illustration on old book page

How to Start an Art Journal

Here are some hints and tips to help encourage and inspire you!


1. Buy a journal or sketchbook with blank white pages so you can express yourself freely without the constriction of lines. (Or if you prefer lined pages, that’s great too!) The thicker sketchbook pages are great for practice. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of buying a journal, printer paper works as a good canvas.

**Using cardboard behind your pages when painting is a good technique to help keep paint from leaking and helps it dry faster.**

2. Purchase some basic art supplies like watercolor paints, acrylic paints, spray paints, letter stencils, colored pencils, multicolored sharpies, Staetdler fineliner pens, etc… These supplies don’t have to be fancy and expensive to work. Take some time to figure out what you like to use and what effects you want to produce with your art.

**A lot of popular journaling techniques involve creating a watercolor background and a mixed media layered effect for their creations. But, this is about you! Get creative and experiment!**

3. Use words, quotes, images, mixed media, and simple and elaborate drawings to create personal pages that express who you are as an artist and writer.

**Get out of your comfort zone and draw things you wouldn’t normally draw. If you don’t like what you’re creating, give yourself time to grow and learn. It’s important to be patient with yourself and let go of your high expectations. Give yourself credit for trying and keep practicing! Don’t give up!**

4. To learn more about art journaling, you can always use Google for more information, look up tutorials on Youtube, check out books from your local library, or even take online art journaling classes. Some classes are even free! There are tons of resources for you to research.


**Don’t wait until the “time is right” or when the “inspiration hits you.” Dive right in and go for it!**


Some art journaling prompts:


