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Art Journaling 101: What is it and why start an art journal?


Sometimes in our complex world we need a place to take a deep breath and just let everything out. Our joys and our dreams; our frustrations and failures; our plans and our ideas. Journaling, pure and simple, is a way to take our thoughts and feelings and express them onto a page.


Remember our diaries as kids? For many of us they were our first official journal. But, journaling has come a long way, and today the idea can be expressed in many formats. Art Journaling, takes our treasured diary and expands it to include a place to:


  • Record our ideas, memories and thoughts in a visual format through writing, painting glueing, sketching, and using mixed media materials.

  • Explore a specific theme or idea such as: drawing faces, redecorating a living room or keeping Christmas wish lists.

  • Create ART that can be kept in an easy to store format.

  • Keep notes and document exercises from various classes and meetings.

  • Sketch, paint and record our experiences while traveling.

  • Doodle and play while watching TV or hanging out.

  • Document anything we want!


So, how do you get started? First, buy a sketch book or journal! There are many types and sizes of journals or sketchbooks available--check Amazon or Michaels. You may prefer bound or spiral. I strongly recommend watercolor or heavy duty mixed media paper to ensure that your journal will withstand paint, markers and collage materials.


After you have your book, google "prompts for art journaling" and you will find many ideas (see some of my prompts below). There are also classes available online or in person. If you live in the southern Delaware area, check out my weekly art journaling "open studio" sessions at Raye of Light Studio. We provide materials, a weekly quote for inspiration, prompts to guide you, and mini art lessons to keep you learning. Just bring your journal! (and I usually have a few for sale if you haven't picked one up yet).


If you would like more online inspiration, please sign up for my newsletter and I will send you prompts and examples to keep you going. Thanks, Karen Burns



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Some art journaling prompts to try:

  • Create a spread of numbers, letters, colors, shapes to review with the special toddlers or youngsters in your life.

  • Get an assortment of stencils and play!

  • Print out your favorite quote and paste it onto a background. Use personal marks and/or Zentangle to decorate.

  • Use pieces of tissue paper or other collage materials to create your “inner house”.

  • Paint different colored stripes across the page.

  • Use a ruler to make a grid. Experiment with different colors schemes/color placement in each square.

  • Create a fun background and use your journal to keep lists: Christmas wishes, flowers to try in the garden, etc.

  • Use your journal to tell one of your personal stories. Decorate (or even cover up the words) to remind you of the feelings, memories, lessons from that time.

  • Get an art journal for the special child in your life. Paint together in separate books or take turns painting the same picture. (Tombow markers make excellent paint brushes for no mess with the kids!)

  • Try an on-line art class. Use your journal to take notes and complete assignments.

  • Search online for “art journal ideas for beginners”. You will find hundreds!







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