Tag: teaching

Visual Journal Page 32: Panetta Makes Me Think of Butter?

A visual journal page made using colored pencils.

Before I was a Panetta I was a Ward. For 23 years I had a simple, four letter, easy to pronounce last name. There was never any confusion or stuttering over letters. I never realized the benefits of a simple name until I got married and became a Panetta. While I do sometimes have fun with the “Are you related to Leon Panetta?” question, dealing with mispronunciations have already gotten old. I’m no longer Whitney Ward I am Whitney P-A-N-E-T-T-A, Panetta. You have to spell it out. Every time.

Over the past nine years of my teaching career my students have come up with many creative nicknames for me. They always stay pretty close to the original: Mrs. Pinata, Panera, Picasso. I’ve also had shortened versions, Mrs. P, Mrs. P-Net. My students get the Italian heritage. I once had a student decorate my white board with a drawing of spaghetti and baguettes because, according to her, Panetta made her think of spaghetti and baguettes (check out that visual journal page here).

All of those nicknames and thought processes made sense to me. But one day a student told me my last name reminded them of butter. Panetta, butter, Panetta, butter, I just don’t see the connection. And since I couldn’t figure out the logic behind it, I dealt with this new interpretation of my name the best way I know how. I made a visual journal page about it.

Panetta reminds me of butter?


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


To create this visual journal page, I decided to keep it simple. I opted to use colored pencil and book pages to create a simple collage that got to the point.

First, I used colored pencils to create lines in the background.

Next, I sketched out butter on a butter dish and a knife on a separate sheet of paper.

I filled the sketch in with colored pencil, slowly building up the colors in thin layers. With each new layer I tried to vary the color and add shadows and highlights to create depth. As I built up the color in the butter, I used darker shades of yellow to create text in the butter: “Panetta reminds me of butter?” While the text blends very well into the shape of the butter, it is difficult to read. Looking back, I would’ve cleaned up the text to make it more legible. Check out a lesson that goes in depth on using colored pencils here. 

Once the colored pencil drawing was complete, I cut it out, and glued the two pieces on top of old book pages. I cut the drawings back out, leaving an edge of book pages around both drawings.

I glued the butter dish down first, then overlapped the knife to complete the page.

TIP: use a credit card to push paper into the crease of your visual journal book.


Create a visual journal page about your last name.

Thanks for taking to the time and checking out my blog. Help spread the word about visual journaling by sharing it with others. Are you interested in teaching visual journals in your classroom? Check out my visual journal bundle here and my how to worksheets here. Thanks for stopping by!


A visual journal made with colored pencils and book pages.


Visual Journal Page 31: Atlanta Adventures

A visual journal page about a lifelong friendship and a trip to the aquarium. Visual journal tips, techniques, and challenges are included.

So far, my best friends have been made in high school and in college. These are the people I know will be in my lives forever, the ones my kids will refer to as aunts and uncles. The difficult part of developing these deep friendships during this time, is its a pre-root time period. My friends scattered across the US for college, and even more after college. As we all graduated from college some stayed and some left. As we moved onto our adult jobs and adult relationships, adult roots also began to take hold.

Nick and I ended up settling near the areas we grew up. Luckily, some of our good friends decided to do the same, but some others opted for new scenery, 3,000 miles away.

One of our dearest friends is a friend we each met separately before Nick and I began dating. I knew Jared in high school. Although our friendship didn’t develop until our senior year, we quickly began hanging out in the same group of friends and got to know each other better. Jared was my senior prom date and we ended up attending the same college. I always felt comfortable with him and could talk to him easily. I was excited to have such a dear friend be a part of the next journey in our lives.

Nick lived on the same hall as Jared freshman year. The tiny UGA dorm rooms forces students to spend more time hanging out in the hallways and spilling into hall-mates rooms. Jared and Nick hung out more and more as the year continued on, they kept in touch sophomore year after moving into apartments, and ended up living with each other the last few years of college.

