Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Visual Journaling Ideas

I adore seeing what other people create and all the different styles and so on that people come up with.  And since this blog is called "The idea book" I thought I'd share my most recent visual journal and hopefully impart some ideas.  :)
 This is the 4th Visual Journal that I've done so far in about a year and a half.  (It's normal to have two going at the same time!)  My first one was just a mess of trying things and playing with the media and folding pages and just basically making a happy mess.  This one feels legit, but the other ones were just as legitimate!  If you can't draw, it doesn't matter.  You can get out your crayons and your water colors and you can make shapes and splash on colors and journal with messy, poorly spelled, bad penmenship! 
(This page will undoubtedly get more coloring and doodling and journaling.  The square shapes are those small ink pads that you can get and rather then using them for stamps I used the ink pads AS stamps themselves!  Such a great way to add texture and color and interest. 
 I've felt for a long time just how much I love to draw and color and create and have this hidden terrifying dream of actually writing and illustrating children's stories, but I'm learning that my personality type really REALLY needs to be allowed to make a mess and create and get comfortable with something before I'm expected to produce something worth while.  (Even learning how to make yogurt took me months to build up the courage to DO it!)
My best friends would tell you that I don't jump into the lake. I wade in and stand for many many minutes as I get used to the freezing water a little bit at a time.  I'm terrified to start something new often and have to gear myself up to do it!  But -- I'll get there.  And for me, it's all about "Being" - and taking tiny steps forward.  That's what visual journaling has been helping me with.
 What can you do in any journal?  It's good to get a book that has thicker pages so you can use sharpies without too much bleed through.  Fold pages, draw lines to prepare for journaling, and think outside of the box.  Don't worry about doing any of it in order.  If you dislike a page that you drew on or want to write something that you don't want to be read then you can glue or tape pages together.

It's not a finished product.  It's not for anyone else.  It's a place to be free and do anything.  If the white pages make you unsure, then pull out a medium to start with without plans of how it will look in the end.  I have no idea how these will look later or what I'll use the pages for!  Will this be a rant?  A to do list?  A Bible study?  Favorite quotes?  Nope.. don't know, and it doesn't matter to know.

  I used "liquid chalk" on a bunch of the edges to make a nice frame and drew lines.  You can use stamps or just the ink pads like I did.  You can get out your water color and just make some random colorful brush strokes!  I like experimenting with different types of art supplies just to see what they will do and somehow the pages look better when there's more than one type going on.  Blend colors and have fun getting lots of different things to draw with!
 My mother-in-law (who is an artist!) gave me these four copic marker colors for Christmas.  Like, the NICE "real" artists markers.  I've never used these before!  They worked great for skin color!  I used to draw my hands all the time when I was teenager, but never got to a place where I felt like I could color them well... I just did sketches of my hands and whenever I tried to color them I'd end up ruining the pictures.
Far right is my 4 year old's drawing as she went through my colored pencil box while I drew.  I encourage my girls to help me in my journals and don't want it to be an "off limits" place (though we always want to respect other people's property so asking first is important for everyone)  I want them to know that their art is valuable!  And when they draw a little picture for me it will often get glued into my visual journal right away!  :)
 The markers showed through a bit so I did a second hand since I'm actually right handed it made sense to do my right hand as well.  The above though is in colored pencil.  My oldest thought the one with the markers looked more realistic.
Now if you are like "I can't draw like that!" Please note that it took me 4 journals to start drawing this way again.  My previous ones were just playing and not anything worth sharing, but sharing isn't the point.. the point is to be artistic and we ALL are, because we are made in the image of our Creator God!  So, find your style and what you like and be inspired by other people, but don't feel like you need to do the same stuff. 
Pages folded in and a color wheel, because why not?
 My kids tend to break all their crayons and I've been wanting to get myself a nice box of crayons for a while.  Maybe it would inspire them to care for their crayons better if they saw how I could use them?  It's an idea anyway.. and I keep thinking of when I was a kid and organized my box "just so"..
I wanted a place to know what colored pencils I actually had.  And apparently I have no pink!  PrismaColor colored pencils are my favorites and they are only a few dollars each at craft stores, so, not a hard thing to get here and there at a time.
 And the start of a new year.  I'm pretty terrible at planning well.  Or I thought I was bad at planning, but I actually just don't like it.  I actually hate planning too much.  I like to be spontaneous and mostly plan in a way that allows for that because when I actually plan something ahead of time I move it around anyway.  Still, it's good for me to have calendar pages and keep a bit more track than I did in 2015!  Most months I didn't even do the calendar page till after the month was almost over.  Yeah, that didn't help my planning/not planning style at all.
 Pretty basic this one!  If you misspell something by the way, just write over it.  It's not like you are going to take pictures of your private journal and post it on a public blog.  ;)  right... anyway..
 You could use a ruler if you are into that sort of thing.  I started out using a ruling in 2015 doing the calendar pages for that year, but dropped it as I realized that I don't want to worry about it all being the right size and lined up.  However, it could totally be your thing and the point is to find your OWN way of doing this. 
 March was starting to get a little more interesting.
 Wait, what?  April has turned into a hot air balloon!
 And yes, May is a sort of artistic "mum" type flower.
 Only thing I'll say about the calendar pages on the how-to visual journal end of it is that you'll want to use a medium that you can write over when you go to write appointments or whatever.  These are colored pencil and you can use water color for the background.  Fine sharpies or gel pens should write just fine over these.  If Acrylic is your thing (or Crayons) then you could use that for the lines and numbers, but not on the places you'd want to be able to write on.
June might be my favorite!  Not sure why.. it's just kind of random shapes and I'm not sure what I was doing, but I like all the browns for some reason.

