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Art Journaling

Art journals have gained popularity over the last several years. The movement now has magazines, books, online classes, and art retreats all geared toward art journaling. The word has spread thanks to some wonderfully creative blogs and artists like Donna Downey and Julie Fei-Fan Blazer.

An art journal is a fantastic way to grow your art muscles because art journals, by nature, are places to experiment and practice your art. Keeping an art journal becomes a great way to see your progress and develop your style. And the best part is how easy it is to get started art Journaling.

Art Journals can be anything from a mixed-media or watercolor paper sketchbook to a fancy leather-bound journal. I've seen amazing art journals made from old paper brochures and spiral notebooks. Pretty much anything goes. Art journals can also be loose papers you later glue or bind in a book after you have made your art.

Art journals are usually created with several layers. Generally, they have a few different art mediums like paint, ink, stamps, pan pastels, and some journaling or words added to the page. You can also include college elements, photos, scrapbook papers, book text, and/or tissue paper. Some artist incorporate fabric, metal elements, and found items. It is a great way to use up some of your art stash but can also be created with a single medium like acrylic paint and a black ink pen.

An easy way to start:

Choose your book or grab some loose paper.

Begin by covering the page in gesso (white, black or clear depending on the feel you want for the page).

Pick a line from a favorite poem and keep it in mind when creating your page. This will give you your theme or flavor for your page.

Once the gesso has dried pick a few of your favorite paint colors. Spray down your page with water and the splash around the paint. Use a paper towel, sponge, or fingers and blend the colors.

Dry the paint.

Next grab some images that go with the theme of your page. Add them to the paper with gel medium or glue.

Add some more paint to the page to help the images recede into the background.

Next add your text and journaling to the page.

You can add some more paint if you want the text to recede into the background.

Using spray inks to strategically add ink to your page.

Remember to dry between layers or your page can become muddy.

Continue to layer until you are satisfied with your design.


Use a heat gun to quickly dry the page between layers.

Stencils and spray-inks can create an instant background.

Try adding some doodling or Zentangle to your page.

Fluid acrylics or watered down paints make lovely translucent layers.

Keep baby wipes or paper towels and a spray bottle handy to blend between layers.

If you have sensitive skin but like to blend with your fingers use gloves.

If you use chalk or pan pastels spray with fixative or hairspray between layers.

Look for a permanent ink (once it has dried) if you are using stamps prior to your final layer and don't want your stamped image to blend.

Worried about what to journal? Journal what your are doing to create the page, things your are grateful for, or what is happing in your life.

Pick words that make you happy and create your page around the word (I like words like: luscious, squish, fishbowl, stitch, and gritty) to give you a jumping off place for your page.

Use a favorite quote or song lyric as a starting place.

Use the art journal as a place to work through something that's troubling you.

Experiment with different color combinations.

Use your art journal as a place to sketch out your designs before putting them on canvas.

If you are intimidated, start by making loose art journal pages on watercolor or mixed media paper. Having pages that are technically disposable can help take the pressure off.

You can print words, quotes, and your journaling from the computer and then collage it onto your page using glue or gel medium if you aren't crazy about your handwriting.

Think of your art journal as a place to experiment and practice. It doesn't need to be perfect.

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