Tag: book art

Visual Journal Page 53: Full Heart, Heartbroken

A visual journal page with a cut out and background created with Mod Podge transfers.


This visual journal page was created back in 2012 I was at a school I knew was a short term situation. After a single year I felt too exhausted to stick it out, but somehow I pushed through an additional two years. My 35 students per class, nonexistent art budget, low administrative support, and the requirements I had to meet outside of the classroom were becoming a daunting tower of reasons I needed to find a way out.

However, despite all the marks against my school and against my job, there was one thing that kept tugging at me to stay. My kiddos. At a school like this it’s more difficult to be recognized as an employee, but it’s easy to be recognized by those who matter most, the students.

I had student who were incredibly difficult. Those relationships wore on me as much as the other ticks against the job. But, the students I connected with went deeper than any student relationships I have made at my current job. These students needed me. They needed my insight, outlook, experience, art tips, and life tips. They came from a variety of backgrounds from low income to upper class, two parent to no parent homes. I had to balance a huge range of needs, it was challenging, but it fulfilled me.

My current job comes with a big pile of plush. I have a well padded art budget, small class sizes, administrative support, and very well behaved students. But I am not needed here. I could walk out of my classroom at any moment and these kids would have ten other teachers more capable and caring than me to take my place. When I walked out of my last job my students didn’t have that. They were left with teachers in the same situation as me: worn out, worn down. Or they were left with teachers only working for their paycheck, unable to be fired despite poor job performance, watching the clock until retirement. I was heartbroken because I felt like I was failing them.

Leaving that school meant I left a huge unknown. I didn’t know who would take my place, I didn’t know if they would have support. I felt like I was abandoning them, letting them down. I felt so much guilt that I couldn’t fess up to my job change until the last days of school, and I only informed those who I felt closest to.

I snuck out of that job with my tail between my legs, but the sense of relief I felt driving off campus the final day is indescribable. For the first time in three years I had hope, aspirations, and excitement for what would came at the end of summer.

a visual journal page made with collage and mod podge transfers.

“It breaks my heart to walk away… but I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”

This visual journal page was created in my last days at my first job. It was my way to process my emotions, to face the fact that yes I was sad and that was okay but I was also thrilled for what was next, which was also okay.

I have been at my current school, my second job in the adult world, for going on eight years. This job comes with its own set of challenges. I am tapped on the shoulder to take on tasks often, I wear ten different hats other than teacher on any given day, I have very high expectations from my students, parents, peers, and administration. I have never worked harder in my life in the last eight years. But the huge different is how I feel at the end of every day. I do not go home exhausted. I do not go home morally torn apart, emotionally worn down. I wake up every morning ready to go to work and start my day. I don’t dread Mondays, the end of breaks. I look forward to the start of every school year.

Moral of the story is that we have to show up for our students. I wish I was able to show up every day for my kiddos at my last job, but the job didn’t allow me to. Although I am far down the totem pole if you stack up the faculty at my current school, I am a better teacher to my students because I am taking care of me. You have to take care of you.


  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge
  • Printed images
  • Paint brush
  • Book pages
  • Thin Sharpie


To create this visual journal page I primarily used printed images. I wanted the yin/yang of my emotions at the time to be the focus of the page. I looked online and found a range of skies, from dark to light, and printed them out. I also knew I wanted a silhouette representation of me on both sides of the story, preparing to leave and my new beginning. After finding these and printing them out, I began laying out the spread.

I ripped the printed sky into strips and positioned them on the page. After cutting out the silhouettes I played around with placement, but felt like the spread was lacking a focal point. After some brainstorming I decided to include a heart to add a pop of color, focal point, and provide another visual for the way I was feeling.

After finding a heart image and printing it I created a Mod Podge transfer on a separate sheet of paper that I had collaged ripped up book pages on. Mod Podge transfers create a semi-transparent image and they are much more interesting to look at if they have something behind in the image.


