Tag: prisma colored pencils

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.

Linoleum Relief Printmaking Basics + Colored Pencils

Printmaking is such an interesting and historic art making process. My students especially love it because they have the ability to make multiple prints of one image. They often refer to the linoleum block in relief printmaking as a “stamp,” which I have an irrational hatred for. Somehow calling it a  “stamp” lowers the artistic value for me. Or maybe I am just annoyed because they aren’t using their art vocabulary. Regardless, I always try to incorporate printmaking into at least one of my art classes, and relief printmaking is typically the way I go.

For this particular assignment I use linoleum blocks and a number of printmaking specific tools. However, there are a number of ways to incorporate the same basic concepts without the expense of the tools. One option for a simpler version of this is using natural materials you can easily find around your house to create designs to print with. Check out my supply list and how to for this portrait based relief printmaking project below.


An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

SUPPLIES:

  • Computer and printer to edit image and print it
  • Pencil
  • Graphite paper
  • Linoleum block
  • Linocutters and/or other carving tools.
  • Brayer
  • Baren (a wooden spoon also works very well)
  • Printmaking ink
  • Newsprint (for proofs)
  • White paper and rulers, to create registrations
  • Printmaking paper
  • Colored pencils (Prisma colored pencils are my number one choice)
  • Erasers
  • Black paper to mount and display the finished works of art

HOW TO

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

For the first step you need to select your image. For this particular assignment, my students focus on a portrait. I always encourage them to select someone they know personally. I have found that if my students can develop a personal connection to the assignment they become more committed to the end product. It is also a great way for students to express themselves individually within the constraints of a general topic.

Once you select the image, you must simplify it. For this assignment, my students are creating prints with a single color, so they must simplify their image to just black and white. Not all images work well when converted to only black and white, so it is helpful to try editing at least three different options and select the most successful one.

For this step I use Photoshop. I open the image, select “Image-Mode-Grayscale.” Next, you select “Image-Adjustments-Posterize” and set the number to 2. This leaves just black and white in the image. With printmaking, you are creating a mirror image of the original design. Therefore, it’s helpful for students to flip their images before printing (to do this go to “Image-Image Rotation-Flip Canvas Horizontal”). This is especially true when dealing with portraits. It’s shocking how different a person can look when you create a mirror image of them. Next, size the image to the linoleum block. These were smaller, so I sized my image to 4″x4″ then printed a few copies out. SIDE NOTE: I have done 4″x4″ prints in the past, which saves money on linoleum, but with the colored pencil addition at the end, it is much more successful with a larger size such as 6″x6″ or 8″x8″

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

After your picture is printed and ready to go, you need to re-draw it on the linoleum block or transfer the image to the block. Because this is an introduction to printmaking I prefer to have students transfer the images. This frees up a lot of time for them to focus on the printmaking process. To do this, place graphite paper between the linoleum block and the printed image. Trace over the lines. TIP: tape the top of the image to the linoleum block. That way you can lift the image and make sure you didn’t miss anything without accidentally moving it.  TIP x2: Fill in the areas you want to keep un-carved with pencil, leave the areas you want to carve blank.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

At this point you are finally ready to start carving. Start with larger areas and make your way down to the small details. Switch out the linocutter blades as necessary. ALWAYS cut away from your body and hands. It’s very tempting to cut towards your hand, but these suckers are sharp and it’s very easy to gouge yourself. As I tell my students, “please don’t make me fill out an incident report today.”

With this lesson you can either print onto a sheet of paper, without worrying about the placement and trim the edges later, or you can create a register to help you line up pre-cut paper and center your print in the printing process. I prefer the later because it also introduces a measuring and precision element to the assignment, which covers a different skillset and pushes them to think a different way during the assignment.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Once your image is fully carved out, it’s time to ink and print! I like to work directly on my tabletop for this, although a flat piece of tile would work well and be easier to clean. Place a small spoonful of ink onto your surface, and roll it out using the brayer until you have an even application on the roller. Roll the ink onto the linoleum block, make sure you cover the entire block and have even application. You may notice ink catching areas that aren’t carved low enough. This is why your first few prints are printed on newsprint. It’s cheap paper you can test your prints on until you have the carving just right.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

If using a register, place your block in the center and line your paper up with the outer lines. Use a baren (or a wooden spoon) to burnish the back of the paper. Press down and move in small circles hitting every section of the block. Carefully peel the paper off and admire your print!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

With the first few prints you are looking for changes that need to be made. I had many areas where I didn’t carve low enough and the ink kept catching small lines in the background. Go back, carve those areas down, and start the process over. Once you are satisfied with your print, start printing on printmaking paper.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

It will take a few tries to get the correct ink application. Keep printing until you get at least five quality prints. Make sure you aren’t going too light (a fuzzy, uneven look) or too heavy (small lines in your image are filled in with ink).

