Tag: atlanta

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!

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. Thanks for stopping by!

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Joining the Art and Craft Fair Circuit

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After a two years of collecting parts I finally have my outdoor booth set up ready to go. It’s officially June, and I have two outdoor fests under my belt with one more before the month closes out.

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Atlanta is not shy when it comes to hosting festivals, the latest addition is the Mac n’ Cheese fest, often with multiple festivals per weekend come spring and fall. This makes weekend planning difficult, but it allows me to have a variety of options when choosing which festivals to apply to and participate in.

Chastain Park Arts Festival was my introduction into the outdoor festival circuit. The weekend couldn’t have brought more perfect weather. It was low eighties, a light breeze, and a good continuous crowd. I was pleased with my profit earnings and the connections I made in the Atlanta art community.

Joining the festival circuit doesn’t just mean I have another venue to sell my art. It also means I get plugged into the art community. I have a much greater opportunity to meet likeminded and goal oriented people. I have the chance to build relationships, learn more about my craft, and be inspired by others. I love feeling like I am finally part of the community I have observed from the outside in for so many years.

Virginia Highlands Summerfest came next with an even better weekend, better foot traffic, much hotter days and a lesson in rain. I learned to place my oil paintings at the front of my booth, to save my encaustics from the direct sunlight (and potential melting) that inevitably pours in. I learned that if there is a chance of rain everything that sits on the ground should be placed on a raised surface. The later was a difficult lesson to learn when I opened my tent the next morning to deep puddles and a bag of ruined mats and prints.

Next up is Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival in just a week and a half. In between spending time with my family on Hilton Head Island, I am ordering new mats and prints, gluing paper to panels, and painting a new batch of fruit and veggies. I can’t wait to see what comes from this next festival and the break afterwards until my schedule fills up for the fall. Check out more about my new oil paintings below!

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When I first set up my booth to take pictures I realized my encaustics could melt if it was warm enough outside and they were in direct sunlight. I began to panic. After all I had just invested a lot of money for my set up. What would I do if I couldn’t display my product outside?

Version 2While teaching an idea hit me. My students had just started oil paint studies of food. I was itching to paint with oils on canvas again and started my own so I could work along with my kids. I loved getting back to the basics of just paint and I was pleased with the way my bell pepper and pomegranate turned out. I wanted to do more.

After thinking about it I decided these would be the perfect solution to my encaustic melting problem. If I moved around my artwork based on where the sun was hitting I could keep my encaustic out of the sun by displaying my oils in the sun.

Since my bell pepper and pomegranate studies I have completed blueberries, eggs, a cabbage, orange, cauliflower, garlic, mussel, oyster, and I am finishing up a kiwi, tomato, onion, and papaya. Each of these food studies are 6″x6.” I start with an underpainting, typically choosing the complementary color of the food I am painting for the background.

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After allowing the underpainting to dry I mark out the shape of the food and add some detail before applying my first layer of white to the background.

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I like to leave hints of the underpainting peeking through. Whether it’s along the edge of a bowl or in between eggs, I think it adds another interesting detail to the piece.

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I also pushed myself to loosen up my painting style by trying out palette knife painting. I started with portraits of my chickens Rachel, Thackary Binx, Sir Sylvia, and Linda. I loved the texture and the sense of movement the palette knife marks made.

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I decided to go even bigger than the 12×12 chicken portraits and I completed a 32″x32″ positive/negative space painting of the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

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I will post additional information about my upcoming festival, Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival, next week.

With sweet Cooper, my 13 new chicks, finishing up teaching for the year, and prepping for four festivals, I have had little time to update my blog. I hope to get back to posting weekly this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by![subscribe2]

 

Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays![subscribe2]