Tag: Prisma colored pencil

Visual Journal Page 51: AP Due Dates


I think it’s hilarious when I hear students say they are taking AP Art because they think it will be an easy AP. As I smile and nod I think to myself, “Soon enough you will realize this is going to be one of the hardest classes you will ever take”…

The thing about AP Art is there is no such thing as cramming for your exam. You could potentially not keep up with your work, not study as much as necessary, and pull an all night study session the night before an AP history, science, or math exam. However, I do not believe it is physically possible to churn out 24 works of art, photograph them, upload them, label them, quickly write up your two artist statements, and submit without a great deal of planning. What students don’t realize is 24 works of art in a single year is more art than these kids will create in any college level art class.

Despite this every year I have students who attempt the cram. One year I had a student complete 6 paintings in one day… on the day it was due… completed an hour before the submission deadline. The level of stress I felt for me and for her as we rushed to tape up wet watercolors to quickly snap a photo, down, to the next one, and on to photo editing, uploading, and labeling was beyond me.

Problem number one with completing this huge task is the number 24 somehow doesn’t seem daunting to students in August when school starts up, after all they have all the way until May to get it done. Piece of cake… I try to explain, I encourage, threaten, hand out zeros, have one on one talks, and still it doesn’t seem to sink in until the week before due-date-day. At the beginning of the year I stand in front of the class and map out our year together, “You must turn in a finished project every week in a half starting now and continuing until May in order to meet the 24 piece requirement”. As the weeks come and go artwork is submitted, half finished pieces here, almost completed there, and the stress builds as I count down to the final day.

I stress for my kids all year long. All year I wait for them to process the amount of work ahead of them, and all year I feel the pressure for them. By the time the deadline rolled around my first year teaching AP, I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack in the middle of class. Too much artwork still needed to be photographed, too much still needed to be completed, Miss 6-paintings-in-one-day was still sitting in the corner frantically churning out piece after piece…

Perhaps I can only blame myself for the level of stress AP Art put on me. After all it is my responsibility to hold my students to deadlines, push them to do their best, ensure they are producing AP quality work, and help them maintain their drive to create art from day one to due-date-day. Two years I taught AP, and while the second year was infinitely better than the first, I still felt helpless as my students became burnt out, lost their inspiration, and their desire to even turn in a portfolio.

Their loss of faith was contagious and spread quickly in the class, my amazing artists were dropping of like flies and eventually I felt it creep into me too. I felt like giving up, letting them give up, but I pushed it aside and continued forward. By the time I hit the submit button on each of my students’ portfolios I felt a wave of relief wash over me, it was all over, we are finally finished. But in this process I always have to wonder how many of them hit the quitting point and didn’t turn back. I have a few students I wonder about, will they ever find their passion for it again? Did AP Art ruin their drive for art?

I continued on to teach AP Art one more year, but when I began my new job I dropped it all together and began teaching sculpture courses instead. I have to admit I am relieved I don’t have that additional stress in the spring and seeing them go through the wave of emotions and doubt in their ability that comes with an outsider evaluating your creation.

After my first year teaching AP I did feel a little cynical as I collected my AP Art memorabilia to create a visual page dedication. As I was shuffling through I discovered a six word memoir from one of my AP babies, it simply said “best class you will ever take”… Perhaps it was all worth it after all.


  • Visual Journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • AP submission forms
  • Collected items (post its, writing prompts)
  • Brown paper
  • Colored pencils
  • India ink


To create this page I opted to make a visual journal collage to represent my year of AP. I had a small pile of scrap paper, notes, and signs from the class I could incorporate. I decided as a base the actual AP submission forms would work well since they were large, didn’t have a lot of detail, and represented one of the most stressful days of the year.

After using rubber cement to glue my submission forms down I began placing and gluing down my AP scraps to the top. After gluing these items down I decided I needed a focal point. I immediately thought of the brown AP portfolios used to submit the 5 physical works of art for the quality section. Since I felt like my life was being consumed by this class I decided to make mini portfolio to represent each of my 9 students and have them piled on top of poor, stressed me.

