Tag: atlanta artist

Visual Journal Page 29: Even Brighter

A visual journal page about adding Christmas lights to my home and how to use colored pencils.

Hands down, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Although I refuse to decorate until after Thanksgiving (each holiday needs a moment to shine), I start feeling the Christmas spirit as soon as Halloween starts approaching. This is yet another visual journal page about Christmas (check out visual journal pages about past Christmases here, here, and here), and it definitely won’t be the last.

Nick and I were about to spend our third Christmas in our Atlanta, GA bungalow, and each year we got more and more serious about our Christmas decorations. Thanks partially to my Mom’s commitment to giving each of the kids a nutcracker every year for Christmas, our interior decorating game was on point. I will never forget our first Christmas together when I started unpacking no less than twenty nutcrackers and my husband of less than a year commented: “I didn’t know you had a nutcracker collection…” Five years together and you would think he would’ve known everything about me.

As the interior of the house filled up, we began thinking about the exterior. We had always managed to get at least get a few wreaths out and some lights on the bushes, but never attempted to add lights to the house. Our roof is incredibly steep, and even though we live in a small house, Griswalding it up was a little daunting. However, despite the risk of falling off our roof, Nick decided it was time to step up our exterior decorating game.

He didn’t get out of control, we didn’t cause a neighborhood blackout (Yes, another Christmas Vacation reference). He simply lined the top and edge of the roof with the round bulb style white lights. But that little touch was enough. It brightened up our sweet house and our street. He slipped, slid, and held on for dear life as he clipped the lights on, and he got it done. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. However, I will admit, Nick asked if we could just leave them up on the house until the following Christmas (no) after the amount of time it took.

For the next month, every time I arrived home from work I couldn’t help but smile. It brightened up each afternoon and reminded me that Christmas was almost here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Prisma colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • Glue

HOW TO

Compared to a lot of my other visual journal pages, this page uses very few materials. I wanted to keep it simple, to the point, and I was in the midst of a minor colored pencil obsession. So, naturally, I did a full colored pencil drawing.

I started by cutting a 2 sheets of white paper to the size of my book spread (two pages facing each other). I then sketched out my house on one sheet. Next, I began layering Prisma colored pencils. When I use colored pencils I typically start dark and move light. I get at least three different hues of one color (dark, medium, light at the minimum) to layer together to create more depth. I also like to color in circles to create a softer look. Once I had the house fully filled in, I cut it out. Read more tips on using colored pencils here.

Next, I began adding the background to the second sheet of white paper. I wanted a loose look around the edges, so I spread out the lines as I approached the edge of the paper. I layered many different shades of blue for the sky and green for the ground. Once it was filled in, I cut it out, making sure I cut close around the loose lines at the edge of the paper.

I glued the background to my visual journal first, then centered my house drawing on top. To finish the page, I added the text: “it made me smile everyday when I pulled up… it made my afternoons even brighter” using colored pencil around the edge of the drawing. I exaggerated the letters to help them blend in with the background. I also used the same blues and greens so the text blended with the sky and ground.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page using nothing but paper and colored pencils.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word by sharing it with others. Are you interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal basic lesson here and bundle pack here. Thanks for stopping by!

A visual journal page about decorating the exterior of my house with Christmas lights. Visual journal tips, how tos, and challenges are included plus specifics on colored pencils.

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.

Teachers Pay Teachers: Principles of Design Worksheet Pack

So far this summer I have enjoyed a break from my normal teaching schedule, a trip to South Africa, Hilton Head Island, Smith Lake, and I’ve been getting extra snuggles from my little man Cooper. In addition to traveling and snuggling, I have also been working hard to get new items posted on Teachers Pay Teachers. Last year my August and September earnings from the website funded a trip to Europe for my husband and I. This year, and for the foreseeable future, I hope to save my earnings for a home renovation. It’s a big goal I have set for myself, but I am confident with a lot of hard work I can get there.

My last post, over two months ago {whoops} focused on one of my newest Teacher Pay Teacher products, a revamp of my hand drawn elements of art worksheets. Today, I finally got my final worksheet of my principles of design pack added to the website. Check it out here.

This pack includes eight worksheets. Each worksheet focuses on a different principle of design. I created worksheets for balance, emphasis, movement, proportion, repetition and pattern, rhythm, unity, and variety. On the front of each handout there is information on different ways you can incorporate that principle into your artwork.The back of each worksheet has an activity for the students to complete to test their understanding of the information on the front. I use these in my Introduction to Art classes, which are added to their art notebooks and checked for daily grades at the end of the semester. Now that I have two versions of the elements and principles worksheets, I plan to use one set in my Intro class and one set used as a reminder for an upper level course.

