How to Start Art Journaling

I began doing art journaling on a regular basis about 1 year ago. I like it because it is therapeutic, and because I’m a bit of an art supply/paper hoarder. Art journaling gives me an opportunity to use my supplies and keep them from gathering dust in a closet. 

Starting a new art journal can seem intimidating, so to a certain degree, it’s good to just dive right in. Just remember that there are no mistakes when you are art journaling. Feel free to doodle, glue, paint, draw, stencil, stamp, stain, color, or write in it. Basically, you can do anything your want with it! 

Here are some tips for art journaling if you think you want to get into it. 

1. Find a book to use as an art journal: You can really use any book you want. Use a traditional sketch book, or an old hard bound chapter book, or even a picture book if you want. I would recommend that if you use a book with thin paper and you intend to do mixed media work in it, you either glue every 2 pages together with mod podge to make the pages more sturdy and thicker, or coat each page with gesso.

One of my favorite art journals was actually a chapter book that I bought at a book sale my local library held.I used all the pages in this book. I actually loved the look of the text in the background, so I didn’t cover over it with gesso. Below is a simple page I did in it.

Another recommendation I have for a more traditional art journal is the Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Art Journal. The pages are sturdy enough to withstand many different mediums without getting warped. It also comes in different sizes. Below is an example page from the one that I have.

2. Buy these basic supplies

  • Glue medium (I suggest Mod Podge)
  • Cheap paint brushes (to apply the mod podge) 
  • Scissors
  • Stronger glue medium (I suggest E6000) – You only need this is you plan on gluing heavy things – not just scrapbook paper. I have used it to glue everything from metal embellishments to seashells onto paper. It holds up well, but note that it smells very strong.
  • Your art medium. Anything that can be glued or used to color or add texture to the page can be considered an art medium. Feathers, scrapbook paper, colored pencils, your kids crayons, sponges, dried flowers, magazine cut outs, anything goes! 

3. Have all your supplies on hand when you start, in arms reach

4. Look for inspiration. If you want to find inspiration, it’s everywhere! Here are some of my favorite places to find inspiration. I usually just use search word “art journal” or “art journaling” to find a treasure trove of ideas on each of these sites: 

  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube – two of my favorite people to watch on YouTube are Vicky Papaioannou and Toni Burt Artist.
  • WordPress

5. Don’t be afraid to have multiple art journals! I personally have 3 going right now, each of them fills a different purpose.

  • A 9×12 Strathmore Mixed Media spiral journal – this is a large journal, in my opinion, and it is mainly used when I want to do a more magazine-inspired work… I also use it as a scrapbook of sorts… I tend to use it for more personal projects- like my last work, which contains a Letter to my recently deceased cat, Lily (see my previous blog post for that example). It’s much more like a journal, and has more words in it… I keep personal and emotional or opinion based art journal pages in here… It’s my art journal that I’m not showing to my acquaintances or even extended family. The beach picture posted earlier is one that’s in this journal. Below is the journal page I did of Lily: 

  • A hand made art journal with different textures of paper (but mainly white): this is my”everything” art journal. It’s where I experiment, and do my “sharable” work. I keep pages in here pretty, and not too personal, or text heavy. I mainly just keep collages in here. πŸ™‚ This is the one I’d pull out to show to people. See my example page below.

  • The last one is my least structured one, and is much less “formal” in that, it’s for when I want to expend the least amount of effort… In this one, I will literally use it to take notes, maybe do some really simple doodles, or do a 1 minute sketch. This journal was also hand made using different paper. I stuck a bunch of pockets and fold outs in it in case I want to save any loose notes I may have taken… I tend to draw, it make lists on loose sheets of paper. I made this journal with the intention of sticking these loose scraps in the pockets for safe keeping. This is the journal I generally go to when I don’t feel like getting my hands dirty. The doodle below is an example of how I intend to use this journal. Like I said, nothing fancy. Just for my random notes, and sketches; maybe some collaging if I want. πŸ™‚

Anyway, I hope that this post inspires you to try art journaling, and makes it less intimidating. There are so many different ways you can do this! 

If you do art journaling, do you tend to have different journals going at a time? I’d love to see your work! If it’s your first time, let me know! I’d also love to see your work. πŸ™‚

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