Visual Journal Page 14: Spaghetti and Baguettes

Ward is an easy last name. It’s easy to spell, pronounce, boring perhaps, but easy. Panetta is difficult. People seem to stutter every time they say it for the first time. For weeks at the start of school I am referred to as Mrs. Ppppp….. until my students can finally roll it off their tongue. When I was a Ward I never spelled my last name. Now it has become a reflex, Whitney Panetta, P-A-N-E-T-T-A. Apparently Panetta also reminds people of everything that starts with the letter P. I have been called Mrs. Panera, Panera Bread, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Pinata, Pimento, Papaya, and most recently, Pinocchio. At this point I respond to Mrs. P-anything.

Transitioning from a simple Ward to a complex Panetta was a challenge, but it has it’s upsides as well. It has now become a conversation starter, are you Italian, Spanish? And one of my favorites, are you related to Leon Panetta? Which I sometimes respond with, yes in fact he is my father-in-law, and I delight in the shocked yet impressed expression that veils their face.

It was strange starting off my second year teaching as a Panetta. I forgot who I was. Students would shout “Mrs. Panetta”, over and over, without a response. Previously Mrs. Panetta was my Mother-in-law, not me, and it took time. Even writing my name I struggled to fluidly write “Mrs. Panetta”, although it was strangely satisfying to sandwich an r between my typical Ms. After a week I began to adjust. Having over 100 students a day repeat your name, over, and over, and over certainty helped in my transition. But one day it suddenly clicked, I responded quickly to Mrs. Panetta, and Ms. Ward began to fade. I started to fall into my new name, and life as an MRS.

One day while starting my AP Art class I glance at my board and was surprised to see a work of art. A giant bowl of spaghetti with a side of bread was snuggled between my Introduction to Art and Drawing class instructions. Beneath the masterpiece was a simple sentence, “Panetta makes me think of spaghetti and baguettes”. It was instance happiness, and I can’t even explain why. I had already learned the ways people could twist Panetta into many different words, and this was icing on the cake. My new name, my new identity, it was full of surprises, and happy moments.

It continued to make me smile for weeks, and months after, until it’s final finger touching demise. Although it eventually disappeared from my board, I wanted to remember it, and what better way than to make a visual journal page. This is a page for Maryiah, the spaghetti and baguette artist. Although there is much debate between Maryiah and Annastasia about who actually coined the term, I have to give credit to Maryiah for the amazing dry eraser art. Thanks for brightening my day.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Construction paper
  • Watercolors
  • Water
  • Paint brush
  • Gesso
  • Sharpie


Coming up with the image for this page was a piece of cake, because the image was already created. All I had to do was take Maryiah’s drawing and translate it into a collage. I love illustrations that play between a flat design, and a three dimensional look, so I decided to try out the technique on this page. Rather than cutting out shapes, and painting them according to the contours of the shape, you paint a sheet of paper, and cut the shapes out of that. By doing this you create a flattened look, with texture that seems to extend beyond the parameters of the shape.

I started by painting four sheets of paper, one with browns, yellows, and reds; one with yellows, browns, and whites; one with yellows and whites; and one with reds, oranges, and yellows. I used a large brush, and made sure to show the brushstroke texture by painting thick, and not spreading the paint out once I laid it down. Once the paper dried I cut out three circles from the brown paper, for the meatballs, an arced shape, for the sauce, two long ovals for the baguettes, and about a million long, squiggly lines for the spaghetti. Because there was so much color and texture in the food, I opted to keep the bowl a solid color, and cut it out of blue construction paper.

Once I had all of my pieces, I set them aside, and began working out the background. I decided to place the food on the right, and wanted to make sure it was highlighted. To compliment the browns in the bread and meatballs, I decided to use my older, stained book pages, rip them up, and glue them down. Once I had the background laid down, I began adding the food. I started with the baguettes, and then overlapped with the bowl. I used rubber cement, and glued them down. Next came the noodles, which was harder than it looked. I glued a section here and there, and had to press them down for long periods of time to make them stick. To make it look more realistic I carefully glued down one end of a noodle cut out, overlapped it with another, and glue them down section by section. Once the noodles were finally all stuck to the paper, I glued the sauce on top, followed by the meatballs.

Once everything was glued, I took a step back. I loved the way everything was coming together, but it didn’t quite pop. I whipped out my handy dandy sharpie, and began scribbling away. I added long scribbles on the left side page to separate the brown book pages from the actual book. I emphasized shadows on the bowl, noodles, and meatballs, and added details in the baguette. Again, I stepped back. Something still wasn’t perfect. I decided to use my next go to material, gesso. I dipped a paint brush into the tub, without watering it down, and splattered on top of the spaghetti dinner. Suddenly, it was perfect. Just how spaghetti isn’t complete without parmesan cheese, my collage wasn’t complete without my gesso sprinkles. I loved the end result.


Create a page using the flat pattern, collage technique. Paint an entire sheet of paper with watercolor, then cut out shapes to use in a collage in your book. Have fun, try different colors, add more water, less water, and find out what works best!

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