Studio Saturday is on a short break. Please enjoy this blog post, portions of which were previously published on our sister site, ArtistsNetwork! ~ Jeannine
We can all agree that when it comes to art journaling, we loathe the blank page, yes? Starting an art journal page with a few ideas ready to go is great for days when you want to work on something, but your muse is off getting a latte. Yet sometimes, prepping a page by just putting one random thing down it isn’t enough. It doesn’t compel me to want to do more. So today’s Studio Saturday is going to show you a few techniques I use for starting an art journal page, and they don’t take much time at all.
These techniques can work for painted canvases, too, or collages—pretty much anything you enjoy creating on a regular basis. The idea is to give yourself a little bit of a narrative to start with. Just a smidge of a story. A starting point. Think of it as leaving little art clues for your future self. Here are a few prompts that work for me:
1. A sketch of an idea: I have journals that I use just for sketching with pencil and pen, for when I have a few minutes to create something. I really like some of the sketches in the book, but I don’t want to tear them out. So, I copy them on plan copy paper, then use them for starting an art journal page. Here I’ve copied a couple of sketches from my book, added color to one with colored pencil, tore them out, and adhered them with glue stick.
When the glue stick was dry, I painted around the images in happy colors (I love pink and orange together), adding some stenciling with white paint, and suddenly the story came to me.
I added lettering and a few embellishments for a bright, fun page. When I use this technique, I try not to have a plan in mind when I glue down the sketches, allowing the page to develop organically.
2. Drip, drip, drip: Acrylic ink is a lovely medium. The saturated color, the way it flows on the page, and its unpredictability makes it so much fun to work with. Ink drips really well—and those drips can be great for starting an art journal page. Here I used Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink! in Quinacridone Magenta, and squeezed the dropper to create a kind of wonky grid across the page.
You could use this as a springboard for doodles, or creating an abstract design…but honestly, looking at it left me a little cold. That is, until I remembered some copied vintage photos I had. I chose this cowgirl (downloaded from The Graphics Fairy) and did a quick image transfer using a Chartpak AD marker blender. The process took under a minute, and I not only have a cool, compelling image, but I also have the beginning of a story, which I didn’t have before.
3. Full coverage: Covering a page with collage scraps is great, but for me, the end result is almost as creatively frustrating as a blank page. It doesn’t move me. Here I’ve covered a page with torn vintage book pages. It’s nice, but…meh.
I invested another three minutes and brushed some heavy body acrylic paint on the page, blending blue and black and white, creating a frame around the center. I did this with no thought to what I would ultimately do with it. When the paint dried, I sanded it a bit and added the word “Clamor.” Now there’s something going on. I may use the word as a prompt when I come back to the page, and the colors and shapes create a mood and give me something to work with.
4. A touch of texture: Gesso and art journal pages are a happy marriage. I love gesso for its texture effects, so I often use it as a foundation, brushing it on a blank page and, while wet, stamping or scribbling into it or using a texture tool like a Catalyst wedge. Here I brushed it on a page and used some bubble wrap and the end of a paintbrush to give it some interest. When it dried, this is what I had:
Since gesso takes acrylic paint well, I created a paint wash and brushed it over the page, highlighting the texture. A great beginning, but I needed a little more to get the wheels turning.
I’ve been dying to use some Altenew coffee-themed stamps, and the coffee color of this page was the perfect backdrop. Three stamps later and I’ve got a nice theme going on, and I know this is a page I’ll love working on.
Looking at these pages, I have all kinds of notions spinning in my head. I want to add a crescent moon to the collaged page, and the cowgirl needs some big, Texas-size flowers. As you can see, it didn’t take much to spark ideas for art journal pages. Next time you sit down with your journal, try some of these techniques, and develop your own. The blank page will become your best friend.
Did you know you can create incredible art journal backgrounds with acrylic paint and a palette knife? This blog post has some fun ideas for starting an art journal page with just two supplies!