08 August 2015

Art Journal: The meandering journey towards an actual art journal book

I’ve been finding my way towards a full fledged art journal for a little while, it seems.

It should be pointed out that I do not consider myself to be artistic in any way, shape, or form … I can’t draw recognizable stick people, never mind paint lovely pictures. Yeah, I do some neat things with fibre arts but that’s different.

01fcce014463f9feb801611a64da707edb1509894d Okay, maybe not so different.

I like to play with colour, and ink, and words … and with the upcoming trip to Ireland, I wanted a really awesome travel journal. That’s going to involve more than words … and it needs to be more than just pictures glued into an album. I want to really experience this adventure, and to document it in ways that will both solidify the memories for me and also give me something beautiful to hold and look at and share with friends once I am back home. Impressionist journaling, I suppose. The basic idea of a travel journal got me inspired to move towards more non-linear journaling in my every day life as well.  

Using The Book of All Things to write down lists and thoughts and ideas and doodles and such is working really well for all the small bits and bobs of every day life, but then sometimes, I need more space and bigger messes.

The web is full of awesome inspiration for projects like this, and there are lots of craft supplies in my basement so ….

I found this lovely site by Ashley, who shares a lot of really inspiring stuff. I need to quote this from her “about me” page, as this really expresses why this form of journaling is calling to me right now:

The one big turning point for me in my life is when I learned to embrace “the dark side”…..and I did that through journaling. It became a new addiction. I would be on a corporate jet with CEOs of billion dollar companies and I had no problem pulling out my journal and crayons to write down a quote or something I wanted to remember. (yes CRAYONS) I glued bits and pieces of my life into notebooks trying to sort things out and figure out who I was. I turned sadness, anxiety, insecurity, addiction and anger into a creative process. I collected questions, random facts, quotes, people, words, receipts, websites, photos and drawings. I didn’t write in order. I skipped pages. If I didn’t feel like writing I would just draw a map of where I was or write down what I had for lunch.

I slowly became less anxious, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. I spoke up and welcomed the consequences. I became more compassionate and I sought out people that were real and interesting. I cut ties with people who were toxic. I became obsessed with memoirs and movies and when I connected with something in them, I wrote it down.

- See more at: http://www.lilblueboo.com/about#sthash.rpUNHSlw.dpuf

Yup, that’s the kind of place I am in. And putting things into books, into pictures, with glue and crayons and paint and markers … it’s working, somehow. I don’t know why. I don’t really get it. It feels very ‘outside my comfort zone’ when I think about it, yet when I am working with the Creative Mess, I just … I just make things. It happens. I doodle and scribble and paint and splash and glue and sit back and go “Yeah. *That* makes me happy!”

So I figure its a good thing. So does my counsellor, actually.

Therefore … I have piles of paper and paints and markers and crayons and am creating books and images and words.

Want some practical how-to, in case you are into this as well? Here ya go:

Find a book you don’t mind damaging. I had picked up an old (very outdated) Child Development textbook somewhere along the way … it’s got a great hardcover binding, and is about the size of a hymnal – pages big enough to draw and create on, but not so huge as to be unweildy. It’s terribly out of date so I don’t feel badly about repurposing it into something else, too … I love books and damaging them always feels a bit sinful, somehow, unless I have a good reason for it!


  1. Rip out about 1/3 of the pages from the existing book (because once you thicken the pages with paint and ephemera, it will be too fat for the existing binding). (I followed this general outline from lilblueboo for how to create the book, .)01b144a3e87053f6de9de498a02bb04c64714f2d05
  2. Prepare the pages: they need to be a little sturdier and the text needs to be washed out to some extent. I didn’t have any gesso on hand (nor any drywall compound, for some odd reason, or I’d have made my own) … what I did have was some off-white latex paint, white craft glue, and cornstarch. Mixed that together with some water and painted it on the pages.  I used a blow dryer to encourage it to dry a little faster so I could do more pages, then I set the book up and let it dry overnight with the pages sort of fanned out between the covers. I didn’t prep the entire book – I’ll do more as the mood strikes, and I may use other preparation materials as things evolve. 014ba459c4c32bcbb2a3e674c230afef3e984aa1eb
  3. Tint the pages: I used watercolours to put a wash on several of the primed pages. Watercolour does some interesting things painted over latex, especially with a blow dryer to kind of spread the paint around, or a bit of salt to add texture. This step is optional, but having pages with different colours and backgrounds all ready to go (and already dried!) is awesome when the mood to Add Things To The Book hits you.

That’s it for the ‘container’ … now to start putting things in the book.

The removed pages are excellent raw material for further crafting: I used an assortment of paints and inks and so forth to colour the pages I’d pulled out, then cut out shapes or drew on the paper with crayons and markers. The nice thing about working with unbound bits and pieces is that you can really feel free to play: if you like the finished product, you can put it into the book … if it turns out to be less than what you imagined, well, you can use it for something else. Even kindling.

I got some cool stencils at the craft store and practiced with those on one of the pale brown page spreads:


Then I took one of the removed pages and painted over the ink and paint splotches it already had with some pearlescent watercolour, then used crayons and markers to write a phrase (my friend was here and we were discussing how similar the book was to a hymnal … she asked if I had an actual hymn book around, which of course I do, so I grabbed it off the piano and flipped through it for inspiration … and this is what I found). I made a little door with a bright opening on the inside. A bit of trimming and rounding of corners, and into the book it went:


I also got some neat shape cutters, and made flowers from painted pages … along with more stencil flowers and some stencilled text:


Some of the earlier practice words ended up on individual cards. I’m not sure quite what will become of these yet … making them was what I needed to do, and I am sure that at some point, I’ll be told what needs to happen with them.


Much more experimentation is bound to ensue.

If you have any art journal resources to share, please leave me a comment … I’m fascinated by the whole concept right now!

Happy creating!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, lovely work and lovely post, Lonna! Thank you.


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