Visual Journal Page 22: Happy Accidents

Accidents are an inevitable part of everyone’s life. Whether the accident involves cars, glasses of milk, or mysterious moving tables, they are always waiting just around the corner. In my twenty-six years of life I have witnessed quite a few accidents and I have noticed some people seem to find accidents more easily than others, and I fit in the more easily than others category.

I hate to admit it, but I am clumsy. Grace is not one of my descriptors, and I blame it on my impatience. I like to get things done quickly, and to do this I have to ignore small details, such as table corners, and each and every step in a set of stairs. In addition to my already clumsy nature, I also bruise very easily, which isn’t a winning combination. I am constantly riddled with bruises, bumps, and scraps, I worry people think I am anemic or being abused.

Walking can sometimes be a task, I trip over slightly uneven pavement, cracks, and roots. I wish my feet and my eyes would work better together. My only hope is that some innocent bystander gets a chuckle out of my trips, stumbles, and falls. I can imagine them walking behind me, taking in the show of my flailing arms, and my quick crowd assessment afterwards to see if there were any witnesses. I know I have had my fair share of chuckles on other people’s part, I tell myself I am simply returning the favor.

I warn my students from the beginning. If they fall in class, I will laugh first, and then ask if they are okay. They know what they are getting themselves into when they attend my class.

In addition to the physical damage I unintentionally cause myself, my impatience and clumsiness also affects my art and projects in general. I want to get things done, and I want them done now. This means in my haste I am continuously dropping paintbrushes, screws, hammers, tape, glue, or whatever I am currently using. This also means my art bag is loaded with random pens, scraps of paper, and other miscellaneous junk, which I randomly shove in with plans to use it later.

Which brings me to the story of this page, the bleeding tissue paper incident.

I was trying to get everything packed up quickly. It was a Friday, and I was wasting little time getting out the door and on the road home. I had grand plans of great production over the weekend, I knew many journal pages would be created. In addition to my planner, visual journal, magazines, scissors, water bottle, glue,  and book pages, I also added a large stack of bleeding tissue paper. I had visions of beautiful pages being formed from the tissue paper I carefully selected for my weekend project.

Combining the water bottle and tissue paper is where I went wrong. Really, the not tightly screwed on lid of the water bottle is where I went wrong, but my impatience doesn’t allow for those details.

As I gathered my things and headed inside I realized my art bag had a large, damp area on the bottom. I quickly set my things down, and began to inspect the damage. To my relief my journal was water free, but as I moved closer to the bottom of the bag, I realized my beautiful tissue paper was ruined. The water created a large splatter right in the center, and the colors of the layers melted together, and into the fabric of my bag. My bag was a mess, my visual journal plans were done, my bleeding tissue page would not be complete this weekend.

Or so I thought.

I carefully laid the sheets out to dry, thinking I could salvage the edges, if nothing else. I later returned to them, and took a closer look. They were actually beautiful. Interesting shades of gray with hints of the former color swirled in the center of the blues, pinks, and purples. Without knowing what I would do with them I carefully cut out each water stain. As I layered the accidental works of art together inspiration began rolling in.

From time to time when I bump my knee, trip over an invisible step, or accidentally spill even more paint, I have to remind myself, you never know what may come from even the worst accidents.


  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • Sharpie


This page was an accidental work of art. I took an unfortunate accident, which caused quite a mess, and turned it into a visual journal page. If I were to recreate it I would stack a few layers of different colored tissue paper, pour water on top, and allow them to dry. By doing this you are causing the colors from the various layers to bleed into each other and create a tie dye look. Since this accident I have used this technique many times. I love the way the colors come together, and I love the semi-transparency of tissue paper when it is glued on top of words.

Once I had my tissue paper shapes cut out, I played with the layout. I decided the shapes weren’t enough, I wanted something else in the page. In the past I had used strips of masking tape to highlight areas, and decided it would work well in this page. It was a neutral color, and wouldn’t compete with the already colorful shapes scattered around the page. I also liked the contrast of the organic blobs with the geometric lines the tape created.

I switched between gluing tissue paper, and laying down the tape, until they were intertwined and overlapping. Once I was satisfied with the layout I added the words with sharpie.


Have your own happy accident and experiment with layering bleeding tissue paper and adding water. Try to return to your art class days and consider the color wheel. Complimentary colors will create browns and grays (blue/orange, red/green, purple/yellow) while primary colors will create secondary colors and nice blends (red/yellow=orange, blue/red=purple, yellow/blue=green). I also like to mix tertiary colors, or colors next to each other on the color wheel (yellow/green, red/orange, blue/green, blue/purple, etc.). Have fun and enjoy some color theory!

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