Art Journal Inspiration: The Unplanned Journal Page

A Guest Post by Tammy Garcia

When you start a fresh page in your art journal, you set off into the unknown without a map. One part fear, one part invigorating energy. Like walking through a tall maze in a corn field. Each time you reach a decision point, a fork in the path, fresh alternatives open up as you move forward.

Unplanned Art Journal Page

We each have a unique way to describe the work we do in our journals, and our journals can be used for many things. Art journaling is about the surprising intermingling of paint, the happy accidents, the scraped layers that reveal intriguing words.

When I make art journal pages, I don’t know in advance what each page holds; I don’t have a plan or an image in my mind of the finished page. A map is a fun background, as are wonky painted circles, stamped words, vertical stripes or a detailed diagram of your kitchen. You see? It doesn’t matter.

Here’s an example of how I might play in my journal without a plan.

Shuffling through the wooden baskets where I keep my growing collection of “found” ephemera and painted papers, I pull out an intriguing orange bird on a greeting card. I might just have easily grabbed a Tokyo metro map or an index card with shiny rainbow striped acrylic paint. But I grabbed the greeting card, and that selection informs my next step.

The orange bird leads me to cerulean blue acrylic paint, so I paint a frame around the image with my fingers. To make the page more cheerful, I grab a wine cork and stamp lime green polka dots. The blues and greens remind me of the beach and little white cottages around a lake our family visited each summer when I was a kid. I sketch a little white house that looks like a cottage if I squint. Then I write about the cottages and our escapades in a little town in Ohio.

Each step is a decision that takes you down a fresh path.

I think you know what will happen if we rewind the tape. What if I had painted a background of lemon yellow and stapled the orange bird to the top corner? The yellow and orange colors might have tempted me to stitch red japanese washi papers to the page and search for a quote about rainbows. Quite a tangent. A completely different page.

There is no “right” path. Each path is simply different.

There are an infinite number of options for each page. Be careful not to let infinite choice scare you. It is a good thing. It means that you will not run out of ideas!


tammygarcia-iconTammy Garcia is a mixed media artist who writes about bringing creativity into your life, one line, one photograph, one drip of paint at a time. Tammy draws elaborate doodles, sews paper, snaps photographs, works in her art journals and blogs at Daisy Yellow at




Read more of Tammy Garcia’s posts here:

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