  1. Paint a coat of Mod Podge onto your image and let it dry.
  2. Paint another coat of Mod Podge on your image and let it dry.
  3. Paint a third coat of Mod Podge on your image and while it’s wet place it face down onto the surface you are transferring it to.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Once the Mod Podge is try, wet the back of the paper. Once the water soaks in, carefully rub the paper until it starts peeling off.
  6. Continue to rub the paper off until you can clearly see the image you transferred.
  7. Let the image dry and check to see if you need to re-wet and rub off paper in any other areas.
  8. REMINDER: You are creating a mirror image, any area with text will show up in reverse. To avoid that flip the image before you print.

I then printed a second heart image, in reverse, to create two sides of the heart. After finishing a Mod Podge transfer of the second heart I glued them to either side of a book page still attached to the binding of my book. I then cut the heart out, added pieces of book pages to create a space to write words, and wrote the words on top.

I loved the look of the Mod Podge transfer of the heart, so I decided to create Mod Podge transfers of the entire background. Once I finished with each strip of sky, I glued it down. I then added a ripped out encyclopedia page to the center of each page in my visual journal and layered another strip of sky on top.

Last but not least I added the silhouettes to each page.


Cut a shape out of a page still attached to your book binding to add an extra element to your visual journal spread. Try focusing on a moment when you felt pulled in different directions.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my magazine fade and tape transfer handouts) here.

Want to see more examples of using Mod Podge transfers in visual journals? Check some out here, here, and here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and visual journal page! Help me spread the word about what I do by sharing this post on your social media outlet of choice! Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 38: Whispers Make My Ears Itch

This visual journal page is one of those quirky, fun pages that I love falling back on when inspiration just doesn’t seem to hit. I have an ongoing list of visual journal page ideas, and this one lived there for a long time before it became a reality.

Sometimes it seems like inspiration is overflowing. I have too many ideas and never enough time. But what happens to all of those ideas when dry spells hit? We all have our moments of inspiration road blocks, and this page represents one of those.

I had been steadily visually journaling about my life, all things big and small, when suddenly I had no ideas left. Nothing current seemed journal worthy and I didn’t have a vision for my bigger page ideas, but I was itching to create. That’s when I turned to my visual journal folder and ideas list. When nothing jumped out from the folder of odds and ends I had been collecting, I turned to my list.

My list contains big events that have happened that I know I want to include when I have time: births of nieces, anniversaries, big trips, plus little things that don’t necessarily need to fit in a timeline: I love walking barefoot outside, red and purple skittles are my favorite combination, and whispers make my ears itch.

When I had no ideas to start pages for the big events, the one that jumped off the page was the whisper one. Because although it is insignificant, it tells something about me, and reminds me of all the times my hubs has tried to catch me off guard with an ear itching whisper.

Out of nowhere his hot breath is quietly telling tales of “sad Sally selling seashells at the seashore,” because sad Sally is full of high pitch, whistly, and breathy Ss.

So although this is minor it does give my readers a piece of me and it gives me a memory of my husband that immediately makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and goosebumps appear on my arms.


  • Visual journal
  • Drawing paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Book pages
  • Glue


To create this visual journal page I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, including parts of the face in a drawing. Drawing is not my strength, and I knew it was something I needed to work on. I taught a drawing class and had many AP Art students who were drawing focus and needed help creating colored pencil portraits. I had yet to jump in, and decided this would be a good way to test out some techniques.

So I wasn’t too overwhelmed, I only focused on the nose and mouth of one figure and the ear of the other. I sketched them out with pencil on a separate sheet of paper before going in with colored pencil. I started dark and moved in a circular motion to get a smoother look. As I moved from dark to light I overlapped the colors and the circles to create a more even transition from light to dark. I worked on the faces and hands simultaneously, so the skin tones would match as closely as possible. Although looking back I see a lot of issues, it looks flat, the nose and hands aren’t in proportion, the teeth aren’t realistic, at the time this felt like a big accomplishment.

After completing the portraits, I cut them out, then moved on to the text. I was very happy with the way the text curled around the page in my bee sting page. So I decided to create a similar look with this. It helped add excitement, as if the words float through the air before reaching their intended destination. I wrote the words on a separate sheet of paper, then added lines and colored pencil. I cut them out and used an Xacto knife to cut out the hole in the center.

