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Journal Your Heart Out

Updated on December 2, 2019

One of my Art Journals

Art Journal Cover by Kartika Damon
Art Journal Cover by Kartika Damon

Mixed media journal page

Art Journals - You Don't have to be a Trained Artist!

Art journals are such a popular medium of self-expression because you don’t have to be an experienced or trained artist. We can save these art journal gems for our selves and posterity; we can display them as art pieces, or put them away for future reference.

The power of doodling, collaging, free writing, water coloring, and experimenting with all kinds of media, including found objects, is that it allows you to express and record what is in your mind and heart at a given point in time! You don’t need to be trained to play with the media. Just pick up a paint brush, watercolor crayon, or a simple pen and go for it. Anything goes—it is your journal, your playground, and place to experiment. Anyone can create interesting and beautiful art journals.

Everyone needs a form of creative expression, and even those of us who have been what Julia Cameron calls, “blocked creatives,” can come out of the closet in a non-threatening way and create art. That is why so many people have discovered the joys of making personal art journals.

All you need to get started:

Some form of a journal—you are free to chose anything form the simplest spiral notebook to any of the varieties of journals sold at art supply stores: moleskin pocket journals with lines; large unlined journals with quality water color paper; plain covered or decorated; tiny to large.

Personally, I have a collection of journals in a variety of sizes for a range of purposes— some are just for writing; some for mixed-medium works.


Here, the choices are endless and include materials, such as: gauche, water color, ink, water color crayons, art papers, found papers, crayons, markers, fabric, art papers, old photos, cards, magazines, art stamps, and more.

Scissors; glue (I like a glue stick); tape—both one sided and double sided.


Mix it UP!

The joys of mixed media: I use all of these and love the freedom of mixing a variety of mediums on a single page. What is important is to overcome fear and simply go for it and have fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and remember you are doing this for yourself—try not to be your own worst critic. Over time you will discover what materials you love to work with and what makes you happy.

Incorporate words or text into your art journal: Words or text add an interesting dimension to your art pages. It is fun to mix text with collage, for example, or to use text to complement original drawings. You can cut words from magazines or write directly onto your pages without censorship. Sometimes you have to simply free write on your pages to discover what you want to say—let that happen without trying to hard to be profound or interesting.

Let go of the constraints of the daily grind!

Allow yourself some space to forget about the should’s and shouldn’ts. Your art journal is the place to express yourself, not for pleasing other people. Here, you are free to say the things that are ruminating within your psyche, to be funny and serious, and to express your self in your own unique ways.

Let go of linear time.

We tend to live our lives in such structured and disciplined ways, where the clock rules our every moment, we lose touch with the freedom of being in the moment. Art journals and art making in general enlivens the part of our brains where we let go of time and experience the innately creative selves that we are. The time we spend making art journals is our time and our opportunity to be free from the constraint of our obligations to perform, be perfect, and to please others.

Keep a journal in your purse or backpack.

One of my favorite places to work on my art journal is a local café. Over a latte, I simply allow myself to get in touch with what is on my mind and start writing, drawing, or doodling. I begin to get clear on how I feel and what my place is in the world. Sometimes I save spaces to later add in collage, paint or photos. Often, I have a glue stick and some scissors in my bag along with a magazine and actually add collage elements then and there. Sometimes, people will become intrigued and ask me what I'm up to. When they take a look at my art journal process, they often go out and by a journal of their own.

More hubs on making art:

Creating a Symbolic Collage Art Journal

How to Create Stunning Art Assemblages

Collage and Mixed Media Art - tips!

Mask-Making Step-by-Step

Collage with Gouache

Do you Art Journal?

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