Mona Voelkel

Archived News

“Creating the Visual Journal” Class


In the beginning of the pandemic, I read a NY Times article that was subheaded:  

                 “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives” 

I was engulfed in the feeling that all we had taken for granted- toilet paper, hand sanitizer, our daily lives- could be taken away.  Looking at Lissa Jensen’s beautiful pages that captured, in words and drawings, the minutes of her life made me want to capture mine.

Lissa taught an online asynchronous class called, “Creating the Visual Journal” but there was one problem: I can’t draw- at all.

I needn’t have worried because Lissa is a gifted artist but also a talented teacher.  Each themed week of her 8-week class was filled with techniques, suggestions and examples of things we could try.  Under her guidance, I started to focus less on what I couldn’t do as an artist and more on what I could do!  There were some techniques that she showed us through videos that were just a delight: Collage!  Painting over pictures! Drawing without looking!  She also made us feel that all mistakes can be fixed: Paint over them!  Collage them!  Add tissue paper!  I started to see my mistakes as opportunities to try something else.

Each day, I would turn off CNN and try out an idea from Lissa’s website.  I had selected a small journal (8” x 5 ¼”) and that was a good decision because the cozy size felt manageable to me.  Lissa invited us to share a page (or pages) from our visual journal each week and would give such detailed, kind and thoughtful feedback that I went into each new week re-energized!  Besides being able to look at Lissa’s beautiful pages each week, my classmates’ pages were another source of inspiration.  There were so many stunning interpretations of each week’s theme!  We also created pages to help us process the pandemic, the death of Floyd George and the civil unrest.  During a time of relative isolation, this class gave us all the gifts of creativity and community.

Due to popular demand, Lissa will be teaching a Part II (Dates TBD)!  2020 may be one of the must tumultuous but, amid the chaos, these are still many moments to cherish and, in my visual journal, I have a record of the strife but also the beauty.

For more information:

Jensen, L. (2020, July 23). Creating the Visual Journal. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from

Sethi, S. (2020, March 23). Why Mundane Moments Truly Matter. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from



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