10 Unique Art Journal Prompts for Summer

30 Jun 2010

Headshot Have you been following along with us and Dawn Sokol’s ‘Art Journaling: Pages in stages’ column in Cloth Paper Scissors? We started the three part series in our May/June issue with painting. In our July/August issue we are covering collage, and coming up in the September/October issue we finish the series with journaling and doodles.

If you’re enjoying these three installments of Dawn’s process you will go ga-ga over Dawn’s new DVD by the same name. The ‘Art Journaling: Pages in stages’ DVD is the perfect accompaniment to the article series—you can see Dawn at work on her fun and colorful journals. Watch her process and help grow your art journal skills while learning her stress-free way of artistically attacking a blank journal.

Dawn-Sokol-2   DSC_0011
Finished Journals from the DVD   Art Journal “gear”

The DVD is now available for pre-order but we don’t want to leave you hanging. So, I’ve put together a list of 10 great summertime prompts for working in your art journals while you await the last installment of the series and/or the arrival of your very own copy of the new DVD.

10 Unique Art Journal Prompts for Summer

  1. Going on a trip? Journal the anticipation and your predictions. Do you think you’ll get sunburned, or get lost? Share it before the trip.
  2. Make a list of different times to art journal. Stay up late and do a midnight journal, get up and journal during sunrise, journal at High Tea, and journal at noon. See how your journaling style varies by the time of day and your level of alertness.
  3. Mood journal—group your paints and other coloring supplies into “cool” and “warm” colors and choose one or the other depending on your mood.
  4. Journal the same thing three ways: normal, with eyes closed, and then with your non-dominant hand.
  5. Go da Vinci on your journal, try writing backwards like Leo would have.
  6. Switch your base media. Normally use acrylics? Switch to watercolors. Normally use pencils? Try markers.
  7. Try journaling loose pages. Take a stack of papers and journal on them first and then bind them. How does this affect your process?
  8. Change out paper pages for fabric.
  9. For fun, journal as a fictitious character.
  10. Journal your summer bucket list—leave room for notes as you complete each item!

Have your own journal prompts you’d add to this list? Leave me a comment here and be entered to win some new journaling pens. (Comments must be left by July 6th at noon EST to be entered in the random drawing.)

Happy summer doodling!


Featured Product

Art Journaling Pages in Stages (DVD)

Availability: In Stock
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On this DVD, author, designer, and avid art journaler Dawn DeVries Sokol guides you step by step through her no-stress Pages in Stages approach to art journaling.


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on 30 Jun 2010 6:35 AM

"Write" with thread.  Lightly sketch text and images on your journal page (fabric or paper) then grab your favorite colors of embroidery floss and get stitching!


aberry2 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 6:41 AM

Here's an idea for when you need a prompt: Take a page from an old book or magazine. Ignore what the text is about, but circle or highlight 5 individual words on the whole page that jump out at you. They should not be consecutive words. Then use those words as your inspiration. You can paint on that page or cut them out or simply use them as prompts to get started on a separate journal.

mdcarter wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 6:45 AM

Try using items you'd find in you local coffee shop.  Dip the coffee stirrer in ink or paint, and write with it.  Stamp with the corragated coffee holder.  Use the coffee cup(disposable) lid to make circles (using stamp pad or ink).  Have fun thinking up more. :)

miscellanea wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:12 AM

Approach the subject of your journal page in different media. Writing about your garden? Draw a sketch of its layout or an individual plant, take a photo, add a fallen bloom to the page, include ephemera from your garden store, etc. These can be incorporated into the page willy nilly or create a grid and challenge yourself to approach the subject a set number of ways!

on 30 Jun 2010 7:17 AM

Make a series of small squares on one of the early journal spreads and add one specific image from each day - in a small drawing.  These are the drawings I did during a 10 day trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.




kt6351 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:24 AM

Take your journaling outdoors into nature. Use nature's patterns and materials as your inspiration.

