Art Journaling: Basic Steps to Get Started

Art journaling is an incredibly rewarding activity – it allows you to explore your thoughts and feelings, express yourself in unique ways, and create something beautiful. Over the years, art journaling has become an increasingly popular form of artistic self-expression. It’s a great way to keep track of your creative ideas, as well as document your life experiences.

What is the difference between a sketchbook and an art journal?

Art journals are as vastly different as the people who create them. Each person also has a different idea or interpretation of what an art journal is. For me, an art journal focuses on self-expression. Using imagery as a way to express your inner thoughts and emotions. And yet, I have many art journals where I play with techniques and different media. I have journals that are focused on history and family stories.

The beautiful thing about art journaling is they are exactly what you need them to be and there is no wrong way to do them. Despite their name “art” journal, they are not just for artists. You don’t have to be a skilled artist to create art journals.

The possibilities are endless!

Art Journals are a Powerful Healing Tool

Art journaling is an incredible way to express yourself and reflect on your life. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you work through difficult emotions, document your successes and challenges, and foster self-awareness and personal growth.

One of the most powerful benefits of art journaling is its ability to provide a safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings. Artistic expression can be incredibly cathartic, allowing you to express yourself without judgment or fear of being misunderstood. By exploring your thoughts and feelings on paper, you can gain valuable insight into your own thoughts and feelings.

In addition to providing a safe space for self-exploration, art journaling can also help you set and achieve goals. By giving yourself a creative outlet, you can create a physical representation of the goals you’d like to achieve. This can help motivate you to take action, as well as help you stay focused and on track.

Finally, art journaling can help you develop greater self-awareness. By reflecting on your experiences, you can gain a better understanding of yourself and how you interact with the world around you. This can be incredibly helpful in developing healthier relationships and making better decisions in the future.

Basic Steps to Starting an Art Journal

Step 1: Choose a journal

The type and size of journal all depends on what you want to do with it. Mixed media paper is the most universal, but if you plan to add lots of paint, liquid inks, or glues…then watercolor paper may be better. Thicker paper is definitely better just because the page will need to bear the weight of all the layers you plan to add.

Here are a few of the types of art journals I use.

Hardback journal with sketchbook paper, handmade journal with watercolor paper, handmade journal with different paper thickness, composition notebook (pages glued together and coated with gesso), old books converted by added gesso to prep pages for paint.

Step 2: Gather your supplies

You will need supplies such as paints, markers, pens, pencils, glue, tape, and paper. You can also add in any other materials that you like to work with such as stickers, washi tape, and ephemera.

Step 3: Experiment with different mediums

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different mediums to find what works best for you. You can try out different paints, markers, and pens to see what you like best.

I have an art journal that I use to experiment with different supplies. It gives me permission to just play and not be afraid of making mistakes in my main art journal.

Step 4: Start small

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Start small and focus on having fun and giving yourself permission to play.

Start by picking a theme for your page. This can be anything from a particular emotion to a color or pattern you’d like to use. Once you have your theme, think about how you’d like to express it. Will you use drawing, painting, or collage? You can also combine multiple mediums to create a unique page.

When you start to create, don’t be afraid to experiment. Mistakes often lead to new ideas, so don’t be afraid to try something new. As you create, be sure to take your time and enjoy the process. Art journaling should be a fun and relaxing activity.

Step 5: Reflect and Write

Art journaling is not just about creating art. It’s also about reflecting and writing about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You can write down quotes, journal prompts, or just free write. Let the page you created inspire you. What does it bring up for you? Are there feelings that came up while you were creating it? Write about that.

Ways to use vintage paper ephemera in art

Creating with vintage ephemera paper can be a wonderful way to add a special touch to any project. There are many ways to use vintage ephemera paper, from creating scrapbooks to making greeting cards. Here are three of my favorite ways to use vintage ephemera paper:

  • Create a collage. Find a piece of poster board or other backing, then start arranging the vintage paper ephemera to create a beautiful collage. Cut the pieces out and arrange them in a creative way, and use glue or tape to secure them in place.
  • Art journaling. Include vintage papers, photos, postcards, etc with paints, magazine cutouts, and scrapbook papers as backgrounds for your art, or by layering and distressing to create texture on your pages.
  • Draw and paint over old book pages. Add a thin layer of clear or white gesso and then paint over the book pages. It adds such a beautiful background to your art.

