Art journaling is one of my favorite forms of creative expression because it can turn out 100 different ways depending on the creator. With that in mind, here are my top three tips for making art journaling work for you (and having fun while you're at it!).
Set the Perfectionist Aside
I know it's hard. As someone who has fought with her inner perfectionist her whole life, it's really hard, but if you want to enjoy art journaling, you have to let go. One of the first things I teach in my art journaling eCourse is facing the blank page. There's something about that first page that gets at us. It's pristine. It's perfect. "If I draw/paint on it, it's not going to be perfect anymore. Oh no!" However, one of the best things you can do for yourself (in every aspect of your life) is to let go of the perfectionist, and art journaling can help you do just that.
- Don't tell anyone you are going to art journal. That way, they won't ask to see what you've created or ask how it's going. The thought of someone else looking at your art journal can feed the hungry perfectionist, and we don't want that.
- Tell yourself you aren't going to share your art journal with anyone. Write personal stories you don't want anyone to see in your journal. That way you have an excuse not to share it.
- Avoid looking at inspiration IF you compare yourself to what others have created. You guys know by now I'm a huge fan of drawing inspiration from other creatives (I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to creative journaling), but if looking at art journal pages others have created is only going to make your feel worse, then don't do it. Wait until you get comfortable with your own style.
- Embrace your inner child. Children aren't afraid of making a mess. Rather, they ENJOY making messes. So instead of trying to create a "pretty" page, why don't you make a mess on purpose?
Experiment and Play
If you have never art journaled before, how the heck are you supposed to know what you are going to like best about it? You can't. Not without trying everything out. So...
- Play with paint. Use watercolors and acrylics and spread paint all over a page. Do you like a sheer wash of color or bold palette?
- Use a ruler to help you create straight lines AND try drawing free form.
- Mix media such as crayons with watercolor or ink with Gesso.
- Have pages you write on and leave some pages with only the images.
The idea is to try as many different techniques and play with different media while you figure out your artistic sweet spot. I love watercolor, but I recently got into using oil pastels and have Fallen. In. Love. I never would have known how much I enjoy pastels if I hadn't experimented and given them a shot.
Using inspiration to your advantage: Looking at other art journal pages IS NOT about comparing your work to someone else's. Again, if you struggle with this, then I would suggest not looking at art journal inspiration until you are more comfortable with your own practice. However, searching for art journal pages on social media can help you discover new ways of using your art journal. You may see a spread where someone uses lace, for example. You never thought about using lace, but you have some around the house...why not give it a shot? The trick with inspiration is to treat it like you would research. Tell yourself you're interested in seeing what other possibilities are out there (instead of telling yourself you'll never be as good as Jane Doe).
What about expenses? Don't spend a lot of money on art journaling supplies when you are first starting out. It would stink to spend sixty dollars on a watercolor set only to find out you don't like watercolors. I recommend browsing your home first (what do you already own) then the dollar store and the sale sections at craft stores. You can even find inexpensive art supplies at the grocery store.
Create an Art Journal Habit
I have an entire post dedicated to building creative habits, but here's what you want to think about for your art journal habit:
- You need time to get all your materials out, set up, and put away (assuming you don't have an area in your house where your art supplies can be out at all times).
- You will often need time to let layers dry (although this can be sped up with a blow dryer).
Odds are, you aren't going to be able to squeeze art journaling in the five minutes between eating breakfast and taking a shower. You'll probably want at least thirty minutes to an hour set aside, so when you are looking at where in your schedule you want to include art journaling, keep in mind how much time you will need versus how much time you have.
Establishing an art journal habit will help you fit art journaling into your daily routine. Rather than only having every other weekend to spend time with your journal, you can create art every single day. How does that sound?
Begin your art journal journey knowing you are not going to make perfect pages. Understand that art journaling isn't about creating the type of art you'd hang in your house. Art journaling focuses on self-reflection and self-discovery. It will help you grow, learn, and increase your productivity. But art journaling isn't about making "pretty pictures, so have fun. Experiment with new ideas and supplies. Treat art journaling like you would a new friend; have fun getting to know each other.
Do any of your art journal? If so, what is your number one tip? If not, what are you waiting for?