Art Journaling in Three Phases

sunflower kaleidoscope on heavy cardboard

If art journaling has no rules, what the heck is it? How can you do something when you don't know what it is? When I started art journaling, I spent a lot of time looking at art journal pages on flickr and noticed three things going on. This is a generic description but it was a way for my logical mind wrapped around it.

If you don't understand something, you can pare stuff down to the essence of what it is in order to "get" it.

background + collage/images + words*

*disclaimer: you don't need all three, and you don't need to follow any order

The reality: I don't have a dedicated art workspace... everything I take out goes back when I'm finished or we have no space to eat dinner!

So I rarely do a page from start to finish.

I'll paint/make backgrounds (which is paint, gesso, neocolors, abstract stuff, maps, pages from old books)

~or~ I'll attach stuff to the page (cutting, stitching, gluing stuff onto the pages)

~or~ I'll write something (getting words on the page).

{click here to read the full post}

PHASE No. 1: Background - this can be abstract, maybe paint or a whitewashed page from an old book or map - the backdrop to whatever else you will put on your page. If I'm in background mode, I'll do a bunch of backgrounds. Like all watercolors or all acrylics or all neocolors and acrylics, whatever I'm in the mood to do.

art journal backgrounds

PHASE No. 2: Ephemera - anything you add to the background - i.e. collage, magazine images, receipts, abstract art, stitching. If I'm in collage mode, I might get out baskets of catalogs, magazines, scissors, junky brushes, gesso and mod podge. Then I'll cut out stuff and make a few collages on the art journal backgrounds I did another day.

ephemera, journal fodder, the stuff on the page

PHASE No. 3: Journaling - any words you add intentionally to the page. If I'm in journaling mode, I'll get out my alphabet stamps, handmade stamps, handwritten lists, pitt pens, etc to write on collages or directly on backgrounds.

ways to put words on art journal pages

If I have an entire afternoon to do art, I get out a ton of art supplies and it's really quite magical! It would be nice to have a permanent artspace, and I might work differently if I had one. If you read Traci Bunkers' book The Art Journal Workshop, you can see that Traci often works a page from start to finish in one sitting. You'll find lots of funky pages on her blog. I think each page would have great flow working that way! The pages I do from start to finish are some of my favorites, but ultimately you need to create in a way that makes sense in your life and for your environment.

Check out Art Journaling 101 and the brand new Art Journaling 101 for Kids and Other Beginners.