Tricks for Creating Cohesive Art Journal Pages

If you want your art journal pages to have a cohesive look, I have three tricks to share with you today, courtesy of Kari McKnight Holbrook.

handmade art journal covers
Sample handmade art journal covers by Kari McKnight Holbrook, who just came out with a new DVD. Click here to learn how to make your own gelatin printing plates for printing, journaling, and more!

Kari is a mixed-media artist and an art journaling expert. I had the chance to watch her Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop video, Backgrounds to Bindings: Beautifully Easy Handmade Books and Art Journals. In it, she discusses how to make handmade art journal pages look cohesive and offers some very clever tips. With this video and her new DVD on gelatin plate printing, you’ll have an abundance of techniques to use on your projects.

1. Start big. One of the ways Kari makes her visual journal pages look cohesive is by starting with one big sheet of paper. Kari likes to use watercolor paper (90- to 140-lb.), about 22″ x 30″, for her background pages. By laying down ephemera, stamped images, masks, and stencils edge to edge over the entire page, and then cutting up the page into smaller segments to make the art journal pages, she makes sure each page has a similar background.

2. Mix to match. To enhance the cohesiveness of her custom journal backgrounds, Kari suggests you create a palette with a shade and tint of your paint colors. That way, you know the colors will all be unified and interrelate.

creating a palette for art journaling
Kari starts with one paint hue (center), then adds white to create a tint (top) and a darker version of the hue to create a shade (foreground). She can now use this palette knowing the colors will create a cohesive background.

Here’s how: On the shiny side of a sheet of freezer paper, pour out three blobs of your main color (hue). To create a shade (darker color), add a dark color of paint (black, blue, or brown, depending on your preference). To create a tint (light color), add white paint. By using shades and tints of the same hue, you can be sure your colors will go together and your backgrounds will be cohesive.

3. Spread it around. As you glue down ephemera and stamp or stencil patterns on your background page, be sure to apply the paper or texture in at least two or three places on the paper. Also, after you use a stamp or stencil once on your background paper, press any excess paint onto a sheet of deli wrap paper, tissue, or other piece of ephemera (such as music pages). Later, you can layer pieces of these papers over parts of the background pages, and the patterns and motifs will echo what’s been laid down before.

I learned so much from watching Kari prepare her backgrounds in preparation for creating a custom handmade journal with a no-sew binding. I found her tips on choosing and using paints particularly helpful. I highly recommend Backgrounds to Bindings and Gelatin Plate Printed Journal for beginner through experienced art journalers.

P.S. Do you have a tip for making your artwork look cohesive? Share it below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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