Visual Journal Page 43: Face Your Fears


This visual journal page was inspired by a series of illustrations in a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) catalog. I love the playful quality of the images, the clean lines, and the way the black of the owl contrastes with the pink flamingo. I’m not sure what story the owl and flamingo were telling, but as I cut them out, and laid them in my journal, the phrase “face your fears” popped into my head.

The expression of the owl changes so much as he moves from position to position. You wouldn’t think two round-eyed circles could say so much, but this student illustrator did an amazing job bringing emotion across. I love how the eyes turn to pink as the owl finally sits on the flamingo’s back and introduces himself. As my cut outs lay unglued to my page I couldn’t help but create my own story, the story of the owl so curious about the flamingo, but too afraid to approach her, until he finally musters up the courage.

Face your fears, it’s a phrase that has been repeated time and time again. Traditionally facing your fears is supposed to result in a sense of peace, happiness, and success. The basic idea is that once you face your fears you will realize how trivial they were to begin with. But what about those who didn’t come out the other end. The ones that realized their fears were a reality, with a dismal outcome.

What about those knights in shining armor who went to fight for their loves, but ended up dead in a ditch. What about those risk takers who vowed to go down in history as the achiever of this, discoverer of that, never to be heard from again? What about the person who tried something new only to fail; or the girl who was shot down by the guy she always wanted to talk to; or the person who went after their dreams and never found success?

It’s thoughts like these that catch my mind as I consider facing my fears. It’s thoughts like these that creep into each of us, planting the seeds of doubts, and preventing the majority of us from truly facing our fears. The what ifs and how tos transform from simple black and white words on a page, fleeting thoughts in our mind, into giant, unanswerable questions, whose shadows we can never seem to escape.

I believe everyone knows the answer to their “big questions” their “what ifs”. I think deep down inside we all know what will really happen if we face our fears. The answer is the sensation in our guts, the flutter of our bellies, it’s our bodies attempt to reveal the true answer. Perhaps our brains become so inundated what the possible end results and scary outcomes that the real answers have to move down south, to space in the center of our bodies, a simple flutter in our middles that says this is what you really want, this is the right answer.

I think we should all learn to trust our gut, like our little owl friend in my visual journal page. I think we all need to risk the nose dive to find out the end result, to discover whether or not our gut was right. The outcome won’t always be what we expect, hope for, or want, but at least you tried, at least you now know, at the very least you can say you mustered enough courage to face your fears.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • India ink
  • Paint brush
  • Sharpie
  • Beige Paper
  • SCAD Catalog images


To create this visual journal page I started by cutting out the owl and flamingo characters from a SCAD catalog. Once I had the pieces of my image I began to lay them out on the page. After I had a rough idea of where I wanted them, I decided it needed more. I needed to add a ground for the flamingo to stand on, and a branch for the first owl to sit on. To create these pieces of the puzzle I used a beige sheet of paper and loosely painted a branch shape using a thin paint brush dipped in India ink. I like the thick/thin quality it has, and it moves very easily. Once I had my branch complete I painted overlapping strokes along the bottom of the beige paper for grass. I made sure I left space between the very bottom of the page and the bottom of the grass because I wanted to cut it out.

Once everything dried I began cutting out the branch and grass. I then glued the characters down, and overlapped them with the India ink pieces. To connect the owl images together I took a sharpie and created a dashed line between the owl gut outs, to create a sense of movement, and show the progression of the owl moving across the page. To incorporate the words into the page I incorporated it into the dashed line.


Create a visual journal page about a fear you faced or a fear you know you need to face.

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Visual Journal Page 42: Step Outside of the Box


This visual journal page is inspired by high school students. I currently am a high school art teacher and it was difficult returning to the halls of a high school, interacting with teenagers hyped up on hormons, and constantly being reminded of all the things I learned as I walked these halls almost ten years ago.

School was created as a place for study, to learn history, math, a place to discover what you are good at, and where you want to go in life. However, in reality school is also a place to discover yourself. This is where you have your first interactions with those outside of your family, you learn to develop relationships, deal with conflict, and discover your personality; and sometimes these lessons can be much harder than the the academic ones.

As I have matured the seemingly mountain of problems and bad situations I had as a teen has been reduced to a small pile. Things that caused great distraught and dramatic fights seem trivial and juvenile now. With each passing year I forget another silly teenage angst moment, and I am looking forward to the moment when the memories of poor judgment and insecurities don’t exist. Now as an outsider looking in, as I watch my students interact, gossip, and swing from mood to mood I am reminded that I acted the exact same way, and how pointless it all is.

There is such heartache as a teenager. You are constantly changing, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You work so hard to find your niche, stick with your friends, begin to date your crush, only to find that their attitude and interests are also changing, which may eventually push you apart. I remember being so self conscious, second guessing every word that came out of my mouth, and every piece of clothing I put on. I did anything to blend in with the crowd, yet try to stand out at the same time. All I wanted was to get noticed by the boy I liked and find a way to fit in.

Over time I have realized the internal struggles teenagers deal with can prevent them from expressing themselves on the exterior. Because many teens are dealing with fear of judgement and fitting it, they put on a false exterior in an attempt to hide insecurities. Suddenly, they wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, go to the same places, walk, talk, and become the same person. The unique nuances and quirks that separate and define each person becomes buried in an attempt to be like everyone else.