To emphasize the text, I glued it to a book page I had ripped from another book, then cut it out again leaving an edge of book pages showing around the block of text. Next, I glued the portraits to the pages of my visual journal, then added the text. I overlapped the portrait on the text block, making it look like the words were coming out of the figure on the lefts mouth. I used an Xacto knife to slice an opening in the ear of the figure to the right, then slide the text block through the opening to make it look like the words were going into the figure’s ear.


Create a visual journal page about one of your pet peeves.

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

Visual Journal Pages 28 and 29: Furniture has Personality Too


I had been waiting for this page. As I worked through my book I would periodically flip forward until I found the chair, the simple, yet intriguing chair. This was the chair I referenced to draw the very first image of my new visual journal, it inspired the cover of my book. This chair had become the first impression of my visual journal, as book cover art it had a big job. It must intrigue people, beckon them over, and encourage them to open the book and see what else it holds.

It was no accident that led me to draw a chair on my front cover. In fact, it was no accident that I ended up with a book on antique furniture as a base for my visual journal. It was a very calculated selection, which involved a couple of hours at my favorite Decatur antique store. I carefully wandered each booth, explored every shelf, and sifted through book after book until I found the prefect one. This book intrigued me, I found myself flipping through, visualizing my creations on it’s pages.

Furniture is one of my obsessions. Every piece of furniture in my house was carefully picked out. Each piece is unique, and I feel each piece has it’s own history. Every piece I selected was chosen because something appealed to me. Whether it was the color, shape, or peeling, layered paint that attracted me, something in each piece of furniture spoke to me, and I had to have it. I love nothing more than pursuing a local antique store or market. I can’t stand to be at the mall for longer than an hour, but I could easily spend hours in a musty, dusty, vintage shop.

With a furniture obsession such as mine, you would think my house would be a furniture museum, or graveyard. Even sitting here now I imagine chairs lining every wall in my house, tables stacked upon tables, and a garage busting at the seams. However, that is not the case. It may take years for me to find exactly what I am looking for, and I am willing to hold out until I find the perfect piece at the perfect price. Since we moved into our house, almost three years ago, I have had plans to replace our dining room table, but it hasn’t happened yet, because I still haven’t found my perfect piece.

With every new piece of furniture I add to my home, I am sharing another piece of myself. Each piece represents my personality and aesthetic. My mismatched furniture reflects quirky me. Perhaps I am slightly narcissistic, but I love seeing a piece of me in every room.


While my chairs, tables, and side tables do reflect me, I believe each piece also contains their own personality. While I am building each space to represent my taste, my furniture is also adding a little flavor of their own. Because a number of my pieces do come from antique stores, they also bring their own stories into my house.

I love creating back stories, visualizing the furniture passing through owner after owner. Wondering who decided to paint green on top of the original paint, who added white on top of that, how many layers of paint actually lie below. Each piece of furniture says something to me, and each piece adds something to my house and my life in general. With each new piece I purchase I feel a hole has been filled, my house is one step closer to being complete. However, I can’t help but wonder what will happen when every corner and wall has been filled, perhaps at that point, it will be time to pass my furniture to new hands, to fill another hole in another person’s home.

As a furniture addict I have to part with a little bit of advice… you must let your furniture express you… because furniture has personality too.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto knife
  • SCAD book
  • Colored pencils


This page was slightly painstaking to make. It involved a great deal of cutting and planning. By the time I finally arrived at the last page before my chair, I still had no idea what I was going to do with it. I knew I somehow wanted to highlight the chair, and decided I had to find a way to bring focus to it.

It all began when I decided to create a double page about my chair, because it was that important. To do this I cut a hole through the page before the page with the chair, to expose it on both pages. Luckily, in my old classroom I had a light table, so I was able to shine light through the chair page, which allowed me to see the outline on the page before it. I traced around the shape, and cut it out with an Xacto knife. Most people do not have a light table at home, so your best bet is to hold the page up to a window, and use the sun as a guide.

