I couldn’t believe it. I was at the end, the end of my second year teaching, the end of my first year teaching AP Art, the end of my first year heading up the art department, and the end of a stressful, crazy, busy, yet very rewarding year.
My classes were already wrapped up, projects were being picked up, all I had left was a couple of half days and post planning days. I was more than ready to begin my much anticipated summer vacation, but something was still left hanging in the air
The ends are always bittersweet. As I emptied abandoned cubbies of forgotten materials and unwanted artwork I reminisced on the success of this project, failure of that one, and the students who worked on each one. I felt excited to close the chapter on another class, but nervous about the next unknown group I would get in a few short months. As I scrubbed away a school year worth of paint, pencil, and marker, which covered every surface, I remembered funny situations, difficult students, building relationships, moments of inspiration, relief to see some moving on, and sadness over losing others.
The end of this year was particularly hard, I didn’t know how to cope, after all how do you cope with the unknown? The facts were simple, another year was complete, next year only one art teacher would return, I didn’t particularly want to come back, Morgan did, but she was the one left without a contract. I still hadn’t heard from a recent job interview, I already signed a contract to return, but things could still change. I could still get the job, Morgan could still come back, everything could fall in place; but there was no word yet.
I couldn’t say goodbye to students, fellow faculty, my classroom. All I could do was ignore the question marks, continue through the end of the year procedures, shut down my room as if I were coming back, and patiently play my part in the waiting game.
- Visual journal
- Rubber cement
- Collected scraps of paper
This visual journal page reflects a year of collecting. After completing my first book there were three things I decided to do in every single book. 1: Start my books with a quote or mantra to reflect and guide my year. 2: Create a summary of the school year page. 3: End my book with a tribute to the book I used to transform into my visual journal. Because I already knew a end of year summary was in my future, I began setting aside small items from day one.
Anytime I found an accidental or abandoned work of art that caught my eye, I picked it up, and stuck it in my journaling folder. Whenever a student left me a post-it note on my computer, or small nick-knack, I saved them. Any invitation to an art event, interesting slivers of magazines, or something that made me smile was tucked away for later.
When it finally came time to create my summary collage I had a lot of items to rummage through, discard, and select before I got started. Because so many different things come together to create one design it is very important to try to find a common thread to tie everything together. Creating a balanced, appealing, and successful image with so many things is a difficult thing to do. When tackling something like this I focus on pattern. texture, and color. Color is the easiest tool to use to tie images together, because it is the first thing you see when you glance at a page.
In order to create a balanced visual journal page I began selecting items primarily with blues, and a hint of yellow and red. I have a few pops of color coming through, but with an overall balance of blue, the various cut outs came together.
Create your own visual journaling tradition. What will you carry on to your next book?
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