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★ ART JOURNALING | Technique Tutorials, Inspiration and Prompts ★

Updated on January 17, 2018

Tips for Keeping an Illustrated Journal

An art journal is where you combine some writing with illustrations, painted backgrounds, magazine collages or other art. The writing can be a day-to-day diary, a scrapbook for your travels or life, favourite quotes, poems, to-do lists or life goals, or absolutely anything else you'd like to keep a record of!

This page provides lots of inspiration, ideas, prompts and techniques to help you broaden the range of techniques you use for embellishing the journal pages, and to keep you going through the motivational and creative barriers.

Art journaling is a great creative outlet and a fun hobby, and I hope that this page inspires you to give it a go, or experiment more with your existing journal!

Sketchbook Project Entries

Photo and journals by LKG Photography.

If you want to enter your own journals into the 'Sketchbook Project' this year or next, check out this link.

Journaling Materials & Art Supplies

There is such an amazing array of art materials available to buy, and experimenting with new media is very inspiring - and also lots of fun of course! The more different types you try, the quicker you'll find what your favorites are.

An Introduction

Art journaling is a fantastic hobby for people who enjoy being artistic, and when you finish a journal it is so satisfying to look through the beautiful and varied pages you've created. I especially love journals that incorporate a wide range of media and texture experiments because these journals are literally bursting at the seams and are so fun to look through!

You can use a huge number of different materials in your journal, and you can really let your creativity run free without judgement. The most popular materials are pens (markers, felt tips, micron pens etc) and paints (acrylic, watercolor, oil etc), although I've seen everything from salt to tea bags being used!

More materials you can use include: magazine pages, recycled book pages, ephemera, crayons, pencils, photos, pastels, newspaper, inks, different kinds of paper (tissue, crepe, parchment etc), leaves, and thin fabrics like muslin and cheesecloth.

I find experimenting with art techniques to be the most fun part of this hobby. Images and patterns can be printed onto paper with rubber stamps, with methods like potato or lino printing, with textured materials like bubble wrap, or with stencils. You can make your own stencils or buy them, and they are extremely popular for adding patterns to backgrounds. People also like to embed memories into the pages by sticking in maps, notes, tickets, receipts and other paper souvenirs.

Further techniques you can use include embroidery and collage. Building up multiple layers of paints, papers and other media give a luxurious feel to the journal pages.

Art journals can simply be a notebook and a pencil, or you can make use of several different techniques on one page. It's completely up to you; nobody is going to see the journals unless you want them to just go for it!

If you are planning to use paints on your pages you will need a journal filled with thick paper so that the paper won't warp and tear under the liquid paint. You can use thin paper with some paints though as long as you add a base layer of gesso (see below for info). Pick a journal filled with thick watercolor paper if you are going to be working with this medium.

And remember...every page does not need to be a masterpiece. Just relax and enjoy!

Art Journaling Videos

Mixed Media Art

Art journaling can use so many different media, from magazine cuttings to book pages, paints and inks - so experiment!
Art journaling can use so many different media, from magazine cuttings to book pages, paints and inks - so experiment! | Source


A popular product for journalers is Gesso, which is a primer used as a base for (usually) oil and acrylic paints. It's ideal for using on pages which aren't thick enough to carry paints very well, and it's also great when working with layers.

Gesso can be added on top of a layer in order to fade it before writing or adding more layers on top. I especially like gesso on top of book pages because it fades the printed text to make a lovely background effect.

Ranger 4-Ounce Claudine Hellmuth Studio Gesso
Ranger 4-Ounce Claudine Hellmuth Studio Gesso

Gesso is simply painted onto paper before art is added on top. It's purpose is to stop the paper from being absorbent and therefore stops warping and wrinkling, plus it adds a good thickness and texture.

You can buy white, black or clear gesso.


Art Journal Background Techniques

Journal Prompts & Ideas

To Get Your Imagination Going

- Choose a quote, poem or song lyric and write why you like it, or just embellish it appropriately.

- Draw or paint a rainbow and come up with an alternative to 'Richard Of York Gains Battle In Vain', using things you like; such as Redcurrants, Opals, Yetis etc.