I remember going through this myself. I remember begging my mom to let me shop at Abercrombie and Fitch, because everyone was wearing it. I remember waking up extra early to plan my outfit, carefully apply my makeup, making sure my perfect exterior was constructed before setting foot in school. My only consolation is knowing this phase didn’t last forever. Eventually I did rediscover the qualities that made me, me, and I grew to appreciate and love them.

I wish I could impart my knowledge on every teenager unsure of themselves, putting up walls, and false exteriors to please someone else. But I have to remind myself that each experience helps us become our future selves, and some things can’t be learned through words, they must be experienced. But, if any words get through all I can say is high school really doesn’t matter. Your true friends will stick by you no matter what you wear or how you talk. The boy you like only really matters if he knows your true self, and likes you just the way your are. Have fun, relax, bigger problems will come later, take this time to enjoy life. Take a moment and try to step outside of the box and discover yourself before you waste time trying to become something you aren’t. You are more interesting, I promise.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Cement
  • Book pages
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Sharpie
  • Colored Pencil
  • Packaging tape


This visual journal page was inspired by two separate magazine images I found. The black and white image was found in an old “Life” magazine and the colorful girl cut outs were found in a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) magazine. I loved the contrast between the real life black and white image versus the pink and purple drawings. The idea for this page began onces these images made their way next to each other.

I began by cutting out the images and laying them out on the page. I liked the idea of having the colorful images in a straight line, with the black and white woman looking like she is literally stepping out of the page. After laying it out I decided I needed to create a sense of space, and an area that framed these images.

To do this I turned to my stack of old, yellowed books. I ripped out a few pages, laid them in a straight line, and loved the way it looked. The yellowed page made the black and white woman pop even more. I carefully glued down the pages and the images on top.

As much as I loved the layout it still looked incomplete. After considering various options I decided to add tape transfers of book pages to the top and bottom to frame the main image even more. To do this all I did was cut off a strip of clear packaging tape, lightly taped it on top of the yellowed book pages, and quickly ripped the tape off. This caused the top layer of ink and some of the paper to stick to the tape, creating a semi-transparent affect. I then taped the tape transfer to the top and bottom of the page.

Last, but not least, I wrote my words with sharpie under the black and white image. To tie the words in with the overall look of the page I traced back over it in purple and pink colored pencils, to match the colorful cut outs.


Incorporate a newspaper or book page tape transfer somewhere in your next journal page.

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Visual Journal Page 4: A Week at SCAD

It was summer. I was supposed to be enjoying my vacation, relaxing, and mentally preparing myself for my second year teaching… but instead I decided to sign up for a week long class at the Savannah College of Art and Design, at the Atlanta campus, in order to get certified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) Art.

Dread is not a negative enough word to describe how I felt about this course. I wanted to teach AP Art, I wanted to work with the advanced students, but going to a class from 8 AM to 5 PM everyday for a week was not part of my summer vacation plan. However, if I wanted to teach the advanced students, this was a step I had to take. The thought of sitting through 40 hours of classes focused on someone droning on about teaching made my skin crawl.

My alarm went off way too early on Monday the first day of class. I opened my eyes, and slowly adjusted to the 6:30 dim, morning light. I hit snooze more times than was necessary until I finally checked the clock, bolted out of bed, and hurried to my car. On the first day of anything the mad dash to the car doesn’t describe me. I am the type to wake up before my alarm, lay in bed until it goes off, and get ready earlier than necessary, a result of first day angst. Not this summer morning, I dragged myself from bed, all the way to the north side of Atlanta, with a fog of dread clouding my view.

However, as soon as I walked into the SCAD Atlanta building the fog cleared. Student artwork covered every classroom and amazing, inspiring works of art covered every hall. I began to feel better. I was suddenly in my element, and as I walked into class I was shaking off a few crumbs of my dread.

I found a seat, opened my “welcome to SCAD” notebook, pretended to read, as focused on willing my coffee to wake me up. Our instructor, Kevin Cole, made his way to the front of class and began his first day spiel. As soon as he began talking the remainder of my dread was gone.

Kevin Cole is everything I want to be.  He is everything I can’t understand how someone can be in a lifetime. He is a very successful high school art teacher, part of the AP grading process, trainer of future AP teachers, husband, parent, and a famous artist. That is the big one, he is one of the most commissioned artists in the state of Georgia. I can barely make a painting during the school year, and I’m lucky to get even a quarter of what I want to get done over summers.

By the time I left Monday afternoon I was looking forward to the rest of the week. I was learning a lot about the AP process, making connections to other teachers, getting a head start on planning my school year, and I was getting inspired about my work. By the end of the week I was excited about AP Art and I had more than a little motivation to work on my own projects. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a week of my summer.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Documents from my SCAD course


This page didn’t require a lot of supplies, all it needed was creativity in laying it out. After the class I went through the stack of materials I got over the course of the week and pulled out a few that I didn’t need anymore. I decided to start with a base of overlapped documents about the course, and move forward. I ended up stumbling on an interesting geometric pattern on one of the folders, and thought it was a great way to make the page more interesting. I cut out the pattern and made a new one using the shapes and placing them on the page. To contrast with the round shapes I cut out strips of paper from another section of the folder and glued them down. To finish off the page I added the floor plan from the floor our classroom was on.

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