Every year in my Introduction to Art class I do a collaborative project. Each students gets a piece of an image that they have to enlarge, re-draw, and each piece fits together to create the image. I never tell them what the image is, all they have is one piece with lines, shapes, patterns, and value to work from. I love the reveal day, where I stand in front of the class, slowly unfolding their creation, as I listen to their oohs and ahhs.
Their drawings never line up perfectly, the image is always slightly off, but when you step back it all comes together. Those slight nuances are what make it interesting, it’s what turns the original image into their work of art. I love this project and the sense of community it creates in the class. I was reminded of that feeling as I was sifting through my journal folder one afternoon and I came across this image. It was the first collaborative grid project I did, and it brought up memories of my first semester teaching.
I was reminded of how much I loved and hated my job. How I struggled to get through every day, connect to my “problem” students, prepare for every class, and fall asleep at night. Throughout that first year, especially the first semester, when I had my difficult days I often reminisced about college. I thought about how easy it was, how I was able to spend all my time hanging out with friends, attending football games, going to movies, or just hanging out at our house. I remembered how easy life was when my parents paid my bills, and all I had to worry about was where I would get extra spending money to go out to eat, buy new clothes, or hang out in downtown Athens. That first year teaching I ached for my college years.
The real world is difficult. My first month fully on my own I barely scraped by. By the last week of the month, I was eagerly awaiting my first real-life-grown-up-job paycheck, and I desperately needed it. I couldn’t go to the store to buy more food or put more gas in my car. I had a long commute, which ate up a lot of gas, which meant when I got home from work I couldn’t drive my car anywhere else to conserve gas. I was down to kraft mac-n-cheese, with no milk to make it with, a box of crackers, a few basic items here and there, which I lived off of for a week. I desperately missed my parent’s credit card that month. The next month was easier, as was the next, and slowly my finances, job, attitude, and life in general started to get better.
As I sat in my classroom the beginning of my second year, looking at this image of a carnival ride, thinking back on my first year teaching and college days, with all of these memories and snapshots flipping through my head, I realized that I was happy I was no longer in college. I missed being with my friends all the time, I missed Athens, but I didn’t miss homework, tests, and not making my own money. I love living in a house that is mine, married to a man that I love, and working a job that is emotionally trying yet rewarding. I love the sense of accomplishment at the end of every month when I get my paycheck, pay my bills, mortgage, insurance, go shopping, out to eat, and set aside the extra for my future plans. I truly love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I chose this image for the collaborative project because it fit into a carnival theme, it had interesting texture, and good lines. But, subconsciously I think I chose it because it reflected my life. You get on one of these rides, and while your riding sometimes it feels like you are on it for an eternity, you don’t know when it will end, yet when you get off you feel like it was over in the blink of an eye. While your on the ride your emotions surge from excitement to fear, relaxation to stress, heart fluttering, hair flying, and the tingling sensation left behind as the ride slows, but your body hasn’t quite caught up yet. Life can be over in the blink of an eye, in the worst times it can drag by, but all of the sudden you are years later, thinking back, feeling like it was yesterday.
In every stage of our lives we need to take a moment and remind ourselves of all the things that are happening. Take a breath, think about the day, the last week, or even what happened five minutes ago. The most important thing is to reminisce. We need to remind ourselves how we got to where we are, how good or bad things were up to this point, and where you will go from here. In the blink of an eye this moment will be over, the next moment is quickly approaching, and just as quickly sliding by. Suddenly, we will find ourselves at the next stage of life, reminiscing on the one we just left. After all, no ride lasts forever, but the best ones will always be remembered.
- Visual Journal
- Ribber cement
- Packaging tape
- Book pages
I knew when I decided to make a page about this image that I wanted to keep it simple, and stick to neutral colors. I immediately decided to create a tape transfer of the carnival ride, and place it on the right corner. To create a tape transfer you take clear packaging tape, and place it on top of an image printed on a laser printer. You then flip the image over, and burnish the back with scissor handles. Once the tape is well stuck to the image you hold the paper underwater until it begins to separate from the tape. Move it to a counter or table, and rub a sponge or your fingers over the soggy paper to remove it from the tape. The end result is the ink stuck to tape, and all white areas are now transparent. For more details on how to create a tape transfer look here.
I liked the semi-transparent effect I got when I created the transfer, I loved the words in the book pages showing through, and I decided to use ripped up book pages to emphasize the words I was planning on adding. I decided to write the words across both pages, and thought it would be interesting to create a space for the words to be written in. I wanted it to be subtle, so I painted a straight line with watered down gesso. Gesso is an acrylic medium that is used to create a surface you can paint on. It is also great for drawing on top of and toning down backgrounds. I wanted it to be semi-transparent so I added water to make it more hazy. I then outlined the painted line with ripped up book pages. In order to make the book pages blend into the background I used pages from my book, so the color of the ripped up pages would match the color of the background. To finish the image I wrote my words. I used pencil first, so I could make sure everything would fit perfectly, and then outlined them in sharpie.
Create a page that represents your outlook on life at this point in time. Feeling depressed, create a dark page. Excited about something coming up, create something with bright colors and movement. Choose an image to represent your emotion or create something more abstract. Use a tape transfer of words, a pattern, or an image somewhere in your page.