 July... I have a bunch of question marks on my July page from 2015 because I just wasn't sure what happened that month!  At least doing them all up front means that they will be ready for whatever I want to use these for- be it serious planning or writing in after the fact what we ended up doing.  ;)
August is another favorite, just because I like purple so much and love the shades in this.  I used liquid chalk and ink pads on the edges of all of these pages and I think that is really what makes them look so legit compared to my previous visual journals.

 September, going slant-ways...  Because that seemed interesting.
 October was ridiculous because what I was trying to do just was NOT working.  It looked awful, and then I tried to fix it by gluing bits of paper over the original picture.. and that just looked terrible too so I glued the pages together folded part over for that neat journaling area and re-did the calendar page.  It's okay to do that sort of thing.

When my 7 year old doesn't like her drawings I want her to know that artists do NOT like everything they make.  You don't have to love everything you create.  Some you like more then others and certainly you are allowed to scrap the ones that you think are awful, but you never stop being an artist!  That is what I tell her, only it goes on a bit longer and is more pep-talky and sometimes points out that she is just tired and it will all be better in the morning.  ;)
 Kind of boring after the interesting one before it, but I was getting tired so quit that day and finished the last month another time.
 With December, I'm planning to "mark off" the days (in a years time) with blue so it will turn the ornaments that are red to purple.  Which is an awesome idea, but since I don't plan ahead well I probably won't do that in a years time, but it's a nice thought anyway.  ;)
Lastly, my favorite page is by my 7 year old who loves bunnies.  I drew an outline of the bunny to give her a starting point (because she felt like drawing) and told her that she could draw all around it any way she wanted (only that she couldn't turn the page and draw on other pages.)  She put ballet slippers on the bunny!!!  So, so cute!  "Bunny Land" -- some day we'll live in a house and she'll finally get the bunny she has been longing for.

If you aren't ready for a visual journal all your own yet, I'd recommend a coloring book!  Then feel free to color in it and journal around the illustrations as you go.  You'll get into it that way and start to feel the stress roll off!  

I have the one below and adore it!  AND there is room for writing around pictures as well as coloring them.  You can get it here.  I love this authors stuff!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Extras- bits and pieces from our day today

NOT just for Homeschooling, this "Therapeutic sketch book notebook" can be used in any school setting or just for fun.  It has a place where a doctor can sign it showing that a student is allowed to color in this when they need to if they start to feel overwhelmed or something in a school setting.

