"How" To Art Journal

playing in art journal

Has this happened to you?

You sit down to work in your art journal. It's been a while. You know you love to create and you know that working in your art journal enriches your creativity and your life—but you’ve been busy. 

Yet, you’ve cleared your schedule. You’ve gathered all your supplies, maybe put some music on, and you open up your art journal to the next blank page.

And all you see is blank.

And then what happens? Do you sit with that for a while. Take a few breaths and calmly reflect?

Oh no. Almost immediately, you panic. “I can't think of anything! What do I do? I don't know! I'm not good at this..." and off you spin, thinking about all the reasons why you are not capable...

"If I can’t think of one idea, how could I ever come up with ideas for page after page, day after day? “  All those very blank days ahead sit there stacked neatly in all those blank pages of your book.

You lift your art journal from the table it feels as heavy as a large brick.

playing in my art journal

Stop right there.

There really is no need to panic.  If you know anything about the inner critic, that is a classic strategy to keep you from exploring what your reptilian brain doesn't understand and considers unsafe. Which is the furthest from the truth you could go! 

Not only are our art journals a place for safe self-expression—emoting, purging, articulating, reviewing and conjuring our lives—but it’s also a safe space to grow creative wings. Your art journal is only for you. No one has to see it.

So who are you afraid of?

Let me tell you the truth: 

You don’t have to know what to make your page about or how to come up with ideas.

You really don’t.

playing in my art journal

Most of us have control issues.

What we're afraid of is giving up our need to control the outcome and to see what happens.

But one of the most important things we learn by art journaling over time, as a practice, is that creative ideas come to us...

Art journaling is making space for that to happen.

I find it interesting that I can find hundreds of art journalers on YouTube demonstrating how they make their pages, yet it’s really tough to get an answer to a very simple question:

How do you art journal?

Which is kind of ironic because at least half of those videos mentioned above are titled, “How to art journal!”

You will find a ton of information on the internet about how to use art media—and that's important to know—but super fun to learn.. How and why to use “gesso” and “matte medium”, how to collage, how to apply acrylic paint, watercolors, ink…and the list goes on.

Part of the fun of art journaling is forever learning about all kinds of different fun art supplies and tools and techniques.

And this is all useful and necessary learning—and playing with art supplies is a HUGE part of the fun of creating in art journals.

playing in my art journal

But. How do you art journal?

As in fill an art journal, page after page, and “get ideas” for what each page will be about?

That’s the mystery and the challenge—and often the obstacle that prevents more people from art journaling.

How, how, how do we “get ideas”?

What I’ve learned is…play really means play.

There are all kinds of ways to get started, including prompts, exercises and more, but when I begin with blank, I start with just one thing that catches my eye—something pleasing: a color, a scrap of paper, an interesting pattern, an interesting art tool, an image from my image file...

And after I place that first pleasing thing on the page (somewhere, without thought, letting intuition choose), I find the next pleasing thing that catches my eye, my imagination—and then the next…and then the next...

And soon I'm making a page about something. Even if that something isn't anything I could possibly have imagined while staring at the blank page.

That is truly the practice.

playing in my art journal

If you’d like to explore that practice with others, join us at the studio for Art Journal Joy three Wednesday evenings a month. We have fun with all kinds of art supplies—and we explore the mysterious terrain of creativity together!