Birdhouse Album

Art Journaling Week: Welcome!

Welcome to Art Journaling Week!

This week we are going to be exploring the basics of art journaling.

Q: What is an art journal?

A: The simplest answer is that it's a notebook that mixes text and images.

There is no right or wrong in art journaling.  I think that's part of the appeal for so many.  You can paint, draw, stamp, collage, write, anything that feels good to you!  I think of art journaling as a way to record my feelings, daily life, and artistic inspiration all in one place.

Q: What supplies do I need?

A: Again, anything goes!  Grab a notebook and a pen and you're half-way there.  Additional supplies are really dictated by your tastes.  Common extras include: colored pens, colored pencils, paint (of all kinds), scraps of pretty paper, gel medium, stamps, ink, gesso, magazine pages, tape...and anything else that may be lying around your craft space.  The good news is that you don't need a lot of money or stuff to art journal.  Just a little bit of time and some imagination!

Q: A little bit of time?  Really?  I'm a very busy person.

A: I hate to sound like a broken record, but art journals are so easily customizable to your lifestyle.  Whatever your limitations, there's a way that an art journal can work for you!

I like to make my pages in stages.  I don't sit down and "do an art journal page" all in one sitting.  Though, many people do.  For me it's a longer process.  I add a little bit here, a little bit there.  Scribble an idea down.  Wash a page with color.  It's creative bursts of 15 minutes.  When I have the luxury of time I'll often sit for an hour and play, but you don't have to!

Q: I'm not an artist.  I can't possibly do an art journal. It's too intimidating.

A: Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, everyone has the need for artistic expression.  An art journal is a safe space to experiment.

I don't share a lot of my art journal pages because (1) they often contain truly private thoughts and (2) they're very often ugly.  In art journaling, it's the process more than the product that is rewarding -- at least for me that's true.  I think of my art journal as a workbook.  It's a place to practice.

If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Ready to get started?

Great!  Today I'm going to take you through my basic page prep process for my daily art journal.  I actually have several art journals going at the same time.  My daily art journal is just what it sounds like. I try to work on it every single day.  This is less scary than it sounds.  I spend some time doing my basic page prep and then most days it's about 10-15 minutes actually working in the art journal.  Later in the week I'll go over some of my other art journals.

My daily art journal is a watercolor moleskine that is 12x16.5" -- or 12x33" when it's open -- it's huge!  I've been working in it since December 2009.  And I always prep my pages.

STEP ONE: Cover the seam with masking tape.

Covering the seam helps prevent leekage of wet elements through the binding.  I hate going back to an old page and finding that paint has seeped through the binding.

I like to use a very wide masking tape.  I buy mine at the art supply store, but some large hardware stores will carry it too.

STEP TWO: Gesso over the masking tape.

Masking tape will resist a lot of art mediums, so I cover it with a quick coat of gesso.  The gesso also acts as a secondary barrier to any leakage and helps to strengthen my page.

STEP THREE: Create your background.

I try to keep my backgrounds light.  If you go too dark or too intricate anything you do on top of it will disappear or look confused.  For this particular background I used watercolor paints.

Once the gesso was dry, I painted a series of red circles.

Then while the watercolor was still wet, I washed the background with color.  This caused the paint to bleed in a pleasing way.

STEP FOUR: Add some interest.

This is an optional step.  But because I'm working in such an enormously huge journal I like to add some interest to each page.  I stamped with this cool dandelion stamp that was sent to me by Emily from Stamping Bella.

I used Archival ink by Ranger because it's waterproof.  So when I ran around the flower outline with watercolor paint my image stayed perfect.

Then I added a tiny bit of white pen to make the flowers pop even more.

I also did some little curls on the edge of the paper.

Now my page is fully prepped and ready for me any time!

So what's next? Every day I add a little something to my prepped page until it's full.

Daily musings and doodlings and an experiment with a method of painting a bird.  And it took me 11 days to finish it.  Those of you who are short on time can clearly see that it only takes a few minutes to do each little part.  (I even missed a few days!)  The sum is greater than the parts.  Here are a few more examples of the types of things that end up in my daily art journal:

Example: Color Samples

Example: Photos

Example: To Do List

Example: Memory Keeping

Example: Artistic Experiments

Example: Get Design Ideas

The drawing above inspired this stamp:

I try to spend at least 10 minutes a day in my daily art journal just scribbling away.  When I'm super busy and have no time for any other artistic endeavors, I find those few minutes for my art journal.

Now, this is only one way to work on an art journal.  Over the week we'll be discussing several other ways to do it!

But here's one more quick tip before I leave.  If you don't have a watercolor notebook, you can use a regular notebook and make the pages a bit sturdier.  Here's a regular grid lined notebook:

I group several pages (5-6) together and tape all along the edges and down the center seam with masking tape.

Then I coat the whole thing with gesso.

Now I can go as crazy as I want to.  The pages are sturdy and I can use all sorts of liquid mediums without any fear of things leaking through!

Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. You can grab a little "art journaling week" badge for your blog or facebook page if you want.  It's here.