The Best Way to Try Art Journaling Techniques

As much as I love art journaling, there are times I feel overwhelmed by the amount of techniques and styles out there that I want to try. A spin through Pinterest gets me inspired and dazed at the same time, which is counterproductive to getting anything done in my journal! I’ve found a great solution, though: Mixed Media Techniques for Art Journaling, a project-based book and a workbook in one that allows you to practice techniques right then and there on blank pages, so everything is in one place. Convenient, no?

No more starting seven journals, filling a few pages, then abandoning them. This is as simple as reading a section, trying a technique, and boom—you’re on your way to art journaling the way you’ve always wanted, and to have your pages look like you want them to look, especially those luscious, layered, artful pages that we all drool over. The techniques are not complicated, and this book will show you exactly how to achieve those styles. Incredible projects have been compiled from a variety of North Light books to create this one great resource that you really should have in your creative library.

art journaling

Backgrounds are a big part of art journaling, and Vicki Boutin’s technique for creating visual texture is as cool as it is fun. She has a term for it: smooshing. Seriously, that’s what she calls it. All you have to do is brush diluted acrylic paint over heavyweight paper, and while the paint is still wet, cover it with plastic wrap, creating folds and creases. Allow the paint to dry, and remove the plastic wrap. You will be crazy about how this looks, amazed at how easy it is, and the effect will give your journal page a running start.

You get practically everything in this book: composition and color tips, ideas for creating pages and making handmade books, plus ways to take techniques off the journal page and onto canvases and other substrates.

Part of art journaling is celebrating the small things in life, such as taking a walk in the neighborhood, or going out to dinner. But how to render that in my journal sometimes eludes me. No more; the instructions for building a collage from artist Cathy Johnson begins with a drawing a sketch, then adding color, then adding ephemera; in this case, a business card, chopsticks wrapper, and fortune cookie fortune from a meal at a Chinese restaurant. When elements are broken down into doable steps, creating the page becomes achievable.

In the book, the prompt that follows this technique got my wheels turning even more: “A casual dinner out with a loved one is a great place to start—there should be all sorts of goodies available to use as collage elements. Other ideas for this exercise: a night at the movies or another cultural event, a shopping excursion or a day at the park.”

This journal page was inspired by something as simple as a dinner out—but what a fantastic result!
This journal page was inspired by something as simple as a dinner out—but what a fantastic result!

I’ve always admired Traci Bautista’s vibrant art journaling, and Mixed Media Techniques for Art Journaling features some of her fun methods for layering colors and patterns. One is through creating printing plates using stuff you probably have around the house. To create a textured printing plate, glue pieces of handmade and textured papers and fabrics to a piece of cardboard. Traci likes using lace paper, corrugated cardboard, cheesecloth, and textured wallpaper, but include what you have available. You can also create your own stencils by cutting shapes out of cardstock with a craft knife, and print with fun foam carved with your own designs. See what effects you can get by layering and repeating designs—you’ll never tire of this, I promise!

Use handmade printing plates to create backgrounds and patterns for art journaling, layering the plates to create unique designs.
Use handmade printing plates to create backgrounds and patterns for art journaling, layering the plates to create unique designs.

Making your own journals offers the opportunity to try new techniques for the covers and the binding, and Vicki Boutin has a clever idea for building a dimensional cover. Glue chipboard letters onto cardstock, brush with gel medium, cover with tin foil, rub the foil to make the letters emerge, and then paint the foil with different colors of acrylic paint. Can you even stand how awesome this cover is?

By making your own books, you’ll be more inspired to try different art journaling techniques.
By making your own books, you’ll be more inspired to try different art journaling techniques.

I’d like to tell you more, but you’ll have to check out the rest yourself—I’m dying to get back to my copy and try some of these techniques. Mixed Media Techniques for Art Journaling is the perfect summer project book, because you can take it with you on trips, work on your art journaling outside, and it will always inspire you. Have fun creating the most amazing art journals!

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