These sheets were created for grades 4th-12th grade. Some have more complex ideas, and may not be suitable for younger than 4th. I would encourage use of these in levels as high as AP art, when the elements and principles are one of the bases for grading the portfolios.

I loved making each of these. Each were inspired by a piece of my life or a simple occurrence at the time I was designing them. My emphasis worksheet is an obvious reflection of my love for chickens. My repetition and pattern worksheet was created on a very rainy day while I was vacationing at Smith Lake in Alabama, which inspired the cloud and water design.

If you haven’t checked out products on Teachers Pay Teachers yet, I strongly encourage it. There are some amazing, creative teachers out there and you are helping to support another person directly involved in education. It has also helped me become a better teacher because I find myself cleaning up my lesson plans and PowerPoints to make them better sellers, and better teaching tools in my classroom.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I recently did a major design overhaul, I hope you enjoy the cleaner look. Help me spread the word about my Teachers Pay Teachers products, and in turn help me expand my house to fit my expanding family, by sharing this post with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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Visual Journal Page 20: Breathe In, Breathe Out

There are many nights I lay in bed, my body exhausted, eyes heavy, and mind racing. The endless to do list scrolls through, the what did I forgets start haunting, the stress from the day just can’t seem to find a way to subside.

When I first started teaching I had many restless nights. Fear kept me awake. Fear of what the next day would bring. Fear of sleeping in. Fear of not being prepared. Fear of forgetting something. Fear of failure. Fear of my students. Many days I felt like a hoax. I had no idea what I was doing. That year, everyday was the first day for me.

My first year anxieties lessened with each passing year. I learned a lot, found projects that were reliable, and developed systems for handling my students. As my stress levels were reduced, my nights of sleep got better. However, I would still periodically have those moments where I would lay in bed, stuck in limbo, unable to pass into sleep or wake up enough to do something else. In those moments I fall back on my old restless night strategies. I would lay still and focus on my lungs. As I would breathe in I would feel my lungs expand to capacity. I would imagine the folds filling out and pressing into my other organs as they expanded. I would breathe out. My lungs would slowly collapse pushing all air out, until they were tiny, limp, and deflated. I would repeat this until I finally drifted beyond the middle into sleep.

This method has helped me through many of my most restless nights. It’s my off button for my brain. A simple strategy to put focus on my most basic body function, breathe in… breathe out…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Black bleeding tissue paper
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Sharpie
  • Old book pages

HOW TO

This is one of those visual journal pages that was fairly simple to create, but had a lot of impact once it was finished. It was also one of those pages that I visualized in my head before starting and it came out just as I expected, if not better, which rarely happens.

I knew I wanted to create an image of a lung. I started this journal page by looking up medical drawings of lungs to reference. I wanted to make sure it was accurate. Once I settled on an image I began thinking about the look. I had recently completed a page about a black widow (check it out here) where I used black bleeding tissue paper and gesso. I loved the look the wet gesso created on the paper. A red hue would bleed into the white gesso from the black tissue paper. I decided this would be a good material to use for this visual journal page as well.

Once I had my image, a sheet of black tissue paper, paintbrush, and gesso, I was ready. I freehanded the painting of the lungs. I started with a loose outline of the shape and went into the bigger sections first, which was the white block in the heart that expanded to the veins in the lungs. I carefully planned around sections that needed to stay black and moved from one area to the next. For the arteries of the heart I used curved lines to show the shape and to give it texture to separate it from everything else. I liked the look of the lines and decided to carry them into the spaces between the veins in the lungs to fill out the shape. I mimicked the circular tissue pattern from the original image into my painting as I moved to the bottom of the lungs. To define the esophagus I used short, hatch lines, that also curved along the contour of the shape. I decided to make it longer than I needed, just to make sure it filled the page.

As I painted each section, the color from the bleeding tissue paper would bleed into the white. I loved the look it created, it added much more interest to the color than a stark white. Once the painting was dry, I cut the shape out of the rectangular bleeding tissue paper sheet. I carefully glued it into my visual journal using rubber cement and trimmed off the excess esophagus.

I overlapped sheets of old and discolored book pages to the top with ripped out pieces of black bleeding tissue paper on top. This tied the top section to my lungs visually, while also giving me a space to write words. Even with the detailed painting, I still felt the background was lacking. I decided to cut out rounded shapes from the book pages to mimic the shape of the lungs and create a sense of movement. I glued them into the background, which helped further tie the book pages into the entire piece.