Nick and I began dating our sophomore year of college after meeting at a party at Jared’s apartment. With Jared being such a huge part of both of our lives, it was inevitable that the three of us would spend a lot of time together. When I think back to college I always think of Nick, Jared, and Elly (my other dear friend who also moved to LA. You can read about the visual journal page I used to process my feelings about that move here). It wouldn’t have been college without them.

After college Jared and his girlfriend, Ashley, moved to LA (very much against the will of Nick and I). We were both sad to see them go, but excited for their new adventure, on what felt like another planet.

Every year, at the very least, Jared comes home for Christmas. This particular year, we decided to meet up and do some stereotypical Atlanta tourist things: visit the World of Coke, the Atlanta Aquarium, and eat at a downtown restaurant. The three of us spent the day together gallivanting the city, and it felt like not a single day had passed since we graduated college. That was when I knew no matter the distance or length of time between catching up, we would always be friends.

Jared and Ashley are now the godparents of our first born, little man Cooper. Now they are forced to be a part of our lives forever (a very selfish, calculated decision on Nick and my part). The best friends are the ones that feel like they never left when they move far away and come back and visit.


  • Visual journal
  • White paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Shallow cup
  • Straw
  • Dawn soap
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Glue


One of my favorite parts of that day was looking at the jellyfish at the aquarium. I decided I would focus on that as the visual for the page. I recently began playing with bubble paint prints, was slightly obsessed (check out my visual journal worksheet on making bubble paint prints here),  and this would provide another way for me to use them.

I wanted to paint the background blue and green, so I ripped two pages out of my visual journal, painted them, then set them aside to dry. By ripping the pages out and gluing them back in, it prevents the paint from bleeding through the paper onto other pages.

While the background was drying, I working on painting the jellyfish. I looked up a few pictures to reference, then loosely painted them. I kept the colors warm, to contrast the cool background. Once they dried, I cut them out.

Once the background dried, I added the white bubble paint prints on top. To do that I took a shallow dish, added white acrylic paint, water, and dawn soap. I mixed it together, then used a straw to blow bubbles. Once the bubbles were just over the rim of the dish, I lightly placed the background paper on top, causing the bubbles to either stick to the paper or pop on the paper. I popped any bubbles that stuck to the paper after lifting it. The white coloring in the bubbles created a print of the bubble shape on the paper.

After the bubble paint prints dried, I glued the pages back into my visual journal. I simply glued them on top of the next two pages of my book. Next, I glued the cut out jellyfish paintings down. Last, but not least, I added the words using sharpie.


Create a visual journal page about an important person in your life.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read today’s post! Help me spread the word about visual journals by sharing this post with others. If you are interested in teaching visual journals to your art students, check out my visual journal handouts here and yearlong lesson plan pack here.  Would you like more visual journal how tos delivered straight to your inbox? Become a subscriber: fill out your e-mail address in the form at the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping by!

A visual journal page about a lifelong friendship and a trip to the aquarium. Visual journal tips, techniques, and challenges are included.

Teachers Pay Teachers Valentine’s Day Sale + My Top 5 Wish Listed Products

I hate to admit it, but I can be a bit of a Valentine’s Day grinch. I have nothing against love, chocolate (or any candy for that matter), or cards, but I just don’t feel the need to go all out for Valentine’s day every year. I didn’t actually have a valentine until the first year I dated my now husband, when I was just 19 years old. As the big day approached, I was excited. I had waited 19 years to actually have a boyfriend over the holiday that celebrates being in a relationship. When the day finally arrived, we exchanged gifts, ate a delicious meal, and although I had fun, I thought what is the big deal? We can do this anytime.

So, sorry Valentine’s day lovers, it’s just not for me. Every year my husband and I make sure we spend time together and make an extra delicious dinner at home. But we opt to save our babysitting and eating out money for a day that doesn’t include cost premiums.

This year for Valentines day I will give my hub an extra hug and I will also be celebrating by participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale. Everything in my store will be 25% off. If you like any of my bundle packs, that can equal a decent amount of savings.

While prepping for my sale, I decided to check out what my top wish listed products are. Read about the top five below:

Seven back and front worksheets that cover the elements of art.

