Tag: artist journal

Visual Journal Page 28: The Sound of Trains

Learn the inspiration behind this visual journal page as well as the supplies and steps I took to create it. Learn how to start your own visual journal by reading about mine. This particular post focuses on a memory/sensory tie I experienced with the sound of trains. Read more here.

There is something about the sound of trains.

It first started on trips to visit my grandparents. They lived in a small town, it’s biggest claim to fame being their proximity to another small town, known only for their major, annual golf tournament. They were on the South Carolina side of the Georgia, South Carolina border. A place full of ya’lls and yes ma’ams.

I remember driving down the small town roads, turning onto their street, finding it odd they didn’t live in a traditional neighborhood. Commercial areas transitioned into residences without the signage and dead end streets of the neighborhoods I was so accustomed to. This was reminiscent of a different era, which was reflected in so many ways in their home. From the split level, ranch style house, that lived on a non-neighborhood street, to the objects it held within it’s walls.

This was the house my mother grew up in, and it felt like home.

I remember lying in bed, full of “grandmommy macaroni and cheese,” dreaming about the animal shaped pancakes that would surely be waiting for me the next morning, hearing a train whistle in the background.

I feel asleep to that sound many times as a child and the memory traveled with me into adulthood. The funny thing about memories associated with senses is you often don’t realize they are tied together until you experience it.

At twenty-three it had been years since I spent the night at my grandparents house and I had just bought my own house. My new husband and I moved into our sweet 1940’s Atlanta bungalow our first year of marriage. In the days and weeks that followed, we unpacked and settled in. I distinctly remember slowly drifting off to sleep one night when I suddenly heard the sound of a train.

I was immediately thrust back into my grandparent’s house, sleeping next to my sister, looking out the window of the only slightly second story. My new house didn’t quite feel like home yet, but in that moment it began to.

Eight years later I am still living in my adorable house, listening to train whistles, fully feeling like this is my home. My adult home, with the train whistles of my childhood, with my babies now falling asleep to the same sounds in a different town.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement or another type of adhesive
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Magazines
  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Gesso
  • Pencil

HOW TO

For this visual journal page, I knew I wanted to focus on a train. After searching for an image of a train, I came up empty handed. I couldn’t find the exact angle or size that I wanted and needed to fill the two pages of the book. After brainstorming. I finally decided to paint the train myself using watercolor.

I sketched out the body of the train, referencing images online to plan out the design and colors. Once I had a base sketch, I began filling it in with watercolor. I started light and slowly added in the shadows. If you go too dark too quickly with watercolor it is difficult to add highlights back in. It’s best to work light to dark and plan ahead. Once the paint dried, I cut it out.

Once the train was finished I decided to create a background using magazine images. I liked the contrast between the realistic imagery and painterly train as well as the difference in the shiny texture of the magazine and the matte finish of the paper. I knew I wanted to create a color fade in the background to create a feeling of dusk. As I flipped through magazines I kept my eyes peeled for any large sections of black, dark blue, purple, yellow, and green fields and grass. Anything I thought could work, I ripped out.

Once I had a sizable stack of magazine pages, I began ripping them up. I love the look of collaging with ripped pages. The soft, organic edges create a more interesting pattern than cut edges. I separated the ripped up pieces into piles according to color. Because I wanted it to look like night was pushing out day, I began layering the lightest colors first. As I moved from the middle of my visual journal page up, I overlapped the dark colors over the light colors until I had black at the top of the page. Check out a post that details the process of creating a magazine fade here and here as well as a Youtube video here.

Next, I worked from the middle of the visual journal down. I used fields as the background of the landscape and worked my way forward to grassy patterns. As I glued the foreground down, I kept checking the placement of the train until it was positioned the way I wanted it. I glued the train down, than continued overlapping the grass over the bottom of the train and continued to move towards the bottom of the page.

After the page was finally filled up, I added the steam coming from the train. I decided this was a perfect space to incorporate text in a way that blended with the image. I used gesso and a paintbrush to loosely add the steam, then painted the letters in a similar way so they would blend in with the steam. Once the gesso dried, I used pencil to emphasize the text a little more.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a memory/sensory tie you have experienced.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my visual journal and check out my blog. You can find an image of my grandmother in a recent post here. She unknowingly became the subject matter for a printmaking project. Don’t forget to save this project for later by pinning it, or saving it on your social network site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Interested in teaching a visual journal lesson in your classroom? Check out my teaching resources here and my magazine fade visual journal handout here.

Learn the inspiration behind this visual journal page as well as the supplies and steps I took to create it. Learn how to start your own visual journal by reading about mine. This particular post focuses on a memory/sensory tie I experienced with the sound of trains. Read more here.

