End of the Year

Some art journaling techniques that I use regularly:

1. I like to pre-paint all the pages when I start a new book, usually with watercolor washes. Yes, this does limit my color choices for each page when I come to it, but it also eliminates Blank Page Syndrome*—there’s always something to work with when I’m ready to start journaling. I can jump right to the actual work play part of journaling, instead of waiting for paint to dry. The one journal I used this year that I didn’t pre-paint the pages took me the longest to fill (and in fact I never did the last spread in the book at all) I think because having to add background paint increased the amount of time it takes to create a page. Besides, I can always alter the color later with my chalks (see #4 below).

2. I almost always add borders. Somehow, framing the space I’m working in makes it easier to fill it. I generally use scrapbooking papers and slices of color and imagery cut from magazines. (Architecture Digest has great textures and patterns in advertisements from textile manufacturers, but most magazines have great colors if you look for them.) More and more, though, I am starting to draw my own borders with pens and pencils (and other visual elements as well).

3. I outline nearly all the elements on a page, whether they’re glued in or hand-drawn. Not only does it pull everything together dimensionally, it also is incredibly meditative (though I have to confess it CAN be a chore, especially if I’ve added lots of writing!).

*I wish it was so easy to beat Blank Page Syndrome when I’m writing!

This Christmas...

Some things I’ve learned about art journaling supplies:

4. My favorite/most used art journaling tools are my watercolor pencils, my non-smear pastel chalks, and my gel pens. Oh, and glue and scissors of course.

5. I’d give anything for a reliable white opaque marker. White gel pens (Sakura and Signo) are good, but not ideal for thick coloring. Various paint pens are great, until they clog or otherwise malfunction and need to be replaced. The white Galaxy Marker is pretty good, though I find it hard to get a very good coverage when working on watercolor backgrounds.

6. I really don’t like working with gel medium, at least as a general adhesive. I know this is probably shocking to certain quarters of the mixed media world, which seems to rely upon gel medium as if it was the only glue in the world, but it’s too messy and sticky for my tastes. For my purposes, a plain ol’ glue stick usually does the trick.

Why is She So Cold?

A few more art journaling lessons:

7. The pages I end up liking the most are those that begin without a clear theme in mind. When I let my creativity wander through colors and images first, and discover the message my subconscious needs to tell me through the journey. The process makes the page itself seem more alive and significant than if I start with a preconceived idea.

8. I kind of regret that I don’t add more actually journaling to my pages. I wonder if, years from now, I’ll look back through them and wonder what the cryptic titles mean? My newest journal (below) is slightly larger than what I’ve been working in this year, so maybe I’ll experiment with incorporating more textual journaling onto the page.

9. I have lost the urge to share every page I make on my blog. One, I think posting has the effect of inhibiting my personal expression, and I don’t have a desire to be an exhibitionist when it comes to my personal life. Two, I don’t like worrying about artistry—whether or not it’s nice or pretty looking—more than expression.

Solstice to Solstice

3 Thoughts on “Some Thoughts About Art Journaling”

  • I always want to dive into creative journaling and I do to some extent (not nearly as elaborate and lovely as yours). I often just run out of ideas, or don’t really know how to use a certain medium.

    I’ve recently looked at Keri Smith’s journals. Do you have any thoughts on her work? If you had to give me one piece of advice on how to do more, what would it be?

    • Keri Smith is awesome, one of the pioneers in bringing art journaling to people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as artists. On the other hand, I’ve never personally used her books, as the kind of creative activities she provides don’t jive with my own aesthetic.

      As for advice: there’s no such thing as a mistake, only opportunities to try something you weren’t expecting.

  • I think Keri Smith is definitely very creative and her books are fun. That said, now that I’ve read through 4 of them, I’m not sure how much substance is really there. At the end of the day though, they are good at prompting one to start exploring, which I guess is the point.

    I’ve found that I only look to journal when I’m feeling down. When I’m happy (which is often as I truly claim to be genetically happy) I don’t search so much for the outlet. I guess I just have to go with the flow….

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