When is an Art Journal Page Finished?

What is the trick, the secret? How do you know when a page is finished? When should you leave a background alone, or approach it from a fresh direction, or add to it... or simplify it? Your journal - your choice. There is no magic formula or potion. I think a page is finished when you no longer want to add or subtract from the page!

Found before and after shots of this phthalo blue page spread in an altered book. I liked the haunting interplay between the paint and the photograph, the way they worked together.

So I left it like that for a long time. But later I found that I had lots of pages with just paint and a photograph and I felt OK with making some changes. I thought it would be a good challenge to learn how to work from that stage, from paint + one image. I find that the more pages I do, the more I am willing to keep going and see what happens. The less invested I am in a specific page. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself. 

Do I feel a desire to work further on this page? Am I too invested in the finished page? What do I feel like working on today? Is there some technique or idea that I could explore on this page? Do I want to let it sit for a few hours {or a few months} and leave that decision for another day? Am I scared to mess it up? Am I uncertain as to what I want to do next? Do I feel pressure to work on it? Do I feel like drizzling paint on top and starting fresh? Am I worried about what might happen? Do I feel like taking a creative risk today? Do I feel like writing today? Drawing? Painting? Sketching? Stitching? Follow the path to find what you want to do.

The beauty of working with collage & acrylic paints? You can keep going on a page as long as you wish, covering, uncovering, layering, scraping, painting, edging, writing, scribbling, doodling, adding images, changing colors by simply painting over another color. The key is to let a layer dry {even if you don't like it} so that you can add more paint on top! That way you won't get mud. On this second set of pages, I started with acrylic paint in an altered book, taping in a mandala drawing with washi tape and adding stamped words. You can barely see the page beginnings in the final page. So don't be scared to completely change/alter your page as you go. A metamorphosis!

This summer I started filming a new workshop called Novel Approach. I've been working in altered books for YEARS and this will be about the experience of art journaling within the constraints of a book. Not a cookie cutter approach, but an individual approach. It is my favorite way to do mixed media work with acrylics, so completely and thoroughly engaging. 

Another question to ask yourself: Is there something that I'd like to [add] (cover up}{take away}\forget\?

There are no right or wrong answers; just food for thought.