Art journals look complicated, but they can be an easy and fun way to stay organized and creative!
Art journals are fantastic and beautiful ways to stay creative and organized. It seems like a strange notion, but it’s true! These are fun and exciting bound bits of paper that you can tear up, color, paint on, make completely your own, and use in whatever way you need them. They can be as simplistic or as complicated as you want them to be. But before I get into how art journaling can help you (and your kids, too!), let me first tell you all about the wonderful world of art journals, and how anyone, even the artistically challenged like myself, can make one.
Via Balzer Designs
Art journals are used for daily journal writing, as planners, places to keep to-do lists, and even memoirs for the people who create them, but instead of just writing all of this down straight onto a page, other things are added. Sketches, drawings, water colors, even other three dimensional media like buttons, pages from books, and photographs can be added. Some journals are strictly art without words, some are words with very little art. There are so many kinds of journals that you can make, especially if you decide to really get into it. But for now, I’m going to focus on some fairly basic art journaling ideas to get you started, like the pictures below.
I am not an artist by any means of the word. I can draw a mean stick figure, but that’s about it. I have my own art journal, and a travel journal I created while taking a college class in Mexico. They are not the prettiest things to look at, some pages are actually quite terrible, and they certainly won’t be featured in any art museums in the future. I tell you this because the purpose of an art journal is not to have the best drawings. They don't have to be perfect. Look at the art journal pages above and below. Are they perfect works of art? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful to whoever drew them. It doesn't negate the meaning behind the drawings. And that’s all that really matters!
So what is the purpose of these art journals? They are organizational tools to help the person who made them stay on top of things. These are mostly the kinds of pages I make because between grad school, work, and the charities I volunteer for, I need all the help I can get to make sure I get everything done. Using an art journal as a place to keep track of to-do lists and a planner are just two of the ways they can be used. Art journals can also replace simple diaries, and can be used as memoirs of trips to new places in the form of a travel art journal, which is made the same way as a normal artistic journal, only smaller and focused solely on the trip itself.
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Now that you know what an art journal is and have some ideas on what it can be used for, let’s talk about the benefits of using one. I have already mentioned that by using one, it can help you stay organized and creative. It helps me because I'm not very good at remembering everything I am supposed to do each day, but I have my handy dandy journal to go to and see what I may have missed. Plus it’s pretty, and it’s personalized for me, and I use it more often than I have used other organizing methods like apps or multiple pre-made planners.
That’s the beauty of an art journal. You have something that you made, something personalized, and every time you go to write in it, whether you write once daily at night or several times throughout the day, it’s your artwork looking back at you. It’s very cathartic to doodle and color out your emotions and thoughts of the day. Sometimes if I've had a stressful day, it feels amazing to go to the page of the day and scribble. I've actually had days where I've blacked out the whole page, but it felt so great to do that, and it made me feel much better. Most days I write a little on what went on that day, and write and draw my to-do lists for the next day on the following page.
I mentioned earlier that you can create art journals for your kids to use. Theirs can be simple, more drawing and coloring than actual lists, but the benefits are the same. It teaches them more creativity, helps with fine motor skills, and also teaches responsibility, especially if you have them work on a certain number of pages per week. But, of course, make it fun for them and look up journal topics for kids if you need ideas! It can become a family event to get together and work on your journals. You can all make your own art journal. You get to make them work for you, whether you want to be more organized or more creative. It would be great to see what everyone comes up with in their journals!
Via Tangie Baxter
How do you make an art journal? Well, there are many, many, different ways to create your own art journal. I have seen tutorials on everything from creating just a single art journal page to making and binding your very own journal. It can get pretty intense, but let’s keep it simple and start with an already made journal. You can either choose a blank journal, sketchbook, or even a composition book. My personal favorite journals to use are anything spiral bound, because they lay flatter than other journals and it makes it easier to use. I don’t buy any fancy sketchbooks with any sort of special paper because I am one of those people who has a hard time using the nice sketchbook because I don’t want to ruin it. I do make sure the paper has a thicker weight to it so inks and paints don’t bleed through, but that's all I need.
When picking out your journal, start simple at first, just a blank paged journal or even one you already own. As you progress, tailor your journal to your own needs. If you’re going to be pasting a lot in your journal, I would stay away from thin pages. Textured paper is better for painting, but not as good for coloring. Once you get the hang of journaling, you can play with different journals, sizes, and types of paper.
The next part is my favorite part: actually keeping up with the journal. This is also the hard part, but don’t worry, I have some ideas on how to help! If you want to start with a blank journal but don’t know what to do per page, I have an easy solution. A quick google search for art journal prompts bring up tons of results on sample pages, and even lists of words to use as inspiration for each page. Some of them are even 30 day art journal challenges, and you could join in to keep yourself motivated. When I participated in a 30 day challenge, I learned a new form of doodling called zentangle, shown below. It’s actually a lot simpler than it looks, because you start with a shape and just keep adding more shapes and lines until you are happy. It’s pretty neat, and when you start journaling, you should look into it!
Via Hello Angel
Another way to help you keep up with the journal is to try to work on it at the same time every day. I prefer to journal at night, checking off the to-do list, adding in experiences from the day, and beginning the next day’s page with a to-do list. A very important way to keep up with your journal is to make sure it has its own spot. The last thing you want to do is to tear apart your place trying to find where you put your journal the next time you’re trying to work on it!
If you’re hesitant to start with a blank journal because you aren’t sure how to use it, purchase one like Wreck This Journal, or something similar. Wreck This Journal and other smashbooks like it are great for those who are new to artistic journaling, as each page already has ideas for what to do to that page. These are great places to start if you're new because you don’t have to worry about what type of sketchbook or journal to buy, what size it needs to be, what type of paper, etc. With a pre-made art journal, you just flip the pages and do what it tells you to. Or don’t. I mean, it’s your journal. If you don’t like one of the prompts, make up your own, or find a collection of fun journal prompts online (there are tons of these!). It’s great practice for when you decide to bite the bullet and start with a blank journal! You’ll do great, I know it!
So there you have it! Welcome to the wonderful world of art journaling. Please share this post with your friends and family, and comment with questions or your own experiences with art journals. Stay creative, my friends!
**Featured image via Alfa img