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100 Days of Art Botanical: Days 37-43

10 Art Journaling Techniques


If you're new to Art Journal Every Day, the concept is simple: It's a commitment to take ten minutes each day to do something in your art journal.  No need to finish anything or even like it.  It's about making the time to nourish your creativity every day!  If you have the time to flip through your phone, you have the time to Art Journal Every Day.  If you'd like to share what you make, use the hashtag #artjournaleveryday so that we can all take a peek.  You can find new Art Journal Every Day posts here on the blog most Fridays.  The archives go back to the first Art Journal Every Day post in 2010.

In 2008, I wrote a post called, "10 Scrapbooking Techniques."  That post contained 10 techniques that I used almost every single time I sat down to scrapbook.  Many -- but not all -- of the items on that list are things I still do, but now in my art journal.  Here's a list of my 10 go-to art journaling techniques:

1. Don't start with a blank page. 

I hate staring at a blank page.  I think of making art as "problem solving."  With a blank page, there's no problem to solve.  So, I like to work in a junque journal.  If you're not into making your own journals, then spend some time messing up your pages days, weeks, or months before you actually sit down to create.  

2. Time as a technique.  

I use time in two ways: (1) I give myself limited time to work.  This pushes me to work more quickly and think less.  (2) I let time pass when I'm stuck.  Sometimes it's better to flip the page and move on rather than beat a dead horse, so to speak.  I often loop back (several times) at a later date.  The time in between allows me to let go of previous ideas and see the page for what it truly is.

3. I use a heavy black line. 

I like to create in a number of styles but 90% of my artwork -- from faces to flowers to lettering -- employs a strong black line.  I usually use a marker to create my black lines.

4. Employ a color wheel. 

In 2006, I bought a color wheel.  I wanted to improve my scrapbooking and felt that I was stuck in a rut with my color choices.  I figured that a color wheel would help push me out of that rut.  I was right.  I will admit that it has become second nature to me now, but for the first year and a bit, I pulled that color wheel out for every single project.  I also like to make myself a color wheel -- using non-traditional colors -- every month or so.  It keeps ideas for color combinations fresh in my mind!

5. Kick it up a notch. 

When I was growing up, my mother always used to ask me, "What is going to make this perfectly fine 'B' paper into an 'A' paper?"  She taught me to do more than "enough."  To really think about what the little something extra might be.  I have translated that idea to my artwork.  Sometimes a spread is fine, but it's not special.  So, I look and think and try to figure out what will kick it up a notch and make it great!  Oftentimes it's something small.  A little embellishment, a dash of color, a bit of doodling.

6. Use the Coco Chanel rule. 

Coco Chanel famously said that before you leave the house, you should look at yourself in the mirror and take off the first thing you notice.  This will ensure that you're never wearing too many accessories.  As you know, I'm a huge fan of more is more.  But I do try to pull back and (gasp) cover things up (or blend them) that are pulling too much focus.

7. Always have a white paint pen handy. 

Perhaps it's because I use so much black, but I cannot create without a white paint pen.  It's perfect for shadowing, highlighting, embellishing, journaling, and adding that perfect little extra mark!

8. Remember, it's only paper.  So take a risk! 

It's hard to cut into that gorgeous paper or snip that embellishment in half or cover all that work with paint.  But if you never take a risk you can never achieve greatness.  I really believe that.  You can do things well.  And even very well.  But everything spectacular comes from trial and error and lots of failure.  One of the things I tell my creative coaching clients is to "fail gloriously."  Be brave.  You can't ever get better if you're afraid to try.

9. Grab whatever is at your fingertips and make it work. 

Seeking perfection is stressful, dangerous, and time consuming.  I look at art journaling time as time to "make it work."  I like to grab whatever is laying around on my desk and force myself to make it work.  I often surprise myself with the results and that's a great feeling!

10. Try uncomfortable things.  

My goal is to do ONE uncomfortable thing on every single page of my art journal.  By doing just one uncomfortable thing, I stretch myself every time I open my art journal, but not so much that I become depressed, dissatisfied, or unhappy with what I'm doing. Sometimes the stretch is welcomed into my art practice and sometimes it is crossed off the list as been-there-done-that-not-doing-it-again. Some examples of stretches are: a new color combo, a different lettering style, a difficult drawing, a new-to-me art technique, and so on.

How about you?  Do you have a great tip or technique that you use every time you art journal?  I'd love to hear it!