Art Journals are a creative type of journals where art meets functionality. They can be as elaborate as you can imagine, but they can also be minimalistic, all about clean lines and white space.
Art journal gives you the tools to express yourself, put your feelings on paper, get things off your mind when the words are not enough. By using drawing, painting, collage, type, calligraphy and so much more, art journals give you space to create an art that is not just an art for art’s sake, but also a way to process your feelings, think through problems, formulate your dreams and even just doodle to relieve the tension of the day.
If you want to give art journals a try but not sure where to start, here are 40 ideas for art journal pages to get your creative juices flowing. Create a page or a whole themed journal using the ideas below and see where it leads you. Enjoy!
-1- Quotes surrounded by the art they evoke
Quotes are inspiring in their own right and often evoke in us feelings, imagery and our own thoughts on the matter. Why not turn a quote into a piece of art in your journal?
Write out a quote somewhere on the page or spread the words all over the page and fill in the rest of the page with colors, images, textures, bubbles with your own thoughts, etc.
You can start your every week with a quote and dedicate a page to a meaningful and inspiration quote along with your artistic expression conjured up by the quote.
-2- Themed junk journal page embellished by things you find in your everyday life
Junk journaling is a creative way of using everyday items around you in a collage. You can think of junk journaling as a scrapbooking using the “junk” of your life.
You can create unexpectedly artistic piece using things littering your purse or your kitchen’s junk drawer. The whole appeal of the junk journaling is how creative you can get with such mundane things as restaurant receipts, dry clean tickets, candy wrappers and so on.
Create an art journal page using nothing but the items you find around the house (with some glue and tape, of course). Embellish the page with your thoughts in black marker or color pencils or pens, etc.
-3- Mixed media art journal page
Mixed media art journal is similar to junk journal in concept, but instead you get to create with every art supply and medium you can get your hands on.
You can create beautiful collages and compilations with water colors, color paper, glitter, rhinestones, magazine cutouts, washi tapes, rivets, fabrics, mod podge and on and on.
You can go as crazy or as minimalistic as you want. You might even get so hooked on this type of journaling that you will create a whole journal dedicated just to mixed media art
-4- Art using just a pencil, reflecting on a current issue, expressing your thoughts through images
From the excess of mixed media art journal to the minimalism of a simple pencil. Give yourself a challenge to create art using only black and white, using only a simple pencil as your tool.
While being minimal, pencil actually can be really liberating, taking away the overwhelm of the choices and giving you space to just express your thoughts.
Create the art pages that are a mix of words, thoughts on something that is going on in your life or in the world right now, mixing the words with images, doodles, quotes, questions, etc.
-5- A verse of poetry with an art to reflect your feelings on it
Poetry is such a underappreciated art of expressing oneself. In just a few lines, with just the right turn of a phrase, a verse can make us stop in our tracks, gasp, make us think or even cry.
Create a page where you combine your favorite line of poetry with an imagery it evokes.
Grow flowers out of the words, draw a landscape behind the words, or depict a person deep in the feelings and thought reflected in the poem. Use form and color to show how this poem makes you feel.
-6- A photo of someone meaningful with your thoughts or a letter to that person
If you are shy to start your art journal with a drawing or painting, start with an existing image – a photo of someone important to you, passed on or alive.
Glue the photo to the page in your journal and surround it in words: your thoughts, your memories of this person, your favorite moments with them. Write a letter to them about what’s on your mind right now.
You can embellish your work by drawing a simple frame around the photo or adding simple doodles like stars or sun or moon or simple flowers, etc.
-7- Draw a self-portrait
We see ourselves differently than the world sees us. Express your vision of yourself by drawing a self-portrait.
It doesn’t have to be a exact or even look like a real face. The point here is to express yourself. Do your best of drawing what you feel you look like.
Use a simple pencil or a full range of colors and embellishment, anything goes. You can also add words to express your thoughts, self-love or goals for yourself.
-8- Create an art piece in the major art style like cubism, impressionism, avant-garde
Take virtual trip to an art school or a museum by creating pages with drawings made in major art styles.
