Sunday, August 16, 2009

Evolutions: Ventures into Online Learning

The more I was learning about all the new-fangled ways to embellish pages, the more I realized that I had fallen way behind on my craft. That is to say, once I opened that can of worms, I realized there was so much new information out there. Maybe embellishing pages with glitter and spray-paint watercolor was new to me, but it was old hat to many people back in the USA.

First, I had two problems to contend with though.

I noticed that when people looked at my albums, they rarely read the journaling. (It's bad enough that they page through the albums quickly anyway, but what is the point of writing all that journaling if no one reads it?)

The other problem I had was, as mentioned before, my lack of sense (or knowledge) about how to embellish my pages with all the new products out there.

Some of you know that I took an online class last April. The focus of that class was on journaling and how to go deeper with telling your story. The instructor for this class was a writer and scrapbooker. I did post the pages on here (remember Ailin's birthday lay out & also the page about the very first time I saw Yusuke?). I was quite proud of the stories that came out of that class, and it lead me to think more about which stories to tell. For example, "pivotal moments" or turning points in my life is a great topic that could go on forever because I think there were a lot of turning points in my life that lead me to where I am today.

Online classes are fun, especially if time is of the essence. Basically, the instructor gives you an assignment and you have one week to complete it. When finished, you photograph your work, upload it to the classroom gallery for all your classmates to see, and anyone can post comments about your page. The instructor will eventually come around and post comments as well. It's a nice feeling to know that others are looking at your work and saying positive things about it.

These online classes also have forums where classmates can go and ask questions or make comments about anything related to the class. It's a good way to communicate with others who have some of the same issues as you or who can give advice about whatever you posted. The instructor is present on the forums as well and will throw in her comments too.

After the Deep Journaling class finished, I couldn't wait to sign up for another online class through Big Picture Scrapbooking. I signed up for Point of View taught by an Australian woman named Nic Howard. I wasn't sure what to expect, but based on her self-intro, she seemed funny, and her pages seemed to have tons of embellishing on them. This class was also about journaling, but from different perspectives rather than always from your own point of view. Her reasoning was that people might be more interested in your journaling if you write it from, say, your kid's perspective, or you find out what your husband was thinking about at the time, and you use that in your journaling.

Below, I'll show off the 4 assignments I did for this class.

Pre-Class Assignment

I copied her lay out example pretty much right down to the chipboard circle on the lower right. It was my first time to print journaling onto a transparency, to use chipboard on a lay out, to use rubons, to use a photo this huge size, etc. I felt like I had heaved myself over a big steep hill when I finished this lay out.

Note: Yusuke hates this photo of himself, but you have to keep in mind that this was taken in June while I was still in confinement, and we couldn't go outside and take nice family photos.

Birthday-themed Lay out
We were supposed to do a birthday lay out. Since I had already done Ailin's birthday lay out this year, I was kind of stuck on what to do. MY birthday (in July) from a different person's perspective? How weird would that be? It worked out though when I realized how hard a time Yusuke has every year to please both me and his mom on our birthdays, which are one day apart. Poor Yusuke!

Here again, I copied the instructor's example lay out almost exactly. My first time to use paper and photos in such a way, and I was very proud of this lay out. Yusuke thought it had a Japanese flourish to it, but actually I had chosen masculine colors and font to show it was from his point of view. If it had been a lay out from MY perspective, surely the colors would have been pink and green!

Note: Again, Yusuke hates these pictures. Hey, it's not my fault he got his hair colored orange! Anyway, I think I am missing a butterfly from this lay out. Where is that darn thing?

Another Holiday Lay out - from someone else's perspective
Um, okay we did birthdays last week and now we were supposed to do another holiday. The instructor showed an example of an entire mini-album about her friend's Xmas. She challenged us to make mini-albums as well. I was, to say the least, extremely disappointed about this assignment. It's frickin' July and the last thing I want to think about is Xmas. Plus, my Xmas lay outs are all caught up, so WTF? And, as crazy as I am, I definitely did not want to make an entire mini-album in one week, so I just made one lay out about, appropriately enough, Father's Day.