ScrapMel wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:29 AM

Journal on a box or some 3-D object

Omapeg wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:36 AM

Re-explore the world of verse. Try journaling in haiku or a la e e cummings. Compose picture poems, writing your journal in the shape of the poem's subject. Explore colors, expressing your feelings about the color using pictures from magazines, pictures you take, or your own artwork.

Thank you for this opportunity to share.

cbf wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:44 AM

Listen to some music and pick a phrase or word that you can manipulate creatively.  Taking a walk and just enjoying the surroundings can also inspire me to choose a new topic.

deni2me wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:54 AM

I think a good Summer prompt would be "Summers Past".  In fact, that could be a whole journal by itself...if you're an old broad like me!  I have a lot of summers past to journal about! hehehe

Endorph wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 8:07 AM

If you are traveling this summer use maps as a starting place. I will be driving through parts of 6 states and am creating two page spreads with maps of each part of the states I am driving through and will journal for each phase of the trip.

on 30 Jun 2010 8:17 AM

try journaling in odd places - climb up a tree and journal up there, journal in your laundry room, journal while sitting on a swing at the park, etc...  :P   xoxo~L

on 30 Jun 2010 8:21 AM

Start your page upside down - my entire drawing and lettering style changes when I do this, and I am forced to move a little more carefully. And when I'm really stuck, I flip to a random page in one of my favorite books, stab a sentence (or image, depending on the book), and make something out of it.

sudukc wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 9:24 AM

I bought a journal and first I played with different washes on every other page (i kept a breif note of each and after the pages were dry added the proper note to the proper page) Then I have been using a "how to" art book and following the exercises. I was trying to do daily but have found it much more rewarding to do as time allows...it is also less pressure.

I also am using my camera to cpture images I want to explore later. I also have a small notebook that I write breif notes about the picture, color, just anything I want to remember when I use the photo.

artsygram wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 9:36 AM

I'm SO excited to begin my first art journal!  I want to journal in the early morning...outside while the birds are singing!  I want to journal in the misty rain...and see how it effects my watercolor pencils!  I just want to JOURNAL!  Thank you for the inspiration!

djames50 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 9:50 AM

So many great inspirational ideas to journaling. I have to get mine back out and use some of these. Try a watercolor wash for a base and while it is still a little damp, stamp with a dry rubber stamp your favorite image or word. The paint gathers where there normally would be ink on the pad and then kind of washes over. It creates a cool image that you can just make out.

on 30 Jun 2010 10:09 AM

On trips, I save every scrap of paper I come across to use in my journal- and card-making.  I was lucky to spend two weeks in Japan again, and I have incredible washi paper, train tickets, chopstick wrappers and more to incorporate in my travel journal of my trip.

Lori Louise wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:30 AM

I'm having fun treating my own town as a tourist destination.  Picking up the brochures for various sites, and adding ephemera to collage them into a journal page makes for a wonderful "staycation" with as much art as any summer trip I've ever taken.

I'm experimenting with using a small loose-leaf binder format.  This way I can prep (with gesso) a few sheets, making them sturdy enough to carry with me when I am traveling so lightly that I don't have my usual supplies on hand.  What do other people think is the best adhesive to use over gesso?

My sister just told me about this site, and I'm thrilled.  Thanks to everybody for the great comments.  What a great page!

on 30 Jun 2010 10:32 AM

This is a fabulous topic and thanks everyone for some super ideas. My suggestion is to pick a color and use varying shades of it for a page. So if I chose green, everything on that journal page would be in shades of green. If you use watercolor or other paints, you can mix your


giselmaus wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:42 AM

glue some colored  tissuepaper on your journal pages . before you add the tissue paper crumple it up and than stretch it. The crincles add some interesting surface to work with.

gleechinn wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:44 AM

Great ideas, thanks for the list.  Nancy

carolweiler wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:50 AM

Journal about what you would do today if you were 10 years old ie: run through a sprinkler,eat a popsicle.  THen do it! Have fun!

eilaantt wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 11:02 AM

Here's my suggestion: pick (randomly) a book from the box of discarded books at the local recycling center, and let the title of the book guide you when you start journaling on the pages of that book.

on 30 Jun 2010 11:32 AM

journal with a young grandchild to get their perspective.  Children's drawings are always so interesting and creative! Write down what they say about their drawing.

on 30 Jun 2010 11:34 AM

journal with a young grandchild. Children's drawings are so imaginitive. Write down what the child tells you about the drawing.

