Tag: visual journal how to

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.

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.


  • Visual journal
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Prisma colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • Glue


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.


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.

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.

Semester High School Drawing Curriculum: 12 Lessons in 18 Weeks

In my teaching career I have taught a wide range of art courses: Introduction to Art, Drawing, Painting, Advanced 2D Design, AP Art, 3D Design, 3D Design II, and 3D Design III. I have loved teaching such a variety because it has given me the opportunity to develop and test a breadth of lesson plans. The past two years I have been working on compiling my favorite lessons into curriculum packs to sell on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. My most recent posting on my store is my semester long drawing curriculum pack. I have taught every single one of these lessons (plus more that I tested, failed, and left out so you don’t have to) and these are my top twelve.

This drawing curriculum includes information and resources to fill every single day of the semester in your drawing class. Other than making copies of worksheets and doing a handful of demos, you don’t have to plan a thing for the semester. Each project includes a detailed lesson plan (including big ideas, essential questions, national standards, vocabulary, and step by step instructions), rubrics, critique information, and handouts. In addition to the project packs I have included my syllabus, get to know you worksheets, a timeline, breaking down the semester into days and weeks, and supply list.

Check out information on the individual projects below:

The first project of the semester is learning the Belgian bookbinding technique and using it to create your own sketchbook. This not only saves money on purchasing sketchbooks, but it also introduces the students to book cover design and bookbinding techniques. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, and rubric, this also includes a how to worksheet and how to video. This product is sold individually here.

In every class I teach I include a weekly focus on visual journals. Each Friday students have the option to work in their visual journal, have free art time, or catch up on an assignment. By the end of the semester they must have at least 12 pages completed in their book. The PowerPoint to introduce this project, lesson plan, and rubric are included in this pack.

Before the students start longer drawing projects, they complete a shading review. Seven worksheets are included that cover graphite pencils, hatching, cross hatching, scribbling, stippling, and a general shading worksheet. The front of the worksheets include information and the students must complete the activities on the back. This product can be purchased individually here.

The first true drawing assignment is a still life drawing. However, I put a twist on it by requiring the students to bring in objects to create the still life. Before starting the drawing, the students learn about still lifes at various periods in art history. at both traditional and modern versions of still lifes. They must apply their understanding of various shading techniques by including at least three of them in their drawing. Check out the individual link for this product here.

Once the class has a few drawing projects under their belt, we look at combining technology and art by creating their own GIFs. They must draw the majority of the design, then use various computer programs to compile their drawings, add to them, then create an animated version of them. You can read more about this project in my blog post here.

Once the students have a handle on using pencils, we move onto charcoal drawings. One of the best ways I have found to teach how to shade using charcoal is through the traditional charcoal drapery drawing lesson. A PowerPoint about charcoal, in depth lesson plan, rubric, and critique are included. You can purchase this lesson individually here.

After learning about charcoal, the students apply their knowledge to a mixed media work of art that includes shading with charcoal. For this assignment, the students must select an object and redraw it on a background layered with color and text. The object is meant to serve as a metaphor for who they are, a part of their personality, or interests. I love any cross disciplinary lessons, and this does a great job combining English and art. Check out specifics of this project here.

After completing a metaphorical self portrait, the students are asked to create an actual self portrait drawing, with a twist. The students must select a current event that interests them and reflect it through their portrait. In addition, they have to scan their faces using a copier or scanner to create an unusual and ethereal look to their portrait. They then re-draw their scanned image using pencil. This project pack includes multiple PowerPoints to introduce the project and show examples of current artists who create social and politically driven artwork. In addition to the PowerPoints are an in depth lesson plan, rubric, critique sheet, and brainstorm worksheet. Check out more here.

After working mostly in black and white, students have the chance to do a full color drawing using colored pencils. They are asked to think outside of the box and take a photograph that reflects the topic, “unexpected beauty.” They then turn the photograph into a colored pencil drawing. Colored pencil techniques are covered in the introduction PowerPoint. Check out more information about it here.

After learning about colored pencils, we start moving towards different media that still use traditional drawing techniques, such as scratchboard. Social media is the focus of the lesson and students are asked to create a scratchboard image that reflects a snapshot of their day. History about scratchboard, as well as techniques, are included in the PowerPoint. Detailed instructions on how to teach the lesson are included in the lesson plan, as well as the rubric and critique sheet. This lesson can be purchased individually here.

Printmaking is a natural next step after learning about scratchboard. The basic concepts are similar, removing highlighted areas and leaving dark areas. For this assignment, students create a portrait out of a linoleum block. They use traditional relief printmaking techniques to create at least 5 quality prints and one print must be colored in using colored pencils. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, rubric, and critique sheet, this also includes a handout on which colors to use to create a range of skin tones and a worksheet to test various color combinations. An in-depth look at this lesson will be coming soon. In the meantime, check out the product listing here.

The final lesson in the curriculum is design your own project. The students can try out a technique or material they didn’t get a chance to or redo a project they liked or could improve on.

It took me years to develop this curriculum and it is very gratifying to see it all compiled in one place. Check out the individual product links above or check out the entire curriculum here. You save $16.00 by purchasing it as a bundle pack. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and my latest TPT product. Help me spread the word about art education, lessons, and art in general by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!