Journal Fresh: Art Journal Tips from Jane Davenport

Need a little inspiration to really get going with your art journal? This artist interview with Jane Davenport is sure to help the mixed media artists out there—both those who have experience and just need a little nudge, as well as the novices—to find new inspiration. Jane shares her sources for art journal inspiration and offers art journaling tips for anyone interested in starting in this wonderful medium. For those looking to regain some mojo, Jane’s art journal ideas are sure to do the trick.

An Art Journal Q&A by Dawn DeVries Sokol

This month, Dawn shares the work of art-journal fanatic Jane Davenport—a mixed-media artist in Byron Bay, Australia.

I met Jane Davenport at the Play Retreat in Port Townsend, Washington, in January. Her enthusiasm and bubbly personality caught my attention and her journal pages intrigued me. Her free-spirit faces, feminine figures and vibrant palette exemplify her love of life. Here’s Jane Davenport . . .

Why art journaling?

I am a bit of a journaling evangelist; I think everyone should be doing it! I’ve been generally happier, more resourceful and better able to think things out for myself since I started journaling. It’s so freeing and I love that it’s an art for the individual, so there is no pressure or expectation. I’m rather addicted to the process and don’t like the feeling of not having a journal with me. I think it has definitely made me even more creative.

I started teaching drawing and painting online last year, and we always work in journals. They are such an amazing tool for building creative confidence, experimenting and for stretching ourselves artistically.

What inspired you to start art journaling?

From the second I saw an art journal, I knew it was going to change my creative life. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of the art form. I just love the way it untangles me. When I started journaling, I was feeling very knotted up! My journals are a way to get things off my mind and chest and not have to worry about how I use language, of how it can be misconstrued, how it sounds . . . and I can express myself with images, colors, drawings, nothings, everythings, to-do lists, doodles . . . whatever comes out. I enjoy searching for answers and questions in my journals. But above all it’s fun!

What art journalers are your faves? Other artists you look to for inspiration?

I’m totally in awe of Teesha and Tracy Moore. I love Teesha’s way with color and the way she makes sense of the world with her artwork. Tracy’s journals just blow my mind (you should see The Pegasus one he just finished for me!). I love that they are a team—both so creative and so different.

I must confess to living in a little bit of a bubble because I am so fixated on what I am creating myself and that is why participating in more international workshops and retreats has become a key goal for me.

What important bit of advice can you give to those wanting to start art journaling?

  • Start with awesome paper! Life is too short for rubbish paper. I like hardbound journals with 150gsm or greater drawing paper (no spiral binding) or make your own journal with heavyweight, hot-press watercolor paper. YouTube has a plethora of videos on how to easily make your own journal, or buy a handmade journal on Etsy.
  • If you have any supplies still in the boxes they were bought in, take them out and put them in jars, flowerpots, a pretty tin—anything to get them out and easy to use.
  • I often start journaling by wafting my hands over my supplies, like a water diviner searches for liquid gold, and see what calls to me, then start with that tool by doodling on journal pages that are already in progress, adding little details, fiddling with bits and pieces.

Tell us a little about your process. What mediums do you like to use?

I am an art supply junkie . . . correct that—degenerate art supply junkie with acute “Rainbowitis”. I love and use it ALL except oil paint. I go through phases of what mediums I love and use the most but colored pencils feature most prominently. I even have an online class devoted just to art supplies! My journals are so random, that’s its actually hard to say what my process is, but gesso is usually involved. I really treat my journals like a lab to experiment in, so anything goes!

My process changes, but I usually start with a drawing, just loose and scribblish. I like to see what falls out of my pen on its own, and then start building up a sketch. Eventually the page makes sense and I add color.

Do you also have other ways you like to create, and if so, what are they?

I’ve been a fine artist for 12 years—mainly in the photographic arts. My specialty is macro photography of insects, especially ladybeetles. (One of my books has just won the Environmental Book Prize.) Before that I was in fashion as an iIlustrator, designer and photographer over the years. I also adore painting on large-scale canvases.

I also love making my videos (I’ve made 187 of them!) I try and keep them fun and mix it up for my students, so they never know what to expect!


You can see more about Jane and her work (including  some great videos!) by going here.

Dawn DeVries Sokol is the author of 1,000 Artist Journal Pages, Doodle Diary and Doodle Sketchbook. Click here for Dawn’s blog—an endless source of inspiration.


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