Try your hand in cubism or expressionism, pretend you are Van Gough or Picasso, create a collage in a style of Avant-Garde or give Da Vinci style drawing a try.
It can become a fun collection to build, trying a different style every day or every week, creating your own art or creating replicas of famous art pieces.
-9- Create a page in a scrapbook style about an event or a trip you had
Nothing kicks in creativity when you are excited about an experience.
What better time is to create an art journal page is after an awesome concert you went to or exciting trip you have taken?
Use the paper memorabilia you got from those events like photos, ticket stabs, maps, dry leaves, candy wrappers, train receipts and so on and put together a scrapbook-style page featuring all your findings along with your written out memories, thoughts, impressions, names of the cities and people, your top 3 things about that event, and so on.
-10- Create mood board using just the cutouts from a single magazine
Mood boards are fun as every day can give you a completely different look and feel.
Express your mood, your feelings in color or texture. Paint the whole thing, or create a collage from paper, magazine, map, newspaper cutouts to reflect how you feel at the moment.
You can embellish it with flourishes or geometric shapes, add words or stick just to images and colors. Dive into design and see where it take you.
-11- Create a vision board
Dream it up and make it happen! There are many people who swear by their vision boards and how they were instrumental for achieving their goals and dreams.
A vision board is a compilation of images, phrases and symbols that represent in a way meaningful to you all the things you are dreaming of that you want to come true. For example, you are dreaming about having your own house. Create a vision board for it.
Scour magazines, websites, catalogs and cut out, print out the images of how you want you house to look on the outside, where you want it to be located, the furniture you want to have in it, the look of the kitchen and appliances, what bedding you want in the bedroom and towels in the bathroom, etc.
Attach these images, cutouts, color swatches, etc. on the page and write in inspiring words like: This is my house, My house brings me joy, I love my living room, etc. Write out the words that show how you will feel when you will live in it: happiness, joy, ease, quiet, etc.
Add any other things to your page or a spread, like fabrics, glitter, housewarming invites, and so on. Look at this page every day, imagining yourself already living in your dream home.
-12- Draw a coloring page of sorts – consecutive circles, mandalas, squares, etc.
Adult coloring pages have been all the rage for the past several years. Why not create your own?
Using a pencil or a fine felt-tip marker, draw up a group of geometric shapes like squares or diamonds or circles, or swirls growing bigger or overlapping each other, or flowers or leaves, whatever your heart desires.
You can also create mandalas that take up the page by drawing concentric nested circles with repeating lines and flourishes nested in between. You can write out large bulb-like letters and words that can be colored in or animals or landscapes. These pages are double-fun as you can dedicate some days on creating the coloring pages and other days coloring them in.
-13- Reprise a scene from your favorite book in your own style
If you are an adventurous artist (or even if you are not) and love picture books, create some illustrations of your own.
You can create them for your own original stories or you can draw the scenes from your favorite books or movies. Whimsical ones like Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter can be super fun and colorful.
You can also do cool ones like Star Wars or Alien. They can be in black and white or in full Technicolor, it’s up to you. You can create just the art part or add famous quotes from the scenes you are creating.
-14- Pick a set of water colors and create a page where you are swatching each color in a creative way
If you are too intimidated to create a full-on piece of watercolor art but have a set of watercolor paints you wanted to try for a while, break them in by creating a color swatch page of every color in the set that you have.
You can use each color in order to fill in a rectangle or a circle and write the name of the color next to it.
Once you are comfortable with the colors and see how they look on a real page, you can create swatches that look like a multi-faceted gem, or a tree with many leaves, or a house made out of bricks, each of different color and so on.
-15- Create an art piece by laying a string or a yarn on a page in an interesting shape
The art journal pages don’t have to be created just with your traditional art supplies. Do something different and cool like “painting” with yarn or a string. Grab some paper glue and a colorful thread, yarn or string (or few).
