How do you define a background? To me, it's the beginning of a page, after you get gessoed and you start adding stuff, whether paint, paper, texture, but before it is complete. It is the backdrop to the focus of the page, whether it's a photo, a quote, your journaling, etc. We love, love, love them, sometimes so much that we leave them as backgrounds. It's the scenery, still rough.
To work on backgrounds, you'll need decent focus, a creative mind, space for paints and papers. It's a typically messy phase, but doing backgrounds in small chunks of time is feasible. Golden Fluid Acrylics are my go-to materials for art journal backgrounds. What's your trademark starting material?
I'm intrigued by the idea of building a journal of abstract paintings... a journal of backgrounds. The idea is from Cathy Cullis' november painted journal; here's a link to the entire journal. It's wonderful. So many of my backgrounds I never build upon, so why not just start with that as the goal.
Here's more in the step-by-step art journaling series