Have you ever wondered what makes you unique? What sets you apart from other people? Creating art is a great way to explore what it is about you that makes you unique. While there are many different forms of art, all of them have one thing in common – they all require you to tap into your emotions and creativity. One of the least intimidating, most rewarding ways to create art is through an art journal. What is an art journal? Read on and find out more.
Creating an art journal is the best way to explore your creative side and discover your unique, artistic self. As you explore your emotions and creativity through art journaling, you can express yourself in ways that words can’t always express. Art Journaling is also a great way to relieve stress and other mental health benefits.
An art journal is a book or notebook that documents colorful thoughts and inspiration or ideas. Some people write down their feelings along with a painting or drawing, some include favorite quotes meaningful to them, or favorite poems or photos. Some use an art journal to document spiritual growth. Some even just tape clipped images from magazines they find inspiring.
There are many different definitions for an art journal and many people have strong opinions about what should be in an art journal. I’m of the opinion that it’s your journal, you put in it what you want!
Regardless of what will be in your art journal, it should be meaningful to you. Some journals are highly structured, with specific prompts and sections for each entry, while others are more open-ended and allow for freer expression. No matter what form it takes, an art journal can be a great way to document your creative journey.
What do you need to get started?
Despite what you might think, you don’t need “talent.” You need time and patience. And give yourself a little bit of grace. This journal is yours and yours alone. You’re not making it for an art gallery or for anyone else. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy. Don’t put that much pressure on yourself.
What you will need are a few supplies. Here is a list of the basics that should get you started.
First things first… the book.
Art journals can take many different forms, from simple sketchbooks to more complex, mixed-media journals. Some artists prefer to work in a bound notebook, while others prefer a loose-leaf format that allows for more experimentation and freedom. I’ve done both. I’ve got bound journals and I’ve got plain sheets of paper I keep in a pretty box. To help you decide what kind of book to buy, ask yourself what kind of art you want to do.
- If you think you want to stick with a pen or pencil, get a basic sketchbook.
- If you want to try your hand at acrylic paints, go for a mixed-media book with thicker paper than a sketchbook (and smoother paper to allow for more control over your textures).
- Watercolors will require even thicker paper that can stand up to more water, so you’ll want to look for a book specifically for watercolors. Mixed-media books can handle some watercolor, but the pages could buckle if you’re heavy on the water.
- If you want to reuse and recycle, try an old book and paint or draw right on top of the words. You can use gesso if you want to fade the words into the background more (this will also help the paint adhere a little better).
Grab a few basic supplies
You’ll want at least a pen, possibly a pencil if that makes you more comfortable before committing to ink. Many people also use acrylic paints (these are inexpensive and can be found in a local craft store), markers, or colored pencils. Now grab a roll of tape or a glue stick. In addition to that, find a few things that matter to you, like a couple of photos or a pretty image from a magazine. The jacket from your favorite book (yikes! I just recommend destroying a book jacket!), the wrapping paper from your birthday present, or your grandmother’s signature you cut out of your Christmas card. For a quick list of the basics, read the post here.
What are the rules of art journaling?
How do you actually start? There are no rules in art journaling, but here are a few tips to help you get started and find your own style.
- Start with some color. Draw one shape and color it in with a marker or paint.
- If you don’t have anything to write just yet, just start doodling with a pen. Make little tick marks around the page. You’ll probably find this somewhat relaxing once you let yourself just keep going. It doesn’t matter what it looks like right now! It’s like going to the gym for the first time. It sucks, but after a while you enjoy it (well, no one actually enjoys the gym, but you get the point).
- If you feel like doing more, glue down the image you selected from earlier and place that somewhere on the page that feels right to you.
- Keep going with whatever supplies you feel like using right now. Stop when you want to or even move on to a new page.
I know this sounds over simplified, and if you’ve been art journaling for a while, it is over simplified. However, we all start somewhere. This helps you get started and gets you used to putting something on the page.
What do I do with it?
Like any journal, this is your personal journal. You don’t have to show anyone, although as you grow, I can assure you, you’re going to want to show some of your pages. Getting feedback is not only fun but rewarding and encouraging. You’ll find many art journaling groups on Facebook for inspiration (and to share your own if you choose to do so).
Regardless of whether or not you choose to share, you’ll find the act of creating a page is freeing. It offers a sense of accomplishment. And to go back and flip through old journal pages is just as rewarding as creating it the first time. Enjoy creating in your art journal!