More Ways to Use Vintage Ephemera

  • Make a greeting card. Cut out pieces of the ephemera and use them to decorate the front of a greeting card. You can use simple cardstock, or get creative and use a recycled cereal box or other upcycled material.
  • Create a scrapbook. Choose a theme for your scrapbook, such as family history or a certain time period, and begin collecting vintage ephemera related to your theme. Use the pieces to create pages in a scrapbook, and include photos and other memorabilia to make the book complete.
  • Assemble a shadowbox. Gather a selection of vintage paper ephemera, along with other interesting items, and arrange them in a shadow box. Use the box itself to create a frame or matting, or use a pre-made frame.
  • Frame individual pieces. Find a few pieces that you particularly love, and frame them to hang on the wall. You can use a standard picture frame, or get creative and use an old window frame or other upcycled material.

No matter how you choose to use vintage paper ephemera, you’re sure to create something that’s one of a kind. Have fun and be creative!

Unlock the past and add unique character to your art with our vintage ephemera pack.

Vintage Ephemera Bookmarks

New bookmarks are available in the shop!!

I used some favorite pieces from my vintage ephemera stash to create these vintage-inspired bookmarks.

This bookmark is a unique and stylish accessory for any book lover. Measuring 2 inches by 6 inches, it features vintage ephemera adding a touch of history and nostalgia to your reading experience.

This bookmark is printed on double-sided high glossy finish, 69-lb cardstock paper, ensuring durability and a sleek look. Print is only on one side, the backside is solid white. The non-slip design ensures that your bookmark won’t slip out of place.

Bookmarks feature a ribbon attached to the top.

Perfect for both personal use and as a gift for friends and family, this bookmark is sure to be a treasured addition to any collection.

Show off your love of history with this unique bookmark that is sure to make a statement.

How I Select Items to Include in Vintage Ephemera Packs

I started creating Vintage Ephemera Packs because I had acquired a large collection over the years, so I thought it would be a good way to downsize my stash.

What I didn’t expect was how popular these ephemera packs would become and how much fun I would have putting them together. As my personal collection dwindled I had always planned to stop selling them, but I enjoyed this part of my shop so I began visiting antique shops hunting for new items to include. And over the last year, I’ve been able to find some amazing things.

Collections of letters between a husband and wife while he was on a ship in the 1950s. War ration booklets with coupons still inside. A 1905 copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine. It’s about 4 inches thick and full of articles, photographs, and illustrations that share a glimpse into the world at that time. A memory book from a young girl during her Senior Year of High School. And so much more.

Scroll through to see some of the fun things I’ve found

There are times I think I’ve found something too special to give away, but I love being able to share all these amazing finds. Because I know those buying these packs are going to not only appreciate them but they will be using them to create other pieces of art with them.

In each pack, I try to include a variety of sizes, textures, and items. I always try to include photographs if I have them. I include lots of different types of book pages. Some that include text, illustrations, aged edges and marks. I always include pieces with handwriting, such as postcards, letters, and old envelopes. I like to include old documents and banknotes. It’s my goal to have a well-rounded pack that offers lots of options to the buyer. Overall, the key is to carefully curate a selection of items that are visually interesting and historically significant.

I thought I’d take you along as I gather pieces to include in one of my recent packs and then show you how I pack them for shipping.

If you want to buy a pack you can get one in my Etsy Shop.

Selecting Items to Include

Packing an order

Unboxing and Review: This Month’s Sketchbox Art Kit

This month’s Sketchbox art kit is packed with high-quality supplies that have really added to my artwork.

First off, the Inktese pencils included in the kit are absolutely stunning. If you’ve never worked with Intense before…well, you’re missing out. They function like colored pencils, but when water is added to them they activate and look like ink once dried. The colors this month are golden yellow, amber, peacock blue, light olive, red violet and hot red – and are all so vibrant and really make an illustration pop. These pencils are a joy to work with and have quickly become a staple in my art supply collection.

The Inktense paint pan set is equally impressive. This was a new tool for me, but they work exactly like watercolor paint pans do. Just add water with a brush. The shades – sun yellow, poppy red, turquoise, hookers green, red oxide, and paynes grey – are all so bold and yummy and they mix and match beautifully with each other and with the Inktense pencils.

And you all know my love of Princeton paint brushes, so I was super excited to see the 1/2″ lunar blender brush in this month’s kit. This brush is perfect for creating those soft, ethereal blends that I love so much, and like all my Princeton brushes, this one has quickly become one of my go-to tools.

The Hahnemuhle agave watercolor paper is another new one and it took a little bit of playing with but I think I’ve got it figured out. The paper seems a bit bally when working with the wet paint but so far the paper dries perfectly normal and looks beautiful. The texture and weight of the paper are perfect, just play with the paper a bit to get to know it’s quirks.

