What Is An Art Journal?

Some clarity and inspiration from Amy Maricle of Mindful Art Studio. Amy teaches art as self-care classes online. Visit her website for a deep dive into the world of art journaling and to sign up for a free class. 

An art journal is the same as a written journal, except that it incorporates colors, images, patterns, and other materials. Some art journals have a lot of writing, while others are purely filled with images. It’s a form of creative self-care.

What Kind of Art Goes in an Art Journal?

The beauty of an art journal is that anything goes. It’s a no holds barred space where I can express and explore my feelings through images, writing, and just playful mark making. It’s a healthy, expressive outlet at the end of the day and one of my best coping skills.

Regardless of whether or not you have any art “talent” or training, all you need to art journal is some simple art materials and a willingness to play with the art materials. It’s the play that’s healing!

This is what I love about art journaling. My pages frequently go through several stages and layers. Often I will just spill out my feelings on the page in writing, or “scribble” a bit with a paintbrush. I don’t worry at all what it looks like, I just allow myself to “let it all hang out” and that feels good. It often helps me de-stress, get things off my chest, or figure out exactly what is bothering me about a particular situation.

The next stage (which might happen that day, or a different day) I would layer over the page with a stamp pattern, finger paint, gel pen scribbles, gesso, or collage. I love watching my confused, stressed out, annoyed, worried page turn into something new – and often – something imperfectly beautiful. It’s a great metaphor for life – being willing to stay with my feelings, try some healthy ways of airing them out and understanding them, and watching them transform.

Here’s some samples of the types of art you might make in an art journal:

Art Journaling Techniques You Might Enjoy:

  • Making collages from pictures in magazines, or your own art pieces cut up
  • Painting with watercolors or acrylic paints
  • Doodling
  • Creating lists  – i.e. wish lists, coping strategies, self-care ideas
  • Quotes – making art out of your favorite quote
  • Mandalas
  • Sketching what you see everyday – trees, people, food, etc.
  • Sewing fabric, paper, or beads onto journal pages
  • Printing and stamping – you can even make your own!
  • Bookbinding and making your own journals by hand
  • Cutting windows and doors into your journal pages
  • Writing out your feelings (and then covering it with paint if you wish!)
  • Focusing on a theme: such as gratitude, mindful drawing, or the things you love

Art Journaling Tutorials, Supplies, & Inspiration

Join The Creative Self Care E-Course

Jenni Bick

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