This is on oldie, but a goodie. It has held top spot for sales, traffic, and wishlists for some time now. This was my very first bundled item, and I am so happy other art teachers love it as much as I do. It is a staple in my high school Intro to Art course. The bundle pack includes seven back and front worksheets that cover the elements of art. Each worksheet has visual examples and information about the elements: color, line, value, form, shape, texture, and space. The back of the worksheets have activities to complete to show their understanding of what was covered on the front. This worksheet pack is great to have on hand for substitute days, early finishers, or to test your students’ understanding of the elements of art.

This bundle is listed for $10.00, you save $4.00 by purchasing the bundle rather than the worksheets individually. You can purchase it for just $7.50 on 2/14/18 and 2/15/18. Check out this product here.

A pack of eight worksheets that cover the principles of design.

With my elements of art worksheet pack as #1, it’s no surprise that my hand drawn principles of design worksheet pack is my second most wish listed item. I began working on this worksheet set as soon as I completed my elements of art pack. Like the elements of art worksheets, this has visual examples and information on the front and an activity on the back. I also use these in my Introduction to Art course. They are great for late elementary schoolers, middle school, and high school art students. There are eight back and front worksheets in total. Check out the pack here.

This bundle is listed for $10.00, you save $6.00 by purchasing the bundle rather than the worksheets individually. You can purchase it fur just $7.50 on 2/14/18 and 2/15/18. Check out this product here.

My third most wish listed item is also my most expensive. It’s my year long Introduction to Art curriculum. It’s priced at $100.00 for the pack, but you save $86.00 by purchasing the bundle rather than the lessons individually. This is a great product to purchase during sale days because it costs more than my average item. It will be marked down to just $75.00 on 2/14 and 2/15.

You won’t need to plan a single day for an entire year in your Intro to Art course. There is also a timeline included if your class is only a semester long. All in all this file includes: yearlong timeline, semester long timeline, first day items (syllabus bathroom passes, tell me about you sheet, art survey, letter to parents, artist to know table, and behavior contract), art notebook set up (table of contents and worksheets), 20 lesson plans  (includes big idea, essential questions, goals, objectives, supplies, vocabulary, step-by-step instructions, national standards), 17 rubrics, 6 critique worksheets, 16 PowerPoints, 42 worksheets (includes elements of art, principles of design, visual journal, drawing, color theory, perspective, contour line, and many more).

Check out the lesson plan and PowerPoint I use to introduce visual journals to my students every year.

My #4 wish listed item is my visual journal lesson plan and PowerPoint pack. This is what I use to introduce visual journals to my students every year. This is a project I do in every single class, and it lasts the entire semester or year depending on the length of the course. It’s always one of my students’ favorite assignments because they have so much freedom in the assignment. They get to choose the materials and topics, they just have to have a certain number of pages complete by the end of the course.

I obviously have a passion for visual journaling, it’s the entire reason I started this blog. I love sharing my inspiration and methods; it’s no different in my classroom. I encourage every art teacher to give this project a try. I love seeing my students take it and run with it. Also check out my visual journal bundle pack, which includes all of my visual journal how to handouts as well.

My #5 most wish listed item is also one of my cheapest, my general shading handout for just $2.00. I use this handout in both my Introduction to Art class and my Drawing class. It’s a great refresher or introduction to basic shading techniques. It covers shading using hatching, crosshatching, stippling, scribbling, and blending techniques. The front shows examples and the back is full of activities for the students to complete that tests their knowledge of the information covered on the front.

Check out the rest of my top 10 wish listed TPT items below:

#6: Zentangle handout

#7: Elements of art worksheet pack #2

#8: Shading using hatched lines worksheet

#9: Elements of art poster pack

#10: Yearlong visual journal bundle pack (lesson plan, PowerPoint, and handouts)

Don’t miss the Valentine’s Day sale, this will be the last one until the end of the school year. There are so many amazing products available on TPT to help make our lives easier and further enrich our students, I hope you give the website a try if you haven’t yet.

