02 March 2011

Challenge with the JFJ!

I know that I link to these guys a lot, but this is ExCiTiNg!

Eric and Dave [the duo Journal Fodder Junkies] started a challenge yesterday on their blog.

This week's challenge is I AM. I think I've already posted that, but I do think that who you ARE can change, daily. Even if it's as small as yesterday I would have written I AM FRUSTRATED, and today I would write I AM INSPIRED. So you could do an 'I Am' page every single day if you wanted!

Eric writes about having "the realization that our approach to the visual journal is all about the Everyday. Our journals are imbued with the ordinariness of our everyday lives." I think that is a big key to making a journal meaningful, and it doesn't have to all be about Big Ideas and Art-with-a-capital-A. Sometimes a log of your drugstore purchase that day is better than forcing some piece about a big issue.

So I highly encourage you to participate in this challenge, as well as leave a comment over on their site. If you want to post here and link there, that's cool too! Though visual journals are highly personal, I think that there is something important about sharing them, too. Maybe it's just a voyeuristic thing, but whatever. I love looking at other people's visual journals.

17 February 2011

you are all stars.

Julie at Balzer Designs: 

Her blog has a section called "Art Journal Every Day" and there you can see all sorts of inspiration and ideas. I particularly like the portable journaling kit... because whipping out all of the supplies, while definitely the best way to work, is just NOT possible sometimes. 

Jane was my mentor. Probably the reason I'm teaching here, and able to have this class, too. She's an incredible artist and animal lover, and her blog chronicling both her life [post-teaching] and her art making. I love her witty commentary and her explorations and experiments. She's currently working with Bee Shay's Collage Lab and it is so great to see all of her results. 

Jenny at Love and Peas:

Jenny's blog is a visual treat! Her art and her art journals are so creative-- Cute, colorful, collage-y... Jenny takes embroidery to a new level, and line work is so relaxed, cool. She also shares this Joy Journal Tutorial that shows you how to build a journal out of scrap materials. 

Not only do all of these people have names that start with "J" but they are also wonderful sharers-- teachers in a visual/internet realm, sharing their passions and their inspirations, along with their techniques. 

Take a look. It's good stuff!

02 February 2011

SPEAKING of blogging!

image via www.thetef.org

Today I went to a presentation about blogging, and so think it appropriate to post about it here! 
So it was about blogging and why it's important [imperative?] to integrate it into the classroom... but even more than that, the internet is THE place to share information, and as a teacher, I'm big into that kind of thing. I think teachers + classrooms + blogs + students just makes sense. 

Teachers would be silly to pretend that their students (heck, they themselves!) are not spending the time they SHOULD be researching or doing homework sitting on the computer checking back and forth to what Facebook statuses say. Ignoring the power of technology and the internet is counter-productive to good education practices. 

The presenter was a history teacher in my school. Check out what Ms. Kav is doing in her history classes... and why I'd be much better at history if I had been in her class. She's way better than I am with posting videos, and pictures that don't disappear mysteriously after a day, and she's got a great discussion happening there. Maybe we should collaborate and teach a technologic-art-history class... Hm. That'd be cool.

And then I get to thinking about why I'm so grateful to have this technology, and it's more than just a place to spew information. Hopefully, anyone who's reading this will have the opportunity to go a little further and explore visual journaling a little more, and and hopefully to know there's at least one other person out there [me] who thinks visual journaling is important enough to share information about. 

image via ucla

Reflect on technology's role in your life. Personally, I think my iPhone and MacBook are some good-lookin' pieces of technology, so whether it's a drawing of your technology, your thoughts about technology, a conspiracy theory linking the internet and Big Brother, or just a list of the the devices that have inflitrated your life, use this page to express it. 

01 February 2011

Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as modern baseball cards, or 2 ½ X 3 ½ inches (63 mm X 89 mm), small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets. The ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement and has its origins in Switzerland. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or cloth. The cards are usually traded or exchanged rather than sold.         [wikipedia]
That's the definition of an ATC, and I think they are just the coolest. Mainly because I love all things tiny. I also love the artist community, and zine swaps, print trades, drawing clubs, and collaborative works have been part of my work as an artist since college. [Printmakers, with their ability to make a zillion of the same thing, are notorious traders, collaborators, and scavengers. We were a pretty close-knit group in college].