1. Practice hand-lettering your favorite words.
2. Practice using calligraphy for your journal entries.
3. Draw your favorite silly emojis.
4. Draw symbols that hold significance to you.
5. Illustrate a cute scene from your favorite TV show.
6. Create your own comic book page inspired by a day in your life.
7. Make your own mandala and color it in.
8. Make a favorite quote page.
9. Fill an entire page with random doodles.
10. Dedicate a page to your fictional or irl crush.
11. Tape in photos from your favorite trip and add meaningful captions.
12. Illustrate a page on how to cheer yourself up when you’re upset.
13. Use stencils to create word art that describes how you feel right now. 14. Cut out your favorite adjectives from the newspaper.
15. Make a “Truths and Confessions” page to release some tension.
16. Color a page red. Write a long rant until your feel better.
17. Illustrate a monster that has scared you and confront it with words.
18. Create a page filled with characteristics of people you admire.
19. Cut out images from magazines that illustrate your dream life.
20. Use a waterbrush pen to write your favorite book quote.
21. Dedicate a page to your favorite band.
22. Doodle and write your favorite lyrics.
23. Write the words you want to say to someone important to you.
24. Sketch a character you’ve fallen in love with.
25. Create geometric or odd shapes. Make them flow together.
26. Use ink and colored pencil to outline your plans for the week.
27. Write a poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme. Let it come from the heart.
28. Write about the people, places, and things that inspire you.
29. Create a symbol that reflects your life. (Ex: zigzag= stressful)
30. Sketch or write a list of things you’re thankful for.
31. Make a favorite holiday page.
32. Make a page for your favorite personal photos.
33. Create a new identity for yourself. Illustrate your personality.
34. Illustrate a scene from a fairy tale or make up your own.
35. Draw a totally new character that represents your alter-ego.
36. Dedicate a page to your favorite colors.
37. Write one word that describes you well in big, bold letters.
38. Go outside. Draw the first object you see.
39. Write/illustrate your surroundings.
40. Create a page detailing your ideal peaceful environment.
41. Let the day’s weather inspire your pages.
42. Express whether you’re a night owl or an early bird.
43. Create a layered effect by using old letters, important notes, etc…
44. Create a personal mantra page. (Ex: “Live. Laugh. Love.”)
45. Doodle your favorite silly facial expressions.
46. Make a page dedicated to the places you want to travel to.
47. Draw your inner god/goddess. Name them.
48. Write about the talents you have and the talents you wish you had.
49. Create a “Good Memories” page to make yourself smile later on.
50. Draw a broken heart. Journal about your heartaches.
51. Draw yourself in your favorite clothes.
52. Illustrate your favorite place to write, read, study, etc…
53. Mod Podge old book pages to your journal page for a background.
54. Spray paint your favorite symbol on the page.
55. Journal about superpowers you wish you had.
56. List the things that make you laugh.
57. Draw your favorite plant or flower and explain why you like it.
58. Use a childhood experience to influence your journal page.
59. Draw a candle and write about how it symbolizes hope.
60. Journal about the habits you want to change.
61. Fill a journal page with compliments to yourself.
62. Create a venn diagram and compare/contrast yourself with a friend.
63. Write a “Note to Self” page.
64. Illustrate a favorite career page and how you want to make money.
65. Create a system of symbols that represent people, places, and things.
66. Make a page dedicated specially for your zodiac sign.
67. Illustrate your most embarrassing moment from last week.
68. Make a page of regrets and write about how you could fix them.
69. Draw a stack of books and illustrate your reading goal for the year.
70. Take a heart stencil and dab red paint inside the lines. Write about the things you love most in the world and why they’re worth living for.
71. Cut out stars from copy paper and glue them on the page to form your favorite constellation.
72. Draw a line. Name one point Start and the other one End. write about how you want to grow as a person throughout your life.
73. Stain your journal pages with a damp tea bag to give it an old parchment look. Once it’s dry, write a magic spell for your life.
74. Find your favorite poem and journal about why it inspires you.
75. Dedicate a page for things you’d tell your younger self.
76. Draw your favorite animal then fill it in with bright colors.
77. Use some of that old junk mail, glue it in, and paint over it.
78. Write a “Pet Peeves” page. Don’t stop writing until you feel better.
79. Write about your day and shape the sentences into a spiral.
80. Draw or write with your non-dominant hand and see what happens.
81. Paint a rainbow and write about what your pot of gold (a goal or a dream) would be on the other side.
82. Sketch a sunset and describe how to bring closure to your problems.
83. Tape multi-colored notecards or sticky notes in your journal. Jot down little positive reminders to yourself.
84. Use only acrylic paint and puff paint to doodle and write.
84. Journal about the wisest thing you’ve heard someone say to you.
85. Write about your addictions/obsessions.
86. Create a simple collage of things you dislike with magazines.
87. Illustrate a door opening and journal about your new opportunities.
88. Draw your ideal relaxing vacation.
89. Make a list of the places you’ve been today.
90. Tape in receipts of the special things you’ve bought.
91. Tape in ticket stubs of the movies you’ve seen this year.
92. Press leaves and flower petals onto the page.
93. Paint or draw old sayings like “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
94. Record a dream and draw a few people or places you saw in it.
95. Journal about your beliefs.
96. Create a new style/font of handwriting.
97. Use stickers and stamps to make a border around your page. Fill in the center by writing about your “stick-to-itiveness” or perseverence.
98. Draw you and your friends from an old photo and embellish the sketch with an inspiring/relatable quote. Capture the happy moments.
99. Use all the colors of your sharpie pens to write out your thoughts.
100. Make a page detailing all the things you want for your future.


Express yourself without fear. Remember journaling is all about you. This is your personal journey, so you don’t have an obligation to show anyone your creations.


Make good art!

6

Louis Christophe François Hachette (5 May 1800 – 31 July 1864) 

French publisher who established a publishing Paris house designed to produce books and other material to improve the system of school instruction. Publications were initially focused on the classics and subsequently expanded to include books and magazines of all types. The firm is currently part of a global publishing house. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: 1.-2. Frontispiece “Fig. 1 - Le théâtre à huit heures du matin. P. Laplante, Sc.” and title page from L’Envers du Théatre. Machines et Décorations par M. J. Moynet. Deuxième Édition. Illustrée de 60 Vignettes sur bois par l’auteur. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1874.  3.-4. Title page and illustration “Patriotes élégants en 1789 et 1790, d’aprês le Cabinet des modes. Languet” from Histoire du Costume en France. Depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqua la fin du XVIIIe Siècle par J. Quicherat. Ouvrage Contenant 481 Gravures dessinées sur bois d’aprês les documents authentiques par Chevignard, Pauquet et P. Seller. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1875.  5. Title page from Étude sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. T. Varron par Gaston Boissier. Paris: Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie, 1861.  6. Title page from Le Théatre Français sous Louis XIV par Eugène Despois. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1874.

