Recently a friend asked my advice on what they needed to do to create their own “art journal.” I thought I would use this space to answer her.
So friend, you want to go down the rabbit hole of art journaling?
Like any other art related endeavor don’t be afraid to get caught up in it! The good news is, if you are a recovering scrap-booker, rubber stamp collector or other craft related junkie you can re-use all your supplies in your new art journal. - Just think - you don’t have to beat yourself up anymore for starting to scrapbook that vacation 10 years ago and loosing steam, you were planning to repurpose your supplies all along. It’s a good thing you bought those tubs of decorative papers and stickers… (oh wait, maybe I am just talking to myself here.)
Art journaling is a fun low-stakes way to allow your creativity to flow. Your art journal is your personal way of processing visually - whatever you want to. Here are some basics to get you started.
Choosing Your Journal
You will need a sketch book or “journal,” preferably without lines. Do yourself a favor and get the best quality paper you can afford. Paper is measured by weight, “lbs” pounds in the US and “gsm” grams per square meter overseas. The higher the weight the more paint, water, glue, etc. your paper will be able to withstand . Traditionally sketch books are made for sketching (duh!) so it can be hard to find one with a heavier weight. Several companies make a sketchbook geared to mixed media or mixed supplies 90lbs or 190gsm should do. If you want to go high end, you can use a journal with watercolor paper that weighs 140lbs or 300gsm.
Stock up on Sharpie pens, magic markers, pencils, crayons, watercolor paints, etc. to add color and decorative elements to your page.
Collect a variety of images. I have several envelopes full of images that I have snipped out of magazines, clipped from newspapers, found on the ground or collected from other random places.
If a graphic or sentence catches your eye, grab it. You never know when you will be able to use it on one of your pages. If you really get into this journaling habit I recommend an accordion folder to organize your pictures by colors or words.
You can find all sorts of printed patterns and pictures in places you never noticed before. The inside of envelopes you get from the bank tend to have pretty patterns. Fortunes (from a Chinese restaurant) make a great starting quote for a journal page.
WARNING: If you print out an image on an ink jet printer, it will run if it gets wet from paint or glue.
The glue you use depends on what you plan to do on your journal page. For most pages a good quality glue stick will do the job. If you are using a thick almost cardboard like paper (think cereal box) you may need to use a liquid craft glue (Elmer’s school glue) and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you plan to layer over an image with paint or another medium then you will want to use something called “matte medium” if that is the case - Congrats! you are taking your art journal practice to the next level. Matte medium is a mostly transparent paste you can brush on the back and front of the image you are glueing. If you use matte medium the image will be bonded to the paper in a way that makes it pliable and easy to paint over.
An art journal is your personal place for expression and collection. You can use it to work through ideas, collect quotes or make quick sketches of your surroundings. I like to carry around a small bag with all my art journal supplies to pass time on airplanes or when I am in a waiting room (It’s a better than mindlessly scrolling on your phone.) It is very satisfying to look though all the pages you have done previously. It is like you have made a special book just for yourself - a small time capsule of sorts.
If you want art journal inspiration just search these hashtags on Facebook or Instagram. You can also use these hashtags if you post your journal pages on social media.
#artjournal #artjournalpage #getmessyartjournal #visualjournal #scribblesthatmatter #journalart
#artjournaling #sketchbookart #creativejournal #dailyart #artjournaljunkie
I hope this post inspires you to get started on your own art journal. There is nothing as soothing as following through on your desire to be creative in any endeavor!
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