JoAnn's Fabrics also sells little tiny frames that are perfect for ATC's. So adorable.

So we had a visit from a very special guest (that'll be a post later) who introduced the class to ATC's and promised that for every one she received, she would return a piece of artwork to them. I think that everyone completed an ATC, and they're being mailed out today!

I have spent 9 weeks constantly amazed at everyone's different styles and thought processes, and how we all start with the same prompt or the same material (or in this case, the same tiny card) and get such hugely different results. And how cool they are to look at all together!

Here is a sampling of the class' ATC's... and a sneak preview for our special guest!

31 January 2011

Journal Fodder Junkies

Well, my first Visual Journaling class has come to a close.
I still have quite a bit of catching up to do, as far as documenting the last few weeks of class, which included a guest speaker and some collaborative projects.

Since, however, I haven't posted in a while, I thought I'd give you a resource full of allllll sorts of inspiration. Including a YouTube channel that has tutorials and techniques that you can try.

The website is the Journal Fodder Junkies' blog, and the wealth of info is great-- from links to old posts to that YouTube channel to their book.

Eric and Dave are educators, and you can tell that from the depth of information and the way their approach to visual journaling is explained. I bought their book over the summer, and read it easily from cover to cover. I felt that this book by men would be influential to the young men that were enrolled in my class, and their beginning explanation of "What IS a Visual Journal" and "Who Keeps a Visual Journal" was a great way to spark a conversation and begin my class.

So I encourage you to visit their website, blog, links and to look for their book, all fabulous resources for visual learning. 

13 January 2011

If you REALLY knew me...

I have to apologize for the fact that this is the first post of 2011! Between getting back into the swing of school, snow, and server issues, it's taken almost 2 weeks for me to post!

So to catch up a bit:

Here are a variety of Inspiration Prompts we've been working on:

-Trace your hands

-"Not all who wander are lost." -JRR Tolkien

-Write something in another language

-If you really knew me...
   (we here at RV have a strong connection to this. we have been part of Challenge Day for several years [visit ChallengeDay.org for more info] and last year, we were on MTV's "If You Really Knew Me..." I know that the times I participated in these days I was moved more than I could possibly have imagined. It was cathartic, emotional, and very very revealing to see myself, and my community in such an open and touching way. It's pretty incredible. And the feeling that lingers afterwards is so warm and fuzzy. Sometimes 'warm' and 'fuzzy' are things that are avoided in public schools, but sometimes it's just what you need. We are a collective of PEOPLE with personalities, problems, and prejudices. Seeing each other outside of roles like 'Teacher' and 'Student' was really interesting. So anyways, this prompt brings up a great deal to most students in this district.)

Other things that we have been working on:

Stamping to create texture: using linoleum blocks, erasers, found objects and other items to create layers of textures on our pages.

Stitching: we've used glue, matte medium, mod podge, and gesso as a glue for collaged parts of our pages, but now we're testing out sewing to a.) create designs-words-patterns, and b.) attach our collage items to the pages and c.) as a way to emphasize objects

21 December 2010

Image courtesy of InMyHeadStudios

Adding textures.

Layering is key to the visual journal, but so is texture. It creates a much more interesting product.
One way to add textures is to use found objects and print them on your pages. Whether they're already printed or whether you will be painting over some of your stamped textures, it's another layer and another point of interest for the viewer.

Use whatever you have around the house to create textures. Found object printing can be done as simply as with paint and fingertips! Experiment with different objects and what their prints look like. 

Just a few ideas you probably already have: cups, bubble wrap, stamps from an art supply store, plastic bags, wax paper, rope, twine, good ol' potato printing, coins, leaves, fabrics, spices, utensils, combs, jewelry, paper towel...

