The Autonomous Parent

The Autonomous Parent

The Autonomous Parent

My first Adobe Photo Shop creation! Storytelling through collage. I’m both excited and feel the sharp nips of doubt entering this realm of creative expression. If I thought working my way through the first set of tutorials was challenging, this assignment taxed my persistence and patience.

Thankfully, I have a lovely community who offered encouragement and vitally important links to very basic Adobe PS tutorials. As well as an occasional glass of wine and the all important suggestion to get a good night’s sleep and start again in the morning. I’m not sure what was most helpful:  the wine, the sleep, or the tutorials. Probably a combination. In the end, I developed a bit more familiarity with the “free transform” button, playing with shapes and palettes, creating layers, and adding text to personal photographs to start telling an incredibly important story.

And what is the story, you ask? Excellent question!

Parenting is a rewarding, challenging, heartfelt expression of humanity. And it happens in an odd, confusing environment of autonomy and community oversight. This is part one in exploring the internal journey of parenting. The second part will take a look at the external complexity surrounding parenting. The final segment will delve into the resolution of the inner and outer forces shaping parenting.

In some ways, this first draft poses more questions than answers. What do people hope for, what do they see in the distance as they start on the journey of parenting? What are the barriers to the vision? What are the guideposts along the way? Where do they find their strength and courage?

We live in a society that values self-sufficiency and autonomy. On the other hand, we live in a society that rarely passes up a chance to share an opinion or make a buck. We are drowning in theories, tools, and opinions on how to best raise a child. How do parents navigate the changing tides? How do they trust their inner being when the outer world says not to?

Let the journey begin.



  1. Hey Shannon!

    First, I love the picture of the mother statue. She looks confident, and self-assured, and caring. She seems to embody what you discussed as the “third phase”—the resolution of the inner and outer forces. From your description, I see how you were going for the “tide” metaphor, and that made the ocean pictures make a little more sense to me. I must admit, however, that I am completely confused by the picture of the chain link fence.

    After I read your blog post, I got that I should be looking at the ocean behind the fence, but the fence was the first thing I noticed and it seems to communicate restriction, confinement, and punishment. Do you have a different picture of the ocean that you could use instead?

    The dark colors, like the fence, also seem contradictory. The colors are currently very dark and heavy, and make me think that parenting is burdensome (which is accurate at times, but not the effect I think you were hoping for).

    The continuity seemed off too. My eye started at the mother statue, and then moved to the chain link fence, down to the lighthouse, up to the light blue words, then to the left to the trees. I didn’t notice the black letters until the second or third time I saw it. Was this the direction you wanted my eyes to go in?

    I hate to hear that you had so much frustration with your collage. One thing that helped me a lot was finding “non-basic” tutorials on YouTube. I don’t know if I fully understand the effect you are trying to achieve Here are some “collage” tutorials you may find useful:


    1. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, Sarah! And the links! 🙂 I appreciated your fresh eyes and questions. They will help me improve and get closer to what I am envisioning. I am struggling to find a way to capture the broader picture of the parenting journey, which includes (to my mind) a sense of being hemmed in (at times) by the overwhelming chaos and noise of “how to” parent which can really keep a person from fully realizing the vision she or he has of that parent-child relationship. In a nutshell, the tension between the individual parent and the village. Both are important for the child, but how is that tension managed? I think you’re right about the colors, so I’ll look for something lighter that doesn’t clash with the blues . . . and play with the positioning a bit for a better flow. Again, thank you for your insight and comments!


  2. Hi Shannon,

    It sounds like you are a Photoshop guru in the making! The struggle to learn new tricks and come up with a design that you are satisfied with is definitely a journey of patience. Great job sticking with it and creating something you can be proud of.

    Let me first compliment you with your use of proximity in your collage. The photo of the sculpture positioned by itself is a bold statement in its own right. Flanking it with the group of three photos similar in subject matter on the right would have allowed you to tell a story even if you had chosen not to use text. I also appreciate that the photos chosen for your design are unified by blue skies.

    I feel you can bolster your message by spending a little time adjusting the text and fonts in your project. Being that you chose to use a dark blue background, I would recommend using a lighter color font. Perhaps you can sample one of the lighter colors used in one of the images for the black font. Additionally, the font for “The Journey Together” could benefit from having less space between the two lines of text. To change that, all you have to do is open up your “character” settings under Window and then make changes as needed.

    Another suggestion to improve overall visual unity involves would be to leave equal amounts of empty dark blue space to border the section on the right. Many times, I am able to achieve this by changing the sizes of fonts and photos until an imaginary border or empty space is achieved. I tried to show what this might be using the red dotted area.

    Keep up the great work! I am excited to be in this class with you and cannot wait to see your final design. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about my comment.

    (I am a spatial learner myself so I hope you do not mind the photos I included in this post)


  3. It looks like WordPress was not fond of the html I tried to use to include images. If you would like to see them, please let me know and I can email them over. Have a great night!


  4. Hi Rachel, thank you for your keen eyes and careful review of my draft collage. I have received similar feedback regarding font color and placement, so I will definitely noodle around with that aspect. I truly appreciate the helpful hints for how to navigate in APS, and look forward to seeing the images you mentioned. Thanks for your encouragement!


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