Visual Journal Page 34: Putting Things Back Together


It was spring semester, my second year teaching. My first year dragged on in the begnning, and flew by in the spring. I felt like this entire year was flying by faster than I could sit back and process it. Spring semester meant an entire new group of students, and a fresh start after Christmas break, I loved the block schedule we were on.

Having a new group of students also meant starting from square one once again. All of the projects I just finished up were going to be repeated by the end of the year. Introduction to Art moved from more advanced painting to step one shading, contour line drawing, and covering all of the basics. It begins to get a little repetitive after awhile, but it is nice to already have PowerPoints made and materials prepped. However, n order to maintain a little bit of excitement in repeated projects I cover the same basics, but with different topics, and this visual journal page is an example of one such project.

The grid method. It’s a blessing, a curse, a tool, a crutch, and something I cover every year in Introduction to Art. It teaches students how to break down an image into smaller squares, and re-draw it using the intersecting lines and shapes as a guide. The grid method is a confidence boost, because at least 90% of my students create a successful work of art and learn how breaking down an image can help re-create it. The downside is when I have students in my advanced class wanting to continue with the grid, rather than even attempting to try to draw it without that crutch. I like to think of the grid as a learning tool, it helps you learn to break down images, it teaches proportion, but if you always depend on it, you are only going to be able to develop as an artist to a certain point.

Despite this I enjoy seeing my little artists’ confidence grow as they see how their drawings are coming to life, and beginning to resemble the original image. I introduce this drawing tool by doing a collaborative class project, and I love collaborative projects. Each student gets one piece of a larger image, one 1″x1″ square. It’s impossible to tell what the image could be, all they see are shades of black, white, and gray, and a stray line from time to time. Each square has a letter and number on the back, a clue to where their piece will end up being placed. They must take this square and enlarge it eight times, to an 8″x8″ square. They must use the edges of the square as a guide, where do the lines intersect, where does the color begin to change, in order to re draw it larger.

As they finish their pieces they eagerly turn them in, and I start the reconstruction process. Each square is taped together, each piece is added to the whole, and no one can’t wait until the big reveal day. Even after teaching this project 5 times, I still love the day I get to stand in front of the class, and slowly turn over our now very large image. The lines never line up, the image always looks wonky, but you can always tell what it is. This time a Ferris wheel is revealed, and I bask in the oooohs and ahhhs and the pointing out of their squares.

Each student is creating one piece of a whole, each one is responsible for a part, and the image will not work without their effort. The collaborative aspect drives them, it encourages them to try their best, to meet the standard put in place by the best artist in class. I love seeing the sudden recognition in their eyes as they see what their piece created, and see what an integral part it plays. Through this assignment I hope they learn how to enlarge an image, maintain proportion, understand techniques to re create an image, and above all I hope they see that they can work together to create something beautiful, important, and one of a kind, and that sometimes it takes a group to piece things back together.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Ruler
  • Book Pages
  • Sharpie


This was a painstaking page to make. It took a lot of time, a lot of small cuts, and a lot of patience. Every time I do this project I print off multiple images of the original, grid off at least three copies, and cut up at least two. It is inevitable that a student will lose their piece, or forget to label the back. This time around was no different than the others, and I was glad to have spare pieces to hand out. Although at the end of the assignment I was still left with one uncut image, and one cut up image, and I decided to make a page about it.

I wanted to create an image that appeared as though it was falling apart, or coming together depending on how you look at it. I started by gluing down the cut up squares on the right side page. I started by keeping them close together, perfectly aligned, and slowly spread them out, making them look more chaotic. Once all of the squares were glued I ripped up a few pieces of my book pages, and glued it down along the edge. I wanted it to look as if the squares were pushing the words around on the page.

I then decided to glue the uncut image on top, which was easier said than done. Because I didn’t want to cover the background I had to cut all of the background out of the original. This meant cutting in between each spindle, line, and skinny shape. I put my Xacto knife to good use that day. Once I finally finished, I glued the final piece down, and wrote my words in sharpie.


Create a page about your favorite art project. It can be from Kindergarten, college, or a craft project you did last weekend. Have fun!

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