We were supposed to use candid shots as opposed to posed photos, and I just happened to be working on a lay out for Fathers Day. I had taken several candid photos of him "in action" during that weekend, and I wanted to use them for a lay out in the Chrono 2009 album. Perfect timing, I'd say!

Of all the lay outs for this class, I am most proud of this one because it is simple, it fits right in with my normal scrapbooking regime, and using the Xs & Os / TicTacToe metaphor for the lay out was a brilliant and original idea. I did NOT scraplift it from anywhere! The only embellishing is the use of ribbon for making the Xs, and actually the ribbon inspired the color scheme of turquoise and brown, a color combo I had never considered before. The Journaling is supposed to be from Ailin's perspective, and I tried to find a kiddy type font to use for it.

Assignment 3 - About YOU from another person's perspective
I wasn't too sure about this assignment at first either. We were supposed to brainstorm a list of all the relationships in our life, and all the roles we play. For example, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a best friend, an AFWJ member, a gaijin, a dog owner, working mom, a teacher, etc. Then, we were supposed to think of all the relationships in our life, even relationships with, like, the guy who delivers your weekly Co-op order. I thought it was weird at first, but when I sat down to write my list, I very soon had a whole page of various relationships in my life, and a whole new slew of possible page themes opened up to me.

I chose to do something related to my closest friends back home. I have an entire album dedicated to them and their lives, which I update to include their wedding photos, their babies, etc. So, why not ask them to write something about me and make a page out of it? I emailed each of them and asked them to briefly describe me in words or phrases. Each friend wrote back within a couple days, and it was so great to read what they wrote.

Note: I am actually a bit embarrassed about putting this lay out up on my blog, but if my friends can't say anything nice about me, than who the heck can? Thank you, Shannon, Jill, Amy, Sara & Amy. I really appreciate your nice words and compliments about me, and I and my kids will treasure this forever. This brings to an important point: wouldn't it be lovely to see a lay out about your own mom and what her friends like about her? or what comes to mind when they think of her? I would have loved that too.

Assignment 4 - Passing on your wisdom
For our last assignment, I ended up doing 2 separate lay outs, but they are kind of related to each other, so I designed them to look similar. We were supposed to include a photo of ourselves and then think about the phrase "hindsight is 20/20." The instructor showed an example using song lyrics, and she said the lay out was for her daughter, to pass on wisdom to her.

I thought, "well, my daughter is 2 1/2 years old, and all she cares about right now is whether their are popsicles in the freezer and how many times I will let her watch the Wiggles DVD this week." As I began making a list of my "hindsight is 20/20" thoughts, I also thought about what Ailin would say if she could express herself completely. What kind of advice would she dole out to someone even younger than herself? This is the list I came up with. It turned out to be a mixture of things we repeatedly tell her, things she seems to really care about, and things she is probably just starting to figure out on her own.

I really enjoyed making this lay out because for the first time, I did the photo and text in Photoshop and printed it myself. I chose the color combo based on suggestions in a magazine, and just played around with the embellishments until I had created something I liked.

Last Assignment - What I know now (33)
Since scrapbookers have a hard time including lay outs about themselves, the instructor assigned us to do this last one about ourselves. It's hard to get a good photo of me. (Yusuke always takes very blurry photos.) I took this one in the bathroom mirror, thus the strap is hanging down. The list could have gone on and on, but I think I came up with some good ones for the journaling. And, the color scheme, also was suggested in a magazine. You can see that the lay out is similar to the Please Remember lay out above.

So, that was the end of the class. I am really not sure where to go with it now, but I will think about how to make my journaling more interesting, especially in the Chrono albums, from here on out. However, many of these interesting topics don't really fit into Chrono Albums. I'll touch on that topic in a future post.

Next Topic: Evolutions & Hooked on Jessica Sprague Classes

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