Art Journaling 101: What is Art Journaling?

Art Journaling has been around for a very long time.  Throughout history, great thinkers like Thomas Edison and Stephen Hawking recorded their ideas visually as they doodled sketches alongside detailed notes.  There is something powerful in the combination of images and words and the Art Journaling you create today can be just as impactful on your life.

What is Art Journaling?

Actually, it's really quite simple and not nearly as mysterious as you may think.  An art journal can be defined as a visual diary or a visual journal.  It's a way to give your thoughts and dreams and prayers and memories a tangible form.  Strictly speaking, it's a combination of images and words, although you don't even have to have both on the same canvas.  Art Journaling is an easy and beautiful expression of what's inside of you.  There are no rules and there are no prerequisites.  Keep reading and keep an open mind.

Art Journaling 101 | What is Art Journaling?

Why should you Art Journal?

You may agree that art journaling sounds interesting, but you really don't see the need for it.  I understand. I had the same thoughts until I really started practicing it.  Let me share with you four reasons you should consider it if you are not already a firm supporter of the art.

  1.  Art Journaling allows for a creative outlet.  And we are all creative.  We express that creativity in many ways and this is just another option.  The really cool thing about using art journaling as a way to pour out your creativity is that it can also be productive.  You can work through things you are struggling with or spend quality time in prayer as you create and still end up with lovely art and a record of your life.  Even mindless creativity produces a potential treasure for you and for generations to come.
  2. Art Journaling lets you experiment with new things.  There are always new techniques to try and new artistic methods to learn.  This gives us a chance to stretch ourselves a bit risk-free.  And you can put as much or as little time, money or energy into as you desire.
  3. Art Journaling can help you focus.  And do I ever need focus!  Sometimes as I study God's Word, my mind can wander to the laundry that just beeped or the meat that needs to be thawed for dinner or the dentist appointment that needs to be put on my calendar before I forget.  And no, these are not hypothetical examples.  They are in my mind right now even as I type.  But I have found that if my hands are busy with cutting and pasting, painting or doodling, my mind can focus more clearly on the things I am contemplating.  In these moments, I can speak with God and listen to him.  I can memorize His Word and let it take root in my heart more easily.  It's just one more tool to use to grow closer to Him.
  4. Art Journaling can be a great memory keeping method.  As I mentioned above, anything goes with art journaling.   It's a perfect place to write your memories and store your photographs along side them.  Each memory can be a work of art, even if it's just you that enjoys it.

Who should Art Journal?

The artist.  The crafter. The scrapbooker.  The mom.  The child.  The writer.  The reader.  The student.  The teacher.  The full-time homemaker.  The working woman.  The married.  The single.  The lonely.  The contented.  The happy.  The sad.  The loner.  The extrovert.  Anyone.  Everyone.

Don't play the comparison game when it comes to art journaling.  Don't worry if your piece doesn't look like the ones posted on Instagram or Pinterest (spoiler alert: it probably won't).  There will always be someone “better”.  But here's the fabulous news.  There is no wrong way to do this.  Your art journal piece is just as much a part of you and just as beautiful as anyone else's.  More so in many ways, because it's an expression of yourself.   Who should Art Journal?  You should.

When should you Art Journal?

Here's another reason this practice is so great.  It can take as much or as little time as you have.  We all lead extremely busy lives.  I totally get that.  But when you sit down to create, you don't have to “finish” in one sitting.  Or even better, you can call a piece “finished” whenever you want!  Here are some of the times I like to create.

  1. As I study the Bible.
  2. When listening to sermons, podcasts or books.
  3.  After a big event that I want to remember.
  4.  When I'm feeling sad or anxious.
  5.  As I pray.
  6.  When I need clarity on something.
  7.  When I just need a little color in my life.
  8.  With my kids.
  9.  When I see a new technique I want to try.
  10.  If I have a particularly special photo or memory I want to document.

Practically speaking, it's hard to carve out time to create.  Am I right?  I have found that the times I am most successful at actually putting pen to paper, so to speak, is when I schedule it.  I schedule my Bible study time, and I schedule my creative time.  It doesn't always happen as planned, but in my life, if it's not on my schedule, it rarely gets done.  And it doesn't have to take long.  My creative times are usually no more than 30 minutes or an hour about once a week.  That's not much, but it sometimes seems impossible.  I want to create more often, and I know that there will be a stage in life when that will be a reality, but for now, I'm happy with the time I do get.

Where do you Art Journal?

Anywhere you have supplies.  You could keep a bag in the car and pull it out in the pick-up line if you want.  I tend to create on the kitchen table or the dining room table, depending on which one is most clear and quiet.  I do have a place where I store all of my craft supplies but it's in a room shared with three of my kids, so it's rarely a good place for me to create.  If you have a flat surface, you can start art journaling.  I promise.

What do I need to start Art Journaling?

Basically, you will need something to create on and something to create with.  Any book and any writing utensil.  Boom.  I've listed some of my favorite options but nothing is mandatory. (some of these are affiliate links)

1.  You will need a journal of some kind.  Or at the very least some paper.  I encourage you to check out the Journal in 7 course if you want to create one easily and inexpensively.  Here are a couple of my favorites if you want to purchase one.

JOURNAL IN 7: CREATE A UNIQUE JOURNAL IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS

2.  You need a pencil, marker, pen or paints.  Start with what you have on hand, then try different things. Again, I'm listing some of the items I personally use, but this is not an exhaustive list in any way.

3.  Other random things I use all the time (but are totally not necessary)

How do you Art Journal?

Do you remember how I keep saying that anything goes with Art Journaling?  Well, I totally mean it.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to dive into some of the ways you can take a blank page and turn it into art even if you don't consider yourself remotely artistic.  But in the meantime, I suggest you just try something.  Pull out a Bible verse, a poem, a memory, a song, a photograph, an image of any kind… and put it down on paper.  Then doodle, color, or write other things around it.  Let your imagination run free without worrying about the end product.

Art Journaling is definitely Process over Product!  If you are still stuck on ideas, download this quick list of 7 Art Journaling tricks for the non-artist.  Print it out and post it for inspiration.  Let's create together.  And let's worship God as we do it.
Seven Art Journaling Tricks for the Non-Artist

About Jen Evangelista

I am a wife of a pastor, a mom to 4 kids, a Pediatrician and the face behind Grace in Color. Grace in Color is an online space to learn digital and traditional art, organize and document your life and be encouraged by the Truth of the Gospel. Click on Latest Posts to see more.