Creativity

Journal spotlight: Art journal

I’m going to start simply by saying that an art journal can be anything you want it to be, really.

In its most simple sense, an art journal is any kind of journal where you express yourself visually. Often art journals are mixed media – that is, a combination of elements such as collage, acrylic or watercolour paint, gouache, pencil, crayon, stamps, inks, etc.

I’ve spent the past two years trying to figure out exactly what an art journal is, at least for me. I’ve seen the beautiful works of people like Tamara Laport, the simple but touching pieces by Nicole Rae, the messy and inspiring sketchbooks of Lisa Sonora, and the gorgeous and striking works by people like Alena Hennessy and Hali Karla.

I’ve worked in sketchbooks, gluebooks, journals, binders, altered books… I’ve collaged, stamped, painted, drawn, written, sprayed, taped, watercoloured, lettered… and still I have struggled to define exactly what art journaling is.

I’ve struggled to find my own style and really claim my own art journaling approach.

Then, a dear friend of mine pointed out that I do have my own style – I just wasn’t acknowledging it.

You see, I had always thought that art journaling was not the same thing as visual journaling. In fact, here is an awesome video that discusses this point quite nicely.

So while I’ve been journaling visually for some time – in a similar sketchbook style to Lisa Sonora (if I may be so bold as to suggest that), I haven’t felt as though I have been art journaling, really, at all. Sure I was incorporating art techniques into my visual journaling, but it certainly wasn’t art.

Perhaps it’s the word ‘art’ in the name art journal – I mean, no pressure, right?!

I much prefer the term visual journal, or creative journal.

For a while, I saw an ‘art journal’ as more focused on particular techniques and creating a specific, visually pleasing outcome, and the term ‘visual journal’ as more about the process and self expression. Now… I’m not so sure.

When I saw Lisa Sonora had blown up images from her sketchbooks to put up onto the walls of her studio, a little thought crept into my head: maybe, just maybe, this could also be art? She says,

They’re not art…but they are artifacts of a creative journey. It’s like meditation, but with art supplies.

I don’t know. Seeing them up on the wall like that, they sure look like art to me. Surely they can be both?

As for my own messy journals – I may not have found a style that looks anything like the work of Tamara, or Alena, but I’ve got my own visual approach. Who’s to say it’s not art, in some form? And it will continue to evolve over time, as I do. I figure as long as I’m expressing myself visually, well, that’s all that matters.

My advice to anyone who wants to start an art journal: grab some art supplies you like (acrylic paint is a good one, as are stamps) and play. That’s it. I was going to give some lengthy list of instructions but really, you don’t need them and they would only serve to confuse or intimidate someone starting out. Find an artist you love and copy their style for a bit, then copy the work of someone else. Do this many times over and you will start to find your own style. Give yourself permission, try to get past the fear of creating, and practice being imperfect. You don’t have to show anyone, or you can join 15 Facebook groups and show the world. There is no right or wrong way.

Do you keep an art journal? How do you define art journal? Do you see art journaling and visual journaling as different things? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Creativity

Art journal Wednesday

Each week I share a page from my art journal. I love to peek into the art journals of others, and hope to inspire someone else by sharing my own work.

Just a simple page this week. It uses alphabet stamps and a Buddha stamp that I hand carved.

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Creativity

Art journal Wednesday

Each week I share a page from my art journal. I love to peek into the art journals of others, and hope to inspire someone else by sharing my own work.

I’m a little late to the party this week (it’s Thursday night here in New Zealand!) but I figured better late than never.

This is a page I did while relaxing in bed, watching a movie. I’ve been feeling super tired lately, but I’m still really wanting to create.

Because I have a lovely white bed spread I was worried about ruining, I didn’t take my paints with me. I chose to use the Neocolors water colour crayons, pens, my stamps, and some oil pastels. I didn’t want to have water, so I used baby wipes to activate the water colour crayons, which worked really well and created an interesting effect.

It was a good chance for me to play in new ways, by limiting my supplies.

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Creativity

Art journal Wednesday

Each week I share a page from my art journal. I love to peek into the art journals of others, and hope to inspire someone by sharing my own work.

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IMG_6111I hope you are all having a wonderful week.

Don’t forget to stop by and pick up your free copy of the Journal Wild Self Love Kit when it is released on Valentine’s Day!

