Art Journal Inspiration: Open Up Your Journal and Play

A guest post of art journal inspiration by Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow

When you open your art journal to a blank page, you open up your own little universe. A playground on paper. You can start anywhere, with any tool or material or word. You can paint a layer of lemon yellow acrylic paint, stamp the word FANTASY with alphabet stamps or drip India ink down the page.

Sometimes this infinite choice is the root of the problem. What is the right place to start? This might be daunting. The truth is that there is no right way to start an art journal page. You can start, or you can stare at the blank page. I like to remind myself that the faster I get immersed in an art journal page, the more time I have to play.

“At the beginning of any new idea, the possibilities can seem infinite, and that wide-open landscape of opportunity can become a prison of anxiety and self-doubt.”

Peter Sims

Art Journal Inspiration

If you expect each of your journal pages to be brilliant, you may be feeling a burden, stress, perfectionism. This can impact your creativity and feeling of freedom on the page by focusing on the outcome rather than the process of getting messy in your journal.

Transform the way you see your art journal. You could change your journal into a place to play with lush color, to experiment with collage, to document thoughts, to capture quotes or to practice drawing fonts. It doesn’t need to have a theme. The color palette on one page doesn’t need to match the last. Your journal houses your experiments, your tests, your exploration, your fun.

Art Journal Inspiration

Eight ideas for starting a journal page:

1.   Using a wide brush, paint a page with heavy body acrylic paint. Make marks with a wooden chopstick, a nail or a small lid. Draw parallel lines, circles, swirls and doodles. When the acrylic paint dry, staple a printed quote to the page.

2.   Roll a soft rubber brayer in block printing ink then roll the brayer one direction on your page, then change colors and roll the brayer the other direction to make a checkerboard. When dry, write a word in each box.

3.   Using fluid acrylics or heavy body acrylics, use your fingers to paint a rainbow arch. When the paint is dry, write thoughts along the arcs.

4.   On yellow legal paper, describe a recent conversation with a friend. Staple it to the page and draw a pretend frame around it with Neocolor I or II crayons.

5.   Paint a page with dark colors. When the page is dry, add hand-painted swirls and circles with bright colored magenta or orange paint. Glue on a photograph and write a descriptive haiku just under the photograph.

6.   Write a list in pencil in the center of your page. For example, write a list of books you plan to read, ideas for art projects, what’s in bloom in your garden. Embellish the bullet points and the letters with magic markers and draw little flowers climbing the vertical edges of your page.

7.   Draw a rectangle in the middle of your page. Glue narrow strips of scrapbook paper around the square, keep going until you get to the edge of the page. Stamp a quote in the center with alphabet stamps or write a quote in block letters.

8.   Close your eyes and pick 2 colors of fluid acrylic paint. Use only those two colors plus white on your art journal page. Flip through a few magazines and glue some words to the page as pretend poetry.


The idea is to get something on the page. Know that you can always add a layer of something different and start again from a new point. An empty page in your art journal is just a page you haven’t finished yet.


tammygarcia-iconTammy Garcia is a mixed media artist who writes about bringing creativity into your life, one line, one stitch, 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.


U2856_stArt_cover.inddYou might also enjoy stART Journaling, edited by Kristy Conlin.






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One Response to Art Journal Inspiration: Open Up Your Journal and Play

  1. DawnHerring says:

    Thanks for having Tammy Garcia as guest!

    I love the list of ideas you share here to give us prompts and approaches to get started with in our art journals. Art journaling is a place to play, experiment, have fun, and see what you like or don’t like. I find art journaling a way to give me a voice that’s not necessarily written, or it can be. I think over time, when you create in an art journal consistently, you find your creative voice and the ways that work best for you. I love using watercolors, stamped letters and words, collage elements, oil pastel and colored papers. It is so much fun!

    I have chosen your post, Art Journal Inspiration: Open Up Your Journal and Play, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 6/4/13 for all things journaling on Twitter; a link will be posted on the social networks, on my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Self Talk.

    Thanks for so many creative ideas and the encouragement to play and enjoy ourselves.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Your Refreshment Specialist
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child