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Art Journal Background Ideas

Updated on April 8, 2019
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Art Journal Background Basics

Creating Art Journal has become a passion for me. They are expressions and extensions of who and what we are. They express feeling and emotions. And as such they are creative ways to express how we feel at that moment. They are great stress relievers.

You do not need a lot of supplies to get started. Most of the supplies that you need, you probably already have in your stash.

The first thing that you will do to get started is to create a background for your pages.

Here are the supplies that you will need:

A notebook or journal -You can create from any book that you may have

Some gesso paint

Some inks or spray inks

Some oxide inks

Crayons or markers

Watercolor paints

Why Should You Journal ?

Creating a journal is basically the ongoing story of your life. It will tell others all about your your journey. It is a little slice of your life, the times that you lived in and what you thought. It will be a priceless gift to the generations to come.

But more than all of that, it helps you reflect on your own journey. You can visit the years gone by and reflect on where you have been, how far you have come and help you to see where you want to go

Gesso- Your Starting Point For Art Journal Pages

Gesso is like a primer for most of your art journal pages, It comes in white, clear and black. You can use it to strengthen or "beef Up" your thinner pages. It can also mute a background. Or it can cover up a page or part of a page that you do not like,

Multiple manufacturers make it. Some products may be thicker than others, Some have more texture. Try different brands and then stick with the one that you like,.

Paints And Color Media

There is a huge selection of media for you to try. beyond just acrylic paint. Water soluable crayons. watercolor pencils, oil pastels, spray inks, distress inks and so much more.

If you are using paints, I suggest using a good quality acrylic paint like Liquitex Basics, Golden Brand, Studio 51, or Handmade Modern (found in Target). Stay away from cheaper brands like Apple Barrel Or Folk Art. They tend to clump and dry up quickly. Their texture can also be a bit plastic.

Gelatos tend to be a bit expensive, but they do last a long time. They work like water color crayons, but have a wider applicator.

Watercolors are another option. They are easy to carry when you are out and about..If you have a water brush you can create your art just about anywhere.

AS far as markers are concerned, that is one of those things that you need to play around with to see what works best for you.Start experimenting and see which ones you like the best.


Scraping adds a bit of texture. Use a pallet knife, an old gift or credit card, or a piece of cardboard to scrape some paint onto your pages

Add a drop of color or two and pull the paint with your tool.

Experiment with different amount of paint, different colors and locations on your page

Simple finger painted background with three colors
Simple finger painted background with three colors

The Most Basic Page Of All- Finger Painting

Do you remember when you were in kindergarten ? When I was a child, one of the most fun thing of all was finger painting. You had a big piece of paper and some paints. Your tools were your fingers. It was pure joy just to add color any way we wanted to and mix it all up. There was complete freedom in our art.

Why not feel that same joy in an art journal? When I do this technique, I now wear gloves. But you still get the same joy. You just place some paint down and mix it with your fingers. There are no rules for this technique. You just play anyway and as much as you want to.

If you want to, you can dry the paint with a heat gun in between layers. Let go and enjoy the process.

Book Page Art Journal Background

Old book pages glued to an art journal page, then add some color with paints
Old book pages glued to an art journal page, then add some color with paints

Book Pages For Your Art Journal

Art Journal

Old book pages

White glue

Glue some old book pages to cover two adjoining art journal pages

Place some paint on corogated cardboard to create an interesting vertical technique

Using A Brayer

Similar to the finger painting technique, another way to apply paint is with a brayer. Think of a brayer like a paint roller. You simply place some paint on your page and roll it any where that you would like. What colors and where you roll it to is up to you. Remember, There are no rules in art journaling

Use a bit of white on a brayer to soften any harsh colors.

Use black to create a crackle look and add domension
Use black to create a crackle look and add domension

Re Inker Drips And Splats

Reinker bottles in your color choice

Adjoining scrapbook pages

Gesso primer

1. Apply gesso to two adjoining pages in your art journal

2. Allow to dry

3. Using the dropper of the reinker, apply random splats and drips all over the two pages

You can actually "glue"pieces of tissue paper onto you art journal pages with paint. When the paint dries, the tissue paper will be stuck on the page

Table Salt Technique

It is not new, but the table salt technique will give your pages a fresh new look. It s so simple, yet it creates a magical background.

If your paper is not watercolor paper, you will need to do a prep with a product called Absorbant Ground. You could also try using Gesso as a prep.

Then apply several coats of at least a two color watercolor wash. Then sprinkle table salt on the wet paint. Allow to dry. Then brush the salt off the page.

Dryer Sheet Art Journal Background

Dryer sheets can create an wonderful textures background to your art pages. You glue the dyer wipes onto the page with white glue or Modge Podge. Then when dry, you paint over the page
Dryer sheets can create an wonderful textures background to your art pages. You glue the dyer wipes onto the page with white glue or Modge Podge. Then when dry, you paint over the page

Using Gel Medium As A Resist

Gel medium acts as a resist on your paper. So you can stencil and paint with it on your surface. Go over it with the paint color of your choice to reveal the resist.

