How to start art journaling

Art journal web results

You start out by drooling.

In fact, you could say drool is your first medium—which is good because it turns out there’s an endless supply.

You stumble upon a book, a blog, a video, or maybe you meet someone in your life who keeps an art journal. You’re instantly smitten. You google art journals. You had no idea so many people were making such cool books! You’re amazed at what these people can make. You ooh and you ahh and yes, you drool.

Pretty soon, after ogling enough gorgeous photos and art journals on YouTube, you start to think: maybe I could do that.

If you’re already someone who mucks around and makes other things, it’s not such a far leap to think maybe you can art journal. If you’re someone who forgot how much you like to make things, that little voice ("make something!") sometimes takes a while to make itself heard. “I am here…I am here…I am here…”

Remember Horton Hears a Who? As the elephant reminds us, you might as well listen—and no voice is too small!

Dr. Seuss Horton page

At some point, you definitely think you could do that.

So you go to the art store to buy a journal and a few supplies.

And like the toothpaste aisle, you find there are a lot of options. What kind of art journal? Which supplies do you need? Ooh, what do you want? Your basket gets heavy fast and here you are, your long path of learning lifelong obsession has begun.

Next, you sit down at a makeshift art table somewhere in your house (perhaps the dining room table—or a tray next to your couch works.) You open your brand new, blank art journal—and oh my gosh, you might as well be staring down over the edge of a skyscraper, nothing but sheer air between you and those weeny dots of human life below. What the heck do you do, now?

Back away. Back. Slowly. Away.

But there’s that supply of drool, you know…and that little Whoville voice on the edge of a clover. You read more art journal blogs and watch more art journal videos... you may make many more trips to the art supply store and purchase even more supplies that you convince yourself you need (it happens).

But you just can't seem to open up that journal again, can't risk that feeling of vertigo...

I am here to tell you: don't be afraid.

Or maybe, okay, you're going to be afraid. But know this: everyone is fearful when they first start anything new and you need to do it anyway.

Start art journaling anyway.

Leap Art Journal page

For some reason, we all have these expectations of ourselves. That we must be instantly "good" at it. That we'll know how to create something on a page, despite never having done it before. Also, we really have no idea what to create, at first. I think that's probably the most frightening of all: what if I am a person with no ideas?

Try to ignore those expectations and thoughts. Not true. You don't need to be "good", whatever that means and especially at first. The beauty of an art journal is that it is your private place. You can experiment and fail—and learn and surprise yourself. You don't have to be good—and you don't have to know anything to start. And finally, the ideas will come after the start. But not before. So begin.


Well, there are different ways to start.

Some brave souls begin by simply making random marks. Soon one mark leads to another…
Others take classes, either online or in person. A class can give you a great jump start into the world of art journaling. A good instructor will lead you step by step.
Another tactic is to sit down with someone else who art journals and watch what they do…and then try something like it…and then maybe ask questions…and try something else. Art journalers love to share their work, love to talk process and supplies, so never be shy to parallel play. I know for me, arting with our growing mixed media circle is a weekly highlight of my life.
Finally, you can work with and learn from other art journalers, virtually. Instead of reading blogs and watching videos for drooling entertainment, take out your journal and your supplies, sit down and try a few things. See what you do. See what new ideas come to you.

Because those ideas will come...and more, and more...and before you know it, you  will be art journaling.