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    Main | Daisy Yellow Zine {Issue #12} »

    Art Journaling 101

    How do you start an art journal? 

     "Art journaling is about the {creative process} of pulling together color, words and images as you wish on a page. Unlike many other forms of art, it is not about the outcome."
    Tammy Garcia

    Original post 2008 * Updated October 2014

    The type of art journaling that I talk about is very loose and free and unencumbered by rules. Art journaling is simply doing art in a journal. To make an art journal, you do not need a kit, a coach, a lesson or a guidebook.

    1. Get creative books for inspiration and motivation

    1,000 Artist Journal Pages by Dawn DeVries Sokol
    Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself by Sabrina Ward Harrison
    The Journal Junkies Workshop, by Scott and Modler 
    Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff
    Journal Spilling by Diana Trout
    Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists by Katherine Dunn
    Artist's Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson
    Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking by Jill K. Berry
    The Creative License and An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory
    The Art Journal Workshop by Traci Bunkers

    2. Gather art materials

    Art journaling does not have to be in an actual journal. ♥︎ Art journalists use an array of materials to create journal pages. Collect as many free things as you can find, and keep your eye out for paper treasures like maps, ticket stubs, notes, receipts and handwritten lists.

    ➸ Info about art materials for art journaling can now be found in Art Journaling 102: Materials.

    3. Collect + make stuff for your journal

    Find stuff. Ephemera is a fancy word for stuff you put in your journal. Here are some examples: pages from old textbooks, maps, receipts, recycled stuff from other art projects, product packaging, clothing labels, old photographs, scrapbook paper, lyrics, lottery tickets, polaroid photos, postage stamps, raffle tickets, grocery lists, lists of any type, subway maps, airline tickets, event announcements, advertisements, ribbon, fabric.

    Make stuff. You can make things to use on your art journal pages. You can paint papers, take notes on various subjects, cut stencils, take photographs, write poetry, collect quotations and practice your drawing skills. 

    4. Find a space to work

    You do not need a dedicated studio space to art journal. An art studio is a luxury but you don't need a dedicated art play space to be an art journalist. Just a part of a table is enough space to work. You'll need a bit of space to handle your art materials, a space that might expand the more involved you get. I work on art journal pages at my breakfast table or on a rolling cart in my kitchen. I promise that you do not need a lot of space.  

    5. Open up your journal and play!

    Open your journal or pull out a piece of heavy paper. Use an adhesive to add anything you wish in any way you wish. It's about the EXPERIENCE and JOY of playing in your journal rather than any perfectly composed end result. Use images, words, doodles & quotes! And drips of paint! And magic markers! Dip a brush in acrylic paint and swirl and swoosh paint around the page. Let that dry for a few minutes, and then adhere papers or a photograph. 

    The idea is to relax, get out of your to-do list driven analytical mind for a few minutes and explore with color and imagery. You have your entire life to experiment with techniques, the first step is to DO ONE PAGE. Any page. Anything. Tell yourself it's just for fun and get to it. 

    6. Get inspired & learn techniques


    • Art Journaling Tangents & Tactics is a growing series of {free} video tutorials designed to inspire ideas & creativity for you to use in your art journal process. There are over 12 tutorials appropriate for beginners to experienced artists.
    • Each issue of the Daisy Yellow Zine includes ideas for jumping through creative blocks and getting your art down on the page, with tons of creative inspiration. Available in my Etsy Shop.
    • Join in the free Daisy Yellow Group at Facebook, a supportive space to share your art journal pages.





    7. Follow creative prompts & challenges

    • The Daily Paper Prompt is a series of > 60 open-ended techniques-based prompts appropriate for beginners to experienced artists. Start with DPP #1: Paint a Rainbow and keep going!!! 
    • Every June + July I facilitate index-card-a-day {ICAD}, a challenge to create one index card per day for 61 days. It's a huge hit & super fun. Read the ICAD FAQ and get ready for the next challenge June 2015. I'll open a new Facebook group for the next challenge in May 2015. 
    • Daisy Yellow Art Journal Prompt Cards can kick-start your creative process.... 100+ designs available in my Etsy shop.

    8. It's about the process, not the end result

    It is easy to get caught up in photos of art journal pages and wind up down a rabbit hole and not spend time working in your own journal. The idea is not to emulate the style of any other artist. Let your pages be YOURS. All of the possibilities have not yet been explored!

    Art journal pages are usually not structured or formulaic like you would see in scrapbooking or greeting card making. The focus is on words + color + imagery.


    ➸ If you are finding value at Daisy Yellow and the content has inspired you to add creativity your day, please consider contributing to my coffee fund! Your support helps fund the expenses of bringing this content to you. Thanks!!!

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    Reader Comments (58)

    This is a great article to introduce people to art journaling. I have posted a link on my blog for anyone interested.

    04.11.2009 | Unregistered CommenterZom

    I'm fairly new to art journaling and I love this tutorial. So many great ideas. Thanks so much for putting this together.

    04.11.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

    What a great inspirational spark! I've found great links on your site, and as a journaler myself, finding great links is like finding a vein of gold in a big rock mountain.

    04.21.2009 | Unregistered CommenterQuinnCreative

    I am just beginning to explore art journalling, and much of the material out there, both in print and on the web, seems to be aimed at those with more art experience than I have. Thanks so much for this great introduction, and for all the links and reading recommendations. It is so helpful for this true beginner.

    05.26.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

    You inspire me SO much. Thank you.

    Great inspiration! Thanks!

    05.25.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffani

    Thank you! Great post! After reading about art journaling and looking at others' work, I'm itching to try some more (I've dabbled a bit).

    07.27.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffani

    very inspiring! I'm writing morning pages from The Artist's Way, and am thinking of making them a little more interesting... Good idea of keeping more than one journal - duh! Thanks for the suggestion of materials - you're in my evernote! {:-Deb

    08.1.2010 | Unregistered Commenterstorybeader

    This great, thank you, I have found my new thing : )

    09.14.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSunari

    Thanks putting together all this info. It's been a great read and I'm saving it in favorites, to refer back to and also to send to other people who I think will be interested. Thanks again for all your great ideas, wonderful inspiration and beautiful art work.

    10.13.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSu Ward

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