Making Art Journals

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Students started this three day intro to the mural project by discussing a visual essay about journaling. We looked at multiple ways artists use journals, including writers and poets. Below right is an image of one of Walt Whitman’s journals, from 1855.

Artists on the Mural Team started by using collage, watercolors, and colored pencils. Personal thoughts and voices immediately started flowing from the students, who were thrilled to make the covers entirely of their own design.

Students use old magazines and collage papers to create layers of images on their Art Journal covers.

A collaged cover at the end of Day One

While working I asked students to describe for me their thinking process:
“This is going to be dark and myseterious and the back is going to be light and colorful.” Elena
While looking for collage images: “I’m finding things I find interesting, like the car lights. I like how on one side [of the highway] they’re all red and on the other side they’re all white.” Sonia
“I like making it all colorful and different and random. That’s how I always work, with random drawings, and by scribbling.” Rosvin
At the end of each session students gather for a reflection and critique in which we discuss what we NOTICE, THINK, and WONDER. In preparation for the mural we talked about color, composition, texture, layering, and more.

Reflection and critique

On days two and three students were encouraged to use acrylic paints to layer on top of their watercolor paintings or collages they had already created.

A student uses the primaries to mix colors and paint on top of her collage.

Students were extremely proud of their journal covers and wanted to share with everyone their thoughts and ideas. During the third class the kids interviewed each other—even coming up with their own questions. Videos to come! Here’s a transcript of one of the interviews.
Sonia: So, why did you join Youth in Arts?
Kathleen: Because I always love art but I don’t have a lot of art supplies at home and my mom doesn’t like the mess so I came here and it’s really fun. I get to hang out with my friends while doing art.
Sonia: What are you painting right now?
Kathleen: I am making the back cover of my art journal right now, using collage and painting.
Sonia: And why are you painting what you’re painting?
Kathleen: Because I like having different themes on all my pages. This one is like Hawaii and this one is mainly animals and arctic things, and then here is like the sunset and African animals.
Sonia: Are you excited about painting the mural?
Kathleen: Yes, because I want to be on TV and I want to be famous, because this could be the beginning of my stardom. And we get a plaque with our names on them and so I can say I made that to my grandchildren and it’s still there.
For more blog posts on the Davidson Mural Project, click here and here.
To get involved in the project Email Mentor Artist, Brooke Toczylowski, at brooke@youthinarts.org. We are looking for volunteers to help organize, paint, provide snacks, prep boards, and more.

Youth in Arts thanks Jerry Tallman of MinuteMan Press for donating the paper utilized in the journal process here and at many other sites.

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