Art Journaling 101 — What is it?

Vicki Robinson Designs-Journal PageArt Journaling

Just the words themselves confuse people. What is art journaling? I think it’s fair to say that if you asked 15 people you’d get 15 different responses. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on it – you may have a different take and that’s perfectly fine.

Vicki’s Definition of Art Journaling

We all know what “art” is and we know what a “journal” is, so it follows that a literal definition of an art journal is the visual representation of those thoughts and ideas. And that leads to some questions.

    So, an art journal must contain text of some sort?

    If you’ve got something you want to say, do it – that’s up to you; if you chose to include text it can be plainly visible, or it can be hidden. Sometimes writing down words and covering them up completely has a very powerful and positive effect on your emotions. On the other hand, many times you’ll find your art meaningful without words.

    Ok then … you’ve got to know how to paint or draw?  

    Goodness knows I personally had never painted or drawn when I started art journaling. Those are things that I am now interested in, but they are definitely not skills I was born with – or even realized I could do.

    Does that mean you need to have an idea you want to convey on your?  

    I know I’m starting to sound repetitive, but no – you don’t need to know where you want to end up to start an art journaling page. In fact, some of my favorite pages began with just paint blotches.

    Well Then …

    The truth is, art journaling is different for everyone. It can be any combination of imagery, words and art; it can be made of mixed media materials or it can be digital. A  journal can take book form or a collection of loose pages. It can be a FB photo album. An art journal can be meaningful – or not. Think of keeping an art journal as a form of caring for yourself –  it’s simply one method to have some time with yourself and explore your creative side.

    Why Art Journaling?

    Again, there are as many answers to this question as there are people in the world.

    • You can keep an art journal as you might a diary to record events, incorporating bits and pieces of your day – think movie tickets, receipts or random thoughts. You might want to keep mementos or quick sketches of places you’ve visited. This form of art journaling parallels scrapbooking in one sense – except that this is just for you and isn’t meant for future generations (unless, of course that’s what you intend).
    • An art journal can contain pages expressing whatever emotions you might be experiencing.
    • Maybe your journal is where you practice a form of art that appeals to you, or perhaps you just want to play with mixing various media.
    • Perhaps your journal is a collection of quotes that you find meaningful set on top of some paint swatches.
    • Your art  journal can be a collage of magazine images and word phrases that catch your attention.

    Some people, like me, have multiple journals. I’ve started a nature journal where I keep leaves and flowers and assorted other bits that I find myself drawn to. I have a color swatch journal in which I keep brush stroke samples of my various paints. And I’ve got one with my amateurish attempts at sketching faces. For me, well, it’s the process of creating something that I enjoy.

    In Summary

    Art journaling does not have to be expensive or complicated. It can be done in mixed media form using paint and gesso and “stuff” or it can be accomplished digitally using purchased supplies. It is a forgiving and safe way to make art because the art is whatever you want it to be and you neither need to share it, or explain it to anyone. PLAY. Be a kid again. Stop worrying you’re not doing it right – because it’s really true. There are no rules in art journaling. Your art doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.

    That last part is very important to me because as, I have written many times, this “art thing” is a very unexpected journey for me. I have no formal art training. After a full career (spanning more than 40 years) using the other side of my brain, I’m learning that when it comes to art the only person I need to please is myself.

    At 63, I have found a creative outlet more satisfying than I ever could have imagined.  I think that’s what I bring to the table – I’m not an expert. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve made some pretty ugly art (but as one of my favorite instructors, Dina Wakley always says “they’ll make more paper) and drawn some … shall we say “unusual” looking faces. But I’ve made some pretty cool looking pages too. Along the way I’ve discovered lots of things about myself and – more importantly – I’m having a blast.

    So What Am I Doing Here?

    Through this blog – and in my Facebook Art Journaling Community – I hope to encourage you to join me on this journey. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting to explore art journaling; or if you want to get messy with paint or prefer to work digitally. Because I’m enjoying this journey so much, I’d like to share it with you.

    If you’re interested in joining my FB group, click on the link image below and if you’re already logged into FB you should have no problem getting to the group – just click the “join” button. Should you run into problems, open FB and search for Vicki Robinson Designs Art Journaling Community.

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    1. Su Hall

      Hi, Vicki!
      This is so inspiring! There is just something about transferring my handwritten journaling to digital art journaling! I love it!
      So glad to see you doing this!!
      Thank you!


      • Vicki Robinson

        I think so too! I’m always so happy to hear from you, Su! I truly appreciate you stopping by my blog.


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