You can make a mask with any printer paper. Placing a mask on a page means that the area you paint on will not absorb the paint. So it creates a decorative area where the paint is not. You can use decoarative scissors to cut your masks

Painting Backgrounds With Baby Wipes

Gesso Resist

Gesso Primer

2 colors in the same color tines- one dark and one lighter

Paint Brush

Art Journal

  1. Randomly apply gesso primer wherever you want on 2 adjoining pages
  2. Allow to dry
  3. Paint two colors over the whole page randomly
  4. Make sure to mix colors so that they blend well.
  5. Allow to dry
  6. Remove paint on the page with a baby wipe to show exposed gesso white color
  7. Keep wiping until gesso is exposed

Stamp A Background Page

I love to get out my stamps and play with them to create colorful and thoughtful backgrounds.You can use large background stamps, set of stamps or mix it up.

If you are using a large background stamp, make sure that you are stamping on a very flat surface, You may have to take that one page and set it flat on a table to get a good stamping. But even if you only get a partial stamping, that is still a good page.

Have you ever thought about using a copier to create an art journal page? Here is the technique
Have you ever thought about using a copier to create an art journal page? Here is the technique | Source
The block by block technique is perfect for anyone who has limited time for art journaling, Learn more
The block by block technique is perfect for anyone who has limited time for art journaling, Learn more | Source

Embossing Paste And Background Pages

Embossing paste is basically a thick paste that often has metallic or other colors added to it. It gives a raised effect adding dimension to your pages. Most often it is used with a stencil to create a pattern on a page. You can use it just on the paper or you can use it on a age where color has already been added. Make sure that whatever media is one the page is dry before you add the embossing paste over it.

Ink Spray Background

Using some ink sprays and stencil make a very effective background
Using some ink sprays and stencil make a very effective background | Source

Baggie Or Saran Wrap Technique

All you need is a baggie or any plastic bag and some acrylic paint. Squirt some paint onto a craft mat or other non stick surface. Take the baggie or other plastic bag and scrunch it up. Dip the scrunched up bag into the paint and then onto your page, Easy and fun to do.

You can do the same idea with scrunched up saran wrap. Remember as long as their is any amount of paint on it, it can still be used on a page. So you will get more than one page with this idea.

Trace Your Hand

I have done this technique with my grandkids, at various ages for their scrapbooks. But it works well for your art journal.

Think creatively about your hand. Don't limit yourself to a traditional open hand spread fingers approach. You can hold something. throw something away. wave-almost anything that your hand would do.

You can do this right on your art journal page or do it on printed paper and glue it into your page.

This is a perfect form to write your feeling on Just write what you are thinking of.

Decorate your hand. Do not limit yourself just to a shape,

Gesso Texture Background

Gesso primer paint

Bubble wrap

Texture tools (use anything that will create texture on your page)

  1. Apply thick coat of gesso to the two adjoining pages in your art journal
  2. While the paint is wet, texture the paint with bubble wrap or other texture tools
  3. Allow to dry
  4. Use a paint wash over the gesso and the texture will come up
  5. Allow to dry

A messy background expresses how you are feeling at the moment
A messy background expresses how you are feeling at the moment | Source

Watercolor Dots

You need to have one of the following-a water color paper page, a mixed media page, at least two pages glued together, or a gesso prepped page.

  • Cover the entire page with water.
  • Cover the paint with one color of your choice
  • Then make dots with the main color and a secondary color until you create a large circle in the center of the page.You can create small dots of color outside circle if you wish.
  • Allow to dry
  • Make swirls or other designs with a gold or white pen. Create a design inside the circle of your own choice.
  • Outline the circle creating a pattern.

You can try any color combination like purple and blue, yellow and green, red and green. Try other combinations as well.

YOu could also use the same techniques with acrylic paint

Add shapes cut out of scrap paper. Simply glue them on wherever you want them. Paint over them or leave them as is. Old book pages add lots if interest cut into shapes

Final Thought

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to art journal. There are no rules. You cannot make a mistake. This is your art, your way.

Your art journal will be as unique as you are !

Feel free to express yourself in any way that makes you happy !

Once you are able to do that, you will find that your creations in your art journal will make you feel accomplished, creative and free from the daily stress of your life.

© 2019 Linda F Correa


Submit a Comment
  • sheilamarie78 profile image


    15 months ago from British Columbia

    You've given us some great techniques for adding interest to our art journals. Sounds like a project I'll try with my granddaughters this summer.

  • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda F Correa 

    15 months ago from Spring Hill Florida

    I think art journaling with your kids and grandkids is an excellent idea. It's a great way to boost their esteem . I also do art journal pages on gratitude. Art journaling leaves your ability to develop your art in almost any direction you want to go. Thank for the comment.

  • profile image


    15 months ago

    A neat look at art journaling. Thanks for so much information. It would be neat to do themed ones on joy, gratitude, kindness. I would love to do that with my grandchildren over the course of a summer break.

  • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda F Correa 

    15 months ago from Spring Hill Florida

    We included some videos to get you started, Check out Pinterest and You tube for more ideas

  • VirginiaLynne profile image

    Virginia Kearney 

    15 months ago from United States

    Lots of fun ideas. I'd love to have some pictures that show a person doing the techniques.


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