To create the portfolios I cut out brown rectangles from construction paper. To make some of them look like they were in perspective I opted to cut the top and bottom of the portfolio at an angle. I then glued a small white rectangle on top and added details with colored pencil. I glued them down in a pile on my page, colored in the space in the middle, and added eyes using colored pencil.

To create a sense of ground I used a paint brush, India ink, and loosely painted a scribble pattern along the bottom third of the page. To finish off the page I glued down the six word memoir in the bottom right corner of the page.


Create a visual journal page to represent a stressful time in your life.

Visual Journal Page 48: The Real Caesar’s Palace


There is nothing in this world like Vegas hotels.

I had no idea that part of the fun of Sin City is spending daytime hours touring the hotels. Each hotel has its own theme, outrageous decor, over the top architecture, and interesting design. In four short days I think we saw it all, I felt like my legs were going to fall off simply from walking through hotel lobby after hotel lobby.

There was NY, NY, the Venetian, the Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas. I was continuously amazed by the amount of detail that went into designing each hotel. Our first hotel stay was spent at Mandalay Bay, which gave us an amazing view of the strip and great show options, but I couldn’t wait to go to our second stop, Caesar’s Palace.

After all Caesar’s Palace is legendary, referenced in Vegas movie after Vegas movie, and perhaps most famously in The Hangover. Zach Galifianakis’ perfect line “You probably get this a lot… This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace is it?” is the first thing I thought of as I entered through the sliding glass doors and into the ornate white statue lined lobby.

There is nothing that better reflects my view of Vegas than cheesy, over the top, and the blend of modern and white greek statues truly fit into my mental image. As we approached the front desk I was in complete awe of the magnitude of the lobby, and I began to wander as my Aunt checked us in. As we waited for our plastic room keys I began imaging our room, what on earth could it look like if this is just the lobby?

As Aunt Lydia returned ready to take us to her room she looked very pleased. It turned out we were upgraded from our two standard rooms to two suites. I knew it a “suite” sounded better, but I had no idea what I was in for.

We entered our room and I was confused when I was greeted by a dining room table rather than a bed. I quickly realized we would have to turn a corner to see the rest, but hotel room isn’t in the shape of a rectangular box? We made way around the corner and found ourselves in the living room. A hotel with a living room? We went into the next room and found our massive king size bed, lush chairs, enormous walk in closet, and a bathroom 10 people could use at once without rubbing elbows. I was actually staying in a hotel room with two separate rooms, two bathrooms, and there were only two of us sharing it! To top it off shortly after arriving we discovered a TV built into the bathroom mirror, just in case the giant flat screen TV in the living room and bedroom weren’t enough. It was an easy choice to make this my second highlight of our Las Vegas Mom-Aunt-Daughter-Sister trip.

If Caesar were alive today I think he would approve of the lavish setting that is Caesar’s Palace.


  • Visual journal
  • Pencil
  • Prisma colored pencils
  • Extra fine sharpie


When it came time to create this page I knew I had to find a way to recapture the size of the suite my sister and I shared. After brainstorming different options, from doing a blueprint style plan to collaging different views of the room together, I opted to keep it simple and redraw the view from the bed.

To start it off I used a pencil to rough out the layout. Once I had a good idea about what would go where I began cleaning up my lines and drawing the objects in more clearly. Next I began filling in the color with Prisma colored pencils.

I you have been following my blog by now you must know my Prisma spiel about how expensive they are but how worth it it is. Just as a reminder they are very expensive, about $1.00 a pencil, but they really are worth it! They are more expensive because there is a higher concentration of pigment in them. This means that you can build up layers of colors and as the pigment builds up the layers start to blend which creates a very smooth creamy finish.

Whenever I add color I never use just one shade of a color. If available I always mix different shades of greens, browns, or whatever color I am working with. By mixing colors you will create a more interesting look with a greater sense of depth. For example, in the dresser I used four different shades of brown, light colors for the highlights blended together, and darker colors for the shadows blended together.

After I added my details and colored everything in I wrote my words using pencils first, then went back over with an extra fine sharpie.


Visit your local arts and crafts stores and either pick up a pack of Prismas or the highest quality colored pencil you can afford. Take them how and try out the layering technique. A great source for how to videos is youtube! Simply search: how to draw with prisma colored pencils.

