What Exactly is an Art Journal or Visual Journal?

sketch booksketch book 1Put simply – an art journal is a visual diary. It is a safe place. It’s an experimental laboratory. It combines written words (journaling) and art making so you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

  • It’s a space for questions you might have that don’t necessarily have neat and tidy answers.
  • It’s a place for those thoughts that don’t feel safe for you to keep inside or don’t yet understand their meaning.
  • It’s a safe container for emotions that you don’t want flying around out in the world.
  • You can release the “stuff” inside you that may seem like a swamp of confusion onto the pages with color, words, and pictures.
  • It’s incredibly healing.
  • Your pages become oracles into your deepest desires.
  • It’s a place to go when you’re bored and just want to doodle.
  • You can make lists (I love lists and writing down stuff that I don’t want to forget).
  • Practice with new supplies.
  • It is your private magical artsy world. It’s yours and it’s great.

This will be your laboratory as you experiment with finding your style. I am going to have two rules for you 1) Everything you do will help you learn so THERE ARE NO MISTAKES and 2) After you finish a page look for at least 2 things you really like about your page. Even if you don’t really like your whole experiment, there will be parts about it that ring true in your gut so find those.

When I’m experimenting I’ll circle stuff I like and jot down notes about how I did it so I can keep doing that.

practice pageI was practicing with bottles of stain & making splatters and I didn’t like the whole page so I glued in a page of water-doodles. I made notes on the parts I liked.

I like to use spiral bound sketchbooks so I can sketch, doodle, and collage on the pages or glue in watercolor paper if I use wet supplies. They will expand easier with the spiral binding. I’m really liking the 7.5X10 size sketchbook I’m working in right now.

You can use anything you want – even an old hardcover book. You can draw right on top of the print. Glue pages together for more stability. If you collage or glue stuff on the pages, you’ll have to tear out a few here and there so it will close.

Other supplies you’ll need is what ever you have on hand. I don’t want you to think you have to invest a lot of money in this. I’ll be using my collage images from magazines (I’ve been collecting them for a long time so I have a lot), glue, scissors, thin tipped markers, gel pens, craft acrylic paint, watercolors, and distress stains.

If this is one of your first art journals don’t make it too complicated by having a lot of supplies. If you have too much to choose from then you might not even get started. Start will stuff you feel really comfortable with. If you want to take photos and print them out to glue in that’s great too. Anything goes!

When you’re out getting your journal, stop at some home improvement stores and look at the paint chips. Grab a few from several colors that you really like. Look at the different shades and tints of the colors – which ones really call to you?

I collect these paint cards/chips – don’t worry no one gives me any trouble when I take them.

6 Comments on “What Exactly is an Art Journal or Visual Journal?

  1. Just took a class with Liz Kettle and want to be doing this more regularly. Have to make the time for it, but I agree, it’s one of the more healing activities I do.

    • Hi Kit – the way I find time is doing my art journal in stages. One night while I’m watching TV I rip out pages from my magazines. One day when I have extra time, I do background painting on several pages. Then you’re ready for spending time with one page finishing it.

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