Lay out the yarn in different shapes, basically “painting” with the string. Lay out simple scenes like a flower or a house or a tree or totally complex pieces like Van Gough’s The Starry Night.
Use glue stick or paper glue like PVA or even yarn glue to do the work.
-16- Dedicate the whole page drawing just one element like a human hand or an eye
Practicing your drawing skills?
Create a page where you draw just one thing over in over but in different ways. Eyes, hands or lips seem to be things that many struggle with.
Dedicate the whole page or even a spread drawing just lips or hands, different sizes, at different angles and shapes. It will give you great practice to improve on those elements and create a library of sorts for yourself you can refer to later.
-17- Try to replicate one of the nature photos you love
To do some serious practice with color, try to replicate a favorite photo of a forest landscape or an ocean view or a trail you love.
See if you can capture the feel and the color of the digital image you have taken and make it come alive on the pages of your art journal.
You can later add the date and the place where the image was taken or write a paragraph about your favorite time there or what you love the most about that location.
-18- Journal about your day and create a doodle for each noun
Sometimes journaling about our day can be heavy and we don’t want to do it. How about make the process less intimidating by doodling about our day instead?
Replace every word, or major words with doodles. Express your thoughts or feelings just in doodles or incorporate doodles into your writing.
You can keep it all black and white, or use color felt pens to bring liveliness into your page.
-19- Create a collage using just one type of art supply: fabric, washi tapes, foil, etc.
Collages are a fun way to create an art journal page because you can use so many different things to create them, but…
How about you give yourself a challenge to create a collage using only one type of supply?
Use only washi tapes, or construction paper, or fabric, or the magazine cutouts, or map paper, etc. to create your masterpiece.
Of course, feel free to use pens or felt-tip markers to add titles, dates, notes, etc. to your pages.
-20- Write a short children’s story or use an old fable and illustrate it
As children, we often made up fun stories and even drew pictures to go along with them. Why not do it again?
Write a short children’s story on a page or a spread and doodle or draw images to go with it. You can create your own story, add illustrations children’s book style or go the comics route.
If you don’t feel like making the stories up yourself, create illustrations for some classic fables or stories like the Fox and the Grapes or Three Little Pigs.
-21- Create an affirmations page and embellish it
Journaling practice is designed to discover ourselves, to set goals and achieve them, to reflect on every day, but also to examine our mindset and change it for the better.
Affirmations are a known tool that can help to change our mindset, enforce our good habits, believe in ourselves and give us that push that we need to get to the next level. Journal is a perfect place for writing affirmations.
Writing and reading affirmations daily helps with believing and then being what we are affirming. And is a better way to ingrain the message of an affirmation than making an art piece with it in a middle?
Write out an affirmation you want to work on and then embellish it with art treatment that is meaningful to you.
You can repeat the affirmation aloud or in your mind as you work on the art surrounding it. You can even make this an ongoing thing. Instead of finishing the art all in one sitting, make a practice of adding a new element: a doodle, a line, a bubble, a flower, etc every day as you repeat the affirmation mantra.
-22- Create your own adult alphabet book and pick unexpected words for each letter
Who said that alphabet books are for kids only?
Make an art journal project of creating an art for every letter in the alphabet – adult style.
Pick out an unusual or themed word for every letter (for example, musical instruments only) and create an art to illustrate it.
You can make them all in a same style or you can set out to make each art page using different art supplies – markers for one letter, watercolors for another, scrapbook page for next and so on.
-23- Create a mock newspaper page or book title page with stamps
Pretend you are a newspaper or a book printer from a hundred years ago and create a newspaper page or a book title page using letter stamps and element stamps.
That’s a great project if you have a lot of stamps in your collection, especially letter stamp and stamps of images like envelopes or tea kettle, etc.
Create the pages by type setting the headlines and text with individual stamp letters. It will be a challenge for you sure, but it will be super fun when it’s said and done.
-24- Fill out a page with continuous doodles never taking the pen off the page
Doodles are fun and a great go to when you don’t know what to journal about or what art to create.