Jeannie EVH wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 11:54 AM

Write/draw what you see outside and tell it's story. You can involve your children and have them tell you the story of the ladybug's home on the daisy or the sea urchin's life as a door to a hidden world. Have fun and if you get stuck, read the Miss Spider series of children's books - to yourself!

SusanL@106 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 12:53 PM

I'm not one to journal but I'm going to start my grand daughter doing it. I found a large scapbook with lavender paper pages. Everytime she comes to my house (we usually take advantage of the time together to do "crafts") I'm going to let her do a page and sign and date it. I'll supply her with lots of stuff to work with and let her do her thing. She is 5. She will have a memory book of our times together being creative ladies!

Lindaab2 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 1:52 PM

I like to pick a topic like "things I am grateful for" or "my perfect day".  Then I pick up a random magazine and tear out all pictures that speak to that topic for me.  Paste them in and let that start the journaling process!


ses4 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 2:06 PM

Have a journal kit ready to go on your next artist's date.  Have a small zip folder with sketchbook, pencils etc then take yourself somewhere fun

holt1885 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 3:32 PM

For anyone who has a piece of vintage jewelry or clothing, grab a piece, add it to the page or draw it, and create a story about the person who wore it last.

LinRW wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 3:58 PM

How about journaling what you're planning to create for dinner or afternoon tea (cupcakes anyone?). Draw inspiration from what you see out your windows (for me it's gum trees - I'm very lucky)!

on 30 Jun 2010 5:31 PM

I like taking an activity I do with the kids (or they do alone - which is sometimes even better!) and journaling/doodling/sketching out how it would have been to do the same activity when they were young, or how they would do the same thing when they are a year or two older?

I also like taking advantage of the cool Colorado nights. I take the random things that truly say summer (receipts from the grocery store for hamburgers, buns, etc; pictures of the kids at their lemonade stand; the tag from the new picnic basket) and place everything on the scanner to make background paper...then going out to the garage and painting, drawing, gluing, etc til well into the night. It works out well now the kids like sleeping in! :)    xx

on 30 Jun 2010 5:59 PM

Pick a letter from the alphabet and use that letter as a reference to an object to draw, paint or write, an end result or a technique.  For example, the letter "A" could refer to ant, adhesive, alphabet, angle or architecture.  If you are traveling in a foreign country, do this exercise using the language of that country.  Not only will this exercise prompt you for your next journal page, but you will learn new foreign words!

on 30 Jun 2010 7:44 PM

Write like you are telling a friend about your JuJu. What makes your JuJu go to work on your journal.

belladumonde wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 8:22 PM

Hi, Jenn! You have some great suggestions. I particularly like the Leonardo DaVinci one and I am intrigued by the fictional character one. Also, I had already come up with an idea for a fabric booklace journal for summer. Your suggestions are giving me a creative shove in the right direction. The current issue is spectacular!! Love the art journaling articles and the interview with Susan Lenart Kazmer!!! Guerilla art rocks as well. Thanks for doing such a fabulous job and KEEP IT UP!!!!


wildcard wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 9:48 PM

Cut some pretty paper into squares and on each piece, write one word or thought that comes to mind when you think about summer (flowers, rain, camping, etc.) Put these into a container, mix well, and pull a different one each day as a starting point for your next journal page. The square can be incorporated into the work on the journal page, or tucked into a pocket attached to the page.

craftysuz wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:24 PM

I am loving art journals right now they make me feel more like an artist instead of "just" a scrapbooker.

I love using all kinds of found objects.  A friend of mine got me started using the wrappers my tea bags come in as pockets for journaling & items.

Thanks for the chance to win

Ellen Etc wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:38 PM

1. Put small scissors, a rich pen, and a glue stick in a baggie and keep them with you, or in your car. Use them as a travel collage kit. Prep a few pages with some paint, then glue in the day's ephemera and your thoughts.

