets, I also decided to ditch my old stainless steel knobs for something a little more artsy. I cleaned out Anthropologie’s sale knobs during one of their additional 30% of sale item deals, and ended up with an assortment of knobs. While they are all different, there is some reasoning to it. All the cabinet doors have clear glass knobs, some with hints of white, silver, and different shapes. All of the drawer knobs are a round, ceramic design with gold, silver, and white patterns. I love that not everything matches.

It didn’t take long for my perfectly clean and organized kitchen to start resembling it’s old self with stains, drying dishes, and clutter. But, overall we have maintained the organization and nothing has found it’s way back to the top of the fridge or cabinets. At this point, we are back to full capacity in our kitchen, it’s organized, but there is no extra space. And of course, as it is with all projects, as soon as you fix one thing another issue becomes apparent. Now I realize how much I hate our kitchen tile, not only because of all the cracks and holes that have developed over the years, but also because hardwood would look so much nicer next to my white cabinets.

Perhaps the next step will be the home expansion I have been dreaming about for the last couple of years.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about DIY, craft projects, and all things art by sharing on your social media site of choice. Help me fundraise for my home renovation by checking out my TPT store here and my Etsy shop here.

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