Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is an art journal and what do I put in it?

Welcome to the first day of Journaling in July! I hope you'll join me as I pick up my book and create. My goal is to have at least 4 pages done this month. That's one per week, so I hope you will all strive to meet that goal with me! Post your pages on your blogs as you finish and at the end of the month I'll share them all here for everyone to see! If you're going to be journaling along and you don't see your name on the side bar, or it doesn't link to the correct blog (I know some of you have a few) let me know. Let's all try to visit each other throughout this process. Encouragement is key. :)

vintage psychedelic

Are we ready to embark on our adventure? Good! Onward to the information!

An art journal can be any number of things to a person. It can be a pictorial diary, cataloging daily adventures and ponderings letting pictures speak instead of words. An art journal can be a travel journal filled with tickets and photos or writings about trips, a dream journal to record the ones you remember, a day planner of sorts filled with things as mundane as the weather and as lofty as your goals. It could even be your Grimoire or a place to simply try out art techniques and styles. It can be all of those things or none of them.

The beauty of art journals is that they are completely 100% your own. Do what you will! You can have one ultra large journal like I do and put all sorts of things in it, or you can keep several small journals with individual themes. I drag my book every where with me. You never know when you'll be struck by inspiration.

As for the type of book you use, that's another one of those personal preference deals. Some folks use sturdy sketchbooks, some use journals they made themselves from recycled paper, some (like me!) use old books that they find at garage sales.

Personally, I enjoy the fact that using a book filled with text adds another dimension to my work. I'm also a big fan of the fact that I'm repurposing something that would otherwise have ended up in the trash. The down side to using an old book is the pages are thin and don't always hold up so well to large quantities of paint. To get around this, I like to glue two pages together to double the thickness.

As for what to put in your book? Anything your little heart desires! You can use magazine clippings, paint, fabric, computer print-outs, ticket stubs and journal about anything that flits through your mind.

However, if you're anything like me, jumping into an all new project completely blind may lead to creative shutdown. To prevent that from happening lets take it slow.

Firstly, what sort of journal are you looking to keep?
- An all purpose journal housing a hodgepodge of everything?
- A day to day journal with doodles and paint and writings about your day
- A Dream Journal
- A nature journal
- An experimental journal for art techniques
- A themed journal which creates a story over time (Put your own spin on an old fairy tale perhaps?)
- A travel journal, chronicling your worldly adventures
- A travel journal, chronicling your emotional adventures, struggles and triumphs
- A Book of Shadows or Grimoire, with pages devoted to deities, holidays, etc
- Something completely new and unusual!

Don't stress this part too much, ok? I did and it kept me from starting my journal for a solid two months. If you aren't sure where you'd ultimately like to go with journaling, go with option 1... a hodgepodge, limitless book where you put no restrictions on yourself. You can always start another book, or two, or three later and if you absolutely hate a page, you can always collage, paint and re-journal over it!

Now that you have an idea about the types of journals some people keep, what the heck do they put in them? Well, anything pertaining to the theme of their journal really.

If your journal doesn't have a theme, even better because you can put anything your heart desires in there! Each page can be about something completely new and different. Every page can have a completely new technique and medium on it.

Here is a list of themes to get you started. Some are ideas and some are techniques, art styles and color theories:

A Foreign Language
Black and White
Comic Books (either the story or the style of)
Cut Outs
Fairy Tales
Monochromatic (A single color only!)
Primary Colors
Quotes and Sayings
Science Fiction
Secret Door
Self Esteem
Tea Party
the number 13

If you're indecisive like me, a good trick is to put all the suggestions into a hat and pick one or two (or three if you're really adventurous) to use on your page! You can always put them back into the pile for next time or put them aside until you've worked through several themes. If there are some themes you'd like to see on the list, let me know and I'll add them.

Let the creating begin!

For anyone interested, the journal page I posted at the top is a completely random one I did after picking the themes 'vintage' and 'psychedelic' out of a hat. See what sort of funny little things a list and a hat can create?


  1. My first thought was to do all of these themes one by one on separate pages, but I shall see what comes out! Even though, thanks for the great ideas:) I am going to have a theme centered journal that is macabra, or macabre-ish Halloween or sorts of, and I am curious what can be done with these themes when I overlay them with my general theme.

  2. That sounds like an awesome idea! I can't wait to see what sort of wonderfully dark art you come up with. :)

  3. Oh, I'm excited now! Thanks so much for doing this because I've been wanting to take up a creative hobby for some time now and didn't really know where to start. I'm not arty and can't draw to save my life so there's gonna be a lot of collage in mine me thinks. I can't wait to get started now! I love the idea of using an old book but I think I'm going to stick to a plain ole sketchbook for now until I get a wee bit of confidence. I like the idea of picking ideas out of a hat too, I think that's what I'll start with this evening.
    Well thanks again and I look forward to this little adventure!

  4. Yay for all the people who enterred! it's gonna be fun!

    Mine is gonna be pagan-centered, with lots of pregnancy and maternity thoughts I guess :) can't wait to get started, right after I'm done with bday giftes

  5. Thanks a million Danni, that was sweet of You! As I am not very good at crafting - an enthusiastic amateur at best - I dunno what will come out:)

    And I cannot wait to see others' journals! It gives me more confidence to begin this with so many wonderful people.

  6. Wow, is that totally cool. I can't believe how much work you've put into this, Danni. It's wonderful. I'm totally excited and can't wait to start. I will start today. I found a lost dog, so I have plenty to write about! :-) I just have to figure out exactly what I'll do...

    I do have bad arthritis and other issues that may mean I will have to cheat a little and write out some things on the puter and print it to put it in there... but I'll try not to do that often.

    Thanks for all of this, Danni. It's great.

  7. Woohoo!!! I've been looking forward to today since you posted about JIJ! =D
    I can't wait to get started (re-started, really... lol)... What a perfect thing to do while waiting for my soup to finish simmering. ^-^

    Oh yes... 'Psychedelic' + 'Vintage' = epically awesome. ^-^

  8. Ooh...I love the idea of randomly picking two possible themes and finding a way to make them work. I am so excited to get started. :) I have an old hymnal I found at a thrift store which may end up being re-purposed.