As I was moving through these steps I kept trying to come up with ideas for the pages, when the sentence “let your furniture express you… because furniture has personality too” came to me. It was a perfect way to focus on two different things on the pages and yet tie them together. I then decided to find a way to visually represent the personality of the furniture. I opted to re-purpose an image from a magazine or book, and decided to flip through one of my Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) catalogs. Every Fall I look forward to this catalog because they include amazing student work, which I often incorporate into my pages. I picked up the newest edition, and immediately found my background. It was the cover of the book, which worked in my favor, because it would be large enough to incorporate into both pages. It was a painting of a large, abstract animal, it almost looked like a cross between a dog, cat, and bear. It looked friendly, artsy, and slightly odd, it was perfect.

To begin I cut a rectangle out of the image on the lower right corner, which would go around the chair. I carefully cut out the chair shape from the rectangle, and glued it down. To tie the two pieces together better I cut small slivers and glued them next to the chair legs and in between the slates on the back of the chair. From there I continued to cut the rectangle bigger from the image, and in the process I created these frame like pieces. I wanted them to stay whole, so I used an Xacto knife to cut each frame out of the original catalog cover.

I made sure I kept them in order, and once they were all cut out I began gluing them down. I decided to use the image on both pages, and thought it would interesting to glue every other frame on a different page. This created an interesting effect, once the entire page was covered, the image came together despite the spaces. When you flip from the first page to the next you see the missing pieces from the image. Once everything was placed I added the words with colored pencil. I wrote over the words multiple times using yellow, blue, and green, to tie in with the colors of the image.


Create a personality for an inanimate object in your home! It can be a piece of furniture, or even a toy, food, or appliance. Have fun!

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Visual Journal Page 27: Discover Beauty in the Unexpected


As an artist it is my job to create visual representations. Whether this means using paint, clay, collage, or photography, is realistic or abstract,  I am presenting an image to my viewer. As an artist it is my goal to bring light to my subject matter and in turn enlighten my viewer with my ideas and intent. What I love about art is the ability to turn the wheels in people’s brains, to watch their expression as they take in a piece, and hear what interpretation they have tacked onto my image. I do not believe a successful work of art requires immediate understanding. I also don’t believe a work of art can be created without intent. Even a Jackson Pollock splatter painting or a Mark Rothko color field has intent. They chose those colors, inspiration was evoked, ideas sprung to mind, movements were made, emotion was laid down, and with every choice they made intent was spilled onto their canvas. Intent can be an emotion, it can be nonrepresentational, it can even become the unknown.

I believe every work of art has a purpose, however intent is often what I struggle with. People ask questions, submit their interpretations, and wait for your explanation. An explanation is always required, I suppose it’s our basic human curiosity that demands the question why. I am guilty of it myself, I am always asking why, and yet I often cringe at the question. I have a difficult time defining my work. With every piece I start with a concept, an idea, and I explore it through my material. I put emotion into my work, I put meaning, and purpose. But when it comes time to explain I stutter, stumble, and BS my way through it.

Perhaps I find it difficult because I am not a deep, dark, brooding artist, struggling with depression, and my own creative genius. Part of me yearns for that torment, for just a taste. Perhaps my art would be easier to define if it had these attributes, if it came from inspiration I could easily pin point. However, I must remind myself if all artists pulled inspiration from the deep, gloomy, corners of their souls, all artwork would look similar, and a trip to the art museum would turn into a very depressing affair.

I have pondered this question of purpose over the years. Writing about my journals has given me a space to explore this, to re-think the reason why I created in the first place. What I have discovered is that every part of me plays a role in my work. My curiosity, need to experiment, happy nature, impatience, and spots of melancholy all contribute to a finished work of art.

As an eternal optimist I have discovered I always strive to present something beautiful in my artwork. In my ladies in gowns body of work I took women, put them in ornate dresses, and set them in ugly or unusual situations. Broken glass, awkward body positions, and dark backgrounds surround these prime and proper ladies (lady painting:Alcoholic Haze). I put a spin on a rather grim situation, trapped in a cage, by including typically beautiful objects such as flowers and birds in my pieces Trapped and Caged. Discarded items such as forks, spoons, and door handles are re-purposed in my series of experimental mixed media. Although each piece is different, they all carry a common theme, I am in a constant battle to try to find the beautiful in the ugly.

