Check out how I created this watercolor bee to use in my visual journal. Read the backstory, supplies used, and how-to below.
This visual journal page reflects my attempt to enjoy a beautiful spring day.
My former classroom was large with a lot of windows and natural light. While it isn’t as beautiful as my current setup (I am so spoiled) I did have a door to the outside, which was a huge perk.
There was something about the ability to walk outside and take a breath of fresh air that felt free. It was also functional in classes that often used spray paint, fixative, and other hazardous materials. Many days I would prop the door open, letting the fresh air into my stagnant room, and more often than not, pretend I was not stuck in a classroom with a bunch of wild teenagers.
Every now and then a creature from the great outdoors would find its way into my classroom. It would cause momentary chaos until it found its way back out again, but it was worth the risk to have fresh air.
Or so I thought.
One particular day I was standing by my desk talking with a student, a class full of kids working hard behind them when all of the sudden I felt an odd sensation on my leg. It started off with a tingle and quickly escalated to a burn. I immediately looked down and discovered the culprit, a bee had decided to attack me.
I resisted every urge to yell, curse, jump up and down, and cry. As calmly as I could I stated the obvious “A bee stung me!” and sent my student back to their seat. I was slightly incredulous, I was just standing there, that bee came into my room, why did it feel a need to sting me?
As the pain began to subside I couldn’t help but feel bad for the bee. All I wanted was fresh air, and instead, I got a stinger in my leg and a dead bee on my floor. For the rest of class, I walked around helping my kids and couldn’t help but bring up my injury. They smiled, nodded, and patiently waited for me to answer their actual art-related questions. I’m sure they thought I was being dramatic but until I could no longer feel the stinger in my leg, I couldn’t help but discuss it.
My takeaway: at least I didn’t curse in front of 35 teenagers.
- Visual journal
- Thin sharpie
- Book pages
WATERCOLOR BEE HOW TO
This visual journal page was created shortly after the incident. I felt I needed to express my feelings since my students weren’t interested in listening to me complain about my injury. I knew I wanted to focus on the bee since it was the cause of the incident, but also because insects are very interesting to draw and paint. I decided a watercolor bee might be a good way to go.
I started by sketching the bee shape out on a separate sheet of paper. I then began filling the bee in with watercolor. I quickly decided I wanted to splatter the paint away from the bee to create a strong focal point and sense of movement. As soon as I filled in the color I would blow the watercolor away from my drawing. I did the painting in sections. I painted all of the black first, then let it dry before moving to the next part. This prevented the color from blending together. Watercolor will only stay where the paper is wet, if it’s surrounded by dry, for the most part, it will only stay in the wet section.
After painting my bee and letting it dry, I cut it out. I began playing with placement on my visual journal page but had a hard time figuring it out. It was too simple to just put the bee down, but I didn’t want to fill up another page with ripped-up book pages. I decided to pull two pages from different books and played around overlapping them. I thought about gluing the bee down to one, cutting it out, then repeating to get a wider paper edge around the painting, but had also been using that technique a lot in my visual journal up to that point. I finally laid the full pages down on the right side page and liked the look. It almost looked like the bee was laying on paper left on the floor (a common occurrence in my classroom).
Next, I began brainstorming ways to incorporate the text and add some visuals to the left side page. I eventually landed on creating a line out of book pages that would mimic the bee’s flight line, until it’s untimely demise. I used the line as a space to incorporate my text: “I had a very difficult time trying to maintain my composure.”
Create a visual journal page about a bug. It can be an incident with a bug, a study of a bug, or your favorite bug.
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