Thanks taking for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


A shading handout with information on hatching, crosshatching, stippling, scribbling, and blending. It's perfect to introduce drawing basics or refresh them with your art students.
Visual journals are easily one of my students' favorite projects of the year. Check out the lesson plan and PowerPoint I use to introduce it every year.
Eight back and front worksheets that cover the principles of design. Visual examples and information on the front, activities for the students to complete on the back.
Seven back and front worksheets that cover the elements of art. Visual examples and information on the front, activities for the students to complete on the back.
You won't have to worry about a single day of the year in your Introduction to Art class with this yearlong curriculum. It includes 20 lessons, 42 worksheets, 16 PowerPoints, and 14 take home projects.

Teaching Watercolor to High Schoolers (when you don’t know how)


Every year I teach a landscape, architecture watercolor painting to my advanced level high school art students. The first year I taught it, I had to first teach myself how to use watercolors. Read how I did it in this post and check out a link to my lesson plan and resources.

A few years ago I began teaching a painting class, after taking a a three year break to focus on ceramics and sculpture. While I loved teaching 3D art, I was excited to move back to the two dimensional world. I always loved painting. and couldn’t wait to teach a course that focused on it. However, in order to teach a well rounded painting course I knew I would have to teach watercolor. And I hated watercolor.

My mom is an amazing watercolorist. Not only was she an amazing watercolorist, she was also an amazing portrait artist. Two skills that I am not naturally gifted at. Growing up I remember a number of times when my mom attempted to teach me watercolor techniques. Despite her many tips and suggestions, I was impatient and couldn’t wrap my head around the need to plan ahead and work in layers.

At the point when I took over the painting and advanced 2D courses, and realized I would have to teach an advanced level watercolor project, I had yet to create a successful watercolor painting. It was time. I was going to have to learn to properly paint with watercolors, because I was about to have to teach it.

How to paint a path using watercolor paints.

I started with the basics. I needed to plan ahead and pace myself. I knew from experience if you went too heavy too quick you could never get back to whites and lighter colors. Watercolor is about glazing, adding thin layers on top of each other, and letting the layers dry in between, to create detail, depth, and build in shadows.

I began doing watercolor testers. First, just blobs of wet on wet, dry brush, and adding other material such as salt. I watched YouTube videos and checked out a few watercolor books. Next, I began combining the techniques to create simple landscapes. The above path started with wet watercolor, allowing the first layer to dry, then adding in dark shades. I left lighter areas untouched, and tried not to go too heavy too quick. The final layers involved adding the detail such as the grass. I didn’t shy away from incorporating other colors, such as blue and purple, into the shadows.

How to paint a floral bush with watercolor paint.

I continued to work with combining techniques, planning ahead, and building my color in layers. I had my mom once again show me her techniques, and began thinking and applying them in a different way than I had before. I realized at heart, I am an oil painter. I like to throw down color, mix it together, and cover up mistakes as a I go. You don’t have the luxury of that with watercolor. You must plan ahead. You must work slow. You must think highlights vs. shadows before you lay them down. I had to change the way I thought about painting in order to successfully complete a watercolor.

For the example above I tested wet on wet by wetting my paper first, then adding green, yellow, and blue watercolor. I allowed the first layer to dry, then added brown and more blue to push my shadows and value. I then used a mostly dry brush and painted in a floral shape.

The first steps in watercolor painting, doing a base sketch and inking.

Once I felt confident in the watercolor techniques I was testing, I decided it was time to start my project example. The assignment was for my Advanced 2D art class, the last step before AP Art. They had to select a part of our school’s campus to turn into a watercolor painting. They could go inside, outside, it was up to them, but it had to have some sort of architectural feature in it. This assignment forced them to go out and take pictures to work from, making them consider angles, framing, and composition. It required them to focus on perspective and lines, with the architectural element. And it also focused on honing their watercolor techniques to create a realistic image.

Although they were focusing on a section of the school, I encouraged them to think about what part of the school was important to them. Where was their favorite class? Where did they spend the most time? What space best reflected their view of the school? While I focused on our school for this project, it’s also a great opportunity to have students think personally, and bring in a photograph of a place that is important to them.

