Tips for Teaching an Art Journaling Workshop {from a newbie}

9x12" art journal page, with bubble wrap stamped background

I love reading fresh perspectives. Doing something the first few times, you notice things that experienced people, the jaded road warriors and "experts" might have forgotten or simply assumed.

At A Girl and Her Brush, Wendy shares 18 Tips for a Successful Art Show {via tweet from Roben-Marie}. The tips were written after the artist's first art show. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to introduce art journaling to 30 high school art teachers. Wendy's post prompted me to share my tips.

{click here for the full post}

Preparing for the workshop:

  1. Discuss and confirm the basic agenda with the liaison. Imagine showing up for a "roll up your sleeves, hands-on workshop" and finding a room of teachers in their best suits en route to a photo shoot after the workshop. 
  2. Charge a reasonable fee for your work; confirm the fee, the location, the time/duration, and the estimated number of students, in writing. In developing your fee, consider the time and resources you'll need to prep for teaching the class. Things like developing pages to teach and writing instructions. Also art materials, workshop time, travel, child care, etc. There are times that you might teach a workshop at very low cost, because the value of teaching makes it worthwhile and moves you along a path toward personal goals. Do place value on your creativity, your ideas, your time, your experience, your materials and your energy.
  3. Determine the process for payment. Submit an invoice and tax forms as required. You may need to be approved as a supplier and obtain a purchase order in advance.
  4. Determine who is responsible for art materials. If you are responsible, be sure to comprehend the cost in your fee.
  5. Confirm specific types and quantities of art materials. Knowing specific brands/types of paint, for example, gives you time to understand their characteristics. In the workshop, the student grade acrylics were sooooooo slow drying. I'd requested watercolor pencils or water-soluble crayons and the school provided colored pencils and watercolor paint sets. Close but... unfortunately this impacted a bunch of things I'd planned to do with water soluble pencils.
  6. Make "business" cards with your name, blog/company name, email and URL. This is an idea directly from Wendy's list. I wish I'd thought of this in advance! Time for me to make a MOO order!
  7. Determine the room layout. Will you need space in addition to the workspace/tables for discussion or stretching or creative experimentation?
  8. Write notes on index cards. Easy to flip through!
  9. Determine which technique/concepts/processes will be the focus.
  10. Do an example page and write instructions for each art journal page/technique on index cards.


9x12" art journal page

The day before the workshop:

  1. Pack up art materials.
  2. Program workshop address into phone/GPS and print directions.
  3. Bring more supplies for participants than you'll need.
  4. Pack a camera. I forgot mine. {gasp, it's true}
  5. Pack a cell phone charger. My phone died during the workshop!
  6. Pack a smock or apron. You'll want to be comfy.
  7. Pack samples of your art journals.
  8. Pack a selection of your art materials! This reduces decisions while teaching and simplifies. I brought a dozen fluid acrylics and neocolors. Next time I'll bring 6 of each.
  9. Take baby wipes to clean hands when cannot get to sink.
  10. Put workshop materials in containers inside a rolling suitcase.

A page created by an art teacher using thin sheets of aluminum foil to create a funky abstract background.

Don't you love this creative chaos?

This was my table at the front of the room.

Love this art journal page created by an art teacher.

Art journal backgrounds in progress, using bubble wrap stamping.

The day of the workshop:

  1. Designate a spot for artwork to dry. In retrospect, folks were crowded by their wet artwork at the work tables.
  2. Pass around examples of art journaling and altered books.
  3. Focus on your introduction. You'll typically have undivided attention. I got super nervous and skipped a lot of stuff I wanted to say!
  4. Bring a snack.
  5. Have fun, smile!

What are your tips for teaching art journaling, from the perspective of a teacher or a student?