From 2005 Till Now—Anna's Self Portrait
For my eighth grade project, I made a picture book. It is a collection of stories, pictures, paintings, drawings, and collages. The front cover of my book is a painting of the starry night sky. I painted myself on a grassy hill looking at the sky. I painted vines growing up the hill and glued plastic daisies and little blue roses to it. There are at least two pages for each year except years one and two, one being writing and the other being pictures and captions. There are also two pages that are just pictures from my Dad and Grace’s wedding.
I had lots of different ideas for my self portrait project, but they all had more or less the same theme. I am who I am because of the people who have raised me, everything I have gone through, and all of my experiences. I wanted to do something to express each year of my life, so I finally settled on a picture book. When I was little I used to have shelves of picture books. They were a very big part of my childhood, so I decided to write one about my own life. To start I had to take lots of notes. I sat down with my dad, we went though pictures, and he told me different things that happened in each year. I also called my mom, she filled me in, too. I met Grace when I was twelve, and she gave me other memories and pictures of the past couple years. When I was in sixth grade I was often staying with my neighbors—Tia, Ethan, and Dave Thompson—for most of the week, so I also called Tia. The pages for my youngest years depict events that I don’t fully remember, but that my parents told me about.
The cover has a lot more to it than meets the eye. The little blue roses are because when I was little I always wanted a blue rose. My favorite color has always been blue. When I was two it was both my first and second favorite color. Painted vines connecting all the flowers, growing up from the bottom of the cover, covering some of the grass, symbolizing that everything is growing and ever changing. Some flowers may thrive, others may wilt. The sunflowers remind me of Waldorf and when I was in the sunflower room for kindergarten. Then there is the girl on the cover, who is me.
For my title page, I decided to make a collage. When I was younger, Grammy—my grandma on my mom’s side—used to make collages with us. We would go through magazines and cut out words, letters, phrases, pictures, and anything else that caught our eye. I picked out words and pictures that I felt tied into my book or had a special meaning to me.
Some of the topics from my younger years expanded into different years of my life. For example, when I was a baby, I had a lovie named Youngest. I then started talking about the other lovies I got and how I used to play with them. Even the little things that might have happened when I was younger may show up later in my life. Even if it is something small it still matters, for it is part of my life.
A lot of what I wrote for years eleven and twelve included the Thompsons. My dad had just gotten a new job and was away for a lot of the week. The Thompsons are family to me, and those pages show how they are some of the many people who raised me. They have helped shape who I am today.
Some of my favorite pages are from my thirteenth year. I wrote about everything that happened in that year and really focused in on the major changes. I also had a good number of photos that were a lot different from each other and that all had their own story. I focused on my Dad and Grace’s wedding. That was a big event and a big change. I made the choice to both write about it and to put in two pages of photos separate from the writing.
My acknowledgements were very special. I gave a huge thanks to everyone who helped me with my book. I also thanked the people who have just been a part of my life. I wanted to make sure that everyone knows how grateful I am to them for loving me and being a part of my life.
Through making this project I have learned a lot about myself. I have grown up a lot over the years. I have learned a lot about myself through hearing and be reminded of what has happened in the earlier years of my life. A lot has changed over the years, and I have grown and changed with it.
I will be continuing my story at Pikesville High School this coming fall. Thank you.