- Write down some facts you have researched about your favourite artist, and then either recreate one of their works of art, but in your own style, or draw a household object in the artist's style.

- Do you have anything lucky? Create a design using illustrations of your personal lucky things - whether it's a number, object, underwear etc and say why you believe it's lucky.

- Draw an aerial view of your old schools or homes, and write any memories down next to the rooms they occurred in.

- If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?

- How do you imagine Aliens to look? Would they be friendly? What is their mode of transport?

- If you had the ability to do anything and go anywhere for 24 hours, what would you do and where would you visit? (instant travel is allowed)

- Picture your favourite location or your dream destination and draw it. Mix different places together if you can't choose - how about the Eiffel Tower on a Thai beach?! Describe what's so great about it.

- What is your favourite word? Write down all words that rhyme with it (even made up ones!), or words associated with it. Try to cover the page.

- What is your favourite book? Who are your favourite characters and why? How do you imagine them to look?

- Do you wish you'd said sorry to anyone in your life? Regret something you did to someone else? Write your apologies down, then paint over them.

- Think of someone dead who you wish you'd met, or wish you'd asked/told them something in particular. Write a letter to them.

- If you could pass on one tip, quote or piece of advice on to your children (or future children), what would it be?

- What would your favourite 3 course meal consist of?

- Can you remember 3 specific moments of your life that stand out in your memory? What are they? Are they happy or sad?

- Do you have a talent or party trick? What is it and how did you learn it?

- Write down your bucket list. For more writing ideas click here for a list.

- What would you like to be remembered for?

- If you could throw a dinner party for any 10 people (living or dead), who would you invite? What would be the seating plan and why?

- Document a week in your life. Include photos, drawings, words, and/or paper momentoes like tickets, food packaging etc. Do this once every year or two to see how your week has changed.

- If you could go back in time, what era would you go back to and why? What is the general fashion and style of that time? What do you see?

- Design a dress for Lady Gaga to wear for an award ceremony...but it must be made entirely from food!

- If you've just had a baby, or you have a young child, why not document their life and adventures in your art journal?

- Write and illustrate 10 random facts about yourself - do you like a weird food combo? What was your favourite toy as a kid? Do you have a natural talent or party trick? What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

- What are your favourite possessions, present and past? Perhaps an heirloom or something which you made yourself? Or it could be your favourite childhood toy, or your first grown-up dress?

- Write about your favourite Christmas present(s) - when did you receive it, how was it wrapped, and why was it the best?

Using Teabags for Texture

Try and stick different household items in your journal for texture - including bubble wrap, clingfilm, aluminium foil, yarn, threads, leaves off your house plants, scrunched up paper, fabric/swatches, old clothes, film tape/negatives, photos, candle wax etc.

Photo and journal by Finnabair - see more gorgeous journal pages here on the artist's blog.

Watercolour Pencil Shavings

This pretty background is made by scattering watercolour pencil shavings over a water saturated page.
This pretty background is made by scattering watercolour pencil shavings over a water saturated page. | Source

More Background Techniques

Painted Travel Journal


Record What's Close At Hand

Can't think of what to write about? How about what is in your pockets, or bag?
Can't think of what to write about? How about what is in your pockets, or bag? | Source

Illustrated Travel Journal


Arty Ideas

More Prompts To Inspire Your Page Designs

- Cut out photos (particularly people) from newspapers or magazines and doodle on them. Or cut the image in half, stick one half in your journal and then draw the missing half yourself.

- Write out your favourite quote by using letters you have cut out of a magazine - in the style of a ransom note.

- Pick your favourite colour and create a page spread with this theme - try and find paper and magazine cuttings in the chosen colour, and other things around your home that you can stick in; such as fabric scraps, gift tags, wrapping paper, tickets, old credit cards, stickers, balloons, letters, envelopes, stamps etc.

- Before you start painting or drawing on a page, cover it with scraps of white and cream papers - as many different types as possible such as lined, graph, tracing, watercolour, mulberry, embossed etc.

- Try painting with coffee.