2. Journal a dream. When you wake up with and remember a dream, you can either write it out first, or directly journal the symbols and emotions. This is also a great way to tell your dreaming mind that you're interested and want to remember more dreams. The dreams that seem boring on awakening are often striking after you've worked with them a bit, so don't be too picky about what constitutes a "good enough" dream to work with.

Ellen Etc wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 10:40 PM

Journal a dream. When you remember a dream on awakening, either write it down first, or just start working with the images and emotions. A dream that seems boring at first may be very rich after you've worked with it a bit.

parevest wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 3:04 AM

Tickle your fancy

Everyday we see something odd around us. Write it down on the page and then doodle around the idea goin further and further away from the original prompt.

mwquilt wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 4:24 AM

Open a novel at a random page..using the wrong end of a pencil ( so you don't mess up the book) select 5 words at random by closing your eyes and then touching with the pencil. Write the words on a scrap of paper as you choose them.

Without trying to think to much, journal using either the words themselves or images which are prompted by the words. You might make a poem from them, or they might be the start of a list, or the beginning of a stream-of-consciousness style piece of writing, or a collage or a doodle..and so on.

CassieShella wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 6:36 AM

I have just started dabbling in art journaling. I find that quotes, either taken from artists, authors, or the Bible, will get me inspired.  If I am staring at a blank page, I'll think of a quote to use, then create my journal page based on that quote, it has worked well so far.  I have started writing my own quotes as well, usually in the form of a Haiku.

lalaW wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 7:32 AM

When mone is tight or you don't have the time, Journal about your Dream vacation- where would you go how would you get there what would you pack.  Do the research for a trip and use maps from the computer etc- remember a change is often as good as a vacation!!

on 1 Jul 2010 9:08 AM

I'm off to this right now:  I've gathered all my favorite pens, some heavy white cardstock and watercolor paper.  To make the background, I'm going to journal in various sizes of writing covering the blank pages and then writing over them in different directions and with different colors. Then I'll wash the pages with watercolor.  (Or some I'll watercolor and then overwrite when dry.)  I'm not worried about the legibility - just want to write, covering the paper.  When I hit upon something that interests me, I'll come back to it and write it in a more readable format on a different page!  


LeahY wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 10:33 AM

To get out of a journal rut, I've been journaling on shrink film - then I paint or stamp the reverse side, cut it into rectangles, punch a hole (or two) in each, and bake to make shrink art charms. I love that I can write things that are "secret" because once it's made into little charms, only a few words appear on each one.

HopeAB wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 3:24 PM

do a blind contour drawing...look at your subject, but never look down at your paper, and with out lifting your pencil or pen off the page begin to draw the subject, doing it slowing as your trace the subject with your eyes and try to make your hand follow along---remember do not look at your page!  the results will be interesting and fun, and it's a great way to train your eye to see :)

katie0873 wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 4:36 PM

I was thinking it would be cool to plan ahead by contacting one or more of the visitor centers to where you plan to travel - and you could use one of the booklets they send to journal in (just as a possibility).

janieh5 wrote
on 1 Jul 2010 10:41 PM

I carry index cards in my camera case, when I capture a thought with my lens I also write a note to myself as to what I was thinking, what caught my eye ... later on I often print the picture on the back of the index card and use these as journalling prompts for later on.

I have some index cards with quotes, scribbles, dreams, profound thoughts already on them ... the fun is trying to find something to photograph that co-mingles the two together.

suz272 wrote
on 2 Jul 2010 10:40 AM

Journal from a different viewpoint--from your pet's viewpoint detailing a special moment that you've shared. If you have a cat or dog, journal from their eye level: what do you see? How is it different from a human eye-level? How would your pet 'see' a special occassion?

Perhaps you might draw from their eye level and document what you imagine their response would be.

If you have a bird, can you envision their world from their cage, from flying around your home, and describe how they 'see' you?