Perhaps this visual journal page visually reflects my artist statement. This photograph of an abandoned garage. Graffiti covered the sides, it looked like a terrifying building to enter, a structure created with purpose, only to be deserted and left to rot. This was a building I often passed, but it wasn’t until a trek through the snow for a day of sledding that I truly recognized it’s beauty. The city was covered with a blanket of white. The pristine snow covered the details of every street, building, and house, except this one. This abandoned, barred up building came to life against the white. The yellow, green, and red popped and suddenly it felt inviting. The bright red door shone through the black grates, beckoning me in yet blocking my entrance. It was a moment I had to capture in a picture and transform into a work of art between the pages of my journal. This was a moment of intentional clarity, I had discovered the beauty in the unexpected.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Mod podge
  • Book pages
  • Packaging tape
  • Newspaper
  • Colored Pencil
  • Sharpie


To create this visual journal page I did a lot of layering. I layered a mod podge transfer of the photograph I took and tape transfers from a newspaper. I started with the mod podge transfer, and decided to transfer it onto extra pages I removed from my book, and glue it back into my book. Once I had my book page to transfer onto I printed my image on a laser printer and began painting Mod Podge on top. To create a Mod Podge transfer you must paint two layers of Mod Podge on the image, allowing it to try in between. After the second layer dries you paint a third layer, and place it face down the paper, and again allow it to dry. Once dry, you wet the back of the image and peel the paper off. The ink sticks to the layered mod podge, which sticks to the page. The end result is a semi transparent mirror image of the original photograph. To read more specifics about a Mod Podge transfer go here.

I typically do my Mod Podge transfers on a separate sheet of paper, then glue it into my book. I do this because sometime I have to re-do a transfer if something happens in the process, and you have to add water to the back, and I did’t want to end up with a wrinkly, warped page in my book. Once my transfer was complete I carefully ripped along the edge of the image, placed it in my book, and traced around the edge to create a guide for the background. I wanted to wait to glue down my transfer because I knew I was going to add a tape transfer to the background, it’s always better to work from the back forward, it will make it easier to layer.

For the background I did a very easy tape transfer using packaging tape and newspaper. All you do is cut off a piece of tape, lightly place it on top of newspaper, and rip it off. The ink from the newspaper easily transfers to the tape, and you end up with words stuck to a clear background. I did this with newspaper and slightly yellowed book pages to get a mix of gray and brown in my background. After I had my transfer complete all I did was stick it to the page. Because I drew an outline of where my Mod Podge transfer would be glued, I knew how far down to tape my transfers.

Once my background was complete I glued my Mod Podge transfer on top. Last but not least I wrote “Discover beauty in the unexpected” on a separate sheet of paper using sharpie. I then colored on top with a brown colored pencil to help it blend in with the brownish background. I ripped out the words and glued it down to finish the page.


Try out the new tape transfer technique! Grab packaging tape, a stack of newspapers, book pages, or both and get to work. Incorporate it into your next page!

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Visual Journal Page 8: No Ride Lasts Forever

Every year in my Introduction to Art class I do a collaborative project. Each students gets a piece of an image that they have to enlarge, re-draw, and each piece fits together to create the image. I never tell them what the image is, all they have is one piece with lines, shapes, patterns, and value to work from. I love the reveal day, where I stand in front of the class, slowly unfolding their creation, as I listen to their oohs and ahhs.

Their drawings never line up perfectly, the image is always slightly off, but when you step back it all comes together. Those slight nuances are what make it interesting, it’s what turns the original image into their work of art. I love this project and the sense of community it creates in the class. I was reminded of that feeling as I was sifting through my journal folder one afternoon and I came across this image. It was the first collaborative grid project I did, and it brought up memories of my first semester teaching.

I was reminded of how much I loved and hated my job. How I struggled to get through every day, connect to my “problem” students, prepare for every class, and fall asleep at night. Throughout that first year, especially the first semester, when I had my difficult days I often reminisced about college. I thought about how easy it was, how I was able to spend all my time hanging out with friends, attending football games, going to movies, or just hanging out at our house. I remembered how easy life was when my parents paid my bills, and all I had to worry about was where I would get extra spending money to go out to eat, buy new clothes, or hang out in downtown Athens. That first year teaching I ached for my college years.

The real world is difficult. My first month fully on my own I barely scraped by. By the last week of the month, I was eagerly awaiting my first real-life-grown-up-job paycheck, and I desperately needed it. I couldn’t go to the store to buy more food or put more gas in my car. I had a long commute, which ate up a lot of gas, which meant when I got home from work I couldn’t drive my car anywhere else to conserve gas. I was down to kraft mac-n-cheese, with no milk to make it with, a box of crackers, a few basic items here and there, which I lived off of for a week. I desperately missed my parent’s credit card that month. The next month was easier, as was the next, and slowly my finances, job, attitude, and life in general started to get better.

As I sat in my classroom the beginning of my second year, looking at this image of a carnival ride, thinking back on my first year teaching and college days, with all of these memories and snapshots flipping through my head, I realized that I was happy I was no longer in college. I missed being with my friends all the time, I missed Athens, but I didn’t miss homework, tests, and not making my own money. I love living in a house that is mine, married to a man that I love, and working a job that is emotionally trying yet rewarding. I love the sense of accomplishment at the end of every month when I get my paycheck, pay my bills, mortgage, insurance, go shopping, out to eat, and set aside the extra for my future plans. I truly love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I chose this image for the collaborative project because it fit into a carnival theme, it had interesting texture, and good lines. But, subconsciously I think I chose it because it reflected my life. You get on one of these rides, and while your riding sometimes it feels like you are on it for an eternity, you don’t know when it will end, yet when you get off you feel like it was over in the blink of an eye. While your on the ride your emotions surge from excitement to fear, relaxation to stress, heart fluttering, hair flying, and the tingling sensation left behind as the ride slows, but your body hasn’t quite caught up yet. Life can be over in the blink of an eye, in the worst times it can drag by, but all of the sudden you are years later, thinking back, feeling like it was yesterday.

In every stage of our lives we need to take a moment and remind ourselves of all the things that are happening. Take a breath, think about the day, the last week, or even what happened five minutes ago. The most important thing is to reminisce. We need to remind ourselves how we got to where we are, how good or bad things were up to this point, and where you will go from here. In the blink of an eye this moment will be over, the next moment is quickly approaching, and just as quickly sliding by.  Suddenly, we will find ourselves at the next stage of life, reminiscing on the one we just left. After all, no ride lasts forever, but the best ones will always be remembered.


  • Visual Journal
  • Scissors
  • Ribber cement
  • Packaging tape
  • Gesso
  • Book pages
  • Sharpie


I knew when I decided to make a page about this image that I wanted to keep it simple, and stick to neutral colors. I immediately decided to create a tape transfer of the carnival ride, and place it on the right corner. To create a tape transfer you take clear packaging tape, and place it on top of an image printed on a laser printer. You then flip the image over, and burnish the back with scissor handles. Once the tape is well stuck to the image you hold the paper underwater until it begins to separate from the tape. Move it to a counter or table, and rub a sponge or your fingers over the soggy paper to remove it from the tape. The end result is the ink stuck to tape, and all white areas are now transparent. For more details on how to create a tape transfer look here.

 I liked the semi-transparent effect I got when I created the transfer, I loved the words in the book pages showing through, and I decided to use ripped up book pages to emphasize the words I was planning on adding. I decided to write the words across both pages, and thought it would be interesting to create a space for the words to be written in. I wanted it to be subtle, so I painted a straight line with watered down gesso. Gesso is an acrylic medium that is used to create a surface you can paint on. It is also great for drawing on top of and toning down backgrounds. I wanted it to be semi-transparent so I added water to make it more hazy. I then outlined the painted line with ripped up book pages. In order to make the book pages blend into the background I used pages from my book, so the color of the ripped up pages would match the color of the background. To finish the image I wrote my words. I used pencil first, so I could make sure everything would fit perfectly, and then outlined them in sharpie.


Create a page that represents your outlook on life at this point in time. Feeling depressed, create a dark page. Excited about something coming up, create something with bright colors and movement. Choose an image to represent your emotion or create something more abstract. Use a tape transfer of words, a pattern, or an image somewhere in your page.