So, what exactly is an Art Journal?

What is an art journal?

I googled the term “What is an ART JOURNAL” and received 45 million possibilities.  That is mind numbing.  I checked out the first 10 or so and finally gave up.  So what did I learn you might ask?  Well, not a lot but I did learn that an art journal is whatever you want it to be.  Helps, huh?  Okay, let’s get a bit more focused and see if I can define it better.

First, art journals are nothing new.  They aren’t a fad.  Artists from all history have kept journals filled with ideas, thoughts, plans, recipes for colors, etc.  DaVinci may have been the most prolific journal keeper, but he is by no means the only artist who ever kept an art journal.  Look up your favorite artist and I will bet that person also kept an art journal.

Maybe it is easier to define by stating what it isn’t.  Art journals aren’t scrapbooks.  They serve the same purpose as a written journal does.  Scrapbooks capture memories in pictures and words.  Each page of a scrapbook is a moment in time that the scrapbooker wants to remember.  Art journals are used by artists in various ways, and yes, sometimes to capture a moment in time, but always as a means of creative expression.

Here is a YouTube video that attempts to define what an art journal is and what it is for:

I found this on Kristal Norton’s blog and I recommend you check it out.

Why do artists journal?

There are so many answers to this question.  Artists and non-artists alike may turn to an art journal for an of the following reasons:

Each artist has her own reason for keeping an art journal. Some, like me, have two or three journals going at any given time, each with its own use. Some examples:

An art journal might be used to try new techniques, or new materials. The book might contain written descriptions on each page of what was used to create them, and any thoughts that might help recreate or improve on what was done.
A book might be used to practice working larger, or smaller, in preparation for a new series of works outside the journal. If an artist is used to working very large, and is asked to do pieces that are small, it’s often easier to make the transition by practicing in an art journal, rather than diving in to more expensive surfaces.
Some artists use their art journals as diaries, to record what happened to them that day, week, or month. They also might use a journal to work through any emotional, medical, or family issues they’re having.
Your reasons for keeping an art journal may cover some, all, or none of these examples. Some people art journal simply because they enjoy the process, and want a place to create. (

It seems that the reasons to journal are many and all of them are correct.

So how do you art journal?

Here is an excerpt from a blog that discusses techniques for art journaling that you might try:

Making collages from pictures in magazines, or your own art pieces cut up
Painting with watercolors or acrylic paints
Creating lists – i.e. wish lists, coping strategies, self-care ideas
Quotes – making art out of your favorite quote
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

Has any of this helped you to understand what an art journal is?  The term “art journal” covers so many variations and techniques that it is mind-boggling!  No wonder I have been struggling with my attempts to learn how to do this type of journaling.

My plan, from here on out, is to do exactly what I want in my art journal without listening to my inner critic, or without seeking approval from anyone.  I will paint, collage, color, write, doodle, or any other thing I feel is appropriate for that moment.

Here’s what I have been up to this week:

I told you before that I did join a FB group and am really enjoying everyone’s art journaling.  Seeing all the different takes on a single word just reinforces my commitment to do whatever feels right for me at the time.


art journal

This one is about the word of the week which is RED:

art journal

Another thing that happened this week is that I received a lovely card from one of the people in my group.  It contained an ATC that I watched her make on YouTube.  I am so pleased to have received this little card and it inspired me to return the favor and send cards and art to several other members of the group.  I mailed them all out this morning.





art journal




art journal

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