Thanks for checking out my blog! I hope you help me spread the word by sharing with others, liking, tweeting, commenting, and subscribing! I can’t do it without you! Thanks for stopping by!


Visual Journal Page 39: My Snuggle Bug


I love my little 1940’s cottage settled in the outskirts of the city. I love the details, the layers of paint, the historic feel, and most of all I love standing in my kitchen, and gazing out to my giant backyard.

As Nick and I went on our house hunting adventure we looked at houses of all shapes, sizes, and states. Some were too big, others too small, some were recently flipped, others were falling apart, some had three feet of backyard, and others 6. As we searched for our perfect home we quickly realized one common theme was small property size. We would’ve loved a large yard, but we had to accept the fact that we were searching within city limits, and urban living doesn’t typically come with outdoor space. Nick and I had both come to terms with it, and our focus was on the interior, until we found our house.

The interior was beautiful, it was recently flipped, and the three bed, two bath was perfect for our small family of four, two humans and two dogs. I was already in love before I walked out back and saw the backyard that seemed to go on forever. I felt it was a done deal before that moment, but that moment solidified it. This was going to be our house.

One of our first purchases, after a lawnmower to mow our giant lawn, was two hammocks. We hung them, side by sid, between two of our oak trees. My spring and fall aren’t complete without afternoons spent reading, and gazing up at my leafy canopy. I love the mixture of birds, swaying branches, and city buses. I hear the hustle and bustle out front, but out back I am in my own oasis.

Our babies, Kody Bear and Jacob, also love our little oasis. A large fenced in yard means a lot of playing time, and sun bathing. I get my relaxation in my hammock, softly swaying, as I watch my babies playing. Shortly after hanging the hammocks, I made sure to get good use out of them, making it a priority to spend nice afternoons in my blue and red striped cocoon. This particular day was a nice 74 degrees, with a light breeze. I was catching up on my second read through of the Harry Potter series, and the dogs were running out their energy, when all of the sudden Jacob came barreling towards me, and lept into the hammock.

I squealed, and tried to free myself before he flipped us, but the sides of the hammock swallowed us both, and we were stuck. I assumed as soon as his four legs hit, and realized his safe haven was moving beneath him, he would jump out just as quick, but I was wrong. Instead, my 50 pound beagle mix snuggled up at my feet and fell asleep. I adjusted slightly, got back to reading, every now and then peeking at my sleeping baby, in awe of the fact that he was actually hanging out in a hammock.

Since that moment Jacob freely hops in the hammock with me, finds his space, and spends some quality time with his mom. I love every moment of it. It makes my hammock time even more special, he can be my snuggle bug any day of the week…


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Watercolors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Colored pencils
  • Sharpie


I already had this visual journal page design in mind when I got to work. It was a mental snapshot of that afternoon, the image of Jacob eagerly waiting in the hammock is something I see every time I reminisce on this moment, and it was just a matter of translating it onto paper.

I decided to first re-create my background. I decided to use watercolors, since I hadn’t used them recently. I ripped two pages from my book, and set them aside to work on. I chose to do this, rather than work directly in my book, because the paint is water based. If I painted directly on the pages it would’ve bled through to the other pages, causing them to wrinkle up. By working separately, and gluing the pages back into the book, I prevent wrinkled and dyed pages.

Once I had my pages I sketched out the back of my house and backyard. Once outlined I used watercolors to fill in colors. I always mix a few shades of colors together to create a more interesting color palate. Once the painting was finished, I set it aside to dry. I then pulled out a piece of white paper and drew out my hammock and Jacob. I opted to color them in with colored pencil, to create a bolder look, and help it pop against the background. I slowly added layers of color and built them up until they looked solid and bright. I then added highlights with white, and shadows with black.

Once my drawing was finished I cut it out and glued it to the background. I then took the two book pages and glued them on top of two blank pages in my book. After that I stepped back to admire my handiwork, but it didn’t look complete. The background was a little too washed out, and contrasted to much with the bold colored pencil drawings. To help balance it I outlined the watercolor with a thin sharpie. This added detail, texture, and helped it blend with the drawing. Last but not least I added the words beneath the hammock with sharpie.

