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Tips to get you started in your art journal

Whether you are new to art journaling or you've been keeping a visual journal for some time now, getting started on a spread can be tough. Facing a blank page can feel overwhelming.

If you have been thinking about starting an art journal but haven't known where to start, these tips will help you take action and put paint to paper.

The best advice comes from my gut

Find a prompt

Your inspiration can come from anywhere.

Some ideas include:

  • a color
  • an inspirational quote
  • another work of art
  • how you are feeling at the moment
  • a shape
  • a song
image of art supplies

Use the art supplies you have on hand

If you have been browsing the web for journal tutorials, you will quickly discover that there are a lot of great products that are being marketed to the art journal community. Each artist has there own set of must-have products, and those products vary greatly from artist to artist. But trying to keep up with all of the different products comes at an expense, and you really don't need much to create beautiful art.

Keeping a journal is about exploring and experimenting with your creativity. Don't let cost be a factor in preventing you from creating. Use the art supplies that you already have on hand. As you gain more experience and you feel comfortable with the supplies and tools that you already have, you can start to build on to your art supply stash.

The basic supplies that you need include:
  • acrylic paint (red, yellow, blue, black, and white)
  • gesso
  • old magazines
  • books that you are willing to tear pages from
  • glue or matte medium
  • anything that you can use to mark or make an impression with.
    • the cardboard roll from a roll of toilet paper or paper towel
    • bubble wrap
    • toothpick
    • bottle cap
  • paint brushes
  • paper towel

Moving beyond the blank page

As I stated at the top of this post, facing a blank page can be overwhelming, even for the most seasoned of artists. How do you begin?

When I begin a new spread, the first thing I do is take a Sharpie marker and write all over the page. I write random thoughts and feelings, or song lyrics. Whatever comes to my mind. The point is to take away the blank page.

After writing, I add a few pieces of torn paper from an old book and glue them down with matte medium. Then once it is dried I gesso the entire page. That's it! The first layer is complete and now you can begin applying color.

I have a couple of background tutorials. Follow the links below to continue reading about backgrounds

Background Tutorial 1
Background Tutorial 2

Don't strive for perfect

Lastly, the one piece of advice I would give anyone starting out is to have fun. Art is about enjoying the process, and your journal is a space to explore new ideas and techniques. Your journal is for you. It is entirely up to you if you decide to share your journal with others, so don't worry about mistakes. We all make them. It's part of growing as an artist. Besides, there is always an opportunity to add another layer or a piece of collage ephemera to cover anything up if you still feel inclined.

Go and make some art!

How do you start your spread? Do you have a system for overcoming the blank page? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. We would really enjoy hearing from you.

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