You can use a traditional stamp pad, relief printing ink, acrylic paint, tempera paint, even washes of watercolor or ink, gesso, even pastel dust... many things will create a stamped image.
Image courtesy of InMyHeadStudios

Image courtesy of Ro Bruhn

16 December 2010

Write your heart out

As in a fateful twist, I was introduced to Stephanie Lee's blog today, Semiprecious Salvage. Stephanie is a artist and an avid journal writer and teacher. The images, words, and thoughts that her page contains are like flashes from memories that you never had. Soft and slightly worn, as though thinking about things can give them that my-favorite-comfy-t-shirt feeling.

She also teaches an e-course, Shifting Ground: finding solid footing through journal writing. I think I might take it! Here's HER description: "At the start of this new year, I invite you to gift yourself with self-love and acknowledgment, reaching out for common hearts, clarity in direction and a resolution to give yourself and others the support you need to be present - to shine as your full, radiant self." Doesn't that sound a-MAZ-ing?!

As it nears the holidays, and like I mentioned last post, it seems as though there is more to do than there is time to do it all! And when life starts to get overwhelming, I rely more and more on to-do lists and journaling. It's important to get the thoughts out in order to get a good night's sleep, and to make sure everyone is accounted for, present-wise! And so, I write. I write and write and list and write.

Experiment with writing.

Use your visual journal as a journal. A place to capture a moment, a feeling, a fleeting thought, a nagging to-do list. It can be as public or as private as you like.  Make it illegible! Paint over it! Make it nice, neat, and orderly. It's up to you.

Here are just a few exercises that can get you going.

Stream of consciousness:

Huge fan of this. It's too easy to get frustrated or intimidated by the blank page. So just write. Pick a topic, or pick your brain, but just write. Whatever comes to mind. Song stuck in your head? Not able to think of anything at all to write? "I am stuck. I can't think of anything to write." Those are words! That is writing! Or, be more structured and choose a topic. Like, "happiness is..." and fill in the blank. Repeatedly.


Like I said earlier, I love making lists. Usually, they're pretty mundane and I try to keep them out of my journal... like, buy half and half, call Z, finish blog post... And sometimes I try to list different things: Things I Learned from My Father, CD's That Have Made an Impact on My Life, Reasons I Love Coffee... Anything! So start making a list. Keep in in your journal.

Obscure It:

Paint over it. Collage over it. Write it on a separate piece of paper, put it in an envelope. Write it on a separate paper and then tear it up and use it to make a collage! Really, you can make your confessions, or be as silly as you want... and then not have to worry about someone seeing that if you don't want them to. Write a letter to someone you are angry with, or have unresolved issues with. Tell someone your deepest, darkest secrets... and then destroy that letter! It's cathartic. And, looking back on the page, you will recall that you let that darkness OUT... to allow for more light within. Here's an interesting article about letter-writing as therapy.

Hate your handwriting? 

Personally, I think, too bad! It's a part of you, a natural rhythm, a direct result of your muscles and brain working simultaneously... It's personal, revealing, indicative of your mood and energy levels... BUT, feel free to experiment, as this is a VISUAL journal. 
Type it and collage it in.
Copy a font from the computer, or check out daFont.com for new and innovative letter designs.
Try a new pen or pencil or marker.
Spin your book in a new direction. Write sideways or upside down!
Use your non-dominant hand. Or your toes, for that matter!

15 December 2010

And if you are daydreaming...

...You're probably supposed to be working.

Today's theme, in contrast with yesterday's "dream" is WORK.

As we get closer to the holidays, it seems there is more work to do than there is time in a day... or maybe that's just to procrastinators like me. Who still haven't started Christmas shopping!


WORK themed page. 

As everyone groaned, saying, "but I hate working!" and, "this will be an UGLY page," they got straight to it and worked very quietly (unusual! Means everyone was very wrapped up in their pages!) for the next hour. 

And, some of their pages are actually... FUN!

14 December 2010

Baby you're a dreamer


Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
Virginia Woolf

Do you agree or disagree?


Recall a dream, think of Martin Luther King, Jr., discuss whether fish dream...