I hope you enjoyed todays post! Help me spread the word about my blog, and the joy of visual journaling, by emailing it to others, liking, sharing, commenting, and subscribing! Thanks for supporting me and visiting!


Visual Journal Page 16: Fall

Fall is hands down my favorite season. I love the changing colors, the reds and yellow contrasting against the bright blue sky. The way the cool wind begins to seep into your skin and send a shiver down your spine. I love the transition from the long, sticky, sweaty, humid, thick air days to the cool, crisp, light days fall presents.

Everything seems a little cleaner and brighter through the cool air. The sky seems bluer, the leaves are brighter, and things begin to slow down. I begin to calm down as I fall into the schedule of school and look forward to the upcoming holidays.

The holidays… Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the build up to Christmas. The movie marathons begin as Nick and I move from scary movies, to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and straight into our stack of annual Christmas classics. As the heat dissolves into cool and the cool gives way to cold, my excitement grows as Christmas approaches. Thanksgiving comes and goes, black Friday shopping ensues, and the decorating finally begins. The last weeks of fall are dedicated to the beginning of winter, and the start of Christmas festivities

Fall brings cool air and the necessity of heat. Every year I look forward to flipping the switch to heat. I wait for the thermostat to click, and the soft hum that follows. The rubbery scent of a heater dusting itself off and prepping for another winter reaches my nostrils and my shivers begin to subside.

Fires, there is nothing better than spending a chilly night at home, snuggled in a blanket, watching a movie, drinking cider and hot chocolate, next to a fire. Nick walks in the door, looks at me snuggled in a few blankets, and asks “do you want me to build you a fire?” The answer is always yes. The crackling, roaring, as the flames consume log after log. The feel of the heat licking at your feet as you get just close enough to imagine the flames on your skin. The smell wrapping around the room, colliding and fighting with the cool air.

I sleep better in the fall. Snuggled under my sheets and comforter, balling up to create my warm pocket. I sleep too well in the fall, suddenly my alarm is snoozed more than once, I convince myself I will get to work on time, I shut my eyes for just 30 more seconds, just to delay the moment when my warm toes hit the freezing wood. The shock is enough to wake you up, and make you a little grumpy. I roll out of bed, scurry to the shower, and spend too much time under the steaming spray.

But my grumpiness quickly dissolves as I step out the front door, and see the sun coming up a little earlier, feel the cool breeze grazing my skin, and the rustling of bright leaves announcing the return of fall yet again.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Colored Pencils
  • Tissue paper
  • India ink


This page took FOREVER to complete. I spent many hours coloring in the green circles to create the microscope view of a leaf.

I started with the pattern. I looked up pictures of close up views of leafs, until I found a texture and pattern I liked. I referenced it as I drew the basic shape, the outline of the stem and sections of ovals, with pencil. When I finished I started on the circles. I used a darker green colored pencil to create the circle, and as I filled it in I slowly switched to lighter and lighter greens until I hit yellow. If you use Prisma brand colored pencils the colors blend together very easily. They are pricey, but worth the investment! I made the circles darker around the stems, and lighter as they moved towards the center. I did this to create a sense of depth and value.

Once I had the background complete I decided to use a pen to scribble the outline of a tree. I love trees in general, especially in silhouette, and it fit with the idea of leaves falling off of trees. As soon as I started scribbling I knew I made a mistake… I looked terrible! And I scribbled directly on my beautiful, took hours to create, background.

I took a deep breath, and re-evaluated it. I had to cover it up so I decided to try again, on a separate sheet of paper. I didn’t want to cover up the background, so I chose to use tissue paper, which can be finicky, but worked well since it is more transparent than paper. I used India ink and painted it with a small paint brush. By doing it on a separate sheet of paper I was able to paint a few versions and pick the best one. Once the ink was dry I used an Xacto and VERY carefully cut around the branches.

After it was cut out I glued the silhouette to the background. It didn’t quite cover up my failed tree, so I took more tissue paper, glued it next to the trunk, and decided the remaining tree would just have to act as a shadow. I took a step back, and liked it, but I was trying to reflect fall, and the bright green didn’t quite get the idea across.

I went back to the tissue paper and used colored pencils to draw leaves going from green to red to brown. I glued them down, and once again took a step back. After all of the hours I put into it, I was in love. It was perfect!