Thirteen pointers on being an Artist and staying there

A good friend recently told me I should procure some of my experience and-dare I say-wisdom,about being an Artist. I’ve often wondered what it is I possibly could have to say that would be of interest or worth, simply because most of us will agree that being an artist, feels akin to being a Guppy flopping around in a Tsunami, and I am certainly no exception.
Except she insisted that what I have to say would be inspirational, so if it helps my other creative journeymen and women to stay honest and continue the course, then who am I to argue.

1. How to be an artist when you have a day job.

The truth of being an artist, is that you’ll likely be juggling multiple jobs for a living wage from the offset and possibly for the rest of your life, leaving you drained and unmotivated by the time it comes to your first brush stroke. Start picturing yourself doing the art throughout the day, make your day about getting through it as a necessary evil to your goal. Carry a small-even concealable-sketch book everywhere with you-use your breaks, your lunch, your bus journey to flesh out ideas, and once back home, don’t turn on the TV, disconnect from your social media because these things are distractions and your enemy.
Make a light snack, enough to stave off hunger and not put you in a food coma, have your work place all ready, your palettes already set out, your surfaces already primed the night before, there’s nothing more off putting to yourself than not being able to just jump straight in. And then give yourself a set of hours in which to frame what you want to accomplish. If you want it badly enough then you will find that second wind, just be prepared for many late hours, long nights and weekends.
And when people ask you what you do, tell them you are an artist-say it enough times to others to convince yourself- always remember, your minimum wage job isn’t who you are, but the self funding you use to support your next creation.

2. Everyone has to start somewhere

From pop up tents on dodgy street corners to library foyers, crusty village halls to seedy bar walls, I’ve exhibited my art through them all. So, regardless of how immensely talented you think you are, you are deluding yourself if you are looking to get an in as a heavy hitter straight off the bat. Only the the trust funded, circle jerked or God given will get instant admission on that prestigious gallery wall.
More importantly,after you’ve built your reputation, grafted and finally gotten to that place, remember that humble pie still tastes the same wherever you are, so don’t use the people who help you along the way and don’t be a dick to those coming up once you get there.

3. You can do it all yourself.

You think you have pursued every avenue for that show you want to mount, book you want published, but all you see before you is an avalanche of rejection or total indifference. Was a time when that meant the death knell for a creative project,  or an artist falling by the wayside into eternal obscurity.
Except the days when the traditional go-betweeners such as agents, gallery’s and publishing houses were the single gateway to your audience is diminishing. The new gatekeepers are the ones that provide a platform to crowd source a rented space, an on-line publisher to print on demand, a network to build to advertise in-it’s easier in a way than ever before to do what you do yourself and put it under peoples noses. No one is waiting to discover you, so create art not excuses not to.

4. Don’t pay to play

Seriously, don’t do it-there is absolute zero impetus for the curator/editor/institute to represent you or any of your cohorts once you have-of course there are overheads for the gallery, but go ahead put your money down, the house always wins, whether you sell or not, and you are enabling bad practice, one that exploits creatives.
Remember, a good partnership is one where you both are invested in the gamble, not one where you walk away poorer.

5. Have no expectations for the outcome of what you do other than for yourself

That way lies madness and a cycle of disappointment.  Do your best work, say what you wanted to say but accept that anything that comes beyond that is a bonus, so always remind yourself that If one person in the world other than yourself and your Mum gives a flying fuck about what you create, then you’ve already accomplished something.

6. Ask yourself,what constitutes success as an Artist to you.

Conjure an idea of what ultimate success from your Art looks like.
Is it fame, fortune, the respect of your peers, that cover of some self appointed Art Bible, some perversion in the back of a limousine?
Or is it for the love of it, a quest for personal and technical betterment and a lasting legacy to be proud of?
Whatever the reason, its up to you to decide which is more likely to happen, and which will leave you plagued by a feeling of failure and disappointment.

