Art journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection and stress-relief—and it’s amazingly easy to do. You can paint, draw, scribble, paste anything and everything you want on a page. There are no rules, no limitations, just you and a blank page and total freedom to play.
Technically all you need for art journaling is a pen, a crayon, and paper. Of course, it’s fun to have an excuse to raid your corner arts store for fun and cheap supplies. Here’s a list for you to try.
You can use any journal: the cheap composition notebooks, a classy Moleskine, or even make your own. The most important thing to consider is how much paint you want to slather on the page. IF you like to build lots of layers or stick a lot of elements you may want thicker pages, since thinner ones will tear or crinkle.
Oh, and if you tend to make thick pages (from sticking stuff or from all that paint) you may want to consider a spiral notebook. If you like perfect binding, you can tear out pages to accommodate the additional bulk on each page. Or, you can just live with the bulge—I don’t mind it, I think it adds character.
Pens, lots of pens! Colored pens and glitter pens for doodling and writing, plus a few water-resistant ones that won’t smudge when you want to add a thin layer of watercolor paint over the journaling.
Paints are great for making background washes or building colorful layers. Acrylics are bright, but they’re near-impossible to write on top of. Watercolors are great (you may want to try watercolor crayons). Many art journalers like using gesso, a paint primer that’s awesome for collages and subduing magazine images so you can paint over them (and rework them to your theme) or even write over them. Mixing gesso with watercolor creates an effect similar to gouache paint.
Oh a note on paints: get the most basic set first (you can mix colors) so you don’t spend too much on an art material that you decide you don’t like. Many stores sell “open stock” that let you buy just a few colors instead of an entire palette.
You can buy or download and print collage images, or cut them out from magazines. It’s fun to incorporate ‘found’ images too, like junk mail or receipts or scanned and printed memorabilia. These can help tell the story. For one art journal entry on fear of failure, I included a fragment of an old school report card in my art journal page—it symbolized such powerful images of being afraid of disappointing my parents with a bad grade.
If you’re going to do collage, you need some kind of adhesive. Mod podge is great, since it covers layers with a thin protective coating too. But if you have thin pages it’s better to use a dry adhesive (like a paste) since wet glue can cause these to crinkle. Heavier elements, like actual photos, may need a stronger adhesive like double sided tape. Wet acrylic paint also acts as an adhesive, too.
Photo from flickr.com