Last, but not least, I used gesso to paint the words “breathe in… breathe out…” over the ripped up tissue paper. In the sections where the words extended beyond the bleeding tissue paper, I went over the letters with black sharpie to help them stand out.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your method to falling asleep.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals by following and sharing with others on your social media site of choice.Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here. Thanks for stopping by!

Encaustic Art: A 36″x60″ Commission

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I created this 12″x24″ boat encaustic a few years back. It was one of the first that I tried carving into the layers of melted and hardened wax to pull out an image. I loved how the boat blended into the background yet popped against the colored wax painted around it. This piece has traveled with me to many art shows and is my most favorited piece on my Etsy shop.

In the spring I was contacted through Etsy by a woman interested in the piece. We went back and forth on price negotiations, and I thought the day had come for me to part with my little boat. I was very surprised when Amber wrote me again requesting quotes for a larger version of the piece. I was intrigued by the prospect, I always love a challenge, and it would be interesting to see how it would translate on a larger scale. I sent back a range of prices and sizes, with the largest size at 36″x60.” When setting up commissions I always assume the buyer will fall somewhere in the middle, so I was surprised when Amber jumped on the 36″x60″ size. I was thrilled at first, then slightly scared. Encaustic can be a difficult medium to work with, especially on a large scale, and this was by far the largest size I had ever tackled. But once the wood panel arrived, I was ready to go.

Layer 1

I started with a bare wood panel. When working with encaustic you must work on a rigid surface, such as wood, to prevent the wax from flexing and inevitably cracking. The first step was to coat the entire panel in layers of blue wax and fuse the layers by heating it up with a heat gun.

Layer 2

Once the panel had a good base layer I covered up the blue with thin, art paper. While it is shocking see all the beautiful blue covered up, once I add and fuse another layer of wax the paper ends up being absorbed into the wax and showing a lot of the layer below.

Layer 3

After the paper was attached I added a thick coat of encaustic medium, a clear wax. This was by far the most challenging step of the process. With every new layer I painted on, I had to fuse it with the layers beneath, while making sure air bubbles were smoothed out. The difficult part of working so large is the wax hardens fairly quickly. I would heat one section, move to another, and before I could get the two sections to blend together one would already be hard. It took many layers and a lot of fusing in order to get a solid, smooth layer.

After the encaustic medium was added I loosely painted natural white wax on top and fused it to create a smokey, hazy layer.

Layer 4

While it was still difficult to get a smooth, even look, it was much easier to work with the white since I had well fused and smooth layers beneath.

Layer 4 detail

Once I was satisfied with the general look of the background I carved the boat shape into the layers of wax using a pointy tool that I scavenged from by hub’s tool box. I lightly marked out the shape before carving in the final lines. If I messed up it meant melting and re-smoothing the entire piece. I then pushed Payne’s Gray oil paint into the lines to make them pop.

Boat Progression

Once the white wax was melted into the piece I painted a repeating diamond pattern in the background using oil paint. It added another interesting layer and helped tie the layers together in the background.

After adding the diamond pattern I added the layers of blue to create the water beneath the boat and the layers of white and yellow to create the sky. I loved how immediately the boat popped. At this point Amber and I were e-mailing daily, hourly, as I worked on the final touches. I would send images, she would send feedback, and the piece was tweaked. While it is important for my vision to come across I think it’s just as important for the commissioner’s vision to also be represented. I love working with my clients to get their work of art just right.

Layer 7

I was so happy with the final product and felt incredibly accomplished to have finished such a large piece.

Finished Product

I loved both the similarities and differences between the mini and the macro versions of my boat. It was fun comparing them before the commissioned piece was packed up and shipped out.

IMG_4206

I was terrified as I packed it in many layers of foam and bubble wrap to be shipped from my little Atlanta, GA bungalow to the other corner of the United States, Seattle, WA. I eagerly awaited Amber’s reply when she received the piece. It is a very different experience seeing an encaustic in person. The layered look isn’t done justice through pictures, and I could only hoped she liked it in person as much as she did through the many photographs she had seen.

Encaustic Reveal

Amber was sweet enough to not only let me know when she received the piece, but she also photographed the process of she and her kids opening it up. I felt like I was there during the big reveal.

Hanging on the Wall

In addition to commissioning an almost 3x larger version of the original, Amber ended up also buying the original to give as a gift to a friend. I love that both my boats live near each other on the pacific coast.

I loved every minute of working with Amber and creating this work of art. She gave me the opportunity to put my encaustic abilities to the test, work larger than I ever had before, and see how one of my smaller pieces would translate to a large size. I hope for many more opportunities like this in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about all things art, encaustic, and made in the south by sharing on your social network site of choice. I would love to hear your comments about this piece and encaustics in general! Comment below or e-mail me at [email protected]

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