The University of Georgia is the stereotypical “college town”. It’s a small town, with a huge school, an amazing downtown, music scene, restaurants, and so many other things to entertain the thousands of twenty somethings that invade it each year.
I hate to admit it, but my college student years are now four years in the past, and continuously moving further back in time. Although I have a love hate relationship with my adult responsibilities and moving into the “late twenties” stage in life (I turn 27 in 3 1/2 weeks!!!), I am glad I am no longer a student.
By my fifth year in Athens I was a little over it. I was tired of finals, homework, and having no money. I was sick of going out to get a drink only to see obviously 18 year olds doe eyed and slightly scared about sneaking into a bar with a bad fake id. I was only 23 but felt like the oldest person in town. I was ready to move onto bigger, better things and there was no remorse as I packed up my final box, moved it out of my college-town-cottage-house, and into the big city of Atlanta.
Although I didn’t miss it then, it eventually caught up with me. As I headed into my first job and experienced real exhaustion as I tried to adjust to my 9-5 and crazy students I began to miss college life. More than anything I missed the idea of it, the lack of responsibility and having 10 am classes I could show up to in pajamas. As the adult world kicked my butt I missed college life, but it eventually grew into missing the town. The great city of Athens which seemed so small when I left it, but really does have all the character and charm you need.
I really realized this when two years later my fellow art teacher and I took over fifty of our students on a field trip to Athens to tour the campus, downton, and Georgia Museum of Art. As we rolled through the tiny streets in our extra large yellow school bus, with me pointing out my freshman dorm and favorite restaurant the nostalgia set in. How could I not miss such a great town?
After the field trip I began making a visual journal page to represent the busy, chaotic day of keeping up with 52 teenagers. I decided to paint the most iconic part of campus, the Georgia arches, and add our big yellow school bus on top. But after I painted the background I couldn’t bring myself to add anything else. That day wasn’t just about introducing my students to the University of Georgia, it was also about me rediscovering my love of this small town and developing a new appreciation for the five years I spent there.
It may be a plain visual journal page, but it’s meaningful to me. A snapshot, a single moment of reflection not on the field trip but of the five years walking around those arches until the day I graduated and could finally walk straight through.
- Visual Journal
- Paint brush
- Watercolor set
This page took only a few supplies and a short period of time to make. It was meant to be a loose painting, completely freehanded, with no base drawing to go off of. It was supposed to be the background, which is why I worked quickly to complete it.
After I finished I really liked the loose quality and decided to keep it as is. If you have never worked with watercolor before grab a scrap sheet of paper, preferably something thicker like poster board or actual watercolor paper. Experiment with adding a lot of water to the watercolors to get a transparent look, add less to get a bolder color. Put a blob of water on your paper and add paint to just the edge of the water, which creates a bleeding effect. Try painting with the watercolors and adding water to the paper to spread it. The point is to have fun with it, experiment, and see what works best for you.
Once you have your technique down grab an image and try to recreate it. Challenge yourself to not do a base drawing, jump straight in with the paint on your paintbrush. My best tip is to never just us one color, if you have four shades of brown use all four, it will look so much more interesting than just one color. In my Georgia arches painting I use multiple shades of one color in every section.
Whip out your watercolor set and create a visual journal page using just watercolors, no pencil, no scissors, no nothing. If you don’t have watercolors go pick up a cheap set at your local arts and crafts store and give it a try!
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