I get this question a lot: I want to be creative, but I don’t know where to start.
All of us are creative. Right now, YOU are creative. You may not feel creative. You may not think you are creative, but if you are a human (and I’m gonna go ahead and assume you are), then you are a creative being.
In “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert says:
“Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it…If you are alive, you’re a creative person.”
I know it’s easy to say we’re all creative, but you might still be thinking, “That’s great and all, but I still don’t know HOW to be creative.”
And that’s why I love journaling—particularly art journaling.
What is Art Journaling?
Art journaling is a form of self-expression in which media such as paints (watercolors, oils, acrylics), pastels, gesso, Mod Podge, ink, charcoal, pencil, scrap paper, pictures, and writing are used.
Simply put: art journaling goes a step further than journaling in the sense you don’t only write words, you include other art media.
Mixed media artist Aisling D’Art believes
“An art journal can be a record of your daily thoughts, a travel journal, an exercise or diet diary, a dream journal, a place where you jot down your goals or to-do lists, or... well, almost any record that you'd like to keep in a book or notebook.”
According to Tammy Garcia
"Art journaling is about the creative process of pulling together color, words and images as you wish on a page. Unlike many other forms of art, it is not about the outcome."
My favorite thing about art journaling? It is for EVERYONE and it means something DIFFERENT for everyone.
Why Would You Art Journal?
- It is a form of self-expression.
- Sometimes words aren’t enough to capture a moment or feeling.
- You need a safe place to make a mess and try new techniques
- You want to dip your toe into scrapbooking.
- To enjoy the creative process.
- To think through words or images.
- It can help you break through a creative block.
Art journals can help be a place to store
- Thank you notes
- Wedding invitations
- Holiday cards
- Letters from pen pals
Silence Your Inner Critic
Art journaling is NOT about creating hang-in-a-museum-worthy art. Just like any other type of journaling, your art journaling experience is completely unique to you. It is personal and private. It. Is. For. You. So that inner critic needs to take itself for a walk when you art journal because guess what? There are no mistakes in art journaling. None! Absolutely none! Let’s say that together: “There are no mistakes in art journaling!” Like any other journal you may keep, no one is going to see your art journal unless you wish them to.
By engaging in the practice of art journaling, you are engaging in creativity.
How to Start an Art Journal
All you really need to start an art journal is paper and media of your choice (pens, pencils, colored pencils, paints, markers, stamps, collage materials, etc.).
- Set up a time to art journal every day (even if it is only for a few minutes). The easiest way to do this is to create a new habit for art journaling.
- Use art journal and writing prompts to get you started:
- Minute Writing Prompts
- 15+ Art Journal Prompts
- Look at what other people have done in their art journals for inspiration:
Benefits of Art Journaling
Art journaling has done wonders for my type A personality. My inner critic is a bit of a bully and major perfectionist, but art journaling gives me the space I need to explore, experiment, create, and express myself without fear of judgment or mistakes.
We all have a need for creative expression because like Gilbert suggests (and I agree with her 100%), simply by existing, we are creative. It’s not always easy to find out WHAT type of creativity we want to engage in—it can take a lot of experimenting, which is why I tell anyone who doesn’t know where to start with creativity, to start with an art journal. The act of trying different methods of creative expression and using different media and techniques will help you find out what you love to create and what you don’t.
You might realize you are all about abstract art. Or maybe you fall in love with sketching landscapes. You might find you prefer straight lines and playing with geometric shapes is a favorite. Maybe it’s the act of coloring or spreading paint on a page that soothes you. If you don’t try, how will you ever know?
Make a Plan
Take five to ten minutes right now and on the nearest scratch piece of paper, answer the following:
- What does it mean to be creative?
- Do you consider yourself a creative person?
- When was the last time you played with art?
- Do you find it easy to express yourself?
- What can art journaling do for you?
You can’t use up creativity. In fact, the opposite is true: The more you create, the more creativity you have. Don’t be afraid to start art journaling. Don’t be afraid to create. When you make a practice of creating on a daily basis, you will find yourself living a creative life without even trying.