Starting an Art Journal

Journaling is a great way to express emotions that are too difficult or too personal to show the world. It’s also a way to keep track of your life: the daily events, the emotions that come and go with each day, the changes that occur as you grow. Life is a process worth remembering, but our brains can only hold so much at a time.

Journaling can go beyond just recording what needs to be recorded. Journaling can help you work through difficult emotions as well. Keeping an art journal can allow you to work through your emotions while creating something that can put your mind at ease.

So how do you start? You get yourself a beautiful journal! 

You can use anything as a journal; you can use a composition book, a sketchbook, an ornate journal, or you can even create your own journal.

This woman has done amazing things with a plain old ruled composition book! Go check out her page to get some great ideas for creating a journal out of a 99 cent composition book.

Creating an Art Journal from a Composition Book

Altering a book is another way that you can create your own art journal. You simply choose a book and create your own journal on top of the words written in the pages. Some journals even incorporate the author’s original words into their journaling through the use of blackout poems, a cool technique where you find words on the page and black out everything else, leaving a jumble of words that can be read together to make a poem or a story.

Your alterations can be very simplistic…


A Simplistic Altered Book Page

Or very extravagant…


A Very Ornate Example of an Altered Book

Altered books can be great ways to explore a more creative side of journaling.

So now you have a wonderful blank slate, but what do you fill it with?

Art journals are not solely used for therapeutic purposes. Some art journals are used to remember a vacation; others are used to remember the mundane things of daily life in a more exciting way. If you want to get the most therapeutic value from the art journal, you should push yourself to fill the pages with emotions, feelings you may or may not understand, and issues you cannot seem to process other ways. 

There are a lot of great prompts out there on the internet that can give you direction, but a general list always helps as starting point:

  • How are you feeling today? (I know this is general, but it’s usually a really good starting point!)
  • Imagine your inner critic as a monster. What does he or she look like?
  • Think of a few of your core beliefs and create pages for them.
  • Think back to a time when you were going through something very difficult and how you got through it.
  • Imagine the person you want to be and create a page about what makes that person unique.
  • Think about your favorite place. Why is it your favorite? What does it look like? How does it make you feel?
  • If you could give advice to your younger self, what advice would you give? And why?
  • Journal about a big change that occurred or is occurring in your life. Try to include your emotions about the change.
  • Pick one insecurity you have and journal about it.

Art journals can be created in any manner you would like, but mixed media journaling is the most common and the most fun! These websites have great ideas about how to layer multiple medias into one journal.

Now go get yourself a journal and start creating!


8 thoughts on “Starting an Art Journal

  1. I like this post. I am not a big journal keeper myself… okay, it’s really non-existent… but this definitely gives a lot off cool and creative ideas about starting and keeping one. I remember once a friend told me that your brain will continually process something that might be troubling you or occupying your mind until you put it down on paper. Once you do, your mind relaxes and it’s not so thought consuming. I think you really touched on that. Very cool post, and the images were fascinating!!

  2. Pingback: Colorful Creations | Learning to Paint for Art's Sake

  3. This is such a cool post! I have heard about doing art journals for therapeutic use before, but never really understood it. I like the prompts that you included to give ideas of different drawings to do. And, I think that using an art journal to remember a vacation or fun event is a really awesome, creative idea. Very interesting post– I definitely want to try one of my own!

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