That said, I do follow a few simple “checks” when I create an art journal page.
I like to use art journaling when I have a feeling I want to scrap. It’s for those times when I don’t need to record when an event happened, who was there, and when I don’t need to incorporate a series of photos. If my page is about a feeling, I make an art journal page. An art journaling layout can convey very personal feelings or perhaps a light-hearted look at life.
We try not to use photos in art journaling, and I find that if I follow the thought process of “Could I create this page using paper and art supplies?” then I have better results. I tend to use lots of blending and brushwork when I art journal, and this can be intimidating, but knowing that there are no rules in art journaling makes it easy!
I tend to use things like paint, glitter, paper pieces, and occasionally more dimensional pieces like ribbons and flowers. I use a lot of word art and a lot of different fonts to achieve that eclectic look we all admire in art journaling. My preference is for artsy-type alphas such as brushwork or stamped alphas and for handwritten or typewritten fonts. These are things that ring true to me if I were to be sitting in a studio somewhere making a real paper page. Of course, I must always remember, anything goes!
Let me walk you through my process as I created a page about my feelings as my eldest son starts high school:
1. Look for pieces to match your mood.
Knowing I don’t need any photos on this layout removed the search for items that matched my picture; instead, I started by searching for suitable art papers to match my mood. Color is not as important because paper colors can be altered later. My goal was to look for patterns and focal points that fit in with my idea. In this instance, I selected three papers even though I didn’t know how they would work in.
I decided to use the Altered Life paper (far left) as my base because I liked the paint over the newsprint, but I altered the color to reflect my optimism and hopefulness.
2. Select some pieces that support your mood and capture your feeling.
Next, I selected word art and paper pieces, though I may add brush work later.
3. Choose a focal area.
After arranging my big pieces (in this instance, the word art), I could see the main area where my eye landed. The large quote and the paper piece would be focal points so I needed to balance this out a little. I added more substance to the left-hand side by using my papers. By blending the green paper, I added weight to the bottom right corner with the quote. By using the Magic Wand tool, I extracted the darker fold from the yellow paper and used it to highlight the flow of the words through my page.
4. Use smaller paper pieces and word tags to balance and support the feeling you are trying to convey.
I have several word tags for this layout, so I grouped some and rotated others because it’s more reflective of the way I feel – and it’s also more artsy. Adding shadows and correcting the effect of the layers upon each other gives the page more realism.
5. Choose details that symbolize your theme.
Symbols are very important in art journaling; they are a visual way to get your message across. Symbols can be something as simple as a heart to show love, clouds to indicate depression, or red paint strokes to indicate anger. Symbols are personal and the way you choose to use them is entirely up to you. I added some extra details, such as the confetti to represent joyfulness, the fastener to “hold” the paper and add realism, and the paper leaves to symbolize calmness.
6. Add journaling.
I’m nearly done! Now I’ll add some journaling of my own. A pretty page is meaningless if it doesn’t tell a story, either through imagery or words. My whole page is about how I feel, so by adding some journaling, I can complete that process.
7. Evaluate your page.
The very last thing to do is look at your page and see how it makes you feel. Does it evoke the feeling you had in mind? I am pleased with my layout, but I think it needs a little more texture, so I’m going to add some paint. My page was already rather busy, so I decided to add depth, not just more “stuff.” I chose to add a splash of spray paint splatters. It adds texture and also helps hide my journaling, a useful trick on pages with more personal stories.
So as you can see, art journaling is not that difficult – it just requires a slight shift in your thinking. Besides the seven steps above, remember these key points:
- There are no rules.
- Use symbolism to get our message across.
- Make it look like it fits together. Focus on layers and what would actually work on a real page, as well as using items you might find in a real art studio.
- Make sure it tells a story. Make sure your page evokes the feeling you are portraying. Use of color and symbols are key.
- Enjoy the process. After all, anything goes!
Scrap Girls has an entire gallery devoted to art journaling. There are plenty of examples and loads of inspiration there. Please be sure to post your art journal pages. If you want to delve further or have a question, Scrap Girls hosts an Art Journaling Chat approximately every 4-6 weeks. We would love to see you there!