I gave this to my 9 year old and got to talking about what sorts of things I was thinking of getting them for Christmas the idea of "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" as a guide and mentioned how I wasn't sure I should get them a school book for a present. 
 My oldest (9) says, "Well, if it's as awesome as THIS IS, then it would be a great Christmas present!"  So there you go.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to take her picture with her enthusiasm about this as well.
 And her favorite picture in the book is pictured above as she's into all things cats.  ;)
 Here she is working on a drawing with all sorts of art supplies.. we do mixed media around here. 
 My 7 year old today working on her "Fun-school" with the usual craft mess and art supplies and books all over our tiny living room.  ;)  If it seems like I'm obsessed with "The Thinking Trees" books it's because I am.  I went from dreading homeschooling each day to looking forward to it!  The older I get the more I understand my artistic personality.  While, yes, the kids and I need structure, I've noticed that I get bored and frustrated if there isn't room for spontaneity and something different each day in some way.  Finding a way to have structure and consistency WITH variety is not an easy thing I think.  At least not until these.
 Random learning moment.  We've been measuring our Amaryllis plant each day and keeping track (a different person has written our findings down each day) and we've discovered that it's been growing an inch a day!!!  Very exciting for everyone.  :)
 My 4 year old has the journal above (it can be found here) it's very much like her older sisters except that the coloring pages are different.  But because she is younger I've modified.. or sort of added to how I help her learn with it and thought I'd give you all some of my ideas for using the above pages with a very young child.

On the math page on the left above I showed her how I could make dots and then use a ruler to connect the dots to make the square.  I then let her play with trying to do that on her own to make different shapes and use a ruler.  Then I asked her to highlight the zero and eight with purple.  She needed reminding what an eight looked like so I showed her with hand shapes (I didn't want to point to it I wanted to remind her just enough so she could find it on her own), then I told her to color the 1 orange and the 2 yellow.  Then I said "Color the 3 and the 6 green" --- and, you get the idea.  Working on recognition and colors in an easy friendly way that she enjoyed as well.

Now the right hand page with the letters.  I first wrote each letter capital and lower case with a pencil while she watched and I said what they were.  Then she turned the letters pink with a gel pen with some reminders of where to start the letters.  (Note, she's really interested in writing and loves to copy over words and letters.  I would do fewer letters if she wasn't so into this!)  Then I asked her to find the letters of her name as I spelled it out loud and she highlighted them yellow.  Then I wrote her name at the bottom and asked her to find the letters of her name in the top part with ALL the letters and she was supposed to circle each letter of her name this time.  She kept looking back at her name that I wrote at the bottom to help her remember what letter she was supposed to look for and circle next at the top.

What do you think!?  You could totally use that right hand page to make other words that they want to know how to write or have a "letter hunt" of any kind that you come up with, and of course it can all be colored, but by this point she was ready to go run around with her sisters so we were suddenly finished for the day. 

My 7 year old saw me taking pictures and asked me to take a picture of her math page as well.  Her big sister was watching "Peg + Cat" for her "Movie Time" and the 7 year old is into bunnies so she said it was her and her bunny.. "Me + Bunny"

My 9 year old's "Math time" page.  She did some dots and then connected them using a ruler and then I suggested that she turn the shape she'd made into something.. "like a house or a boat or a hat?" I say.  And she decides to make it this eye!  I thought that was fun and creative to come up with that.  Why not right?
Another fun thing we did today was doing a nature walk (in the parking lot of our apartment complex!) with duct tape bracelets!  Here they are after I cut them off of their wrists, and the middle child labeled each so they could show their Daddy when he got home all the fun things they found.
 They picked some herb leaves that I have growing in some containers as well and were very impressed at how well their bracelets smelled!  *sniff sniff* "Do we use this one in pizza?"  yes.

And, randomly, my little art supply tub and journals.  Doing a Bible study on the Names of God which has been lovely.  :)
And there you have it, just some extra random stuff in our day today that I thought would be fun to Blog about.  Other things from today that I didn't take pictures of were the books that we read and how funny it was to hear my 7 year old saying that "Romeo and Juliet" that she'd wanted me to read was "too dramatic" as she kept rolling her eyes at the mushy parts.  It DOES sound a bit more silly just reading the story when it's not in the original language.

Hearing the giggles as I read "Fashion Kitty" to them.  Another silly story!  More laughter when the oldest read a little story called "Pinky Ponky the Shonky Wonky Bonky Donkey" .. which now might be an inside joke.  ;)

Then the oohs and ahhs as we watched "Design on a Dime" while I did some exercising this morning (we like seeing how they "steal a look" and make stuff!)

