On-the-go Art Journaling Advice

My prepared travel journal page anticipates
the people I'll see on my summer trip.

cate pratoSummer is approaching, and you know what that means: Road trip!

We are planning an 800-mile trek to Michigan, and I plan to pass the time by keeping a traveling art journal (when I'm not driving, of course). Even though we are taking the car (and by "car" I mean "minivan") I don't want to lug along a lot of supplies.

Plus, most art supplies do not hold up well cooped up in a hot vehicle.  (And when you're traveling by air, some of the bottled liquids like paints and inks might not be allowed in your carry-on bags.)

Therefore, I am taking the Dawn deVries Sokol "Pages in Stages" approach, creating
backgrounds and adding a base collage before we go.

I lived in Michigan until I was 11, and most of my mom's side of the family still lives there. To me, Michigan conjures up images of family picnics among green trees and blue lakes. So I chose blues, greens, and yellows for my backgrounds.

Painted journal page with "pick-up" color from a previously painted page.

I usually worry over backgrounds: Should I chose this color? Is this enough texture?

But, encouraged by Dawn I just plunked down blobs of acrylic paint (craft and fluid) on watercolor paper and spread it around with my fingers until I was happy with the result. The only caution was to be sure I was using analogous colors to avoid making "mud."  

I also experimented with making a sort of Rorschach pattern by placing a clean sheet of paper on top of the painted sheet, pressing down, and then lifting it up. This helped remove excess paint from the painted sheet and created a nice base pattern on the clean sheet.

Art journal page with a "base" collage.
(Stage 2)

After the pages dried, I got out my collage materials: found papers, copies of old family photos, scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps and stamp pads, and spray and inks, plus gel medium for sticking. Then I started playing.

Although some might consider the use of scrapbook papers "cheating," to me, if you integrate them enough into the collage, they don't look as "pre-made." On the "cousins" page, I sprayed Smooch Spritz over the entire collage to age the new elements and unify the piece.

Speaking of unifying, I loved Dawn's tip for integrating images into the collage: she outlines them with an art crayon and smudges the line. I tried that and really liked the effect.

The collaging I've done so far is just the beginning. These pages just set the stage, so to speak.

When I'm on the road, I'll be taking along these supplies to do the actual art journaling, based on my needs and suggestions from Dawn:

  • A stash of favorite color markers, pens, and pencils.
  • A couple of glue sticks or portable, roll-on adhesive.
  • A large envelope or pocket to collect ephemera like napkins, tickets, maps, etc., along the way.
  • Copies of more vintage photos of family or friends associated with the trip.
  • A date-stamper and ink pad to use as a fun, graphic way to date my pages and the events recorded in my journal.

And of course, should we stay in a hotel, I will save my key-card to use back home as a paint and glue spreader.

The art journaling methods Dawn describes on her video, "Art Journaling: Pages in Stages," are perfect for travel journaling.

Making these pages ahead of time has not only taken a lot of the worry out of facing the blank journal page, they have made me even more excited about my trip.

What is your favorite "take-along" art journal supply? Leave your suggestion in the comments section below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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