Semester High School Drawing Curriculum: 12 Lessons in 18 Weeks

In my teaching career I have taught a wide range of art courses: Introduction to Art, Drawing, Painting, Advanced 2D Design, AP Art, 3D Design, 3D Design II, and 3D Design III. I have loved teaching such a variety because it has given me the opportunity to develop and test a breadth of lesson plans. The past two years I have been working on compiling my favorite lessons into curriculum packs to sell on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. My most recent posting on my store is my semester long drawing curriculum pack. I have taught every single one of these lessons (plus more that I tested, failed, and left out so you don’t have to) and these are my top twelve.

This drawing curriculum includes information and resources to fill every single day of the semester in your drawing class. Other than making copies of worksheets and doing a handful of demos, you don’t have to plan a thing for the semester. Each project includes a detailed lesson plan (including big ideas, essential questions, national standards, vocabulary, and step by step instructions), rubrics, critique information, and handouts. In addition to the project packs I have included my syllabus, get to know you worksheets, a timeline, breaking down the semester into days and weeks, and supply list.

Check out information on the individual projects below:

The first project of the semester is learning the Belgian bookbinding technique and using it to create your own sketchbook. This not only saves money on purchasing sketchbooks, but it also introduces the students to book cover design and bookbinding techniques. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, and rubric, this also includes a how to worksheet and how to video. This product is sold individually here.

In every class I teach I include a weekly focus on visual journals. Each Friday students have the option to work in their visual journal, have free art time, or catch up on an assignment. By the end of the semester they must have at least 12 pages completed in their book. The PowerPoint to introduce this project, lesson plan, and rubric are included in this pack.

Before the students start longer drawing projects, they complete a shading review. Seven worksheets are included that cover graphite pencils, hatching, cross hatching, scribbling, stippling, and a general shading worksheet. The front of the worksheets include information and the students must complete the activities on the back. This product can be purchased individually here.

The first true drawing assignment is a still life drawing. However, I put a twist on it by requiring the students to bring in objects to create the still life. Before starting the drawing, the students learn about still lifes at various periods in art history. at both traditional and modern versions of still lifes. They must apply their understanding of various shading techniques by including at least three of them in their drawing. Check out the individual link for this product here.

Once the class has a few drawing projects under their belt, we look at combining technology and art by creating their own GIFs. They must draw the majority of the design, then use various computer programs to compile their drawings, add to them, then create an animated version of them. You can read more about this project in my blog post here.

Once the students have a handle on using pencils, we move onto charcoal drawings. One of the best ways I have found to teach how to shade using charcoal is through the traditional charcoal drapery drawing lesson. A PowerPoint about charcoal, in depth lesson plan, rubric, and critique are included. You can purchase this lesson individually here.

After learning about charcoal, the students apply their knowledge to a mixed media work of art that includes shading with charcoal. For this assignment, the students must select an object and redraw it on a background layered with color and text. The object is meant to serve as a metaphor for who they are, a part of their personality, or interests. I love any cross disciplinary lessons, and this does a great job combining English and art. Check out specifics of this project here.

After completing a metaphorical self portrait, the students are asked to create an actual self portrait drawing, with a twist. The students must select a current event that interests them and reflect it through their portrait. In addition, they have to scan their faces using a copier or scanner to create an unusual and ethereal look to their portrait. They then re-draw their scanned image using pencil. This project pack includes multiple PowerPoints to introduce the project and show examples of current artists who create social and politically driven artwork. In addition to the PowerPoints are an in depth lesson plan, rubric, critique sheet, and brainstorm worksheet. Check out more here.

After working mostly in black and white, students have the chance to do a full color drawing using colored pencils. They are asked to think outside of the box and take a photograph that reflects the topic, “unexpected beauty.” They then turn the photograph into a colored pencil drawing. Colored pencil techniques are covered in the introduction PowerPoint. Check out more information about it here.

After learning about colored pencils, we start moving towards different media that still use traditional drawing techniques, such as scratchboard. Social media is the focus of the lesson and students are asked to create a scratchboard image that reflects a snapshot of their day. History about scratchboard, as well as techniques, are included in the PowerPoint. Detailed instructions on how to teach the lesson are included in the lesson plan, as well as the rubric and critique sheet. This lesson can be purchased individually here.

Printmaking is a natural next step after learning about scratchboard. The basic concepts are similar, removing highlighted areas and leaving dark areas. For this assignment, students create a portrait out of a linoleum block. They use traditional relief printmaking techniques to create at least 5 quality prints and one print must be colored in using colored pencils. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, rubric, and critique sheet, this also includes a handout on which colors to use to create a range of skin tones and a worksheet to test various color combinations. An in-depth look at this lesson will be coming soon. In the meantime, check out the product listing here.

The final lesson in the curriculum is design your own project. The students can try out a technique or material they didn’t get a chance to or redo a project they liked or could improve on.

It took me years to develop this curriculum and it is very gratifying to see it all compiled in one place. Check out the individual product links above or check out the entire curriculum here. You save $16.00 by purchasing it as a bundle pack. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and my latest TPT product. Help me spread the word about art education, lessons, and art in general by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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 major  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!

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.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Share it with others on your social media site of choice. 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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