I could go on for days about what art journaling is, and the benefits of using an art journal. I always come back to the analogy that art journals are:
Sketchbooks on Steroids
Before I explain that, let me give you a little background on me, and my tumultuous relationship with sketchbooks:
Basically, I’m intimidated by the idea of sketching.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried and have given up because of the fear of “getting it wrong,” and not being able to draw what I want. It gives me big time anxiety and I always end up feeling like a total failure.
Does that sound silly? Because it feels really really silly. I mean, it goes against everything I teach about art being a process, and a journey, and enjoy every minute along the way!
Sketchbooks, in my opinion, are supposed to be a place where one can work out ideas for projects, or work out feelings, or a place to just relax and draw ideas for later reference.
The thing is, I’ve never been able to draw realistically, and haven’t taken the time to learn. I’ve never figured out how to get what is in my head onto a blank sketchbook page, and comparing my attempts to some of the cool-looking sketchbook pages I see on the internet sure doesn’t help.
Because I’ve not succeeded at being a good sketcher I get paralyzed every time I look at the blank page. All I can see is the future of another messed up page. And another thing… I don’t like to waste paper/pages and materials.
I can feel the anxiety starting in my chest just thinking about it.
So silly! I feel like such a hypocrite because I pride myself on telling people they can do anything, and that creativity can be learned! Right?
Well, sometimes the whole “you can do anything” truth comes in the form of working around your blocks, and finding new ways to fulfill your desires without actually being able to do the actual thing you want to do. In my instance, that would be working around actual sketching.
Does that make any sense?
That’s where art journals come in.
And they're freaking MAGIC!
So, what exactly is an art journal and art journaling?
It is similar to a sketchbook in that you create, on pages, inside a cover. But one of the things that makes it an art journal instead of just a sketchbook is that you use whatever media you want. Pens, pencils, acrylic paint, watercolors, collage, pastels, colored pencils, oil pastels, stickers, fabric and fiber, decorative tapes, crayons, and on and on.
Beyond the art you can make ON the pages of an art journal, it is also common to build and bind your own art journals, from scratch, then create pockets, fold-outs, inserts, cut-outs, and various other methods of altering pages. (It’s easier than it sounds).
Art journals end up being pieces of art in themselves.
I consider the building of the journal–it’s pages and components–as two dimensional sculpting, and it satisfies a totally different part of my creative hankerings that a plain ‘ole sketchbook just can’t.
Remember that phobia of wasting and messing up that I mentioned?
One of the beautiful parts of building your own art journals is that you can make them from all recycled material! So, not only can you satisfy any fear of wasting materials, but you can feel good that you are using items that would otherwise end up in the landfill.
And, if you’re using recycled, repurposed, and reclaimed materials for your pages, you might be less worried about messing up because, what are you “messing up?” Stuff that would normally be trash!
I know that it totally frees me to do things that normally I wouldn’t because I can always get more recycled paper, and quickly build another journal!
Art journals are the perfect place to:
- Work out ideas
- Diary write
- Bullet Journal
- Keep your lists and calendar
- You name it! Just for fun!
NOTE: I’m showing some of my more completed journal spreads here. DO NOT DO WHAT I DO in comparing my idea of sketching to others! Anyone can art journal, and it’s really easy!
I have multiple art journals started with different themes and purposes. I even have one that is my Warm-up Journal where I doodle and scribble, and try out colors, techniques, or other little things before I jump into a more focused journal. You know…just in case I mess up. 😆
Truly though, anyone can do it.
And I’m making it my mission to show as many people as possible how amazingly fun and satisfying it is.
If you’re interested, you can check out my free guide to see what it’s all about: