Notes on a Thursday
Crafternoon at My Place!

Art Journal Every Day: From Scrapbooking to Art Journaling?

ArtJournalEveryDayLogo-150's it going? Are you forging ahead?  I've heard from a few of you that you're a little bit stuck.  So I've tweeted and facebooked a few 1 minute Art Journaling prompts recently and I thought I'd share a few of them here along with some new ones:

  • Rip or cut colorful magazine pages into squares. Create a solid grid with them on your page.
  • Grab a tag and use whatever is on your desk to decorate it! Don't think, just play!
  • Drip ink or watered down paint onto a page, close your book, open it up and embrace the pretty new design inside!
  • Create a grid using a stamped image.
  • Paint a background for your art journal using your fingers only!

I hope something on the list sparks your imagination!  If not, I know that today's post from out fabulous guest Marit Barentsen will have you scrambling to create in no time at all!


Hi all! How’s it going with the art journals? I know there are a lot of scrapbookers among you, who might find it hard to start art journaling. Especially the "Art" part in the name can be intimidating, isn’t it? I know that word sometimes causes a "block" – and that’s where I step in: Julie asked me to write a blog post about the transition I made from scrapbooking to art journaling, and of course I’m happy to do that! With the following pictures, I will take you back in time and show you the journey I made from being a scrapbooker to the artist I am today (it took quite a while before I dared calling myself an "artist" b.t.w.) I will show you some ways you can integrate art journal techniques in layouts and vice versa. There’s a certain crossover between the two fields, and when you think of it this way - “Art journaling is scrapbooking with a twist” – it sounds a lot less intimidating isn’t it?

First, I want to tell/show you a little bit of my history, because it is part of my scrapbooking/art journaling journey. I am a writer. When I was ten years old, I started a diary and I kept on writing almost every day until a few years back (when I started scrapbooking.) Years of writing left me with this:

And this is a picture of my old school calendars. Do you remember writing and doodling in your school calendar? In a way, we were art journaling without knowing it!

I started scrapbooking about 10 years ago to preserve my personal history and memories not only in words (like in my diaries) but illustrated with photos too. I started with scrapping old family photos (great-great-grandparents) to document the history, but after a while I began to scrapbook "random memories." The first layout I ever put online (in November 2008) tells a childhood memory about me and my mother. (My mom is on that photo) You can still see that I’m a "bulk writer" on this layout.

Being on the internet (and graduated as a teacher in arts) I came across a lot of (scrapbooking) techniques that I wanted to try. So beside my layouts, I kept this little notebook in which I tested techniques and put small pictures that inspired me. I called it my "inspiration diary." (If only someone would have told me then that this was an "art journal," then I would have explored that field much earlier!

Soon, I left "scrapping the family history" behind me. I discovered challenge blogs and played along, I got inspired by all sorts of photos – not only familiar pics – and I scrapped whatever I felt or wanted. I still didn’t have a clue about "art journaling" though, but I already did use all sorts of photos and images to "tell my story." At that time I didn’t have much money and couldn’t buy scrapbook supplies. I had to be inventive. I scrapped with all sorts of cheap materials and I used paint and the sewing machine a lot. The next photo shows that a "simple" layout from that time, made with only a few materials, can still bring a very strong message across.


On the above layout, I combined the picture with a poem. Besides writing my own story, I love to use quotes, poems or song lyrics. Somewhere in the Spring of 2009, looking for quotes and lyrics on the internet, I somehow came across the term "art journal." I was hooked right away – this was the way I wanted to scrapbook! This was truly combining my "stories" with "images" without any borders. I decided to make a book with song-texts of my favorite singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, and my first "art journal" was born. It was like I’d grown wings and learned to fly... drawing letters, looking for pictures in magazines... I was on the loose!

I still called myself "scrapbooker" then, but some of the "freedomness" that I’d discovered working in my Leonard Cohen art journal slipped into my layouts as well. I explored the boundaries of both fields. I combined images, made collages and used a lot of handwritten text both on layouts as well as in my art journal...

The next photo shows a layout from that time. It measures 12x12” – but is it a layout? Is it an art journal page?

Here’s the good part of scrapbooking/art journaling: who cares how you call it. It’s fun!

Bringing art journaling techniques to layouts and vice versa – I do it ever since!

On the next photo you see a layout with "art journal borders" and doodling on it.  I combined it with a magazine photo and spray ink (using Tim Holtz alpha masks for the title) and I can’t tell if this is a layout or an art journal page. Can you?

Scrapbooking is about using photos on a layout. I started scrapbooking with using my own photos. I went from there to using "strange" photos (free stockphotos from the internet) and magazine images. After that, I started to combine photos and make collages. I felt free to "alter" the photos, which eventually led to this: I painted over a photo of myself!

Another fun technique that can be used on both layouts and art journal pages!

Last year, I decided to go back to my old daily diary writing. I sort of missed the reflection on the day that I experienced by looking back in the evening and writing it all down... but I wanted it to be more visual this time. A "visual diary of me." Instead of writing in a diary, I started this “weekly art journal” (which I call “The Chronicles of Marit”).

During the week, I prepare the page, collect images and take notes. I sometimes even start on the page. This page "grows" during the week, giving me an overview of what I thought and did. I combine small photos with images from magazines, stamps, doodles...whatever I feel like. Here it truly comes together: the diaries from the past, the school calendars, the scrapbooking, the drawing lessons at art’s all on the pages!

Here’s a picture of a week-page in 2010. 

When I started ‘The Chronicles," I described every day of the week, and put the date with it. But there were weeks, that some day’s were all more or less the same while other days needed a whole page to this year I have another approach: I still take notes, I still "describe the week," and sometimes I do record the dates and describe every single day. But there are weeks that can do with one word or a quote. I just go with my feeling and you know what? It’s all OK. After all, it’s MY week, MY life and MY journal.

This is what I learned on my creative journey and this is what you should keep in mind: Call it "scrapbook every day." Call it "art journal every day." Call it "create every day." Call it "write something every day" it as you like, but create the way YOU like best. Mix and match and don’t bother how it’s called. Don’t be afraid of the word "Art." Just be free and have fun!

Je t’embrasse


Marit_avatar I'm Marit, and I'm from the Netherlands. I live together with my beloved in Eindhoven. My love and I run a small company together in graphical communication/web design. I have a son (from a former relationship) who studies Artificial Intelligence at the University.

I have been creative all my life - it runs in the family I guess. My father is a talented photographer (I learned the "old fashion photography" - you know - the old photo-negatives and photodeveloping and all - from him.) My mom is a poet and a writer - with lots of books under her name. Their talents got mixed in my genes and I'm grateful for that!  I graduated as a teacher in arts and I am the owner of the website "Marit's Paper World," where I teach online art journal workshops. I also write articles for a Dutch scrapbookers magazine "Creatief met Foto's."

Lots of scrapbookers are afraid to start an art journal because they think they are not "artsy" enough...but the fun thing of an art journal is: there's no "right and wrong!" Everyone can do it! With my artwork, and with this post, I hope to inspire people so they get started and have as much fun and satisfaction from art journaling as I do!

Blog: Marit’s Blog