How about making doodling a challenge and fill out the page in your journal with doodle while never taking the pen of the page?
Try similar doodles, like circles or diamonds. You can try to drawing a scene like a flowerbed or a forest where all the image doodles are connected. You can also try words, making them and the sentences flow into each other.
-25- Create your own deck of Oracle or Tarot cards and draw your version for each card. You can do this over the course of several days
Want to have an art journal page project to last you a while?
Create your own Oracle or Tarot card deck! Oracle decks usually have about 50 or so cards and a standard Tarot deck is 78 cards.
If you are a free spirit, design an Oracle deck that can be really about anything: from animals to mermaids to Alice in Wonderland to Star Wars. Write a meaningful word or phrase and create an image to accompany it that will evoke a reaction or a thought.
Tarot deck image values and meanings are pretty defined, but you have an artistic freedom in how you create each image. Dedicate each page in your art journal to a single card and go to town.
-26- Imagine you are running your own fashion magazine
Ever had a stack of fashion magazines in your room, leafing through the endless pages of make-up, jewelry, shoes and runway fashions? Ever dreamt of working for Elle, Vouge and Allure? Now is your chance.
Design and lay out a fashion magazine page of your own using any art supplies you like. Use photo cutouts, washi tapes, water colors, letter stamps, etc.
Make it Spring Fashion or Avant-Gard, Top 10 mascaras or Punk Fashion is Back. Let your 12-year old self run wild with ideas.
-27- Write out a calligraphy page
There is something so beautiful and serene about calligraphy. The focus and attention you have to give to every stroke and line brings you into the moment and you forget about everything else. It’s like meditation in writing. It’s a wonderful and beautiful practice.
Dedicate a page (or a few) in your journal to calligraphy.
Be it practicing a single letter over and over until perfect, writing out famous quotes or your thoughts of the day, calligraphy can bring a nice break into your day and be a beautiful art page to look and reflect on later.
-28- If you remember your dreams, draw and write about them
You can create amazing pages for your journal by combining a dream journal with an art journal. In the morning when you wake up, jot down your dreams and then create an art around the images or meanings you saw.
Your art journal page can be just an imagery or a journaling about your dream adorned with art or just colors that you remember the most from that dream.
If you find yourself like this way of reflecting on your dreams, you can create a whole separate journal just for your dreams.
-29- Design a cover of a rock-n-roll vinyl album or a concert poster
Feel like rocking out? Pretend you were hired by your favorite rock-n-roll band to design a cover for their new album coming out in a limited vinyl edition. Or better yet, imagine that you’ve been given a task of creating a posted for their concert tour.
Dedicate a page or few in your art journal for these rock-out creations.
Make more than one version of each design, create in different mediums for each version, go minimalist or totally overboard. Have fun and rock on!
-30- Create a collage depicting your perfect day – in the past or in a future
One of the popular tools used in a lot of self-help books and courses is imagining your perfect day, be it for business or personal. You imagine everything in the smallest details, to make is come alive and feel as real as possible.
Since our subconscious can’t tell the difference between real and imagined, by picturing your perfect day in full detail you can slowly bring it into your life. How about not just picturing this day in your mind, but actually putting it on paper?
Create an art page of your perfect day. Make it in a style that speaks to you.
You can create it as a collage, combining cutouts of magazines, your photos, phrases, and so on embellished with art supplies of your choice. You can draw the whole thing from scratch with pencils, chalks, water colors, markers and so on.
You can journal about it and adorn it with images all throughout, whatever brings it to life the most. Once your page is complete, reflect on it daily and watch it slowly make its way into your life.
-31- Come up with a look for a postcard coming from your dream vacation spot
Stuck at home but dreaming of all the gorgeous vacation spots you saw online? Why note pass the time by creating postcards coming from there, as if you’ve already visited and now want to share that beauty with your friends.
Pick a location or few, find a nice scenery online and draw, paint or use your favorite art method to recreate that scenery on a card-sized space on your art journal page.
Add a welcome phrase or anything else you want on the card.
