Three Sure-Fire Art Journaling Prompts

Art journaling is so popular right now, and there as many ways to keep a creative journal as there are artists.
art journal page by pam carriker
A page from Pam Carriker’s art journal using
found papers as a background and Liquid Pencil
for drawing and shading.

Still, many artists find it difficult to get started. After looking at countless art journals and viewing countless videos of journal artists’ tips and tricks, here are a few common ways I’ve learned to get your art journaling ideas flowing.

Start with backgrounds. The blank page can be so daunting to artists, the same way it is with writers. To get over the fear of putting down the “wrong” thing, just start with the background. You can glue ephemera to the page, stamp all over it, or paint the background with gesso or acrylic paint. Once you have one layer, go back and create another (such as stamping over ephemera or painting over gesso). Now you have a more informed canvas on which to create a journal entry.

Draw. Many artists, especially those who aren’t formally trained, worry about their drawing skills. Well, your art journal is the perfect place to practice. You can practice drawing faces, still-lifes, or something from your imagination. If you’re more comfortable painting than drawing, try a product like Liquid Pencil, Pam Carriker’s Derivan® product that can be used to draw with or, if you use the rewettable kind, blend it with water and a brush like watercolors.

Write. Write in your own handwriting, write with alphabet stamps, scribble, or use artful lettering. Cut words out of magazines or print them out on your computer and cut them up and paste them onto your journal page.

sure fire art journal prompts pam carriker
Pam Carriker uses writing on her background to
add interest and the personal touch of the artist.

Here are some tricks I learned from watching Pam’s Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video Art Journaling Fast & Easy: Unique Journal Pages One Step at a Time:

  • Think of your writing as drawing. This will help you slow down and form the letters in the way you want. You’re less likely to make spelling mistakes, too.
  • Two pens are better than one. Black and white inks make colors pop. These inks can also add shadows and highlights, unify lettering, add emphasis, and create patterns on top of colored letters. A white gel pen and a black permanent marker should be in every art journaler’s arsenal.
  • Use “under journaling.” Under journaling is Pam’s term for scribbling onto a journal page as a layer over which you will add more writing, collage, etc. This is a great way to put your personal penmanship into your journal without it having to be legible.

A final tip for getting started on your art journal is to just experiment and have fun. You should enjoy your art journaling time not dread it. Artists like Jacqueline Newbold, Dawn DeVries Sokol, and Pam Carriker have fun and get lost in their art journals because they try new products and techniques and aren’t afraid of experimenting.

P.S. What’s your number one tip for starting an art journal page? Leave your comment below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.