Tag: visual journal challenge

Visual Journal Page 55: Bedtime Bear

A collage with a dog and sleeping zzzzs, made for my Kody Bear a German Shepard, Husky mix.

When I realized what visual journal page I was blogging about today I was equal parts heart warmed and melancholy. This visual journal page is for my Kody Bear who lived a long 13.5 years, but went on to puppy heaven two and a half years ago.

Kody Bear was sweet, snuggly *at his discretion,* so fluffy, a close talker, pushy, stubborn, and so very smart. His stubborn/intelligent combination caused a great deal of frustration in college. But he eventually settled into the perfect dog.

Loosing a dog as an adult was different than loosing a dog as a child. I was so close to my family dog growing up. He was my baby. But, by the time he headed up the white staircase to puppy heaven I was two years into college and didn’t see much of the end of his life. Kody Bear was different because I was there, I witnessed his last breath, which I am forever grateful for, but it was almost impossible to bare. I am endlessly thankful that he was sick for such a short period of time after living a very healthy 13.5 years before that. I am thankful I opted to drive home from the beach just in case this was it. Because it was and I was there for Nick and him.

But, this post isn’t just about losing Kody in the end, it was about the sweetness I witnessed those last few years. Kody was a wild pup who took a lot of discipline and training to wrangle. But, he eventually found a balance that worked for all involved parties. He loved being outside, sitting near you (but never touching), and was 100% Nick’s dog. I believed he viewed me as a bonus, but not his person.

I can’t blame Kody for that. After all, when I met Nick he and Kody were already a pair, they came as a package deal. At 19, a sophomore in college, he had inherited him from his sister. I think Nick was the only one who could handle his wild spirit. I think Kody realized he had met his match with Nick and he developed great respect and love for him as a result.

And although for 11 years of his life it was all about Nick and Kody, those last couple of years he settled into some routines with me. My favorite was every night when I would go to bed he would follow right behind. It didn’t matter who was still awake, if a party was going on, or if it was 5 pm. My bear was right behind me as we headed up the stairs together.

It’s the little things that make you realize you are bonded with someone. It’s the everyday, repetitive, tiny moments that add up to such beautiful things. The moments that Kody showed me he cared, by supporting decisions for an early bedtime or laying nearby when I was upset or simply warming myself next to the fire, I truly felt connected to him.

Today, I have another bedtime buddy named Harper. She is about 80% as fluffy, 25% of his size, and is just as wild. Despite her high energy, as soon as I hit the steps heading up to bed, she is right behind me. I like to think that she represents a piece of Kody, a piece of me, and a piece of my life right now.

Sweet dreams Kody Bear.


  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Book pages
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Sharpie
  • Packing tape
  • Laser printed image


To create this visual journal page I started with a printed image of my bear snuggled up and snoozing. I had come up with the idea of having snoring zzzs floating around him as I began developing this visual journal page. It was easy to opt for a tape transfer, so you could see the layers of zs coming from Kody and spreading to the rest of the pages.

To create a packaging tape transfer you need a laster printed image, you can also use newspaper or inkjet but they aren’t as successful. Tape strips of packaging tape directly on top of the image. Flip the image over and rub the back with something hard, like scissor handles or a wood spoon. The burnishing process helps stick the ink to the packaging tape. Next, run the back of the image under water until the paper starts to raise up and peel away. Rub the paper off of the tape, leaving only the ink stuck to the tape.

The end result of a tape transfer is a semi-transparent image. Any white sections are completely see through and any dark sections are semi-transparent or fully opaque. Next, I set aside the tape transfer and started working on the background.

I first glued down strips of bleeding tissue paper I had set aside in my visual journal stash. In a previous project I had wet sheets of bleeding tissue paper to stain paper with color. I then set aside the used sheets to dry, which can result in tie dye looking tissue paper.

Next, I began writing the letter Z on pieces of ripped out book pages. I cut each one into a square then glued it down to the background. I filled the area I knew the trap transfer would be placed and slowly spread them out as it moved away from Kody. Once I was satisfied with the way the background looked, I glued the transfer of Kody on top.

Last but not least I wrote out my text on book pages, cut it out, and glued it to the right page.

Check out more visual journal pages with tape transfers here, here, here, and here.


Create a visual journal page about a loss in your life. Use a tape transfer to help illustrate it.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my tape transfer how to handout) here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post to my sweet Bear. Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates straight to your inbox or follow me on facebook or instagram. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 12: Fall

Visual Journal Page 12-Fall

I love every season of the year, but my favorite has to be fall. I have made many past visual journal pages about fall. I can’t help but be inspired by the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, crisp smells, the cool twinge that appears in the air.

