I’ve been looking forward to making this post for… well, I guess over a year! I first started this art journal in February 2019 and finished it May 2020. I haven’t shown you the process of filling it up because it was a surprise! I actually made this as a gift for my friend Aria. I gave it to her the night before her wedding and she loved it and I loved making it and ahh, this project just means so much to me. ❤
I’m not going to show you every page because that would be tremendously long, but I wanted to select a few (relatively speaking) that will hopefully inspire you guys if you’re thinking about journaling for yourself! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, well, keep reading! 🙂
I hope you enjoy scrolling through these journal spreads and hearing more of the story and ideas behind this book, as well as a list of page ideas you can use in your own journal or sketchbook. Let’s go!
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When I first came up with this idea, which I’ll talk more about in a minute, I knew I wanted to get a really nice journal to work with. I found this leather journal on Amazon which worked wonderfully for me! I loved how special the leather cover and bound pages made it feel. It really added to the experience for me as well, whenever I got to carefully unwind the closing strap and fill up a page.
I didn’t make this cover page until I had finished the journal, since I wasn’t sure what I’d want to say here. I ended up just cutting title letters out of hand painted sticker paper and I must say, I LOVE the way it turned out! I’ll have to do this with other quotes and words.
The first page I did in the book was the blue one on the right. I wrote Aria a letter explaining the project and what I hoped it would be. After I finished filling it in May 2020, I wrote a longer, fold-out letter on the left side explaining it a bit more in-depth and giving her a little preview of what was ahead – it turns out I started this journal right before she met her now-husband, so as you read, you get to watch their story as well as mine unfold throughout the whole book. ❤
Now let’s get to some of the pages! I’m leaving out most of the letters, life/diary entries, and other such writing and mainly showing you guys the more easily enjoyable artsy pages. 🙂 Here are some ideas on how to fill an art journal.
There are plenty of ways to add lyrics to a journal, but here are two of them. 😀
Left: I first made the sketch; then wrote a short lyric on sticker paper, chopped apart each letter, and stuck them all down individually. It takes a while but works super well for layering on top of existing artwork. Right: Aria plays guitar, so I copied down the lyrics and chords to an Andrew Peterson song I love, then added some washi tape and gel pen lettering. Super simple.
2. Flyers, Pamphlets, Programs, Etc.
This might technically be a junk journal instead of an art journal, since it’s not just art – it’s full of… everything! Even if you don’t view yourself as “artistic,” you can still make a visually interesting journal by adding bits of your life, like papers, that are already made.
I stuck in a map of a huge furniture shopping mall thingy on the left, and a free watercolor flyer from Hobby Lobby on the right. 🙂 You can also use tickets, programs from plays, notes or envelopes you’ve received, etc. Make sure to attach them so you can still open them up if you want! I’ll probably do another art journal posts on pockets and other ways to include ephemera like this. Stay tuned! 😀
If you DO enjoy art (it doesn’t matter whether you think you’re good at it or not – do you enjoy it??) a journal is a great place to add random drawings or record stories in picture form.
Right: A drawing of a plant Aria gave me, showing how long it was. (I believe it’s now 15 feet long instead of 4. O.o Hmm… a plant growth chart page?? XD) I also drew a random flag design for my siblings, who were part of a made-up team/world at book club. 😛 Left: A watercolor sketch of our tree in spring that year. And some doodles I made while I talked to Aria on the phone, heh heh. She had no idea I was working on a journal for her…
4. Stories, Real or Fictional
If you’re more into writing, write down some of your short stories or plot outlines to look back on. I copied one of my favorites, “Pond Poems,” from this post, and printed out a photo to go along with it.
5. Create Collages
This is one of my favorite types of art journaling. I love collecting magazine pictures, pretty paper, washi tape, packaging, book pages, photos, seed packets, and anything else that goes along with the theme of the page to create art without actually drawing anything. You can buy the mushroom sticker sheet here (in 1st photo), and a set of verse cards (2nd photo) here on my shop. 🙂
6. Quotes and Poems
Another pretty obvious but super fun one. If you want to add a page but don’t know what to write, consult your quote journal (see this post) and add one in! I wrote part of a poem on washi tape on the left, and used acrylic paint and a brush pen to illustrate one of my favorite quotes on the right.
7. Add Texture and Touch
I stuck in some bubble wrap and a bit of rosemary for this spread. You can add in things to do (like popping bubble wrap) or just interesting textures to feel or look at, like feathers, faux fur, etc.
8. Include Favorite Scents
Fun fact: if you paint a little bit of the laundry soap you use for your clothes onto the page, the journal will smell like your clothes and maybe your house. 😛 In several places I also taped herbs like lavender or sage and ahh, it’s lovely to turn a page and smell them.
