Do you have a brand-new (or not-so-new) blank art journal that needs some love? Looking for some art journal ideas for beginners? I know how intimidating it can be to start a new journal from scratch. Even though I’ve been art journaling and regular journaling for YEARS, I still stop short with a new journal.
Uh, where to begin?
There are so many possibilities of what you can do when the pages are blank and fresh and new. Some of us don’t want to “mess things up.”
But let me tell you a little secret about art journaling: you can’t mess it up.
The whole point of art journaling is to express yourself, have fun, learn, and experiment.
Those pages are your personal art lab. What paints work with which crayons? Can you paint watercolors over dried gesso? What will ink do if you drip it on the pages and then close them?
Let’s jump in and have fun, shall we?
Four Fun Ways to Fill up Your Blank Art Journal
We are talking about a mixed media art journal here, so pretty much anything goes. In fact, I challenge you to see if you can use all of your art supplies in one way or another on the pages of your artsy journal.
Remember: you can always paint over parts you don’t like. OR you can turn the page!
Have an InkFest
I have recently started playing with dye-based ink, and LOVE it. On the page above, I used cool colors in the green and blue families. I let the ink drip on the page, I drew with it (the bottles I own have a dropper that I use as a drawing tool), and then I closed the pages!
The result was a fun mirror-effect and a lot of color and variety for me to use as a background later on.
Dye-based inks can act like watercolors in that you can wet watercolor paper and paint with the ink like watercolors. The ink will bloom and move around the paper like watercolors. (By the way, click here to see the art journal that I’m using for this post—LOVE it. It has watercolor paper and a canvas cover for you to decorate yourself.)
The two big differences are the ink is more permanent and will not “come back to life” like watercolors will when they are touched with water, gesso, or any other liquid. The second difference is the colors are very bright and rich. The colors above are straight from the bottle but you can water them down for a softer look. The bottles I use are one ounce but a little goes a very long way.
A note here: I have only used Jane Davenport’s INKredible inks so I am speaking about her line of products rather than the world of ink as a whole. 🙂 Also, her inks are scented. For those who are extremely sensitive to scent, you will want to use them in a well-ventilated room. I am really sensitive myself but haven’t had any reaction. It’s actually pretty fun to open my journal and smell a bit of lime or blueberry. 🙂
Journal, Then Paint
I love the subtle look of writing or type under an art journal page. And this method is super easy too!
Use a waterproof pen to write out your thoughts. I like to write as loopy as I can to loosen up my wrist and to get the thoughts out as fast as possible. 🙂 To me, this also looks nicer than teeny-tiny writing over an entire page. It’s your choice, though.
When you’re finished writing, paint white gesso over the entire page and let dry. You may need to use a clip (a good old chip bag clip works great here!) to keep the pages from curling.
Alternately, you can paint gesso directly onto a book page that has type on it. I did both in the picture above. I wrote over type in a book and then gessoed the page.
Add To Your Book
You can easily add a tiny window or additional page to your book by taping it in with book tape (or if you don’t have any, you can use masking tape.*)
In the image above, I cut a piece off of a box of pasta so I could have a window in my journal. I painted both sides of the box piece with white acrylic, let it dry, and then taped it in.
*Note that you can paint very easily over book tape with acrylics and all sorts of mixed media. Masking tape is a little resistant to this but it didn’t bug me.
On the page above, I also used the credit card method to get some color on my page. I dropped one small blop of acrylic directly onto the page and then used a credit card to smear it down.
You can do this with similar colors all over a page: a dot of light pink, two dots of purple, a dot of gold . . . and then go to town with that credit card! It’s so fun and gets color on your page fast.
Excess Paint Page and Mermaids
Sometimes (okay a LOT of the time), I have excess paint on my brush when I’m working in my art journal. Rather than rinsing it off, I tend to wipe it on a test page and then rinse off the last bits and pieces.
These test pages usually end up being my favorites because they incorporate colors and ideas I would never have thought of to use. For the above page, when all the paint was dry, I used my favorite white paint pen to draw mermaid scales.
Now that you have some ideas, go grab your art journal and fill up those blank pages! Doing so will make it faster to jump into creating an art journal page because you’ll already have the background complete.
Need more inspiration? One of my favorite posts on my blog (and your favorite too, considering how many visits it gets!) is Facing the Blank Page: How To Start Your Art Journal Page. In that post, I share several more ways to get past blank page syndrome.
Hope you have a great day!