Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.
Let's Talk About Art Journals
So what is an art journal you might ask? Well think about it as a visual diary of your thoughts emotions and feelings. It is a place to record all these things in word and in art.
The first thing to learn in art journaling is that there are no rules ! There is complete freedom to express yourself in whatever way you feel. You can use whatever medium you feel or enjoy. There are no firm ideas of how your journal should be.
The only thing that you need is a book to journal in. It can be a composition book, an old recycled book, a journal that you make yourself, a sketchbook or an actual journal. It is up to you what you use.
Then you will need some supplies that can be found anywhere at very reasonable prices. Things like crayons, watercolors, colored pencils and water colored pencils. You can add on acrylic paints, stencils, markers and any other art supply that you can think of.
If you are using old book, you will need some gesso to cover the pages of print.
It's not complicated to art journal. Just take 15min to 30 minutes at a time. Or journal when you feel that you need a release from things that are going on in your life.
And no, you don't have to be an artist ! Anyone can art journal. With the stress of the world today, art journals are a perfect way to get rid of the stress that builds up in our lives. There is no one too young or too old who cannot create a terrific art journal. You need no art experience.
So, let's get started by creating some background pages in your art journal. Ready to start your new advernture?
What is Art Journaling?
Art Journaling is self discovery through self expression
— Tangie Baxter
Some Quick Art Journal Background Techniques
Art Journal Background Basics
Creating Art Journal has become a passion for me. They are expressions and extensions of who and what we are. They express feeling and emotions. And as such they are creative ways to express how we feel at that moment. They are great stress relievers.
You do not need a lot of supplies to get started. Most of the supplies that you need, you probably already have in your stash.
The first thing that you will do to get started is to create a background for your pages.
Here are the supplies that you will need:
A notebook or journal -You can create from any book that you may have
Some gesso paint
Some inks or spray inks
Some oxide inks
Crayons or markers
Easy Art Journal Backgrounds
Why Should You Art Journal?
Creating a journal is basically the ongoing story of your life. It will tell others all about your your journey. It is a little slice of your life, the times that you lived in and what you thought. It will be a priceless gift to the generations to come.
But more than all of that, it helps you reflect on your own journey. You can visit the years gone by and reflect on where you have been, how far you have come and help you to see where you want to go
- Art journaling eases the stress of everyday life by releasing our emotions on paper
- Keeps us motivated to explore new ideas, thoughts, techniques and creativity
- We see how we feel though our art. That may lead to an understanding of our our thoughts and emotions,
- It is an outlet for the creative side of our brain. We are free to create withput the thought of rules or criticism.
Applying Gesso To Your Pages
Gesso- Your Starting Point For Art Journal Pages
Gesso is like a primer for most of your art journal pages, It comes in white, clear and black. You can use it to strengthen or "beef Up" your thinner pages. It can also mute a background. Or it can cover up a page or part of a page that you do not like,
Multiple manufacturers make it. Some products may be thicker than others, Some have more texture. Try different brands and then stick with the one that you like,.
Watercolors do not look well over gesso. The colors do not come out right. I would recommend using water colors on water color paper and then adhere the water color paper to your journal page.
Gesso can take some time to dry. Before you start your art journal page , you need to have a dry surface. How long it takes to dry depends on how thick you applied it and how thick the product is. You can speed up the drying time by using a craft heat gun. If you decide to use the heat gun remember not to hold it too close to the page. You will also want to move it around the page. That way the oage will dry with less chance of damage to the paper.
Tools To Apply Gesso
- Gesso brush- the gesso brush is made to apply gesso smoothly to your page. It is easy to use and washes with soap and water
- A sponge-you can use a kitchen sponge or a craft sponge. Using a sponge adds a bit of raised texture
- A make up sponge- Because make up sponges are so soft, you will get a smooth soft look
- A brayer-rolls the gesso on with just a little texture. The brayer need to be washed right away so that the gesso does not stick to it permanently. That might spoil it for other uses in your craft room.
- A palette knife-you can use a palette knfe, but the gesso will not go on smoothly. I would not use the knife to lay down my prime coat. But rather to lay strips of gesso over the top of a painted surface to add a distressed look.
- An old credit or gift card-again applying the gesso with one of these will result in a more textured look
- Your fingers-swirl it around your page. you should get a nice smooth look
- Baby wipes-creates a very fine thin look to your gesso
Try them all and decide what works best for you
Adding Texture With Gesso
Besides just painting it on, you can use gesso for adding texture to your pages. You can run a fork through your gesso to add some texture.
Use gesso with a stencil. It will add instant texture to any design.
Create some raised stamping with gesso. Use things like toilet paper rolls to create raised stamping pattern. You can also use cookie cutters, jar lids and potato mashers to create instant design.