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

To add another element (and a little color) to the print, I decided to add a colored pencil aspect. Since this project specifically focuses on portraits, I decided it was a great opportunity to include a lesson on creating skin tone with colored pencils. The students select one of their five prints to add color to. For my portrait I needed a lighter skin tone and used the following Prima colored pencils colors:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Light Peach
  • Peach
  • Rosy Beige
  • Lilac
  • Light Umber
  • Chocoloate
  • Sienna Brown
  • Tuscan Red

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

When using colored pencils it’s very important to work in light layers. If too much pigment is put down at once, it creates a waxy layer. The waxiness prevents additional color from sticking and you will end up with a much flatter looking image. It’s important to get layers of various colors to create more depth in your image.

When I work with colored pencils I add in a few highlights to start blocking out the color, then move to the darks and work dark to light from there. With something soft, like skin, it’s best to color in small circles to mimic the softness.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

In addition to adding skin tone, I also decided to add a pop of blue in the background. It gave me a way to define edges at the top of the image to create more of a frame and blue reminds me of my grandmother who *unknowingly* became the subject of this lesson. She is a wonderful 94 year old woman who has an iPad and regularly texts on her iPhone (with text special effects I didn’t even know existed) and made me mac n’ cheese and animal shaped pancakes as a child. It doesn’t get much better than that in the realm of grandmothers.

Want to discover more art lessons? This relief printmaking post is part of an art education specific blog hop. My lesson connects to Karen Phillip’s lesson on printmaking with natural materials by making stamps out of potatoes and dying fabric with cabbage, onion skins, and blackberries. Check out Stacey Peter’s lesson next, which connects through mixed media. Her students create mixed media collages that focus on their hometowns, and has a literary tie in. Don’t miss anyone in the loop (or any of the amazing lessons) the list of art teacher’s involved in the blog hop is below:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word about making art education personal and getting kids creating by sharing on your social network of choice. Also, if you are interested in purchasing this relief printmaking lesson plan, PowerPoints, handouts, and other materials I use for this lesson, check it out on my TPT store here. Thanks for stopping by!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Visual Journal Page 13: Tape

Visual Journal Page 13-Tape

Our first home is what you would call “move in ready.” The previous owners renovated, updated, and painted every room using nice shades of neutral.

While house shopping it was nice to walk into a space I could visualize myself in. There was no off putting color, family pictures, or personal mementos to distract me from seeing it as my future home. This made me fall in love with the house from the get go and made move in extremely easy.

Neutral goes with everything. While some rooms weren’t perfectly painted to match my decor, there was no immediate need for a fresh coat of paint. This allowed my focus to be on organizing and finding new spaces for my much beloved furniture and artwork. However, after a few months, the neutral tones began to get to me.

It started with the kitchen. I decided I wanted a nice bold color, and tried out many shades of green until Nick found the perfect color with the perfect name, “recycled glass.” Read about that process via visual journal inspiration here. Next, I moved to the dining room, which turned from a lovely light gray to a very bright turquoise. After the dining room I moved to the “office” space and converted the gray-blue to a light green. I then tackled our bedroom.

I tend to be attracted to bright, bold, and graphic sprinkled with a layer of old, antique, and peely in interior design. Sometimes this combination works in my favor and other times it is a disaster. Because of my past experiences, I was worried about my latest venture. I wanted to paint five wide, horizontal stripes in my bedroom. Not only was the design bold, but I wanted to use a dark gray and a light gray, a strong contrast, in a small space with very odd angles. Our bedroom is essentially the attic, which means the roof line invades both our master bedroom and bathroom spaces. It was either going to look beautiful and impressive or like a fun house.

I spent an entire weekend measuring, marking, taping, painting, watching paint dry, re-taping, painting, and finally the big reveal.

I was instantly in love. The stripes highlighted the interesting architecture in our room without making me feel like I was at a carnival. It was a bold design, but the soft neutrals complimented it well. It felt like a spa, a place to relax, and I loved it.

What was most astonishing about the entire process was the amount of blue painters tape it required to create the stripes. I was left with a ball of blue tape that could barely fit into my kitchen trashcan. As I packed up my painting supplies and disposed of the mess, that giant ball of blue tape almost felt like a trophy, a representation of my hard work that weekend.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Wall paint

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I decided to recreate the stripe pattern in my visual journal using the actual wall paint I used. I once again took the time to measure and mark out stripes, and filled them in with shades of gray. After completing the background I began brainstorming ways I could convey the time and energy it took to paint those stripes, and my mind kept drifting back to the giant ball of painters tape. I decided I needed to recreate it using colored pencil.