Nick and I are incredibly lucky to have a massive, old ginkgo tree in front of our house. Every fall it reminds me why I love the season so much. I watch as the fan shaped leaves transition from green to yellow. Sometimes it feels like it happens overnight. I wake up in the morning to a beaming, glowing tree, covered in golden yellow leaves.

This ginkgo tree has not only inspired my visual journal, but also my artwork. Every year I find myself in my front yard, crawling around on my hands and knees, collecting the best specimens of fall ginkgo leaves. I press them in my sketchbooks, allow them to dry, then layer them into my encaustic works of art. I love having this piece of the year captured forever, preserved between layers of paper and wax.

Check out last year’s fall post here. Check out a few of my ginkgo inspired works of art here.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Water
  • Paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie


This visual journal page was fairly simple to make. I have to admit, it isn’t one of my favorites. I aimed for simple in order to put focus on the leaves, but I think I missed the mark in portraying the beauty of the leaves. Although it isn’t the page I am post proud of, I still wanted to share the image, story, and process. After all, both our failures and successes are all important steps in the learning and creating process.

I started by sketching out the ginkgo leaf shapes on watercolor paper. I wanted them to transition from large to small, to look almost like a single leaf floating in the wind, moving away from the viewer. Once I had the outline roughly (and lightly) drawn out, I began adding color with watercolor pencils. I wanted a sense of fluidity to the leaves, but I still wanted them to be defined. The watercolor pencil was a good solution, because it allowed me to emphasize certain areas, while allowing other areas to be loose.

After I marked out color, I went in with a wet paintbrush, painted over the colored edges, and moved the pigment toward the center of the leaves. I kept going back and forth between adding color with the pencil, and smoothing it out with the water. I did hit points here and there where I would have to be careful with the damp surface. The tip of the watercolor pencil would periodically want to melt into the water, and add a large, dark spot. It is always best to start light and build color to avoid this.

After getting a base of color, I allowed my leaves to dry. I added more detail, various shades of yellows and oranges with the pencils, and added more water. I kept the process going until I was satisfied. Once the leaves dried for the final time, I cut them out using scissors. I used rubber cement to glue them in the book.

Once I finished placing and gluing the leaves, I took a step back, and decided it still looked empty. To try to fill space I added “fall” with sharpie and a few watercolor pencil lines bled out underneath the text. I decided I was satisfied and stopped. Looking back, I still think the page looks incomplete. I haven’t yet decided how to improve it, and until I figure that out, it will stay as is.


Create a visual journal page about your favorite season. Try out your own set of watercolor pencils in the page.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word about visual journals by sharing with others, I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by! Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here.

Visual Journal Page 17: POW! Right in the Kisser

Sometimes I wonder as Nick and I are walking through the grocery store, if people think we are crazy. We are a very goofy couple. We are constantly messing with each other, calling each other names, Nick fake hits me, I fake hit him, sometimes I wonder if people think we are an abusive couple. It makes me laugh, and it makes me wonder.

Everything can be turned into something fun. We constantly get off track when we are running errands, talking about this and that, and look at this thing we don’t need. Life is a game, we have a lot of fun together.

One of our long standing jokes is to fake punch each other and say “POW! Right in the kisser!”. It’s stupid, I don’t even know where it came from, it’s silly, but silly is fun. I can’t even remember who said it the first time, where we were, what we are doing, or what one of us was thinking to start the game. Despite that, it has lasted, so far it stands the test of time, and it continues on.

We have gotten to the point where sometimes we randomly exclaim our “POW! Right in the kisser” for no reason at all. People must think we are crazy.

One day as I was flipping through my old, donated LIFE magazine, which I had already used and abused, I stumbled upon this wonderful article about an upcoming boxing match. I hate to admit it, I didn’t read the article, but my eyes ate up the pictures. Man in tight white pants featured in the right corner, man in tight black pants in the left, ready to fight, who will win, the anticipation will last a lifetime, frozen in print. Both were shirtless, with their belly buttons consumed by high riding pants. They were serious, hands up, stern looks, they were ready to fight, and they looked ridiculous. A picture reel began rolling in my head, with tight, white pant man and tight, black pant man standing next to the sweaty, ripped, glaring, shorts, and shirtless boxers of today’s generation. They wouldn’t stand a chance.