Create a page using colored pencil. Don’t just use one color, try to use a range of values, layer them, and experiment. You can get really interesting affects when building up the color. Youtube is a great resource to look for color pencils tips.

I hope you enjoyed today’s fall post for the November fall weather. Thanks for stopping by and helping me spread the word about my blog! I can’t do it without you, happy Thanksgiving!!


Visual Journal Page 5: It is One of My Favorites… Thanks

25… a quarter of a century… mid twenties… I was getting old. Although twenty-five isn’t really old, it did feel a little bit like a milestone in my life. I had reached my mid twenties, I was freshly married, starting my second year in my career, a new homeowner. I felt like a grown up.

I always look forward to my birthday, and I can sometimes be a bit of a “birthday brat”. I start a countdown to my birthday a few weeks out, I share with everyone I come into contact with that it is approaching, I can’t wait to rip open gifts, and I want to be pampered on my big day. Although I was still looking forward to this birthday, I really wasn’t expecting much. Nick and I had just tied the knot, bought a house, and our bank account reflected that. I told Nick that we could just cook something in, hang out for the day, there was really no need to make a big deal about it.

I wasn’t expecting much. However, on my birthday I woke up to homemade breakfast and a pile of presents. After opening a couple, and with great difficulty convincing Nick that I should save some to open later that day, we headed out for my next birthday event. We met my best friend, Elly, and our friend Ben at the Atlanta Zoo. I hadn’t been since I was a child, but the excitement was the same. I felt slightly giddy as we walked up to the entrance. I oohed and ahhed over the different animals. Like the children surrounding me I leaned over the fences, begging the animals to come closer, or get up and move around in general. I loved seeing the monkeys bouncing around their cage, the giraffe eating leaves from the tip top of the tree, the panda bear rolling around in it’s hammock, there wasn’t a single part of the zoo that I didn’t enjoy. No matter how old I get I believe I will revert to a five year old in the presence of an animal.

Once we wrapped up the zoo, Nick and I headed home to open more presents. I finished opening them, and sat amongst my many books and video games. I had more than enough things to entertain me for the small remainder of my summer, and many weeks beyond. I planted a big kiss on Nick, and thanked him for a wonderful birthday, only to find that the day wasn’t over yet. He was taking me out for Japanese, a birthday tradition. The first time my parents took us to hibachi we were in elementary and preschool. We were hypnotized with the tricks and fire the chef used to prepare our meal. I will never forget the last, very large fire the chef created, which was promptly followed by my preschool age brother shaking his finger exclaiming: “Don’t EVER do that again!”. Since that first time I have been hooked and we go every year for my birthday. Every restaurant we go to the chefs do the same tricks, but I always respond with the same, surprise, excitement, and awe. I was excited that my birthday tradition would continue with my husband, and I couldn’t wait to see the same old tricks done over again, a perfect ending to the perfect birthday.

Nick and I enjoyed our dinner out and spent the rest of the night at home watching a movie. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday, spent with my friends and family, doing the things I love, and eating the things I love. Nick always takes the time to think through every detail in order to make my day perfect, and it was. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my birthdays with my amazing husband.


  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Zoo brochure
  • Colored pencils (Prisma brand are the best)
  • Book pages
  • Thin sharpie


To create this visual journal page I layered cut up pieces of the Atlanta Zoo brochure and my own drawings of the day. One of my goals with this new visual journal was to rely less on magazine images and to draw and paint my own. I looked through the pictures I took throughout the day, and referenced them to create my own drawings. I drew them on white paper using a pencil first, then went back in and added color and detail with colored pencils. I cut them out, making sure to cut right up next to the drawing in order to create a more unified collage, and began layering them. I wanted the page to reflect the progression of the day, so I placed the images of the zoo on the right and the images of dinner on the left. I wanted to incorporate the words in a more interesting way, so I decided to glue down a drawing of chopsticks at the top, and write my words in between them. I was very satisfied with my page when it was all finished, but unfortunately sharpie bled through from my next page onto this one, which caused me to go back and glue down ripped up pieces of book pages to cover the sharpie. Remember if you ever incorporate sharpie into a page, glue two pages together to prevent it from bleeding through.