- Print a pattern in paint using only naturally occurring items as the stamps e.g. leaves, grass, flowers, bark, potatoes etc.

- Draw something simple like a glass cup using just charcoal and your finger to create the light and shadow.

- Incorporate written words and sentences into a painting - like in this Black Bear painting (complete with a tutorial.)

- Why not try a mini journals? Smaller books are perfect for beginners because they're much less daunting to fill.

- Cut-out and sew a fantastic self-portrait.

- Try and create moulded tissue paper art using rubber stamps or other moulds.

Illustrate Your Recipes


Photographic Art


Sticking photographs in your journal are great for adding a personal touch, but you can also create art with your photos - for instance by 'painting with light' as shown in the photo above.

Click here to see how to 'paint with light'.

Collage Journal Pages


Art Journaling Books

Art journaling books are excellent and inspiring resources where you can find unique ideas, expert tips and tutorials all in one place.

Favorite Quotes

Creating a journal page around one of your favorite quotes is a popular idea, and it gives you chance to practice your lettering techniques too - I love how the writing looks in this example.
Creating a journal page around one of your favorite quotes is a popular idea, and it gives you chance to practice your lettering techniques too - I love how the writing looks in this example. | Source

Art Journal Lettering

Do You Have a Journal?

How Often Do You Add To Your Art Journal?

See results

Please Comment on my Lens!

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    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 

      17 months ago from U.S, California

      Creative ideas for a journal!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Wellington, this was an awesome hub with excellent art journaling ideas that's so full of inspiration and creative thoughts. Voted up!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thankyou for this idea, I think I am going to get busy...

    • tazzytamar profile image


      5 years ago from chichester

      This is amazing! I love the watercolour pencil shavings - beautiful! This has given me so many ideas! Bookmarked!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      I haven't journaled for such a long time. You have inspired me. Pinned to my new "journal" board.

    • evawrites1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Beautiful examples, I never thought about the teabags thing before.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      i have many collages in my journal that's why i know how important is to engage in this activity is..

      nice post

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      very creative love your ideas thinking of having a go.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      5 years ago from UK

      Found this again, this time I have bookmarked it. So many great ideas - thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Gorgeous lens. Great work and a lot of wonderful ideas.

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Great lens! added to my How to use a journal lens

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Lots of good ideas.

    • SianaL profile image


      6 years ago

      I've been journaling since I was 9 and never realized how much stuff you can do! Love these ideas especially the collages.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image


      6 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Really want to try this, it looks so creative

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for this amazing lens. I believe art journals to be works of art themselves. My local gallery recently had an exhibition featuring many beautiful journals. They were all so different and each told a story of the inner workings and musings of the artist's mind. It was a fascinating exhibiition.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love your lens! Just reading your list of prompts has my mind spinning with all types of ideas! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • TheCandle LM profile image

      TheCandle LM 

      6 years ago

      Loved this. My husband is an Art Teacher, and he's been making Art Journals for years. Every once in awhile, I take a look at them, and they are truly beautiful. Thanks!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very inspiring! thanks for making such lens :)

    • retrochalet profile image

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      6 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      I love your work, I'm an artist so finding out some good tips here. Off to try the teabags!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome Lense - I love the pictures !!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Super fantastic, I am just starting my art journal and your lens was a great find for resources.

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Fun lens! Love your ideas!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your tips are really great! I think I'm going to use some of them in my inspiration journal.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the "Illustrate Your Recipes"... thanks for sharing. I would never have thought of all the ideas you have shared in this lens.And it's so colorful!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      A fabulous collection of tips and ideas to enable anybody to keep an art journal. I am so inspired that I will be returning many times I am sure - blessed

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow! What a great collection, thanks so much! I have already spotted a ton of things I want to try and I haven't even gotten halfway down yet!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 

      6 years ago

      I love art. In any form. I always drag around a sketchbook, watercolours, and calligraphy pens. Sometimes my shoulder hurts because I have way too many art supplies in my bag. Oh well! It is the energy of life for me.