For my example, I did not focus on a section of the school. Instead, I opted to kill two birds with one stone, complete an example and create a wedding present for my brother-in-law and his wife. I chose an image of their wedding venue, a beautiful southern house called Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

There are two ways I like to do my examples. The first, is complete them before my class starts the assignment to make sure I like it and it will be successful. The other way is to do it along with them. I chose option B for this project, which was scary since I was not confident in my watercolor ability. The benefit of working on my painting along with my students is I can tell them what issues I come across as I work through them. It also allows me to continue demonstrating techniques throughout the project. And although I wasn’t very confident in my watercolor painting abilities, it showed them that I could do it. I kept telling them if I could do it, they absolutely could as well.

Before I introduced the watercolor project, I completed my base drawing. I used pencil, then went ahead and traced over the lines using a waterproof pen. I kept the ink lines tight in sections I knew would be in full view, and loosened up in the areas that would have foliage overlapping it. I at least wanted to base drawing to be complete, so when I introduced the project I could go ahead and demonstrate some watercolor techniques.

A partially finished watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

Next, I began painting. First of all, I apologize for the huge jump from zero paint to 75% complete. I always intend to photograph throughout the process, but I often get caught up in what I am doing. I started with the sky, using wet on wet and blotting out the clouds. Next, I went into the roof and walls of the building using a combination of wet on wet, dry brush, and adding salt for texture. I then continued adding details and blocking out color for the background.

As I continued to add detail I slowly built up the shadows and was very careful not to go too dark too quick. I constantly told my students they could always go darker, but couldn’t go lighter. They were going to paint the painting at least four times through the layering technique.

A watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

The final touches came with the trees and bushes that overlapped the front of the building and were the darkest color. I then went back in with pen and added more lines as needed.

I was very pleased with the final product and with myself for pushing out of my comfort zone by tackling a medium I had never liked before. Since this painting was completed, I have done a number of other landscape and architecture watercolor paintings. I have a new found love for it, and although it will never be my first choice, it isn’t one I will shy away from anymore.

A framed watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.I matted and framed the painting for them as a Christmas gift. I hope they cherish is for years to come.

My students’ painting also turned out beautifully. I love putting the campus painting on display in the school. It gives the faculty, administrators, and student body a chance to see their school in a different light. It’s always interesting to see what part of the school they choose to focus on.

Megan and Vince were married in gardens right next to the plantation home. It was beautiful with the Spanish moss and pond as a backdrop to the beautiful wedding party, bride, and groom. The reception took place on the porch of the house. It was an amazing day from start to finish.

A photograph at the pier in Folley Beach, SC

This was a picture of my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and myself during the wedding weekend. It was so much fun celebrating with the Panetta family and witnessing Vince and Megan’s commitment to each other. Nick and I also announced the coming of our first baby the same weekend, who is now a two year old wild man Cooper.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! You can find the lesson plan and all the resources I use to teach this watercolor project at my TPT store here. I have also created watercolor how to posters here and here. Also check out different ways I use watercolor in my visual journal here and here. Help me spread the word by sharing this post on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by.


Every year I teach a landscape, architecture watercolor painting to my advanced level high school art students. The first year I taught it, I had to first teach myself how to use watercolors. Read how I did it in this post and check out a link to my lesson plan and resources.

Visual Journal Page 28: The Sound of Trains

Learn the inspiration behind this visual journal page as well as the supplies and steps I took to create it. Learn how to start your own visual journal by reading about mine. This particular post focuses on a memory/sensory tie I experienced with the sound of trains. Read more here.

There is something about the sound of trains.

It first started on trips to visit my grandparents. They lived in a small town, it’s biggest claim to fame being their proximity to another small town, known only for their major, annual golf tournament. They were on the South Carolina side of the Georgia, South Carolina border. A place full of ya’lls and yes ma’ams.