Sliding across the floor in socks to hug Daddy when he gets home!

I'm cleverly trying to NOT remember all the whining my 4 year old managed to do today asking for perfectly normal things that really shouldn't have whining attached to them.  I imitated back to her at one point how it sounds to whine and she looked a little taken aback and told me, "You aren't supposed to whine, it's just me and my girls that can whine."
"What?  Why can't I whine?"  I ask.
"Because you are a grown-up."   hmm... ;)

Tonight was "movie night Monday" so the oldest picked out "The Princess Bride" = classic.  And the 4 year old didn't remember it at all so she kept getting up to snuggle at all the "scary parts" -
"Rats are that big?"
"No, it's a little person inside a costume" says the Daddy.
"Oh.." and later when the rat got burned and stabbed.  "Won't that hurt the person inside?"
"No, the costume is protecting him..."

Adult Coloring book review and each medium used

"The Secret Village" any age coloring book is the first thing I'm reviewing today, but I'll also talk a LOT about what you can use to color it with!
 I used mostly fine point sharpie markers for coloring the front cover (only the title was already in color and I started doing the rest for fun!  I'll finish coloring the front over time.)  When my girls and I have the same coloring book like their "Favorite Things" one it's easier to grab the right one when each cover is unique!  :)

"The Thinking Tree" Company had a coloring contest (you might remember!) and the picture above was so loved by everyone that they made a coloring book that is like this with all different "secret villages" and trees and hollows.  It's lovely and the pictures keep going and going.  It's fun to discover things as you color the pages.  The picture above is an example of using colored pencils.  I recommend "Prismacolor" brand as a good starting point with colored pencils.  Something like this one at Amazon, but you can also find this brand in craft stores and even individually if you run out of a certain color (they are all numbered)!

Also, check out their Facebook page because they do a LOT of contests and giveaways and so on and it's pretty amazing!  You might win something!
Prismacolor is totally the way to go with colored pencils!  Not too expensive, but the richness and blending ability is a hundred times better than trying to use a kids type crayola colored pencil set.

 The "Secret Village" has a variety of tree house scenes.  Some tiny detailed like the one above and some zoomed in like the picture below and often the left hand pages will have objects or animals or leaves or flowers close up.  I actually really like this about these books.  I've noticed that many adult (and kid) coloring books tend to be very much the same as far as how much space needs to be colored.

I like how this one changes that up.

Sometimes I feel like coloring something really detailed and intricate and sometimes I want something simple or with larger spaces to color.
I have a little tub from the dollar store that has my art supplies.  I rubber banded a couple sets of things for easy grab and go transport!  And some other are in a jar that I can grab and move depending on where we are sitting to do art and school.

I usually do a coloring page with mixing the media, but for this review I thought it would be more helpful for you all to try and use just one medium for each page so you could see and get an idea of what you might want to use for your own coloring books or journals.
 First is watercolors.  "Prang" is a good watercolor brand to start with (you can find this at a Hobby Lobby or Michael's) that is inexpensive and easy to use.
Using a higher quality medium will bring a bad experience up to an amazing experience! Trying to get something colored the way you want is frustrating for everyone if you are trying to work with inferior tools.  I make sure and get my own kids the same quality as I use as well.

My oldest once said when she was many years younger that her drawing looked terrible compared to mine and honestly it was just that what I was using was better quality then what she had.  After that I let her use my supplies!  It's helpful though if you give these as real gifts and teach them to take care of their art supplies well.  :)
 Here is the back of the water color picture.  This coloring book has blank pages behind each picture so you don't have to worry about bleed through ruining another picture, but it's still nice to know what the media will do.  With the watercolors just be sure to not let them get TOO wet.  Even doing this as carefully as I could with as little water as possible there was still some wrinkling of the page and slight leak through but it didn't ruin any other pictures and I still think it looks lovely!
 The page on the left (below) I sort of used as a place to wipe off some of the wetness from the brush so I'd get the color the way I wanted on the right, so I just turned that into a messy "whatever" painting at the end. 