-32- Create a menu for your dream restaurant
Ever had a dream of opening your own restaurant or food truck or a small café?
Create a page in your art journal for the menu of your dream restaurant. Draw up the images of the food and come up with exciting names for your dishes and mouthwatering descriptions of the food.
Dream up the cover of the menu or even the look of the restaurant from the outside and when the decorations inside would be.
My dream place was always a tea spot with bookshelves and soft armchairs and window benches where customers could come in, get a cup of tea or hot chocolate, delicious pastry or a sandwich, and hang out at my place for as long as they want, reading, writing or knitting.
-33- Draw up a botany collection
One of my favorite things to do when I was young was to grow flowers and other plants and also collect leaves in fall and store them dry between the pages of heavy books.
You can create your own collection of flowers and leaves by drawing them in your art journal.
Go to your closest botanical garden or a park or a flower shop and sketch images of the leaves and flowers.
Create as much detail as possible, write down the name of the plan (of it’s known to you) and even look up the scientific name for it. Picture the pages of the famous botanical artists’ works and try to create something in that vein.
-34- Pretend you are a fashion designer creating collection for a Paris runway
Let your fashion sense and creativity be known by creating a fashion collection for a Paris runway.
Pretend you are a famous fashion designer and you are getting ready for the next year’s runway. Dedicate several pages in your journal sketching out designs for your collection.
You can do a spring or fall collection, coats or swimsuits, or a whole wardrobe line-up. Sketch in pencil or use markers or watercolors to bring the designs to life.
-35- Create color expressions of how you feel right now
Our journals are reflection tools. We often reflect by writing our words that represent our feelings and thoughts.
For your art pages, see if you can express yourself through color. What would happiness, pondering, sadness, curiosity and so on look like reflected through color, medium, thickness or darkness of lines and doodles.
Use the art supplies that call to you, add in things like lace, fabric, magazine cutouts, photos and so on.
-36- Be a tourist in your own town
We often forget how amazing our own places of living are. People travel to where we live to see and experience amazing things, while we take them for granted.
Pretend to be a tourist in your own town and look at it with fresh eyes.
Come up with a list/pamphlet of all the must-see places around where you live, illustrate or collage the look and feel of every location, maybe even create a fun map to guide the visitors through all the cool spots in your town.
-37- Design a new book cover for your favorite book
Have you ever noticed that great and popular books change their cover designs ever so often? Publishing companies do it to bring new interest to the book and make an excuse to do another publishing run for a book. What are your favorite books?
Create a new cover design for a book you love, putting on in what you thought was the important moment of the story, the scene you really loved and so on. If it’s a series that you love, even better.
Design a set of covers that all fit together with a cohesive look and feel, but still reflect that special something about each of the books.
-38- Reflect on a very important memory
Memories are fleeting and often change as the years go by.
Preserve an important memory on an art journal page by expressing it through use of color, images or collage.
Reflect on a memory recent or distant, journal about it and add doodles, color, pictures, drawings or collage to reflect on how it made you feel, what stood out the most and maybe what you have learned from that moment.
-39- Make a mess
As a recovering perfectionist, I have to say that creating art in my journals is always a bit nerve-wracking – it’s kind of hard to fix something created with paint or markers if you “messed up”.
As a way to counteract that fear, make a messy art page! Use water colors, acrylic paint, glue, glitter, your fingers and become a kid for a while.
Tell the perfectionism to take a seat and relax while you go wild with your art supplies.
-40- Write out and illustrate your favorite recipe
Have a recipe you love and make often?
Dedicate a deliciously pretty page for it in your art journal. Yes, write out the name and the ingredients, and the steps, but make it super yummy and colorful.
Illustrate it the best way you can using the art medium of your choice, or create a collage from images found in magazines and online. Get it Martha Stewart magazine ready!
Enjoy these 40 ideas for art journal pages! There are so many more ways to express yourself and reflect in your journal than just with words. Art lets us express ourselves and open up in such a unique way that makes journaling a fuller, more immersive and exciting experience.
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