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.


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.











Welcome to art journal Wednesdays

I have decided to share more of my art journaling here.

I’m always inspired when I can look into the art journals of others, and I hope that by sharing my own work I can do the same for someone else. I also have a goal of creating at least one art journal page a week, so this will help me to stay motivated and on track!

I have no specific or particular style – I simply explore how I feel and what interests me at the time. Sometimes my pages are more arty, other times they are more messy. I am still finding my art journaling feet.

So each Wednesday I will share a page from my art journal. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

Welcome to Art Journal Wednesdays!







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!


Overcoming my creative wall: Peek inside my new journal

I’ll be honest – I haven’t been feeling all that creative lately. I’ve been in a bit of a creativity rut.

As the school year wraps up and I’m slowing down, the tiredness from three and a half full terms has hit.

I’m still journaling most days, but creatively, I’ve hit a bit of a wall.

But you see, I want to create. I keep browsing instagram and looking at all these amazing art journals (I’m always inspired when looking at work by Samie Harding, Lisa Sonora, Mary Wangerin and Nichole Rae, to name a few) but I can’t bring myself to pick up my paintbrush.

The solution? Create a new journal (this seems to be a pattern with me…)

space for creativityBut this journal is all about using magazine images with words I find, and words I add, to create my own images. A kind of visioning/collage process. It takes away my inertia because there are ready-made images to work with.

I love looking through magazines to find images that inspire me. I’m careful about what I read, and I tend to be drawn to the same sorts of images time and again:

  • Landscapes, trees, gardens, nature – green
  • Water, sky – blue
  • Beds and pillows
  • Cups or tea or coffee, teapots
  • Books, handwriting, journals
  • Deskscapes
  • Bright colours
  • Crafty things like knitting, sewing, painting
  • Images of families
  • Simple, rustic houses – wood, stone, exposed beams, cosy fireplaces etc

At first I felt like this didn’t count as ‘creativity’ – but then I had a wee chuckle. Creativity is anything really. And besides, I’m taking images and arranging them in unique ways, with my own words and ideas. The images are really just a building block.






I want to get back into painting and I will when I’m rested and open to it. For now, playing with these words and images is soothing my creative urges.

How do you break out of a creativity rut?

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share a few of the pages and posts that have inspired me the most… lame rhyme intended! Feel free to share anything that has inspired you in the comments.


I came across this really cool course that runs throughout all of 2015 and I think I might do it!

I know I often share posts from Courtney’s page, but that’s because she inspires me so much! I loved this post about how to get up early and make the most of your mornings

This gorgeous poem by Cynthia made me smile and think more about my own big dreams

I love this practice of Jessica’s to write out ten things you accomplish each day in order to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved, no matter how small

As a washi tape addict I really enjoyed the eye candy in this post! Be sure to click on the links inside the post to see more gorgeous pics. Just when I thought my washi tape collection was complete… I think I feel a tape spend coming on!