Two summers ago I attended my first class in a studio setting, with 11 other women looking for ways to creatively express themselves. We started art journals that day, and I recently finished my own little project.
Here are my best tips about art journaling for those who may be stuck, haven't finished one yet, or are thinking of starting an art journal.
|Juicy Soul art journal|
Don't worry too much about the book you use.
I bought a spiral bound art book that has very thick pages, but truth be told I found the pages were a little too hefty at times. You can choose to embellish the covers (like top journal here) or leave them blank and smudged with the drippings of your works (like the middle gray cover that is barely peeking out). Honestly, it will be easiest just find something you like the look and feel of.
Don't worry too much about page prep.
You can find a variety of opinions on page prep. Some people gesso pages, some people glue in other paint grade papers, some people leave everything as it is. The most important thing I learned was that the page needs to be thick enough for supporting your layers of art. If you are using a thinner page (like some moleskin journals or even just old books) a little Elmers glue or other paper bonding agent of your choice is a great way to double pages up. Just glue them together so each page is actually two pages glued together. Do this a few days before you start working in the journal, giving it time to dry.
Get something on that page.
Don't stare at the blank page for too long. Slap down some color, stick on some washi or masking tape, or glue down some strips or torn paper....just cover up the blankness and go from there. I have started some pages with the end in mind, and worked to make it happen, but usually I just start layering stuff I like, and building on that. This is where it gets more creative and frankly, a little more therapeutic, as you just let yourself go without too many expectations.
|mixed media background|
Layered paper, drips of paint, acrylic sprays and stencils can just be used over and over until you get something you find interesting. The goal is to cover that blank page and freely start playing. Sometimes the backgrounds are my absolute favorite part of the whole piece. Sometimes I don't like how they end up, but that is beauty of working in an art journal- you are seeing what you like, what makes you happy, and what techniques you don't care for. It is almost like a lesson manual for your creative time, because you are learning what your are comfortable with- and because you aren't swapping with any one else you really can be a little more free and expressive.
Put something you love on every page.
This is where I usually get the most satisfaction from my journals. I tend to be visual, enjoying interesting stamps or images, and so making them work on my page is what I find the most fun.
|Lovely Life mixed media art journal page|
Because I have a slight obsession with pretty phrases and inspiring quotes, I like to find ways to use them on my journal pages as well.
|Religious quote art journal page|
Fill it with lots of small elements you are drawn too, and in the end you will have a nice variety of images that show the moods you had, as well the new things you tried creatively.
|Expressing myself on a bad day|
|Mixed Media art journal layout - Life as a Gift|
Remember to take baby steps.
My first filled art journal took a year to finish. I did other things on the side and sometimes didn't even open it for months. Most days, I would sit down and throw one or two elements on, then walk away for a day or two. Occasionally I would hunker down and do an entire layout while the boys all watched a football game or on a night when the house was empty, but even at that a good half hour at your table will make a lot of progress. Find little bites of time and use them. Put down the phone, don't check Facebook again- and sit down with the things you bought with the best of intentions to create with. (speaking from experience). It will add up to something beautiful.
|Stencils, paint, printed images and stickers for this mixed media layout|
If you don't like something- just push past it.
This is a hard one. We see gorgeous pictures on blogs (believe me, these are carefully picked!) and Pinterest and scoff at our own works. Don't dwell on pages you hate. Sometimes you may be inspired to go back and add stuff later, sometimes you will just flip past it quickly and be glad you learned that lesson. Either option is okay, and pushes you as someone who is trying to make pretty stuff. Keep going.
Luckily we live in a world of You Tube and Pinterest and there are more tutorials than you can dream of. This is great for getting exposure to new things and seeing how other creative people use their supplies and make their pages. I enjoy an occasional splurge on an Art Journaling magazine or book, and love the results I get when I learn from those sources as well. This is a pretty sight after only a 14 months of playing around in the art journal world;
|Art journals and penpal smashbook|
It probably sounds silly, but these artsy journals, smashbooks of creativity, are like little peeks into myself, and they make me very happy. If you haven't started an art journal now is a great time to just make one little background. Use what you have- acrylic paint, magazines, favorite photos- WHATEVER- just start throwing something together. If you started one already but have neglected it find a few minutes to dig it out and revisit it. Put a little but of YOU down on paper. I am sharing my entire journal flip through below.
Leave a link in the comments to your images and pieces you have made.
And keep going.