 My kids use these gelly rolls probably the most of all we have in their "Fun school Journals" and coloring books.
 I colored the green leaf with fine tip sharpies which do leak through more than any other, but they still work in this coloring book because of the blank pages.
 Another option is twist-able crayons by crayola.  I like these because they blend well (just like crayons do!) but are fine tipped and don't need to be sharpened.  They CAN break internally though so be aware that if you drop them or if you have little ones that like to twist them all the way out and play with them then they won't last as long.

Above is the back of the gelly roll picture and the sharpie leaf picture so you can kind of see what effect they have.  If you push the gelly ones hard enough they do seep through as well, but over all are really great to use in all of these!  As I said, I tend to like to use a different medium for different parts of a picture or page.
 I did find a sharpie with a broader tip that didn't bleed through as bad!  These are Sharpie highlighters with an angled tip.. I got a little carried away on the picture above, but, hey.. it gives you the idea right?
 And the back of that one!  Not bad and we've used these in the other journals as well for different things.  It makes coloring much more fun if you can try a different medium and see what happens.
These gel highlighters actually blend with each other really well too!  My 7 year old was having a blast coloring with the yellow and then running the blue over it to make green.  No residue was picked up by the gel highlighters from the color already on the page too which is pretty awesome and unique I think.  The flowers above have a little blending in them as well to get those vibrant colorful petals!

More than the liquid highlighters though my girls and I are adoring these GEL highlighters!  It's like coloring with butter.. or ice.. it just glides all over the page!!!  Bleed through is a NOT AT ALL with these babies!  The ones that we got are currently out of stock, but I found these other ones that look to be the same if you can't wait to get them!

Second review that I'm doing is for this "Coffee Time Quiet Time Journal"
I already have talked about the homsechooling handbook for Moms in previous posts so in this I'll just talk about what is different about the Coffee Time one.

 They do have many similarities.  There are quite a few more pages to color in the Quiet Time Journal, and a couple of the types of pages that the "handbook for Moms" one has this new one doesn't have or the page type is slightly changed.  For instance...
 The "Math time" above with graph paper is larger in the "Quiet time" one and rather than saying to call your kids over to learn something math related you get to just enjoy it yourself in anyway you choose.  ;)
 The movie time one where you watch a documentary or something and rate it in the "Homeschooling handbook" is slightly different in the "Quiet Time" journal and is titled "Learn a new skill".. so it could be a youtube tutorial of some kind (I learned how to cook and eat Artichokes recently on youtube!)
 Also, the "News page" from around the world to talk to your kids about isn't there at all in the Quiet Time one, but there are more sort of "free journaling" type pages as you can see on the right there.
 The reading time is coffee and tea themed in the "Quiet time" journal.  The "Homeschool handbook" had a lot of cute doodly owls, but if owls aren't your thing, or if you don't homeschool, then you might prefer the "Quiet Time Journal".... I actually like the Quiet time Journal the best of these two, but it totally just depends on each persons taste what would work best for them.
 Example of a couple coloring pages above and below from the "Quiet time" journal.  Sometimes they are super detailed like the one above and sometimes they are whimsical and less detailed like the one below.  I personally really REALLY appreciate this aspect to their coloring books and journals!  Depending on my mood I might want to do the one above or the kind below!

I am still really enjoying my "Homeschool Handbook for Moms" but I'm going to save the quiet time Journal to use next and I'm anticipating that I will like it even more!  Also, my 7 year old looked over my shoulder as I was flipping through it and pointed out all the coloring pages she is insisting that I photo copy for her to get to color as well because they looked so fun.  ;)  Note: she already has FIVE of her own different books by "The Thinking Tree" and is wanting MY coloring pages too!  ;)

Soon I will have to review this!!!  I got this for my husband to get to use with our girls when he's not sure what to do with them to keep them from tackling each other and racing around the house.  ;)  I've looked through it and I'm a little jealous (almost) because it looks like so much fun!  I gave it to him early for Christmas so he can use it with them over his Christmas break.  It says 6 to 16, but I told him a few ways he can modify how to do some of it to work with our 4 year old as well!  So, yes, they will have fun with this for sure and it will give me a break!!!!  Great way to give the Dad some ideas to do with the kids.