An art journal page created with paper ephemera and Neocolor wax crayons. 

An art journal page created with paper ephemera and Neocolor wax crayons. 

It's not all about the art,
but about the process. 
So what on earth is art journaling?

You can keep an art journal without in-depth knowledge of composition or color theory or formal study of art. 

Art journaling is play, exploration & experimentation wrapped into one. It's about doing an unstructured form of art in a bound journal, on loose paper, even a cardboard box. Even leather-bound planners with darling Miss Kitty stickers. The term art journaling means something different to each artist.

Art journaling is not all about the art

Journalists love to pull together collage elements, words & images on paper, whether that’s loose paper, a bound journal or even a cardboard cereal box. The goal is to do the work, follow the path, no matter where it winds up. When you open your art journal, you get to play like a little kid again, using paint, imagery, typography, and invisible pixie dust. 

Focus on the process rather than the end result

Mixed media art journaling typically includes words, imagery & color. But, and this is important, there are no rules that you must follow. So you can do a page with any combination thereof. Just paint,  just imagery, even just words. Or skip the words, incorporate words as texture or write your deepest thoughts. That's up to you. 

"Art journaling is about the creative process 
of pulling together color, words and images 
as you wish, on a page. Unlike many other
forms of art, it is not about the outcome." 
Tammy Garcia

The journal itself is not precious 

An art journal... the freestyle kind of journal that I share and talk about ad infinitim here... is the result of your creative immersion, your experiments, your play-time. If anything is precious it should be the ACT of making art.

Art journals, artist's books, illustrated journals, urban sketchbooks, visual journals... and altered books.

If limiting yourself to one journal works for you, that's cool! And if actively working in 17 journals works for you, that's cool too! If you start one, then get frustrated, then start another, then get frustrated, take notice and try to figure out what is happening. You might want to switch to loose paper or index cards for awhile until you get your groove back?

When I started art journaling I made art journal pages on loose watercolor paper and started creating collages in hardback books and I continue to work in multiple journals simultaneously. It is freeing to have a bunch of projects going on, so that there's always something in-process that is a good match for my mood!

What kind of journal should you keep?

You can set up a fresh journal for any reason whatsoever.  I have a bunch of journals in process at all times! Keeping just one would be stifling to me. I love the freedom of having multiple journals. Journals are used for testing art materials, documenting color palettes or paint swatches, practicing techniques, sketching architecture, the human body or nature, doodling, designing patterns and repeats, making collages, painting, designing fonts, tracking via bullet journaling, constructing daily diaries and writing about our adventures. Can you have too many journals? I don't think so!

There is no art journaling rule book.

You do not need a kit, a coach, a lesson or a guidebook but you do need to discover {or rediscover} your sense of fun! It's not magic, really. 

I don't even know how many journals I have in progress at this point. And they are not unfinished as in melodramatically gathering dust in the attic but rather unfinished as in active works-in-process. A few of my journals wind up perpetually unfinished, or I think I'll get back to them but I lose the thread. And that is OK! The more you work, the more ideas you will have, and the more fuel for your creativity.

Collect papers, ephemera & journal fodder

Art journalists collect papers from everyday life and tape, stitch, clip, adhere, glued, staple, tuck, fold or otherwise attach to journal pages! Things to collect for your journal: Ticket stubs, museum maps, pages from old textbooks, receipts, product packaging, clothing labels, photographs, vintage postcards, lottery tickets, polaroid photos, postage stamps, raffle tickets, hand-written lists, old greeting cards, subway maps, airline tickets, event announcements, advertisements, maps, ribbon, fabric, tarot cards and images cut from magazines. 

Where on earth do you start?

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