    • RadaFrancis LM profile image

      RadaFrancis LM 

      6 years ago

      very interesting, thanks for sharing all of this awesome info.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for fabulous ideas to also do with my kids!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for all the great ideas! I'm drinking coffee, but am now looking at it as paint. Who knew?! (grin)

    • Hawaiitom profile image


      7 years ago

      Really nice a lot of ideas from it..Thanks!

    • Millionairemomma profile image


      7 years ago

      I absolutely love the photos you used. Anything to our creative juices flowing is good.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice it..!

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      7 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I'm adding this to my favorite lenses lens (& will later probably add to my Epicbalad of poetry lens)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, nice ideas.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this post is wonderful! you have compiled quite the collection. i'm sure it took you a lot of hard work to put it together. i truly appreciate it. what does it say about me when i own 3 of the 5 art journaling books suggested? ;)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for your lens. My journals used to be much more colorful, using various colored ink pens and once in a while doing little doodles and drawings as I wrote. It's been a long time since I have even hand written in a journal since I do most of my writing these days in blogs. Thanks for the inspiration to maybe pick up the colored pens and actually hand write my journals again.

    • caketech profile image


      7 years ago

      I love these ideas! I don't have an art journal yet, but I am inspired to start making one now! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Richardryder profile image

      Risteard O'Marcahain 

      7 years ago from Wales

      great ideas

    • cinback profile image


      7 years ago

      This was just what I was looking for as a beginner. So much helpful information. I'll be back. Thank you.

    • whitneywpanetta1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank for all of the information! I am an avid journaler as well and I love to see other people active in it! I recently started a blog about it at!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing job on the lense!

    • curious0927 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this! It's awesome!

    • Todayhaspower LM profile image

      Todayhaspower LM 

      7 years ago

      Wow, you are very talented. Great lens!

    • CreativeExpress profile image


      7 years ago

      Another wonder-filled lens!

    • dwnovacek profile image


      7 years ago

      Incredible lens. I'm sure I'll be spending many more happy hours reviewing everything you've presented. Angel Blessed!

    • Serenity30 profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderfully informative lens. I have always wanted to start an art journal..

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      wonderful lens, I keep reading stuff on journaling and as a mixed media artist I keep telling myself that I am going to start keeping a journal. But I never find time or can't think of what to do so procrastination takes control. I am so inspired and helped by this lens, thanks - it might be the one that finally gets me to start.

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      7 years ago

      awesome awesome awesome...RWJR

    • profile image

      Sunfish LM 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I am bookmarking it so I can come back and read more -there is so much here to explore. Thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Makes me want to start a proper art journal! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great job! Beautiful, creative and well-presented. Makes me want to start an art journal personally.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      ~blessed by a squid angel~

    • serenity4me lm profile image

      serenity4me lm 

      7 years ago

      Loved it. I thought the picture of the watercolor pencil shavings was really pretty. I enjoyed all the prompts and ideas as well.

    • ellagis profile image


      8 years ago

      very inspiring lens! I enjoyed it a lot!!!

    • wizardgold lm profile image

      wizardgold lm 

      8 years ago

      I used to champion this idea when I was an art teacher many moons ago.

    • sulcatamandy profile image


      8 years ago from Montana

      I never thought of keeping an art journal, but I may just try it out. I have kept a regular journal for so long. I can just doodle and draw when I can't think of what to write.

    • Dustbunnyodoom profile image


      8 years ago

      Fantastic resources, thanks for sharing!!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Lovely lens - never thought of the concept of having an art journal.

    • catbehaviors profile image


      8 years ago

      @catbehaviors: I forgot to tell you, if those are your drawings, you are very talented!

    • catbehaviors profile image


      8 years ago

      Sadly, I'm going to have to get a new journal. My old one is full. I never thought of calling it an art journal, I do write, but also draw in it to illustrate some things. Congrats on receiving the honor of purple star on this lens, it deserves it. :)

    • OriginArtz LM profile image

      OriginArtz LM 

      8 years ago

      SPLENDID! You're my inspiration! I hope i can make informative lens like this

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful Lens! Keep writing.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I was inspired to drag out my art journals during this visit, thanks for that. I think my journals are in some ways a form of meditation, and we all need that maybe especially at times when we feel we have the least time for it, when stressed out to the max over multi-tasking way too many projects at once. Yet to do this is an investment in focus and the peace of mind needed to accomplish great things. Delightfully creative and inspiring

    • WHPFord profile image


      8 years ago

      This makes me want to update my sketchbook.