Adding Texture With Gesso
More Ideas For Adding Texture With Gesso
- Add Texture to Your Art Journal with Gesso - Cloth Paper Scissors
Create a unique art journal page with gesso and paint
Paints And Color Media
There is a huge selection of media for you to try. beyond just acrylic paint. Water soluable crayons. watercolor pencils, oil pastels, spray inks, distress inks and so much more.
If you are using paints, I suggest using a good quality acrylic paint like Liquitex Basics, Golden Brand, Studio 51, or Handmade Modern (found in Target). Stay away from cheaper brands like Apple Barrel Or Folk Art. They tend to clump and dry up quickly. Their texture can also be a bit plastic.
Gelatos tend to be a bit expensive, but they do last a long time. They work like water color crayons, but have a wider applicator.
Watercolors are another option. They are easy to carry when you are out and about..If you have a water brush you can create your art just about anywhere.
AS far as markers are concerned, that is one of those things that you need to play around with to see what works best for you.Start experimenting and see which ones you like the best.
Easy Block By Block Technique
Block By Block
Creating Blocks on your art journal page is so easy that everyone from child to adult can create pages in minutes.
- Acrylic brushes
- Acrylic paints
- Pencil or markers
- Prepare your pages by giving them 1 -2 coats of white gesso. Allow the gesso to dry between coats.
- With a pencil or marker and a ruler, draw some blocks on your pages. Make them as large or as small as you would like
- With your brush, fill in your blocks with paint
- Allow paint to dry
- Always put some parchment or waxed paper behind the pages so that paint does not get on other pages
- Use tomes within the same color or go crazy with what ever colors you are feeling.
- Have fun exploring colors and shapes !
Easy Abstract Ideas For Art Journaling Pages
Acrylic Paint Background Ideas
Start with prepared pages that have been painted with gesso and allowed to dry. Now you are ready to create some easy, yet effective background pages, Make sure to have something on your workspace to protect it. A Craft mat, some parchment paper, or even some newspaper will work fine. Also make sure to place some parchment paper or waxed paper behind the pages that you are working on. That way the paint will not bleed into the other pages.
- Blobs And Squares- Paint blobs or squares randomly on your page. Allow to dry. Leave room for a second color, Now add the same pattern in your second color overlapping the other color and allow to dry. You could add additional colors or some metallic color for highlights.
- Messy Acrylics- Pick two to three colors. Randomly with a brush paint strips of color all over the page, Allow the first color to dry. Add the second and third color the same way, Go different ways with your brush to create a different pattern
- Kiss Technique-Select two to three colors of acrylic paint. Drop the paint onto the page. Flip the book closed carefully. Open the book slowly and allow to dry. Steps can be repeated until you get the desired results.
Tools To Use For Art Journal Page Backgrounds
There are a few tools that you can use to create art journal backgrounds. Many of them may be in your home already. Most can be used more than once. All of them will create something different for your art journal pages.
- Kitchen sponges-You can use these to great a bit of texture in your backgrounds. You can dab the paint on or swipe paint across the page. They are washable. Break up the sponge into small pieces.
- Makeup brushes-Give you a smoother background. Mostly use them with inks. You can blend inks with them as well. Create a light smooth look. They are good to use with stencils. You can also use them to ink the edges if your pages. Can be used again after they are washed.
- Toilet paper rolls- Use them with ink to create distressed circles. When you are done with that color, just cut it off. Keep using the roll till it is gone
- Bottle caps- Create smaller circles with bottle caps. Different caps produce different results. They can be cleaned and reused.
- Bubble wrap- Apple paint onto the bubble wrap and apply to the page. So much fun
The Most Basic Page Of All- Finger Painting
Do you remember when you were in kindergarten ? When I was a child, one of the most fun thing of all was finger painting. You had a big piece of paper and some paints. Your tools were your fingers. It was pure joy just to add color any way we wanted to and mix it all up. There was complete freedom in our art.
Why not feel that same joy in an art journal? When I do this technique, I now wear gloves. But you still get the same joy. You just place some paint down and mix it with your fingers. There are no rules for this technique. You just play anyway and as much as you want to.
If you want to, you can dry the paint with a heat gun in between layers. Let go and enjoy the process.
Book Page Art Journal Background
Book Pages For Your Art Journal
Old book pages
Glue some old book pages to cover two adjoining art journal pages
Using A Brayer
Similar to the finger painting technique, another way to apply paint is with a brayer. Think of a brayer like a paint roller. You simply place some paint on your page and roll it any where that you would like. What colors and where you roll it to is up to you. Remember, There are no rules in art journaling
Use a bit of white on a brayer to soften any harsh colors.