I remember driving down the small town roads, turning onto their street, finding it odd they didn’t live in a traditional neighborhood. Commercial areas transitioned into residences without the signage and dead end streets of the neighborhoods I was so accustomed to. This was reminiscent of a different era, which was reflected in so many ways in their home. From the split level, ranch style house, that lived on a non-neighborhood street, to the objects it held within it’s walls.

This was the house my mother grew up in, and it felt like home.

I remember lying in bed, full of “grandmommy macaroni and cheese,” dreaming about the animal shaped pancakes that would surely be waiting for me the next morning, hearing a train whistle in the background.

I feel asleep to that sound many times as a child and the memory traveled with me into adulthood. The funny thing about memories associated with senses is you often don’t realize they are tied together until you experience it.

At twenty-three it had been years since I spent the night at my grandparents house and I had just bought my own house. My new husband and I moved into our sweet 1940’s Atlanta bungalow our first year of marriage. In the days and weeks that followed, we unpacked and settled in. I distinctly remember slowly drifting off to sleep one night when I suddenly heard the sound of a train.

I was immediately thrust back into my grandparent’s house, sleeping next to my sister, looking out the window of the only slightly second story. My new house didn’t quite feel like home yet, but in that moment it began to.

Eight years later I am still living in my adorable house, listening to train whistles, fully feeling like this is my home. My adult home, with the train whistles of my childhood, with my babies now falling asleep to the same sounds in a different town.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement or another type of adhesive
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Magazines
  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Gesso
  • Pencil


For this visual journal page, I knew I wanted to focus on a train. After searching for an image of a train, I came up empty handed. I couldn’t find the exact angle or size that I wanted and needed to fill the two pages of the book. After brainstorming. I finally decided to paint the train myself using watercolor.

I sketched out the body of the train, referencing images online to plan out the design and colors. Once I had a base sketch, I began filling it in with watercolor. I started light and slowly added in the shadows. If you go too dark too quickly with watercolor it is difficult to add highlights back in. It’s best to work light to dark and plan ahead. Once the paint dried, I cut it out.

Once the train was finished I decided to create a background using magazine images. I liked the contrast between the realistic imagery and painterly train as well as the difference in the shiny texture of the magazine and the matte finish of the paper. I knew I wanted to create a color fade in the background to create a feeling of dusk. As I flipped through magazines I kept my eyes peeled for any large sections of black, dark blue, purple, yellow, and green fields and grass. Anything I thought could work, I ripped out.

Once I had a sizable stack of magazine pages, I began ripping them up. I love the look of collaging with ripped pages. The soft, organic edges create a more interesting pattern than cut edges. I separated the ripped up pieces into piles according to color. Because I wanted it to look like night was pushing out day, I began layering the lightest colors first. As I moved from the middle of my visual journal page up, I overlapped the dark colors over the light colors until I had black at the top of the page. Check out a post that details the process of creating a magazine fade here and here as well as a Youtube video here.

Next, I worked from the middle of the visual journal down. I used fields as the background of the landscape and worked my way forward to grassy patterns. As I glued the foreground down, I kept checking the placement of the train until it was positioned the way I wanted it. I glued the train down, than continued overlapping the grass over the bottom of the train and continued to move towards the bottom of the page.

After the page was finally filled up, I added the steam coming from the train. I decided this was a perfect space to incorporate text in a way that blended with the image. I used gesso and a paintbrush to loosely add the steam, then painted the letters in a similar way so they would blend in with the steam. Once the gesso dried, I used pencil to emphasize the text a little more.


Create a visual journal page about a memory/sensory tie you have experienced.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my visual journal and check out my blog. You can find an image of my grandmother in a recent post here. She unknowingly became the subject matter for a printmaking project. Don’t forget to save this project for later by pinning it, or saving it on your social network site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Interested in teaching a visual journal lesson in your classroom? Check out my teaching resources here and my magazine fade visual journal handout here.

Learn the inspiration behind this visual journal page as well as the supplies and steps I took to create it. Learn how to start your own visual journal by reading about mine. This particular post focuses on a memory/sensory tie I experienced with the sound of trains. Read more here.