Creativity

5 inexpensive journaling-themed Christmas gift ideas

As Christmas rapidly approaches I feel inspired to include a post that is both Christmas and journaling themed. So here it is: my five inexpensive or homemade Christmas gift ideas that allow you to spread some journaling joy!

My partner and I are in the process of saving money to build our tiny house so we don’t have a lot to spend on Christmas gifts. I know we aren’t the only ones who will be coming up with creative gift ideas this year!

If you’ve got the money and the energy to face the shopping malls, then by all means do that. But if you’re a bit strapped for cash, or you want to give something a bit more unique, then these ideas might help.

You might be thinking, I can’t possibly give something home-made for Christmas. Why not? Would you be thinking differently if this was you receiving a scarf someone had carefully knitted, or a box of home-made cookies baked by a close friend? How would you feel to receive something lovingly made just for you from someone else?

People love handmade gifts because they show you have put thought, care, and time into making them. They receive something totally unique that they wouldn’t be able to buy for themselves.

And besides, a gift that encourages more journaling will be rewarding in many ways!

As a side note: Obviously, these types of gifts won’t be suitable for everyone – for example, I don’t see my dad jumping with joy if he was to receive a jar of journaling prompts from me, or my partner getting excited about homemade stamps.

But, I do have friends and other relatives who would love to receive something that is unique and creative. For example, my mum would love to receive art work from me, my bestie would love to receive homemade stickers and stamps, and my sister would enjoy journal prompts or a personalised journal. I have another friend who wants to do more journaling but isn’t sure how to start, so a combination of a few of these things might be good for her.

christmas gift ideas

1. Personalise a journal: buy a basic Moleskine journal or a less expensive notebook or spiral-bound visual journal and cover it with images. You could choose photographs of you and your gift recipient, or just inspirational/beautiful images. Create a collage from magazine images or print out pictures from online. Include some inspiring words and washi tape in bright colours. Finish the cover with Mod Podge or an acrylic binding medium to seal it. Write a small heartfelt message on the inside cover.

2. Carve your own stamps: I use so many stamps in my journals! Buy a few basic pink erasers (I’m told these are the best for carving) and using either a hobby knife or a basic carving set, carve some unique stamp designs. It’s actually quite straight-forward to carve basic designs (think interesting shapes like clouds, trees, stars or arrows). They don’t have to be perfect and they make interesting tools for journaling and art journaling that can’t be bought anywhere! Wrap them in a gorgeous gift box and tissue paper. For an easy-to-follow tutorial, watch this video.

3. Journal prompts: create a jar or box of journal prompts written on tags or plain journal cards. I’ve used plain Project Life journaling cards with a simple watercolour border and stamp on one side, and then more detail for the prompt on the other side. Look online for journal prompts, or use some from our archives.

4. Take your art journaling off the page: take a favourite art journal spread of yours and either tear it out or copy it (scan it or reproduce it) and frame it as a gift for someone. Or, if you feel your art journal is a bit too personal to share you could browse Pinterest or Instagram for art journal inspiration and create something new as a gift.

5. Make your own stickers: I love using stickers in my journals. They brighten up the pages and can add inspirational messages. Buy sheets of printable sticky paper from your local stationery store. Then, go online and find images that inspire you, including lovely inspirational messages. Or, scan some of your own work into the computer. Print these out onto the sticky sheets and cut out each sticker. Place into a little gift box tied up with string.

It’s all in the wrapping

Creating gorgeous wrapping can make a gift feel even more luxurious and extravagant. Here are some ideas to make your lovely journal-themed gift even more beautiful:

  • Create or buy a beautiful gift box to hold your treasures.
  • Nestle your gift in beautiful tissue paper.
  • Create your own gift wrap with a roll of kraft paper and some Christmas themed stamps.
  • Secure with a big gold bow.
  • Create your own labels/gift tags using stamps and washi tape.
  • Choose a simple, plain gift wrap but use washi tape instead of clear tape to wrap.
  • Add a bit of gold glitter or confetti inside your wrapping.
  • Wrap your present the old-fashioned way: brown kraft paper and brown string – add a handmade label and a little shape cut out of felt or card to embellish (e.g. a heart, tree, star, etc).

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas for how you can share your love of journaling with others this Christmas. And if not, at least put aside some time with just you, a cup of tea and your journal in the midst of all the Christmas chaos.

Happy journaling!