Table Salt Technique
It is not new, but the table salt technique will give your pages a fresh new look. It s so simple, yet it creates a magical background.
If your paper is not watercolor paper, you will need to do a prep with a product called Absorbant Ground. You could also try using Gesso as a prep.
Then apply several coats of at least a two color watercolor wash. Then sprinkle table salt on the wet paint. Allow to dry. Then brush the salt off the page.
Dryer Sheet Art Journal Background
Watercolor Paint Ideas
Watercolors are fun to use on your journal pages. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Make sure to place some waxed paper or parchment paper behind the pages that you are working on, That way, the water color will not bleed into the other pages.Here are a few watercolor ideas:
- Simple Water Color Wash- With a paint brush, dampen the paper slightly with some water. Do not soak it, Just get it a little wet. Pick up some water color and run it across the page. Keep going until you cover the page, making strips of color. You can either start from the top and work your way down, or start from the bottom. Allow the page to dry.
- Water Color Blooms-These are just two colors that are allowed to bleed into each other. First take one color and color a section of the page. . Take a second color and make that color wetter than the first. Touch the first color with the second and allow them to run into each other. Keep going through the entire page until you are happy with the results. Allow to dry.
Have Fun With Watercolors
Using Gel Medium As A Resist
Gel medium acts as a resist on your paper. So you can stencil and paint with it on your surface. Go over it with the paint color of your choice to reveal the resist.
Household Items On Your Art Journal Pages
Adding Texture To Your Art Journal Pages
I love adding a bit of texture to my art journal pages. It creates far more interest than just a flat page. Here are some easy ideas to help you add more texture to your pages:
- Add paper shapes to your page. Cut any shape that you like. You can also add pictures from magazines and catalogs. Raise them up off your page with foam double sided stickers
- Dimensional paint and dimensional fabric paint.create shapes, letters, swirls circles, ect.
- You can use letter stickers to create a word on your page.
- Chipboard letters. You can use them as is to create words. Or you can paint or glitter them and then use them.
- Micro beads. They come in lots of different colors. The metallic ones really add some interest
- Washi tape. In colorful textures and patterns, washi tape can add a lot of interest to all your pages.
- Tissue paper. Crumble it up and then lay it flat.Adhere to your page and then paint over it
- Shimmer paste. I just love the metallic look of shimmer paste.
- Hot Glue. Create shapes and designs with your hot glue gun. You can paint over it or use a marker to color it.
- Modeling paste. Can be used with stencils or as it. Can be applies with a spatula or with your fingers
Tissue Paper Art Journal Page
Tissue Paper Bleeding Art Journal Page
Did you know that you can create an art journal page with colored tissue paper. So easy and so much fun. Get some colored tissue paper and let's get started,
- Colored tissue paper (have hard that the tissue paper from dollar stores does not work. Use two or more colors.
- 110 lb white cardstock or water color paper.
- Black Sharpie or any other permanent marker
- Stencil in a design on your paper with a permanent black or other marker. It cam be words, an image or whatever you want it to be.
- Give it a little time to dry.
- Wet the entire paper with water just till it is slightly damp.
- Rip the tissue paper in random pieces and lay it on the wet surface.
- Allow the tissue paper a minimum of 5 minutes to allow it to dry
- Remove the tissue paper.
- You can add another layer of paper if you want by wetting the paper and reapplying additional fresh tissue paper.
Suggestions-If you are doing this technique in a book, add a layer of gesso before you start this project
Painting Backgrounds With Baby Wipes
2 colors in the same color tines- one dark and one lighter
- Randomly apply gesso primer wherever you want on 2 adjoining pages
- Allow to dry
- Paint two colors over the whole page randomly
- Make sure to mix colors so that they blend well.
- Allow to dry
- Remove paint on the page with a baby wipe to show exposed gesso white color
- Keep wiping until gesso is exposed
Stamp A Background Page
I love to get out my stamps and play with them to create colorful and thoughtful backgrounds.You can use large background stamps, set of stamps or mix it up.
If you are using a large background stamp, make sure that you are stamping on a very flat surface, You may have to take that one page and set it flat on a table to get a good stamping. But even if you only get a partial stamping, that is still a good page.
Embossing Paste And Background Pages
Embossing paste is basically a thick paste that often has metallic or other colors added to it. It gives a raised effect adding dimension to your pages. Most often it is used with a stencil to create a pattern on a page. You can use it just on the paper or you can use it on a age where color has already been added. Make sure that whatever media is one the page is dry before you add the embossing paste over it.