Then, perhaps you might also journal from a child's eye level and describe your home, or special occassion as a child would 'see' it.

jennnn wrote
on 5 Jul 2010 8:39 AM

Thanks for all the ideas! Here are a couple more -

Record your perspective on a historical event... where were you when Mount St Helen's blew? What were you doing when you heard about the 9-11 attacks? Were you around for the assassination of Kennedy or the attempt on Reagan? Do you remember the first man on the moon, or maybe the first woman in space? Were you scared that Y2K was really going to destroy the computers? Are you afraid that the world really is going to end in 2012?

Or try to remember the stories your parents or grandparents told you about the big events in their lifetimes and record those. Were there any important historical figures in your family tree?

on 5 Jul 2010 11:37 AM

Add maps either drawn by hand or ones you can get for free and take an imaginary journey during a staycation at home.  You can choose either real or imagined destinations and make up wonderful stories about the people you meet and the places you see and the wonderful food you enjoy.  Then plan a meal like one you would have enjoyed on your journey and share journals around the meal.

Maggie Nelson

on 5 Jul 2010 11:51 AM

Another idea is to make a "Mini Me journal".  Sort of like flat Stanley, you make a paper doll of yourself and send to others with a journal and ask them to take the MIni you on an adventure and to document with writing and pictures.  I made one of these journals for a friend as a surprise for when she returned from a month long trip to Tibet.  She loved the journal and all the extra adventures she had while she was gone.  

Maggie Nelson

picsofbits wrote
on 26 Jul 2010 12:26 PM

Glue a cut-out, picture etc. of a face onto the bottom of a page. (Or draw a face yourself if you want to.) Draw a big thought or speech bubble that covers the rest of your page. Fill that big bubble with words and images.

Ask your friends and family to let you trace the shape of their hand (maybe even feet?!) onto one (or more) of your pages. Fill the hand outlines with writing and doodles.

Reach deep into your stash of memories and pull out all the names of former 1st grade classmates you can remember. Try to imagine what kind of life they're leading now. Make them into fictional characters in your journal entries.

Take your least favourite colour and combine it with your absolute favourite on one page. Try making yourself like this 'unloved' colour a bit more.

Imagine that money is no object and you could travel anywhere you want to in the world... where would you spend your first holiday? Write down how you imagine it would be. Paint some things too. If you ever visit your 'imaginary holiday' destination in real life, journal about that, too, and compare your entries. Or combine them into one spread!

diannamal wrote
on 20 Jun 2011 3:15 PM

Commit a journal page to your favorite things, you can write them right on your journal page or on tags. I made bookmarks and each one was for movies, food, music, crafts and so on.

on 17 Apr 2012 2:16 PM

Getting your Summer Journal up to Speed At the end of last month I shared 10 journal prompts for summer

gilligoth wrote
on 29 Jun 2013 8:53 AM

Go to part of the town you are unfamiliar with, e.g. stand under a railway bridge, sit in  a park, or wander down a backstreet. Sit there for a while to soak up the atmosphere, then write or draw in your journal.

When you get bored try another spot, or go people watching and invent stories for them, or try to imagine what their home is like and draw it.

Indigo Girl wrote
on 29 Jun 2013 10:02 AM

Save ephemera from vacation trips, such as ticket stubs, brochures from attractions, airline destination tags, subway maps, etc.  Use these as a base for mixed media collage. Or incorporate them into drawings and written pages telling the story of your trip or even your at-home summer adventures.  I like to do these pages with photos of my grankids included, since we are usually sharing the adventures.

on 29 Jun 2013 10:43 AM

Try a journal with black pages. I am!

knpreston wrote
on 30 Jun 2013 11:44 AM

Use "Notes" in your iPhone to keep track of ideas, concepts, photos, sketches -- it's always with you -- it's an easy way to keep track of ideas.

on 1 Jul 2013 1:45 PM

Change directions as you write and change the color of your ink. Allow those changes to direct the subject as well.

cindy30549 wrote
on 1 Jul 2013 10:47 PM

Create a page to celebrate each of your friends or special people in your life. Let the relationships and your experiences with person guide how each page is created.