    • Recession Proof2 profile image

      Recession Proof2 

      8 years ago

      Great ideas, thanks.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      8 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Great lens! Lensrolled.

    • AnneVis profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome and inspiring lens!

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I've only recently begun art journaling and and enjoy it SO much. Such great ideas and examples here, really enjoyed visiting this creativity..

    • bjslapidary profile image


      8 years ago

      Love your lens. You have such great info here.

    • Pip Gerard profile image

      Pip Gerard 

      8 years ago

      A girl after my own heart! Have lensrolled this beauty to my new lense showing my journal pages. Will be watching more of these videos - thanks

    • Philippians468 profile image


      8 years ago

      this is making me itch to start journaling..keep up the awesome work pal!

    • noobeegin profile image


      8 years ago

      A new favorite lens. I have a book about me that I write in, doodle in, add mixed media to, but I don't get to it as often as I want. Mixed media art is one of my new art loves. This year, I plan to use more mixed media techniques in my personal art.

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 

      8 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      Very thorough lens. I have lots of sketchbooks, but haven't really journalized....might have to give it a try.....:)

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      8 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I love journaling it is a great way to look back from time to time through the years and see the many things you have forgotten.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      Nicely done. Am lensrolling to my journal lenses. :)

    • bbudoyono lm profile image

      bbudoyono lm 

      8 years ago

      Very nice!

    • EpicFarms profile image


      8 years ago

      What a great idea! I have a bound 8.5x11 book that I was "scribbling" my artistic ideas in, but I never thought about making an actual journal. Thanks for the inspiration (lensrolled you to my Jen's Gallery lens :o)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens :) I enjoyed reading it! I wanted to start a journal for a long time. Need to do it soon :) It will be a lot of fun.

    • LotusMalas profile image


      8 years ago

      This really inspires me to do something creative today!

    • wyrm11268 profile image


      8 years ago

      Now I want to start a journal! Thanks for all the interesting info here.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      8 years ago

      I got a little artsy journal when I first came to Seattle, to put artifacts in -- and didn't do anything with it seemed a bit of an intimidating task. Sometimes things just don't look as envisioned. Thanks for the journaling tips.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      What an inspiration your lens is. Even I might be able to do an art journal that would please me. You've got great suggestions and ideas and lovely illustrations. Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What fun! I am not artistic at all, but I do love to add pictures to my journaling efforts. Lensrolling to How to Set Goals with Pictures, which is a little different slant on the same thought. I enjoyed all this fabulous art!

    • unstucktheory profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! Your lens is just bursting with colour and inspiration. Must go and drag out my Moleskine and watercolours now ;-) Great lens, Liked & Lensrolled.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank-you for the helpful healing art ideas and beautiful examples to inspire!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      Love this explosion of creativity that I discovered via Kim's review! This is very inspiring and a great way for people to explore their artistic side.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The Art Journal is such a lovely idea. If I were an artist, I would have one. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • wellingtonboot profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from U.K.

      That's brilliant! Thanks for the comments :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What an inspiring lens! Although I cannot see myself doing this, I have a soon-to-be 8-year-old granddaughter who has the heart of an artist and not much opportunity to exercise her innate abilities. You have inspired me to make a "kit" for her for Christmas that will include a couple of journals, paints, etc. that she can use to get started making her own journals. Her mother does scrapbooking (fanatically) so she should have plenty of additional materials. I can't wait to see what she comes up with. Thanks so much for that inspiration!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love this page! It was so inspiring to me that I wrote a review of it on Squidoo Lens Reviews. You can see it here -

      Stop by and pick up a badge for your lens if you'd like.

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello from a Squidoo Greeter! what an inspiring lens! I for one don't have time to make an elaborate journal, I just write and draw things that inspire me and keep this in an art sketch book for referencing. a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~


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    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)