Calling all artsy journalers! I have some stunning art journal ideas to help you unleash your creativity beyond what you thought possible.
If you love journaling but want a more innovative way to express yourself, an art journal may be just the thing you’re looking for.
You can think of it as a visual diary, but really, it’s a blank canvas for ANYTHING you want it to be.
What Is an Art Journal?
An art journal can mean different things to different people.
Basically, it’s a visual journal that you can use to express yourself beyond just words. It typically includes journaling that is written, visual, or both.
Meaning- you can add drawings, paintings, collages, and even audio to your art journal.
Don’t worry. Your doodles don’t have to be Rembrandt-quality. It’s for you, and your eyes only, to exercise your creative side without judgment.
When used regularly, art journaling can be a remarkable tool for self-discovery and even clarity.
One quick note, a lot of people confuse an art journal with a sketchbook.
An art journal is not a sketchbook. While you may sketch in it, art journaling is so much more than sketching.
Picture a book where every page is slightly (or excessively) different. It’s filled with mixed media from watercolors to charcoal. Instead of sketches of animals or flowers, you see expressions of your experiences.
That’s what an art journal is 🙂
What You Need to Start Your Own Art Journal
You really don’t need a lot of supplies to begin an art journal. In fact, you can start with nothing more than the basics – some paper and some sort of writing device.
You can choose a bound journal with a nice cover, or you can just staple a stack of paper together and call it good.
That’s one of the beautiful things about artsy journaling. It can start out as one thing and evolve into something totally different. There’s no “norm” to stick to or rules to follow.
I do recommend choosing an art journal that you can add paper (and other mixed media) to.
Writing and drawing can be done with a pencil, pen, water colors, paint, you name it.
As you gain confidence in art journaling, you might even want to expand into other materials like pastels, cloth, even charcoal. It’s totally up to you!
Art Journal Supplies List
If you’re like me and want to have everything you might possibly need on hand (because who wants to run to the store when a burst of creativity strikes?!), here’s a supply list:
- Art journal of choice (of course)
- Colored pencils
- Acrylic paint
- Ink pads
- Colored tissue paper
- Scrapbook paper
- Construction paper
- Antique books (that you don’t mind tearing pages out of)
- Your imagination!
Need a few artsy journal ideas to get you started?
31+ Gorgeous (& Creative!) Art Journal Ideas for Beginners
Incorporate Vintage Book Art
Pick up a vintage book at a garage sale or thrift store.
Use sharp scissors or an x-acto knife to cut out shapes, images, or words, then adhere them to your journal page.
You can add these items to a blank page or one that you’ve already painted or drawn on.
Adding snippets from vintage books adds a touch of nostalgia as well as texture to your journal page.
Practice Self Portraits
This can be a fun and interesting challenge! I love it as a cover idea for a journal.
Try to portray yourself using drawings, photographs, sketches, or your favorite media. If possible, practice making self portraits without using any words.
Think about who you are at your core as well as how you see yourself compared to how others might see you.
Communicate your personality!
Cut Out “Windows” and “Doors” in Your Pages
Adding doors and windows to your journal pages can be a wonderful way to frame a drawing, photo, or written journal entry. You could even fill the door or window with textured fabric or other media.
If you’re worried about cutting freehand, use a stencil and a sharp x-acto knife.
Decorate with Washi Tape
Washi tape comes in a huge selection of colors and patterns, so it’s easy to find just the right tape to complement your journal pages. You can decorate a page border, create a beautiful collage, or cut out elements of the tape to use as stickers.
Scrapbook Your Travels
A travel journal is a great way to remember the people, places, and experiences you enjoyed during your travels.
You can add various ephemera, photos, postcards, ticket stubs, drawings, etc to help you relive the experience as you flip through your journal pages.
This can act as a standalone journal, or you can combine it with your ongoing art journal.
Color a Gratitude List
Adding a gratitude list can be a wonderful way to affirm and recognize the things that you are grateful for, whether that be a job, special person in your life, or a major accomplishment.
Journal through Poetry
Whether you think you’re a poet or not, journaling with poetry can be a wonderful experience. You can write a poem about your favorite color, something memorable that you experienced in the past week, or perhaps your recollection of a favorite holiday experience.
Poetry prompts like the ones at this website can help you get started on journaling even the small things through poetry.
Experiment with Dots and Lines
Adding some visual interest to your journal can be as easy as experimenting with dots and lines. Lattice, 3-D boxes, and various patterns can all add some decoration and style to your journaling pages.
Use Mixed Media to Express Yourself
When it comes to expressing yourself, the variety of media you can use (and combinations of them) are practically limitless.
Try watercolors, markers, metallic pens, and even whiteout pens to help you create beautiful and interesting designs.
Create a Collage
Start by considering a color palette for your collage. As you add photos, journaling, or memorabilia, make sure that each page isn’t the same. You’ll get a more lively look if you don’t use the same layout for every page. Add blocks of color with colored paper, which can be used for journaling or even as a background for doodles. Layer items and add various trinkets and mixed media to add interest!
Incorporate Positive Affirmations
If you are troubled by self-doubt or negative thinking, using positive affirmations in your journals can help you focus on the good things in your life. The words we use are powerful, so minimizing negative self-talk and speaking daily positive affirmations can be great for maintaining a positive outlook.
Paint Your City’s Skyline
I love this artsy journal idea. Have you ever tried to paint a cityscape? Why not add a small painting of your city’s skyline to your journal? Every city is unique and capturing the essence of your city can be a powerful way to get in touch with your location. You can use paint to not only create the skyline but also to add texture to your work.
