How to: Art Journal

Day 8: Monotone



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What is an Art Journal?

An art journal, or artist’s journal, is a book kept by an artist as a visual, and sometimes verbal, record of her thoughts and ideas. Art journals generally combine visual journaling and writing, to create finished pages. Every imaginable style, media and technique is used by art journalists.

How did I start Art Journaling?

I have been drawing ever since I remember, on walls, on paper, on my parents’ important documents. And my parents, along with every other person in my family have supported this hobby of mine. Two things got me excited on birthdays when I was a kid, new books to read and new art supplies to draw with.

Last birthday, a very favourite aunt of mine bought me an art journal and some art journaling supplies. You know that I have been into gratitude journaling and bullet journaling recently if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, so these pieces of stationaries got me really excited to get started with Art Journaling.

So here is a small guide, an anecdote or whatever you wish to call it, on how to get started with art journaling:

How to keep an Art Journal?

An art journal is basically a diary. Anyone can make an art journal. The only difference is how you use it. You can use it like a diary every day, like a comic book of your life, things that happened to you, or just do sketches of interesting or memorable moments from your day or week. You can also use it whenever and wherever you feel like it. It needs to be raw and instant. Remember, it is an Art Journal, not a sketchbook.

Items needed:

  • You
  • Your creativity
  • Anything and everything to express your creativity

Step 1: Make the journal or get one

  • Don’t get anything too fancy if you’re just beginning drawing. “Too fancy” is anything that makes you feel guilty about writing in it, or worry that you might mess up and ruin the journal. On the other hand, if you prefer to draw or paint, choose a paper quality, texture, and thickness that are suitable for your preferred medium.
  • There are pocket journals, for when inspiration hits, or for when something happens and you must draw it right away.
  • Choose the paper size you prefer. There are suitable books of normal size paper, poster size, and miniature size.
  • Check whether the book you choose will stay open by itself. It’s no fun to try to draw or write when the book is flopping closed under you.
  • Some people prefer spiral bound sketchbooks because they lay flat. Others dislike them because the spiral gets in the way when they draw. This is completely a personal preference thing, so choose what works best for you.
  • Notice what’s involved in getting a page out of your chosen book, especially if you think you might ever want to take a work out and display it.

Step 2: Personalise, personalise, personalise!

At the very least, lay claim to it by writing your name (phone number is good, too, in case you misplace it) in it or on it. You could also decorate the cover, recover it, add colour, or attach interesting objects to it. I advise you do this part yourself, with your thoughts and ideas and don’t look for inspiration on the internet unless crucial. I personally like to have a black leather-bound drawing diary from Brustro.

Step 3: Just start

Don’t spend too long worrying about exactly what to do. Just start doodling or doing whatever’s on your mind. You may find that some of your best work happens almost accidentally.

  • Leave the first page blank if you’re not sure you can draw well enough yet, or if you’d like to make an index as you go. If you do the first page last, your art skills will have improved by the finish and you’ll give it a gorgeous introduction.
  • Choose a middle or back page and chart your paints, pens and other art supplies. One function of an art journal is to learn what your supplies can do. Starting at the back with colour charts and mixing tests makes them easy to find for reference later

Step 4: Go new, go crazy

Feel free to try out techniques you see in art videos, online articles and magazines. That’s part of the fun of having an art journal. Write down your thoughts about the experiment, this will make the page a mini-article about what happens if you mingle poured watercolours or if you use glitter glue instead of putting down glue and shaking glitter over it. These texts about the process are fun to read and the next time you want to use those materials, you can look for inspiration right in your journal.

Step 4: #NoFilter

Don’t hesitate to experiment with it or make mistakes. This is your journal. Put in it what you want. If that’s strictly drawings, fine. If that’s a mixture of drawings, paintings, writing, collage, and pasted-in prints of your favourite photographs, that’s fine, too. Doodle aimlessly on a few pages or try out a new medium or technique. Your artistic journey might not even happen all in one book.

Step 4: Review

You might find new inspiration in old pieces, things to try drawing again or varying, or simply memories. You may also see a pattern of your work progressing through different interests and moods, or of your techniques evolving and improving.

The main aim is to have fun and be creative, don’t forget that!