Art journaling at it’s most basic is keeping a creative journal where you play at being an archaeologist and a visual storyteller . . . without rules involving ‘art’: it’s not doing art in a journal but an exploration; experimentally and spontaneously making discoveries while thoughts, feelings, and fingers roam in union, truly deeply freely at the practice of excavating and simultaneously creating . . . . ugly-pretty is not the point of the practice; whatever comes from your Heart is the Art. It can be a bit like dowsing and then browsing your own information, then making it accessible via image possibly interplaying with word.
Hideously Kinky is Art, Fair and Lovely is Art, Ugly Monstrous is Art and Art begins with A for Adventure. Art journaling isn’t about making pretty pictures as much as it is playing, listening to inner voices, guides, and dreams, becoming aware of gifts, making sense out of perceptions that shape your unique experience of the universe, moving with it, moving out of it, moving it out. There are as many ways to art journaling as they are paths to the waterfall in the forest and every way is the write way borne of your choices that lead to and from your beautiful heart.
To get started you’ll need a notebook and paper: loose sheets, cardboard box, cereal box, or a big old coffee table book or a sketchbook all work. My current favorites are watercolor paper, and repurposed cookbook and composition books.
If you’re reusing composition books, glue together 2-3 pages to thicken them enough to hold your findings. Spread glue on a page, stick the corresponding one to it, be sure to smoothen out air bubbles, then glue these to a third page. I like to do about 6 sets at a time, if you’re in a hurry blow dry them, otherwise they’ll take a day or two to dry. I gesso over them after the glue dries to cover most of the writing underneath, this also prevents pen from bleeding excessively into a picture. If you’re repurposing a picture book or cookbook, use ones with stitched spines and sturdy paper.
Pencils, watercolor pencils, pastels, crayons, india inks, markers, paint, scissors, glue, fabric, stamps, tickets, letters, and a stack of magazines or picture books with assorted imagery in them (friends, libraries, free boxes, goodwills, habitat for humanity resale stores, yard sales, dumpster huts, these are all great places to get variety so you have a palette of images and texts to go through) are all handy supplies.
I find acrylic paints, brushes, watercolor pastels, a white gel pen, Sharpie extra fine point black pens, glue, and magazines to be essential, all else is icing.
Once you’ve got supplies jump in and scribble, doodle, move color around, look about and notice what captures your attention, what moves you, where you are inspired or mired, maybe it’s leaves, birds, straight lines, stars, moon, zodiac signs, geometric shapes, citiscapes, a mug of coffee, or words in a book, maybe it’s an encounter that’s provocative and arousing, maybe it’s your feelings about ecosystems, bioregions, worldly affairs, postcards from the edge; everything in your experience is material for your journal, which is a container for your story.
Reuse pages, add to them, work in layers, turn and return to your journal as you would a sojourn in the woods or with shovel in hand, hat on head, digging in hot sands for lost treasures without pause, you set the pace . . . because!