These two boxers found a spot in my mind, their images dug a hole, and stayed. I kept coming back to the picture until it clicked. They were as ridiculous as Nick and me, as ridiculous as our saying, as ridiculous as our errand running games, they embodied our saying. They were our “POW! Right in the kisser” fighters.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • LIFE magazine images
  • Red construction paper
  • White paper
  • Colored pencils


Although I knew this page would be relatively simple to put together, I still wanted to make sure it had a strong visual impact. I started with the boxers, and carefully cut around their shoulders, tight pants, and tall boots. Next, I used colored pencils and drew out my words and comic book style background. I wanted to push the idea of a comic book, because in my mind, these men could only belong in a fictional story. Once my colored pencil drawing was complete, I carefully cut around the edges. I decided to use red construction paper to bring attention to the words and men, so I decided to leave a white border around my pop art design behind the words to help it stand out.

Once everything was set, I began working on the background. I cut wide stripes of red construction paper. I laid them out, and decided I wanted more, but I didn’t want to completely cover up the book page. My solution was to alternate between thin and wide stripes, which created a more interesting pattern. I carefully placed them, evenly spaced them, and began gluing them down. When I have images or paper going off the page, I always glue it down, with the excess hanging off of the edge. Once the page is 100% complete, I go back, and cut around the edges. This way I know it will be cut perfectly to fit the page.

Once all of the strips were laid down, I placed the “POW” in the center of the converging strips. I played with the placement of the “right in the kisser” until I settled on placing it in the right hand corner. Last but not least I glued the guys down, and my silly, Nick and Whit, game playing page was complete.


Create a page about a silly saying or game. It can be from any point in your life, as a child, teenager, college student, or adult! Reminisce and have fun!

I hope you liked today’s post! If you are interested in seeing my other LIFE magazine inspired visual journal page click here. Help me spread the word about crafting, visual journals, and creative past times with others. Tweet, like, share, digg, comment, subscribe, what ever you like best! Thanks for stopping by!


Visual Journal Page 13: The Tie Dye Cry

This was a boiling point for me. The first few weeks of school were behind me, but the stress of the year had been piling up.

It was my second year at my school, my second year as an art teacher, and the first year I felt I was fully on my own. My first year teaching I relied very heavily on my fellow art teacher, Rebecca. I would hustle to her room, quickly discuss a lesson plan, grab a copy of one of her powerpoints, and scramble back up to my room, trying to beat my kids to class, trying to keep my head above water. At the end of the year Rebecca was offered an amazing opportunity at a private school, near her home, where she would practically have an endless budget, smaller classes, and a dream classroom. I didn’t blame her for leaving. But, I was still sad to see her go, and the fear of being on my own began to slide under my skin and into my stomach.

I wasn’t truly alone. Much to my surprise they hired another art teacher to take Rebecca’s spot. I was able to help handpick her replacement, and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-worker. However, Rebecca still left a gaping chasm I felt I needed to fill. Everyone loved her. Every student who took her class was instantly her biggest fan. They ate lunch with her, got style tips from her, and sought advice from her. My first year was humbling because some students in my class told me they were sad because they wanted her class. I felt a lot of pressure to fill her shoes.

I let that pressure go to my head my second year. I set one too many goals. I wanted an art club, with active members, who met weekly, and I wanted to actually do projects. I wanted art club t-shirts, I wanted community outreach, I wanted to do everything Rebecca and I didn’t do the year before to prove I could do it on my own. I planned an Empty Bowls dinner, multiple collaborative projects, and an art show. I wanted to do it all, and poor Morgan, in her first year teaching, was drug along the way.

All this planning, goal reaching, and pushing is amazing in theory. But as I have learned, theory goes straight out the window in real life. In real life people spend years building up to what I wanted to achieve, as a second year teacher, trying to run an art program. All of this piled up and weighed down, bringing me to this moment… to this visual journal page

We had established an art club. We met every week, we did some projects, painted a mural, and planned another one. I was on my way to checking off art club on my very long to do list, but first we needed t-shirts. T-shirts would make the club official, because you aren’t in a real club if you don’t have t-shirts. Going along with my theme for the year, overexerting, I decided we needed to do tie dye. We only had 30+ students in art club, I figured tie dye would be a piece of cake. I spent hours after school planning, purchasing supplies, and prepping for the day. The kids were excited, they were ready to create their bright, multicolored, crazy designs.

It was a HUGE mess, but we survived. Tie dye went everywhere, but every kid had a complete shirt, soaking in a bag, waiting in anticipation to see the final product. I have to admit I was pleased with myself. We were about to have shirts, our club was about to be official, I had done what we never accomplished last year. Adding to my to do list, I piled every shirt into the back of my Mini Cooper, and headed home to do one too many loads of laundry. I was already tired and a little stressed, which equals slight irritability. Nick was staying out of my way, quietly watching TV on the coach, doing his best to allow me to be crazy and not make it worse. He thought he was in the clear, but he was wrong.

