Words I Carry Art Journal

A guest post by Nichole Rae

As I embrace my creative journey I am discovering that words are showing up as a main element in my work. I have been spending my mornings working on small art journaling projects. These projects are sparking my creative spirit and allowing me to be creative each day. I also have found these small projects allow me to take them with me on my travels. I am embarking on a journey back to my home in the midwest and I am going to travel for the first time with my art supplies. I am going to bring the latest project I have been creating. I have titled the journal “Words I Carry.”

In this project I have been exploring the definitions of words I use in my art and then creating my own meaning of the word. This has been allowing me to explore the words/language I carry with me and learn more about who I am as an artist and individual. I have always enjoyed using old dictionary pages in my work and for this project I use them as one of my main supplies.

I am excited to take this project with me on my journey and be able to keep my creative spirit flying.

Here is what you will need to pack

– a mini journal or sketchbook (4″ x 6″ or smaller) blank or lined pages.

– a dictionary. Dictionaries come in many different sizes. Any dictionary that is smaller than 5″ x 7″ will work well to travel with. Pocket dictionaries work great for this project.

– black ink pen

– glue stick

– masking tape

– oil pastels or crayons or colored pencils for highlighting words.

– a date rubber stamp (You can find these at office supplies stores, also some craft stores.)

– word stickers (at craft stores you may find sticker booklets that have a variety of random words)



Collect your supplies, pour yourself a cup of coffee and turn on some of your favorite music if you would like. It is time to create a beautiful mess and explore our creativity.

Starting with your blank journal and dictionary we will design the front cover. If you would like to do this at the end or want to leave it blank that is just fine. I am going to use paper from the dictionary to cover my journal’s cover.



I used the first few pages of the dictionary to create a cover. I used areas of the dictionary page that were blank and glued 2 pieces to the cover. {note: the paper seam in the middle} Next I used a page that had text on it, “Guide To The Use Of The Dictionary,” and then added my own text. I have a sticker book that has random words and choose to use a few of these alongside my own handwriting.

I have been exploring using my handwriting in my art over the last few months. This is something new for me. I am learning to embrace my penmanship and let go of the fears I have been carrying.

Adding in your own handwriting creates a personal connection to your journal and creative spirit. Each day as I continue to use my own writing it becomes more and more natural to me. When it comes to the cover of your journal these are suggestions to inspire you. Honor your own ideas and create a cover that you like. Sketch, color, collage, add one word or as many as you would like. Allow yourself to explore your supplies and creativity.

Once your cover is complete we will then work on our first page.


I first start with a blank journal page. Then I use my dictionary to either find a word that I have been carrying or browse through and see what words I discover.



I have been collecting words that I carry with me. “Brave” and “journey” are just a few that I use in my work.



Here is a list of words to inspire your creative spirit: create. live. wonder. path. travel. create. love. truth. allow. unfold. grow. evolve. become. be. flow. leap. embrace. believe. faith. possibility. life.

I also find it fun to discover new words by paging through the dictionary and see what catches my attention.

Once I find my word I then tear it out. I collect the parts of the dictionary page I am not using in a pile to use at a later time or for different project.

I do not use a scissor in this project though if you have one you can. I fold the paper to create an edge and then slowly tear the page. I embrace the uneven edge of the paper and like the design element it creates.


I have chosen the word BRAVE for my page. Once you have your word you will need glue, pen and your oil pastels/crayons, etc.



Glue the word/paper on the journal page. I explore different layouts by placing the word in the middle, the top or the bottom of the page. I then create around the word with my text. Having the paper glued down allows me to explore working around this element and letting things unfold as they go.


Once I glue the word down I use a black ink pen to box in any words that “call” to me or that I like. Then after this I use my oil pastel to add a bit of color and highlight this word or another word on the page.


Here, the definition of brave had the word “fearless” in it and I decided to highlight this. Once I have explored the meaning of the word from the dictionary I take a leap and explore my own thoughts and feelings on the word to create my own handwritten definition. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can explore using one word, for example the word “brave” means “fearless” and to you it could mean “courage.” This is the beauty of language and the words we carry. When we attach our own meaning we create a beautiful connection along our journey. Over the last month I have been learning the meaning to the “words I carry.” I use words such as Believe, Faith, Brave, Journey and Unfolding in my artwork and as I discover these meanings for myself I have grown my confidence in my daily life as well as learning more about myself as an artist. These words are carrying me through and along my path. The word “brave” is a word I have carried with me. I first saw the word in spray paint in New York City in 2005 on a building. I photographed the word and this became one of my favorite photographs from my travels as well as my favorite word. Years later I have uncovered my own meaning for this word in my life.  “To Lead Your Life With Love”


There is an unknown beauty in this project. I will take time to explore words and then let my pen write the words. I have been learning how to quiet the voice of insecurity in my life and boldly own my words and their meanings to me. Again, remember that this project is for exploration and to delight your creative spirit. You will discover and uncover as you go. We are embarking on a journey as we create pages in our journals.


Sometimes when I add pen I make errors or run out of room to write. You can always add masking tape over the word and then write on top of it. Sometimes I will tear the page out and then choose another word and start again. That is the beauty of a blank journal. I embrace the knowledge that I have an entire book of pages to work in.


To add a design element to my text I will close in the ends of letters as in the image above. I then come back and fill them in. This is a unique way to make your handwriting look like calligraphy.



Here is the page after I have finished adding little touches to some of the words I wanted to stand out. I enjoy documenting my journey and will use a date stamp to date the page where ever there is space. You can see below I stamped it vertical along the right side of the page.


I then add masking tape somewhere on the page as an additional design element. Here are some examples of other pages that have masking tape added. If I use masking tape I will tear off a thin strip from the original piece. I added the piece under the word “Carrying” in the bottom image, and along the left side of the word “Light” in the second image below.




Each day I will create one page in this journal. I keep my supplies in a little canvas pencil pouch and each morning I rise, exploring my creativity and language. I am learning to begin small to inspire my creativity. Page by page, day by day we create our lives and live our journeys. Keep creating as you go! I would love to connect with you, find me at nicholeraedesign.com and connect with me via facebook, instagram or by email.


artist nichole rae bio pic tag_160Nichole Rae is a mixed-media artist who has a passion for documenting her life through books arts, photography, writing and typography design. She resides both in Minnesota and Nova Scotia and is the author of the upcoming book Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process available in July 2014.




Art Journal Art Journey_160You can find out more about her book, Art Journal Art Journey, by clicking here.

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One Response to Words I Carry Art Journal

  1. amyguita says:

    HI Nichole:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post.I love the way you use the journal in both an artistic and contemplative way. Your images are also very alluring. Thanks for the inspiration.