Overall, this month’s Sketchbox kit was an A+ for me and it included some truly stunning colors and top-quality materials. If you’re an artist looking for new supplies to add to your collection, I highly recommend checking out Sketchbox. You won’t be disappointed!

New Lined Journal Available

As someone who loves to write and always has a million ideas floating around in my head, I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect journal. When I started designing my own journals it became an obsession! Now every time I need a specific journal I just design one myself and have Amazon print them for me and…YOU!

This time the cover design came before the actual size or style needed. I was putting together new vintage ephemera packs with my latest vintage finds and I just loved the way the papers looked all weathered and tattered with the old script fading into the paper. I decided to convert one of my drawings into digital and then use the vintage ephemera as a background. I loved the design so much that I knew I had to make it a journal. I’m typically a girl who likes a thicker journal, but I’d been needing a thinner journal, so I decided to create a 100-page journal this time.

The cover turned out so cute and the pages are thick and high-quality. It feels really nice to write in, and the lines are spaced perfectly, which makes it super easy to keep my writing neat and organized.

I’ve been using this journal for everything from jotting down ideas for creative projects to making to-do lists, and it’s been such a helpful tool for me. It’s also small enough to take on the go, so I can jot down ideas or make a quick note wherever I am.

If you’re in need of a new journal or just looking for a way to stay organized, definitely give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Art activities for self-discovery

Looking for a creative way to explore your inner self? Why not try an art activity? Creating art can be a powerful way to express your inner thoughts and feelings, and to better understand yourself and the world around you. Here are some ideas for art activities that can help you on your journey of self-discovery:

  • Create a mandala. Mandalas are patterns created with circles and other shapes that can be used as a meditative practice. Creating a mandala can help you reflect on your current state of mind and help you to focus on your thoughts and feelings.
  • Paint or draw your feelings. Take some time to sit down and paint or draw your feelings. It can be a therapeutic way to express what’s going on inside without needing to use words.
  • Create a vision board. Vision boards are a great way to express what you want to manifest in your life. Gather images, quotes, and other visual representations of your goals, dreams, and aspirations, and create a collage to reflect what you want to bring into your life.
  • Make a self-portrait. Self-portraits can be a powerful way to explore your identity and how you see yourself. Try to capture not only your physical appearance but also your emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
  • Write a poem or story. Writing can be a great way to express yourself and to explore your feelings and thoughts. Take some time to write a poem or story about yourself and what you’re going through.

These are just a few ideas for art activities that can help you on your journey of self-discovery. Give one or more of them a try and see what insights you can gain!

What is a vision journal and how to create one of your own

Learn how to create your very own vision journal and unlock the full potential of your creativity. This step-by-step guide will show you how to clarify your goals, stay motivated, and track your progress, all while providing a creative outlet. Plus, get helpful tips and tricks specifically for artists. Start creating your vision journal today and bring your dreams to life!

Photo by Alina Vilchenko on

Creating a vision journal is a powerful way to bring clarity to your life and manifest your dreams. A vision journal is a special notebook where you can write down your goals and aspirations, as well as record your progress towards achieving them. It helps you to focus on the positive and align your actions with your desired outcomes.

Why create a vision journal?

There are many benefits to creating a vision journal:

  • It helps you clarify your goals and priorities. By writing down your aspirations, you can better understand what you want to achieve and how you want to get there.
  • It keeps you motivated and focused. Seeing your goals and plans written down in front of you can help you stay motivated and on track.
  • It allows you to track your progress. By revisiting your vision journal regularly, you can see how far you have come and celebrate your accomplishments.
  • It provides a creative outlet. Whether you use words, drawings, or collages, creating a vision journal can be a fun and creative activity.

How to make the most of it.

  • Get organized: Start by determining the structure of your vision journal. Give each goal a section and make sure you have enough room to record your thoughts, ideas, and progress.
  • Set your goals: After you’ve organized your vision journal, it’s time to set your goals. Be specific and realistic with your goals and be sure to include a timeline for completion.
  • Record your progress: As you work towards achieving your goals, make sure to track your progress in your vision journal. This will help you stay motivated and stay on track.
  • Get creative: Your vision journal is a great place to let your creativity shine. Use colorful markers, stickers, or other decorations to make your vision journal fun and inspiring.
  • Reflect and review: Finally, make sure to review your vision journal regularly. This will help you to stay focused and on track with your goals.

