Art Journaling Tips From Kass Hall

You might know Australian artist Kass Hall for her books on how to Zentangle®, but did you know that she’s in the states, and teaching? Catch her class at CREATE in Dallas for a five-day retreat this month. I’ve invited Kass to share a glimpse into her art journaling class, “It’s All in the Detail.” Learn her answers to two frequently asked questions from artists who want to achieve the intricate drawings like the ones you see here.

Artwork by Kass Hall,

It’s All In The Detail by Kass Hall

Art journals are anything we want them to be—a place to practice and perfect techniques, write notes and messages, or they can be works of art themselves. I’m often asked how I make my pages look so complete, and how I know when I’m finished with a page. I’ll divulge my answers to those questions at CREATE, but I’ll give you a few hints today.

How do I know when my page is finished?

There is no simple answer other than to say: It’s entirely a personal decision. However, I have found that the first time I think a piece might be finished, some time spent away from it (say, a few days) usually gives me a fresh perspective. It’s then that I recognize where gaps might exist or what could be added. Less is sometimes more, but not always. My best advice is to walk away or start something new and then come back to a piece after a few days—you’ll know at first glance whether the work is truly finished. Nine times out of 10, you’ll likely find at least a small improvement that you can make.

Sample of detail and handwriting by Kass Hall

How do you get the detail into your art journal pages?

This is the key element of my class so I won’t ruin the surprise, but I always say you can never go wrong with a #2 pencil, and some black and white pens. You can add outlines to letters and shapes, shadows, and shading. Sometimes small dots in the background can add some life. It’s the little details in the page that you don’t notice immediately that you miss the most when they’re not there.

Small pops of color can really bring a page to life, too. What materials do you have on hand to add those? I recommend that you include paint markers in your journaling stash—they can make life easier and can provide heaps of options if black-and-white isn’t your thing. Neo-color II water-soluble crayons are also a great tool—even a basic pack of 10 is enough to really have some fun!

Remember: Your art journal is a place to play and experiment—don’t worry if you try something and are unhappy with the results. You’re under no obligation to show anyone your “failures,” and sometimes learning what doesn’t work can be as valuable a lesson as what succeeds. It should always be about having fun and exploring the mediums and techniques that appeal to you! ~K.H.

The next CREATE is September 17-21 in Dallas, Texas. We recently hosted CREATE in Chicago, which artists raved about with comments such as, “Thanks so much for the best week of my life!!! My mind is still going a million miles an hour.” Click here to register for five days of mixed-media fun! And if you can’t make it to CREATE, get the next best thing with Kass’s Zentangle Untangled Workbook—it’s included in this Interweave storewide sale.

Warm regards,

The Zentangle® Method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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