Art Journaling as a Learning Tool


I think of an art journal as a place to explore new paper/paint/lettering processes that are interesting to me. I’m not creating for publication or public viewing (although I usually don’t care if someone sees the pages); I’m creating to experiment, to practice. Before I begin working, I mentally prepare myself: center my mind to be open to happy accidents, set ‘judging’ aside, focus on having a playful spirit.  Sometimes I don’t like what I create but the process is always invaluable because I learn how to change and grow a technique until I find an effect I appreciate.

The covers of the art journal you see below evolved from playing with one of my favorite media – vintage paper: washes of paint on book pages, a portion of an envelope, a robin from a 1917 children’s book, a border from sheet music, a Swedish stamp, a label from a tin of salmon (!), letters and numbers from a map, and the edge of an office filing folder.

front cover

back cover

On the inside pages I plan to create vignettes from vintage paper that I can use in my artwork.  Here’s an example:

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention my collection of vintage paper is comprised of donations from friends (cleaning out their grandparents’ basements!), damaged goods I’ve rescued from recycling sources and from flea markets. I’m always careful that none of it is valuable in a commercial or saving-for-posterity sense.


In this next art journal, I’m experimenting with artist Teesha Moore’s design for creating a 16 page journal from 1 sheet of paper.  This page is in process; I’ll add more background and some text. Teesha is a prolific, abundantly creative, and incredibly generous artist.  Her journal pages are posted on Pinterest and she has several YouTube videos demonstrating how she works.  While Teesha’s experience and style are definitely more advanced than mine, I love to try her techniques, working out of my comfort zone & pressing myself to grow and learn.

I also admire the art journals of Judy Wise, MaryAnn Moss, and Orli Avineri. You can easily google to see their work. And if you have an interest in paper, paint, and art journals I encourage you to buy an inexpensive pad of paper, or simply use loose papers to play,  experiment, and learn. 

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