How to create a vision journal:

  1. Choose a journal or notebook that you love. The journal should be small enough to carry with you, but large enough to allow for plenty of space to write and draw.
  2. Set aside some time each week to work on your vision journal. It can be helpful to set aside a specific day and time for this activity, such as Sunday mornings or Monday evenings.
  3. Start by writing down your long-term goals and aspirations. These could be career goals, personal goals, or creative goals.
  4. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if your goal is to write a book, you could break it down into smaller tasks such as outlining the plot, writing a certain number of pages each day, and revising the manuscript.
  5. Include ideas, inspirations, and insights that come to you. Your vision journal can be a place to jot down ideas for projects, quotes that inspire you, or observations about the world around you.
  6. Add visuals to your journal, if desired. You can use drawings, collages, or other visual elements to help you visualize your goals and bring them to life.
  7. Review and update your vision journal regularly. Set aside time each week to look back at your journal and reflect on your progress. Update your goals and plans as needed, and celebrate your accomplishments.

Creating a vision journal is a great way to bring clarity to your life and manifest your dreams. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make the most of your vision journal. With a bit of time and effort, you’ll be sure to reach your goals in no time.

Tips and tricks for artists:

  • Use your vision journal as a sketchbook. You can use your journal to sketch out ideas for artwork, try out new techniques, or experiment with color schemes.
  • Incorporate prompts and challenges. You can use prompts such as “What would you like to create this year?” or “What is your dream project?” to spark creativity and inspire new ideas.
  • Keep your vision journal with you at all times. This way, you can capture ideas and inspirations as they come to you, no matter where you are.
  • Use your vision journal as a portfolio. You can use it to keep track of your artworks and exhibitions, and to document your creative process and evolution as an artist.

Ways to use gesso in art journaling

Gesso is an essential product for any mixed media artist, and it’s especially useful in art journaling. In case you’re not familiar with it, gesso is a white, opaque paint used to prime surfaces for painting, drawing, or mixed media art. It helps to create a smooth, even surface for your artwork, and it also helps to protect your pages from damage caused by paints, markers, and other media.

If you’re new to art journaling, you might be wondering how to use gesso in your work. Here are a few ways that gesso can be used to enhance your art journaling practice:

  1. As a primer: One of the most common uses for gesso is as a primer for your art journal pages. If you’re working on paper, gesso will help to create a smooth surface that’s ready for paints, markers, and other media. If you’re working on a canvas or other porous surface, gesso will help to seal the surface and create a barrier between the canvas and your art materials.
  2. As a background: Gesso can also be used to create a solid white or off-white background for your art journal pages. Simply apply a coat of gesso to your page and allow it to dry before adding any other media. This can be a great way to create a clean, minimalist background for your artwork.
  3. As a resist: Gesso is also useful as a resist medium, which means that it can be used to block out areas of your art journal page that you don’t want to be covered with paint or other media. To use gesso as a resist, simply apply it to your page in the shape or pattern that you want to protect. When you add your other media, the gesso will resist the paint, creating a negative space in your artwork.
  4. As a texture: If you’re looking to add texture to your art journal pages, gesso is a great option. You can use a palette knife or other tool to create texture in the gesso before it dries, or you can mix it with other media like sand or glitter to create a more textured surface.
  5. As a writing surface: Finally, gesso can be used to create a surface that’s suitable for writing on. If you’re using a journal with thin, delicate pages, gesso can help to create a more durable surface that’s less prone to damage from pens and markers.

Overall, gesso is a versatile and essential product for any mixed media artist, and it’s especially useful in art journaling. Whether you’re using it as a primer, background, resist, texture, or writing surface, gesso is sure to enhance your art journaling practice and help you create beautiful, professional-looking artwork.

Benefits of commonplace books for artists

Photo by John Diez on

For artists, commonplace books can be incredibly beneficial tools for inspiring creativity and organizing ideas. Commonplace books are notebooks or journals in which you can record meaningful thoughts, quotes, observations, and other inspirations. By having a single repository for these items, artists can easily refer back to them and use them as a source of inspiration.

Commonplace books can also be great for documenting creative processes. Instead of having to search through files, emails, and other digital clutter, a commonplace book can be used to keep track of ideas, notes, and other information related to a project. Artists can also use a commonplace book to create a timeline for projects and create a visual representation of the creative process.

Moreover, commonplace books can be a great way to help artists practice mindfulness. Instead of going straight to the canvas or digital workspace, taking a few moments to write down ideas and thoughts can give the mind a moment to rest, clear away distractions, and find focus.

Overall, commonplace books can be great tools for artists to capture ideas, organize their creative processes, and practice mindfulness. By taking the time to create and maintain a commonplace book, artists can reap the rewards of a more organized, focused, and creative lifestyle.

I have a class all about creating Commonplace Books on Skillshare.

Enroll through Skillshare:

With a membership to Skillshare, you’ll get access to my entire class catalog, including this class. New members can unlock a free one-month trial.