• Addison Horsell

Art Journaling: A Step-by-Step Tutorial For Creative Expression

Art journaling is a great way for both artists and hobbyists to practice their creativity and freely express themselves with very little pressure. This is a step-by-step tutorial on how I like to create a spread in my journal. Of course, everyone has their own preferred workflow and creative process, but I thought I would show you mine in case you want to try it out.

  • First, pick a theme. I choose Lemony Snicket for my visual prompt. Other good ideas might be a favorite season, hobby, movie, or book. Pick anything that inspires you and could translate well into artwork.

  • Next, find inspiration. I use Pinterest to get some ideas related to my theme, as well as general design tips. We're using mixed media, so you could search for "collage," "art journal," "mixed media," along with aesthetic photos that go with your theme and inspire your vision for the spread.

Photo by Addison Horsell

  • Write a list of all the visual elements you want to include in your spread, so you don't lose inspiration while you're creating. This is really just a brainstorming session that will help you to visualize what you want the final artwork to look like.

  • Collect your supplies. Find traditional art supplies like markers, pastels, paints, and pencils. Then look for more scrapbook-type materials, like patterned paper, dried plants, photos, and stickers. Compile anything that fits your desired aesthetic, keeping in mind a color palette.

  • Prepare any elements of your design that will be glued or taped on. Cut out shapes, draw little doodles, write out notes and quotes, etc.

  • Next, open your journal (It could be a bullet journal, sketchbook, or anything that will be sturdy enough. I'm using a leather-bound blank paged journal with brown paper). Find a blank spread. You may want to secure the previous pages with a clip so they stay put.

  • Apply the base layer of the design. This consists of large pieces of paper, background colors, and simple shapes to base the rest of the artwork around. This step is very important because it establishes your color palette and creates the mood of your piece. On mine, I glued some pieces of wrapping paper to the pages and added a few larger designs using white gouache and watercolor pastels.

  • Next, take your attachable pieces and place them around your spread until you find a layout that looks good. Decide which areas you want to have more blank space and where you want the eye to be drawn. Then glue the pieces on and take a step back to look at what you have so far.

  • Lastly, add in colors and doodles wherever you think they are needed. I used my limited palette of pastels to build on the already established designs. I added washi tape and a piece of lace ribbon. Once every part of the spread was thoughtfully decorated, I decided it was finished. I double-checked my list of visual elements and looked over my work.

And that's it! I really enjoy using my art journal to express my artistic visions in a carefree way. It's especially rewarding when your artwork comes out looking pretty and when it reflects your interests. I'm especially happy with this one because I thought it out carefully and it shows. Everything in the spread either has a meaning or was intentional for the design.

If you try this tutorial, post your work on Instagram and tag us at @thepostmodernjournal, and use the hashtag #PMJTutorials. We'd love to see your creations!

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