I first used pencil to sketch out the tape shape, a single stripe running across the top to create a space to write, and a large ball of tape. I made sure to twist and intertwine my lines to make it look more three dimensional. I used various shades of blue to create a sense of depth in the tape. I started with darker shades, filling in color where the tape lines overlap. I slowly build up lighter and lighter blues, and finally added white to areas that needed bright highlights.

I cut out my tape drawing and used rubber cement to glue it to the page. I used sharpie to write “tape” to finish the look.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal project about your most recent DIY project.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and today’s visual journal post! Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 56: Yellow Plate Day

Visual-Journal-Page-56-Yellow-Plate-DayVisual-Journal-Page-57-Teaching-RewardsVisual-Journal-Page-56-Yellow-Plate-DayVisual-Journal-Page-56-Yellow-Plate-Day

I believe that everyone has their quirks. Everyone has some little routine, task, or object that makes them feel a little better, a little more balanced. I am a self proclaimed routiner. I live for my routine. I enjoy doing things in a certain order, taking care of my “little tasks”, as Nick so lovingly refers to them, it makes me feel better prepared and ready for whatever is coming next. Perhaps it’s borderline OCD, or perhaps its just a trait of a well organized person; regardless, it’s what I enjoy doing to make it through my day.

In the morning I wake up, turn on the shower and brush my teeth. After the shower I dry my hair, put on lotion, and get dress. Next, I put a base coat of makeup, dry my hair, finish my makeup, and finish styling my hair. I add finishing touches to my outfit, and head downstairs to make my oh-so-important coffee. While the coffee is brewing I fix breakfast, I can’t make it through the day without my breakfast. Whether it’s a bagel, cup of yogurt, or biscuit, it gets my day started off right, and is a necessity. At this point in my routine my bird plates make their appearance.

While registering for my wedding day gifts, I discovered these adorable, red, green, and yellow bird plates at Pier One. I instantly feel in love, and attempted to register for them. I was disappointed to find that Pier One did not offer registry or wish list options. I was slightly bummed, and unsure of how people would discover I needed these plates for my marital kitchen. Lucky for me I have wonderful Mom who pays attention, told her friend it would be a great shower gift, and I received the entire set at my first wedding shower.

Since the moment I saw these plates I knew I had to have them, the yellow ones in particular. They were special, made me smile, and I was positive food would taste better off of them. Every morning I pull down one of these plates to carry my breakfast to the car, and secure crumbs as I chow down on the way to work. It’s a nice little bright spot in my routine that makes my early morning wake up a little better. As much as I love the red and green options, there is something about that yellow plate. On those dark mornings when I reach up to grab my daily plate, and it comes down yellow, I almost feel like it’s an omen. It’s as if it’s a sign that today is going to be a good day. No matter what happens the rest of the day, I know I started the day with that bright, yellow, bird plate, and because of that, today will be a good day.

Superstition? Perhaps. But it’s these little tid-bits that make each day a little more special.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencil
  • Old book pages
  • Black sharpie

HOW TO

For this visual journal page I knew I had to keep it simple, and focus on the yellow plate. I began by grabbing my yellow plate, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. I traced around the outside edge of the plate and began recreating the design on the paper. Once I was satisfied with the placement and details I began coloring the design in with Prisma colored pencils. Since I needed to get a very specific, mustardy shade of yellow, I had to combine and layer a few different shades of yellow. In general, whenever I color with colored pencils I always layer different shades of a color to create a greater sense of depth.

Once the plate drawing was filled in I tried placing it in my book to find the perfect spot. However, I couldn’t find a good place to put it, without going off the edge of the page. I wanted to avoid setting it right in the center of my book, layouts are always more pleasing when the focus is off center. Finally, after a lot of playing around, I decided the best option was to place it in the bottom right corner and cut off the extra. I also decided to add ripped up book pages and place them between the plate drawing and the book, to help the plate pop a little more.

Once I had the pages and plate glued down, it still didn’t look complete. I thought about where to place my words, and opted to put them along the rim of the plate. However, this still left the top part of the page empty. To fill up space I layer more book pages and one section of the plate that was cut off to the top left side of the page to create a more balanced layout.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a detail of your OCD, daily routine, or personal quirks.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word by tweeting, liking, tumbling, e-mailing, and sharing in general. I couldn’t do it without you, thanks for stopping by!

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Visual Journal Page 51: AP Due Dates

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.

SUPPLIES

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

HOW TO

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.

CHALLENGE

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