If you haven’t tried fingerpainting since you were a child, this can be a great way to add color and fun to your art journal. There’s no right or wrong way, just dip a finger or two into some paint and begin to swirl and blend your colors, making beautiful flowers as you go. You just might be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
Create with Hand Drawings
What could be simpler? Trace your hand and fill it in with a design, color, or other media. The outline of your hand will give you a quick and easy frame for your doodling, but you don’t have to stick to just hand drawings.
Some other drawing journal ideas include tracing around a brush, bowl, or other items and simply filling in the space.
Design an In-Journal Vision Board
A vision board journal can help you easily visualize your goals and dreams. You can add affirmations of your dreams as well as pictures and quotes. As you add to it, you’ll begin to see the power of clearly defining your dreams.
Sprinkle in Your Favorite Quotes (& Journal About Them)
A quote art journal can be a wonderful way to stay positive.
Simply add your favorite quotes and do some journaling about what that quote means to you. You can incorporate drawings, pictures, or trinkets that help bring the quote to life.
Sprinkle these pages throughout your art journal for motivation!
Add Pops of Color with Construction Paper
It’s easy to add color with nothing more than simple construction paper.
You can make journaling blocks, frame items on the page, or cut out shapes to add to your journal.
Leave the construction paper as is, or decorate it with some sharpies.
Paint Your Thoughts Instead of Writing Them
A painting journal idea I absolutely love is simply painting out your thoughts and feelings.
Don’t worry about making the perfect picture or trying to impress others with your creativity. Instead, focus on expressing your thoughts using nothing more than paint.
Illustrate a Personal Goal
This can be a lot like journaling a vision board.
If you have a personal goal you’re trying to reach, consider adding it to your art journal using nothing more than your own hand drawn illustrations. You might want to add color, texture, or various types of media to illustrate it even further.
Press and Preserve Flowers Within Your Journal
Of all the aesthetic art journal ideas floating around the web, this is one of my favorites.
Whether you pick a flower from your garden or find a special leaf in the park, these are easily be incorporated into your art journal.
Always make sure flowers and leaves are completely dry and pressed before adding them to your journal.
Doodle Your Day
If you like to doodle, try making a variety of doodles that depict your day. This can be a lot of fun, and it can be as simple or detailed as you like.
Start by picking the highlights of your day and create a doodle for each of these points. Don’t worry about how precise they are - just have fun doodling!
Journal with Stencils
If you don’t feel comfortable free-drawing, use stencils instead.
Whether you’re a master doodler or just dipping your toes into the world or art, using stencils can help you gain confidence.
If you can think it, there’s probably a stencil for it. So grab one and get drawing!
Design Tissue Paper Backgrounds
Easily add color and texture with tissue paper backgrounds for your visual journal pages. With a variety of colors, it’s easy to make a colorful collage page.
You can also paint or journal right on top of the tissue paper.
Jazz Up Your Writing with Hand-Lettered Fonts
Hand-lettered fonts can be jazzed up using little hearts, diamonds, or dots. Simply write your headings in pencil, then trace over them with a marker and add some embellishments.
Try using a variety of pens, from brush tips to gel pens, and consider varying the size and style of your fonts.
Antique Your Paper with Tea Bags
Like the antique look? Then you’re going to love this vintage-inspired art journal idea.
Just dip a brush in brewed tea, then paint along the edge of the page or brush over the entire page for a more dramatic effect.
You can also add drops to the page for an entirely different look.
Let air dry or use a drying tool before writing on it or using any other media.
Work with Watercolors
A little watercolor paint can go a long way in bringing some pops of color to your art journal.
For watercolor art journal ideas, you can brush a swath of color over a title to give it an attractive highlight, or you can create an entire background using a watercolor wash.
You’ll need to be mindful of how much water you’re using, especially if your journal has thin pages. Try using less water and more paint to get the desired effect you’re after.
Transform Your Thoughts into Abstract Art
Creating abstract art might not be what you had in mind, but with a little practice you’ll be amazed how much zing this type of art adds to your journal.
Your thoughts might seem a bit random, but when you focus on a particular thought, transferring that to your visual journal can be quite rewarding.
Make Your Own Journal Bookmarks
A bookmark for your art journal can be every bit as creative as the journal itself. Whether you choose a wraparound bookmark or a more traditional style placeholder, you can add your own artwork so that it perfectly complements your artist journal.
Layer It Up!
If you’ve never tried layering in your art journal, this is a technique you’re going to love!
You can start with just a few colors, then gradually add layers to your journal page. It’s usually best to place your larger patterns first, then build to smaller patterns. Once your background is complete, you can add a cool focal point.
Free Write with Prompts
If you ever find yourself running out of ideas for journaling, consider using some writing or art journal prompts. This can be a fun way to get creative with your journal entries.
Click to discover prompts that get you writing about personal growth, affirmations, gratitude, and mental health. You’re sure to find something suitable for every type of journal entry.
Hide Secret Journal Entries
If you’re looking for a unique way to add interest to your journal, invisible ink is a great option.
You can make invisible ink out of a variety of substances, and your secret writing can be revealed by exposing it to heat, chemicals, or ultraviolet lights, depending on what you use for the ink.
Design Your Own Habit Tracker
Whether you’re trying to encourage good habits or break some bad ones, a colorful habit tracker helps to keep you motivated and on track to reach your goal.
Create your own habit tracker to suit your personal interests or design style.
If you landed here wondering….what should I put in my art journal?
I hope these creative art journal ideas leave you inspired and ready to make your art journal your own!
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