Ink Spray Background
Baggie Or Saran Wrap Technique
All you need is a baggie or any plastic bag and some acrylic paint. Squirt some paint onto a craft mat or other non stick surface. Take the baggie or other plastic bag and scrunch it up. Dip the scrunched up bag into the paint and then onto your page, Easy and fun to do.
You can do the same idea with scrunched up saran wrap. Remember as long as their is any amount of paint on it, it can still be used on a page. So you will get more than one page with this idea.
Trace Your Hand
I have done this technique with my grandkids, at various ages for their scrapbooks. But it works well for your art journal.
Think creatively about your hand. Don't limit yourself to a traditional open hand spread fingers approach. You can hold something. throw something away. wave-almost anything that your hand would do.
You can do this right on your art journal page or do it on printed paper and glue it into your page.
This is a perfect form to write your feeling on Just write what you are thinking of.
Decorate your hand. Do not limit yourself just to a shape,
Gesso Texture Background
Gesso primer paint
Texture tools (use anything that will create texture on your page)
- Apply thick coat of gesso to the two adjoining pages in your art journal
- While the paint is wet, texture the paint with bubble wrap or other texture tools
- Allow to dry
- Use a paint wash over the gesso and the texture will come up
- Allow to dry
You need to have one of the following-a water color paper page, a mixed media page, at least two pages glued together, or a gesso prepped page.
- Cover the entire page with water.
- Cover the paint with one color of your choice
- Then make dots with the main color and a secondary color until you create a large circle in the center of the page.You can create small dots of color outside circle if you wish.
- Allow to dry
- Make swirls or other designs with a gold or white pen. Create a design inside the circle of your own choice.
- Outline the circle creating a pattern.
You can try any color combination like purple and blue, yellow and green, red and green. Try other combinations as well.
YOu could also use the same techniques with acrylic paint
Ink Blending Techniques For Art Journals
Using Inks To Create A Journal Background
If you are into paper crafts , them more than likely you have stamp pads somewhere in your craft space. Why not get them out and create some new journal pages?
One of the most enjoyable way to use inks on the background of a journal page is to blend them. This technique is so easy and the results are rewarding. Distress inks and oxide inks are the perfect choice for blending. Not only do they blend well, but they have a large collection of colors.
All you need is some distress and /or distress oxide inks and a blending brush. You start off the page and in circles keep adding ink until you are happy with the results. Once the ink is dry, you can stencil and stamp on it . So easy and you will love the results.
Remember to use a craft mat on the top of your work space. It can be messy !
These inks are also fun to use with water drops !
Ink Splatter Techniques
Using Re Inker Bottles For Journal Pages
So if you have ink pads, then more than likely you have reinker bottles. These are glorious inks often with little droppers that will help you create some interesting patterns and designs.
You will want to gesso these pages before you get started. Otherwise, the ink is apt to go right through the pages.
You will also want to put some parchment paper, wax paper or something behind the page so that you do not get any ink anywhere else. You also might want to consider wearing a pair of plastic gloves. These inks are somewhat concentrated.
Also, put a craft mat or something else on the surface of your work area.
- Dripping- Just drip the ink where ever you would like, Use one color or many colors.
- Splatter- Take an old paint brush or toothbrush and create little splatters of ink.
Embossing On Tissue Paper
More Art Journal Background Ideas
- Easy Washi Tape Background in a mixed media art journal
Ever make a Washi Tape Background for your art journal pages? It's fun, easy and quick. This is also good for scrapbook pages and cards.
- Vintage Art Journal Page with Pascale - Lindy's Gang
Create a vintage page background with this technoque
- Art Journaling 101: Collage Backgrounds - Carmen Whitehead Designs
Learn how to create a collage background
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to art journal. There are no rules. You cannot make a mistake. This is your art, your way.
Your art journal will be as unique as you are !
Feel free to express yourself in any way that makes you happy !
Once you are able to do that, you will find that your creations in your art journal will make you feel accomplished, creative and free from the daily stress of your life.
© 2019 Linda F Correa
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on April 10, 2019:
You've given us some great techniques for adding interest to our art journals. Sounds like a project I'll try with my granddaughters this summer.
Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on April 10, 2019:
I think art journaling with your kids and grandkids is an excellent idea. It's a great way to boost their esteem . I also do art journal pages on gratitude. Art journaling leaves your ability to develop your art in almost any direction you want to go. Thank for the comment.
RTalloni on April 09, 2019:
A neat look at art journaling. Thanks for so much information. It would be neat to do themed ones on joy, gratitude, kindness. I would love to do that with my grandchildren over the course of a summer break.
Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on April 08, 2019:
We included some videos to get you started, Check out Pinterest and You tube for more ideas
Virginia Kearney from United States on April 08, 2019:
Lots of fun ideas. I'd love to have some pictures that show a person doing the techniques.