7.Don’t half ass it

Whether it’s some tossed off sketch on a dive bar napkin, or a commission that you are only going to make a few bucks on, do your absolute best ,other than children, this will be your most precious legacy.
And always follow through no matter what-in 2010 I almost cut my fingers off with a hedge trimmer a month before I was having two solo shows. I allowed myself to heal for a week, before gritting my teeth,Vicodin and Red Bull became my friends, and I made deadlines just short of delivery date. Don’t let anyone down, especially yourself. Remember-laying bad eggs will leave an stench that will linger.

8. All Art has cachet which means nothing does.

Because there are no rules as to what Art is, it might seem like a great democratic qualifier. Except don’t fool yourself, snobbery and elitism exist as much in the industry as it does anywhere else, and you will quickly discover yourself categorized by the established order as one thing above or beneath another. Don’t buy into it, and definitely don’t perpetuate it, those boundaries exist to justify exclusion and price fixing, so do what you do regardless, don’t be a pretentious arse and don’t take yourself too seriously, you will be a better human being for it.

9. Enjoy the moment

I once did a live-painting show at a nightclub, and so immersed was I in it not helping to put food on the table or advance my cause, I spent the entire night feeling like some mere anecdote. Later when I was raging in the car about how pointless it had all been, my wife quite rightly reminded me that I had completely missed the point, that a large legion of friends and fans had traveled to come and watch me, that the piece was raffled for charity, and that people had been there to win it. It’s all too easy to get lost when seeking the endgame, enjoy the moment and don’t be blind when looking for stars in the night sky.

10. Always be looking to the next thing.

So the shows over,the canvas is complete, the tools are downed and the palettes dry. That’s when it hits…the aftermath, the empty studio that echoes with post Art frenzy and after show blues. You grieve when its over, because you’ve spent days, weeks, months and years besotted with your muse and working to this point, for what? Over the years, I’ve learned that the bipolarity of what we do, is the balance between an incredible series of highs and debilitating lows. Look forwards not back. Find something to fill the space again, you’ve climbed a hill, but the work is never over, revitalize that back burner project, sift through those unfinished sketches,work towards another show, go see an inspiring exhibition, just find a reason to fall in love and begin again, this is your chance at creative rebirth.

11. How to stay inspired

Chances are at some point, you’ll reach a wall. That paralyzing terror of a blank sheet, but this a great opportunity, a virgin territory to explore, a chance to express something, anything. Think, even the feeling of not being able to say something can be cannibalized and become inspiring in itself. So find your visual language between the pages of old illustrated books, find an alchemy and make nursery rhymes of your existence, find your pictographs in the lines of sonnets, ancient mythologies and historical cultures, find signifiers in museums and in the descending melody lines of songs, unravel your personal biography in mysterious back alleyways, desecrated churches and the twisted forms of nature. Take the essence of those feelings and make totems and props of them, look to your idols but never copy anyone else’s work directly-you are a conduit not a clone.

12. Whats the point, its all been done before and no one ever buys anything anyway?

Throughout the journey, you are going to find a million and one reasons daily to give up. Believe me, I do this at least five times a week. It could be because you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, or because nothing is selling, or because of something shitty someone said on Facebook, whatever the reason you feel like you’re done.
Except its likely the reason you wanted to create in the first place, came out of a need to express something , possibly when you were depressed, completely on your own and on the bones of your arse.  Which means you’d do it anyway, no matter what, right? Don’t be defeated by peripherals, let the work itself be your goal.

13. What you’ll get from staying the distance.

Your Art will be a marriage full of turbulence, a religion full of doubts, and some of the greatest triumphs you will ever have. It will open up a world of personal discovery, give you a set of friends you would never of had otherwise, and admission onto the walls of strangers, who have found something to connect with you, something that bled from your soul, something you put out into the world and people invested in. Legacy is something for arbiters to decide over after you are gone, but the worth is the meaning you get from your Art in this life. Don’t stop until you fall down. Art.

Final Addendum 14. Armchair Criticism is the easiest job in the World

Think long and hard before you bestow your ‘expert’ opinion.