36 Art Journal Tips For When You Run Out of Ideas

By Nicole Tinkham

Art Journal
Image from Flickr Creative Commons by alicia bramlett.

Keeping a journal of your life can have many positive benefits. If you did so as a child, you know that reading it years later would bring up thoughts and emotions and memories of your childhood. In the same way that journals remind us of our past, they can also be great tools of encouragement and motivation for the future. The same goes for art journals. Whether you’re starting your very first art journal or just need a few new ideas, we’ve got you covered with these 36 tips.

1. Get inspired through books, magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, art blogs, art museums, etc.

• Top 12 Pinterest Boards for the Artist
• 15 Instagram Pages Every Artist Should Follow

2. Gather materials: You want to have a variety of fun supplies such as stamps, ink pads, paper (in a variety of colors and textures), an assortment of pens, ribbon, paint, stencils, and more on hand. Also start collecting scraps like ticket stubs and hand written notes.

3. You’ll need to make space to work but a full art studio is not necessary.

4. Focus on the process, not the end result. Don’t try to copy other art journal pages. Your journal should be 100% YOU!

5. Experiment with color by switching up your palette. Choose colors that you wouldn’t normally work with.

6. If you’re not sure where to begin, change it up and start with a border.

7. Experiment with water-soluble pencils. These are so fun to play with!

8. Challenge yourself. There are many art journal challenges made to help when you’ve run out of ideas.

9. Journal everyday! You don’t have to spend hours on your journal everyday, although we bet you’d like to. It’s important to have some “you” time and focus on something you enjoy, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

10. Try something new and journal on canvas. You will find that you end up with a totally different look!

11. Use your foot as a stamp because why not?

12. Ask yourself “what if” and create something you would never have thought of.

13. Create a travel journal. Bring what supplies you can on vacation with you. Being in a different place is the perfect opportunity to get creative.

14. Don’t forget the cover! You may be so concentrated on the inside of your journal that you completely forget about the most important part, the cover. Tip: Make sure the cover expresses what’s inside.

15. Learn new techniques. There are so many techniques that can be incorporated into your art journal. You can learn new tricks through art blogs, Youtube videos, and even art groups in the community.

16. Have projects ready to go. You can work on other projects that can later be used in your art journal. Use sketches, paintings, handmade cards, even poetry in your journal.

17. Journal to organize all those creative ideas bouncing around in your head.

18. Be patient. One art journal page can have many details and may take awhile to complete.

19. Practice Zentangle, the art of organized doodles.

20. Work on your writing. Art journals are often a combination of image and words so unleash your writing skills!

21. Learn the art of lettering. Since you’ll most likely have some type of words in your journal, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your calligraphy skills.

22. Art journals tend to be random but think about the composition of your layout and where you want the focus to be.

23. Prep work: Prep every page with masking tape and a coat of gesso. This will prevent paint from leaking into the binding of the book.

24. When you’re all out of ideas, work on interesting backgrounds.

25. While painting in your art journal is a great idea, don’t over saturate the pages. The wetter the page gets, the more it will curl.

26. Experiment with different paper. If you tend to use a lot of watercolors, consider using watercolor paper in your journal to avoid the issue in #25.

27. Think of your art journal as your diary and make it personal.

28. There is no wrong way to art journal. There are many techniques for art journaling but don’t count on yours looking like everyone else’s. You don’t want to anyway!

29. Failure is not an option. If a page doesn’t turn out how you expected, you can always keep it to learn from or gesso over it and start again.

30. Art journaling is a way to experiment and get messy. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

31. Never give up. We feel that everyone has a touch of creativity in them. It’s just a matter of getting it to come out. Don’t become frustrated, just keep trying and you will eventually find your niche.

32. Schedule time if you need to. We live in a busy world and sometimes we actually need to schedule time for ourselves.

33. Get involved by taking art workshops (there’s always something new to learn that can be used for your art journal) or join art groups in the community.

View The Artist’s Corner for upcoming workshops at Keeton’s.

34. Get advice from friends and artists to learn and share new techniques and tips.

35. Choose the right journal for you. There are many different sizes and types of journals out there. You can even make your own! Check out your options before making any commitments.

36. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Have an art journal tip to add to the list? Comment below and we’ll add it on! Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for new product info, great resources, inspiration, and more.

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