9. Make or Follow Drawing Tutorials
I didn’t do much of this, but I think it’s a fun idea to show the way you draw a certain thing or your technique, favorite paint colors to use, etc. You could also just look up some tutorials online and enjoy following them on a page or two.
10. Make List Poems
These are maybe the easiest and most fun kinds of poems to make! On the right page, I just wrote down a bunch of phrases and memories that reminded me of my childhood. It makes me so happy. ❤
You can’t really see the left page, but maybe I should explain because it looks a little concerning. : It’s an entry from March when Dad called the ambulance because Mom’s heart… well, it’s kind of a long story, but the short version is, she had a cardiac arrest years ago and by God’s miraculous grace, healed almost completely, except now one of her heart valves needs to be repaired and she’s having surgery June 25th. O.o I will definitely talk about this another time in a less off-topic post, but I did want to mention it here. *deep breath* Sorry about the rabbit trail – But truly, journal about your life. It’s amazing to look back on it all and see God’s hand at work. Okay. Now, where was I…?
11. Make Favorite Lists or Doodle Tips
Left: I doodled several ways to use up leftovers because I thought hey, this is a good thing to remember, right? Drawing or doodling the tips makes the page extra interesting. Right: Record your current favorite movies, books, music/playlists, etc. These are fun to look back on and refer to.
12. Take Notes
If you take notes during sermons, lectures, classes, etc., and there’s something you particularly want to remember, stick it in your journal! You can copy them in a prettier way if you want, or just add them in as is. This isn’t exactly notes, but I remembered a really good analogy from a past sermon and journalled some thoughts + illustrations to go with it.
13. Use Your Extra Papers
#1: A cute little concept sketch for some art I was working on + word art design I ended up remaking. I still liked the drafts, though, so I added some flourishes and made a page out of them!
#2: I like folding up, cutting up, or otherwise including coloring pages as part of the journal since I don’t know what I’d do with them otherwise. 😛
#3: One of my favorite ideas is to save your paper towels from painting! I just think they look so pretty, particularly when you’re using a limited color scheme. I think these were test paintings or drafts as well. It turned out to be one of my favorite spreads!
#4: I included parts of our church bulletins as well as a song sheet from a retreat I went to. Hopefully you get the idea. Use this journal as a space to remember and record and SEE your life. Put in anything.
14. Make Random Collections
These pages were all so fun! For the first one, I stuck random stickers on the left page and other paraphernalia on the right – candy wrappers, small paintings, packaging… It’s just fun, especially when you add little notes and opinions to the elements. I also collected my MANY post-it note designs into a “sticky quotes” page which is a fun and easy spread idea. And even better: a washi tape swatch collection! On this page and the following (not shown) I stuck strips of basically every single washi tape I owned. It’s a lot – I might have a problem. :
15. Make a Flap Memories Page
This is a great way to remember details of a vacation or day trip. I have a weirdly specific memory when it comes to details from time and conversations with friends, so I had fun illustrating bits and pieces and then writing the corresponding memory underneath the flap so it gives you a chance to try and remember it first. 🙂 (Also a helpful layout for recording inside jokes and such. 😉 )
16. Use Pressed Flowers
I LOVE using pressed flowers in my journal, on my envelopes, taped to my wall… I just love flowers. XD Go out and find some buttercups or something and press them for a beautiful background.
- Add page numbers with sticker paper at the end. That way you can put it over top of whatever art or collage you already have on it. Easy. (But SO time-consuming, sheesh.)
- Have a footnotes section in the back. I went back and added comments on some of the pages if, for instance, I had updated information (or opinions) about something I wrote.
- Sort your Table of Contents by date. My book was a jumble of tons of different topics, so it was hard to sort them in a conventional way. Sorting by year and then month worked well.
- Record the original weight of the book at the beginning and then again at the end (if it’s a junk journal). I stuffed so many papers and ephemera and goodies into this that it literally gained ONE POUND. O.o Not to mention it hardly closed at the end. XD But it’s so satisfying, isn’t it??
Phew! That was quite a jam-packed post! I hope you guys enjoyed that partial tour of my first completed art journal. I had so much fun filling it and it was definitely a good motivation to be filling it for a purpose and a person. But my new art journal is just for myself, which is also fun.
I realize I didn’t really explain the concept of an art journal that much in here, so I’ll definitely make more art journal posts in the future, but until then…
Do you journal in some way? What was your favorite idea from this post? Are there any related topics you want me to cover?
Thanks so much for reading, dears, and have a lovely day!