I pulled the first load of shirts out of my washer, as if it was Christmas morning. I yanked out damp pile after damp pile, eyes glittering, excitement filling my chest. I slowly smoothed out the first shirt, and allowed myself a moment of patting myself on the back for doing such a cool project. I felt like someone jammed a spout into my side, turned the knob on full blast, and let my excitement, happiness, and energy drain out. Next thing Nick knows I am storming into the living room, carrying a pile of wet, dripping, gray, yes gray, tie dye in my arms. I just stood there and looked at him. The spout must have also drained my maturity because my bottom lip began to tremble and the tears unabashedly began to pour.

I ruined every single shirt. After all of the prep, money, and hype. After talking up my tie dye ability, having students bring in their own shirts to dye, and ensuring the students they would have their own version of Grateful Dead tie dye, I had ruined them. Gray. They were all gray. The beautiful pinks, greens, yellows. All gone. Nick tried his best to sooth me, convince me they were fine, suggest ideas to turn it around. Without a word I abandoned the pile of wet, gray, grabbed my phone, and went outside to call Morgan with the news. Our art club shirts sucked.

After a long talk and some reconstructed plans, we decided to have the students redye their shirts to see if they would come out brighter. Some students actually took their shirts as is, and still wore them proudly. Others opted for more dye, which improved the look, but still wasn’t perfect. Other students took their shirt with a shrug, and I never saw the shirt in the light of day again. There was nothing I could do but move forward. I had other items to check off on my to do list, and enough of my energy had already been spent on this failure. I made it through the remainder of the year, and I even got through most of the things I wanted to accomplish, while the rest slowly fell through the cracks. I don’t regret over planning, but I do regret allowing it to consume my energy, preventing me from enjoying life outside of work as much as I could have. In your job, and life in general, you must strike a balance. I’m still working on finding my perfect balance, but until I do at least I know there is no use in crying over faded tie dye…


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Ink
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • India ink


This visual journal page was a work in progress for awhile, which is not typical of me. I am a start, finish, and don’t look back type of worker. But this page was an exception. I wanted to remember this moment, as a reminder not to take on too much at once, but I don’t think my heart was fully in it at the time. I think the sting was still to fresh to let it go, and it sat incomplete for awhile.

I started my giving my page a tie dye feel. Recently a set of Prisma watercolors ended up abandoned in my room. After holding onto them for awhile, I finally broke down and used them. Watercolor pencils are a great tool to use to get a mix between sharp lines and soft areas. I took the pencils, and colored the spiral pattern first. I alternated between blue, green, and yellow trying to achieve the tie dye look. Once I had a layer of pencil down, I dipped a paintbrush in water and went back over it. As the pencil lines became wet, they began to spread and blend together just like watercolors. I alternated between pencil and water until I reached the brightness I wanted. When using watercolor pencils I have also wet the paper first, then drew on top.

Once the page dried, I added the words going along the spiral. I stepped back, took a look, and didn’t like it. I thought for a moment, and added dots going from the last word and continuing along the spiral until they covered the entire page. I don’t know why I thought dots would magically make this page better, but it didn’t work. I shrugged my shoulders, didn’t care, and moved on. I knew it wasn’t a good page, but at that point in time I didn’t have it in me to dwell on the “tie dye incident” anymore. After continuing to work on my book, and slowly putting distance between the incident and me, I decided to return. I couldn’t leave the page looking so plain and awful, it plagued me every time I looked at it. After brainstorming I decided to include my washer and dryer, the accomplices in the incident.

I quickly sketched the shape of my washer and dryer, and filled it in with ripped up book pages. I used rubber cement to glue the pieces down. I then used India ink and a small paintbrush to outline the doors, and watered it down to create a gray hue to paint the inside of the door. I stepped back, and evaluated it. Still too plain. I returned to the India ink, put a blob here and a blob there, and blew it until it splattered. It slowly began to come together. I placed the washer and dryer on the page and decided it needed a floor to sit on. I used my India ink and paintbrush again, and created a wood floor. I drew the horizontal lines first, to divided the floor boards, and then went in with the wood grain (to read about how to imitate wood grain click here). Once I was satisfied, I glued the washer and dryer down.

It still didn’t look done, and I decided to add the doors of my laundry closet. I cut strips of white paper, slightly spaced them out, and glued them down. It was very simple, borderline abstract, but in contrast to the more complex washer, dryer, and floor, it worked. One last time I stepped back, evaluated my work, and nodded my head. It was finally done, I was satisfied, I could finally move on with my life.


Go to the art store and treat yourself to a small set of watercolor pencils. Play around with them, try drawing first, then adding water. Try painting a page with water, and color on top. Include watercolor pencils and pieces of your experimental paper in your next visual journal page.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! If you did please help me spread the word! Like, tweet, digg, share, subscribe, and please comment!