I have been art journaling for years -- but I didn't know it! I had no idea there was a name for this thing I do compulsively -- a combination of scrapbooking, doodling, journaling, and photography. But a few years ago, I learned that I'm not the only one furtively gluing in my journals -- and there are lots of people out there who Art Journaling geniuses! Since then I have discovered new techniques, been inspired by amazingly creative people, and come to recognize the importance of Art Journaling in my own personal growth. For me it is another creative outlet which incorporates words but also allows me to paint, draw, cut, glue, and color. And it can be deeply personal. My journaling practice is both meditative and spiritual.
Currently, I have two art journals under construction: a Bible Art Journal and A Book of Time: 2018. Each serves a different purpose in my journaling practice, and I started both of them fresh in 2018. I plan to finish A Book of Time: 2018 this year, but the Bible journal will take longer.
Choosing a Journal
Perhaps you aren't into Bible study and The Book of Time isn't your thing: fear not! Any book can be an Art Journal! I actually have a pile of books ready to become journals at a future date!
You can use:
- an old book: How to Prepare an Old Book for Altering or Art Journaling
- a book you love -- I'm planning to journal in Little Women after the Bible
- paper bags: Making Paper Bag Journals
- a blank book
- a lined book
- an old magazine: How to Make a Journal From Magazines
Anything can become a journal! I also journal in my planner. There are even people who make journals out of junk mail and ephemera. Check out "junk journals" on Pinterest -- so many different ideas!
The one thing I would suggest: don't choose slick paper -- or if you do, know that it limits the kinds of pens you can use on it.
I have an entire Pinterest board devote to journaling in all of its lovely forms. I encourage you to check it out!
Art Journaling can be as simple or as elaborate as you decide to make it. You could just work in pen and ink, or you could use acrylics and other painting media. Because we are an arty family, most of this stuff is already in our house, but here's what I keep on hand for Art Journaling:
- gesso: to prepare pages for paint; I use white which also blocks out any text I'm not focused on.
- Super 77: spray adhesive; very effective for gluing pages together
- wax paper: protects the other pages of my journals while I work
- colored pencils
- washi tape
- ephemera: including wrapping paper scraps, greeting cards, envelopes, stickers -- anything for collaging
- printer and paper
- bone folder
- art masking fluid
- Mod Podge
Basic Tips & Techniques
Here are a few of my basic techniques that can be helpful if you are just starting out with a new art journal:
Gesso: Gesso is a primer which helps get a page ready to accept any number of media. I use it in a variety of ways. It can cover a page and make it white to start from scratch. It can be applied in certain areas to cover up a picture or text. And sometimes, I use Masking Fluid to block off an area I want to preserve, and then gesso the rest of the page. Once the masking fluid is removed, the page is ready to work.
Glue pages together: some books have nice, heavy paper. Others don't. When the pages aren't thick enough (like in my Bible Art Journal), I often glue two pages together for better support before I begin. To do this, I prefer Super 77 -- a spray glue. I mask off the rest of the book with waxed paper to protect it, and then spray the pages I'm gluing together.
Brayer: a brayer is a rolling tool which helps get good, smooth contact when gluing something down
Bone Folder: another tool which helps to get smooth creases when folding a piece of paper
Art Journaling is such a big part of my life, that I can't really remember how it all began for me. My Pinterest Journaling page has lots of tips and techniques from artists who journal in a variety of mediums. I hope you find some inspiration and begin your own personal art journey.
Here are short tours of my current art journals:
Don't forget to order your own copy of my new Christmas giving journal: The Nice List!