Here is a step-by-step tutorial for making your own art journal. There are a million and one ways to make an art journal – this is just one way but it might get you started on a journey to telling your own story through art journaling.
I started with two pieces of scrap cardboard from the backs of scrap book packs. You could use any cardboard, any size, any shape. For this art journal, I wanted to make it square, so these pieces of cardboard were perfect.
I found an envelope filled with some little tags and tiny collages that I had made a couple of years ago with a music theme, in shades of pink, ivory, black, and gold so I thought I would use them in this art journal. That was easy! I had my color scheme already decided. If you don’t have anything that gives you inspiration for a color scheme / theme, think about some of the things in the world that make you happy. Then search online for some images to print out, or scrapbook paper with colors / designs you like, and collect other bits and pieces that coordinate with your colors. Ribbons, rick-rack, lace, buttons, scraps of fabric or paper – anything at all that you glue on to a piece of paper or cardboard will work!
You will want to begin to embellish the covers with something – I like to use craft acrylic paint for a couple of reasons. It is inexpensive and easy to use, but it also creates a really fun surface to work with when you layer it on cardboard. I decided to use black as my base color and then add lots of embellishments and other paint details on the top. The acrylic paint actually creates a “faux leather” type surface which is somewhat shiny (if you use gloss paint), and makes the cardboard flexible. I also just like the look of it when the cardboard is painted and embellished!
When the cardboard covers are completely covered with acrylic craft paint, let them dry an hour or two, or overnight. I love to work on my art journal in the evening and then leave the paint or glue to dry overnight – when I get up the next morning I am so excited to see how it turned out! I know, I am easily entertained, but that is truly one of the things I enjoy most about working on my art journals.
Then you can begin to have fun with embellishing your art journal covers. I like the look and feel of the craft paint on the covers so much that I decided to add a bit of pink, gold, and white paint in streaks and drips across the black. It gives it a bit of dramatic flair and pulls all of my colors together.
It can get kind of messy so be sure to put down wax paper or tin foil or something to protect your work surface. Don’t worry about the paint going off the sides of the covers, you can trim that off when the paint is dry.
This is how my covers looked after the paint was dry and I had trimmed off all the excess paint splatters from the edges. The next step gets really fun, so pull out all your bits and pieces of stuff and use your imagination!
There are so many different ways to create art, and each art journal is unique, personal, and a reflection of your own creativity . . . so there is no RIGHT way to do this, you just have to find stuff that you love and begin experimenting with different designs. And don’t ever worry about making a mistake! If something doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, you can always just paint over it, or glue another pretty piece of paper over it, and start again. I’ve done that a million times (well, maybe not THAT many times, but a lot), and you will discover that not only do you have fun, but you learn new techniques, you learn what you don’t like, and eventually you find just the right combination of “stuff” that works for you.
Paint and glue are just two of the ways to create your art journal. I love to stitch on paper (be careful though of getting glue on the needle of your sewing machine – if that happens you will need to change out to a new needle the next time you are sewing on fabric). It adds another layer of texture and interest to your design. Here I followed the music theme by stitching on a small tag with musical notes.
Then a row of white lace was stitched on one edge of the front cover . . . . .
then one of my little collages that I had made a couple years ago was stitched on overlapping a corner of the first music tag and partially overlapping the white lace . . . . (ps if you would like to make a few of your own tiny collages, I’ll be posting a tutorial for that project as well – same techniques were used there as for the art journal covers)
a couple of scraps of ivory lace went around the outside edges of the front cover, and then I glued on a couple of strips of torn scrapbook paper on the top and right edges – just because I thought it would look pretty. I touched up a couple of places where the paint wasn’t quite covering completely (see left edge of front cover where I added a bit of black paint – gives it a bit of personality I think!)
A few vintage white / ivory buttons scattered around and the final step was to add the words I wanted on my front cover. Following my theme of storytelling and our fear of sharing our stories publicly, I chose the words, “Sometimes in the silence . . . ” To make these words the way I envisioned them, I simply created Word document, added a text box and typed in the words I wanted, changed the box fill color to black and the text to white, and printed it out. Then I ripped around each of the words to get a frayed and tattered look which fits nicely with the torn edges around the cover and actually reflects some of the truth of why I’m telling my story, “sometimes in the silence.”
MORE TO COME!
As I continue to create my personal art journal, I will be posting more pictures of the process so that if you want to make an art journal (this is a really fun project to do with kids, too, in simpler, quicker steps to keep them engaged in the creative process), you can follow along on my journey. Who knows, we just might be brave enough to tell our stories to the whole world! Hope you can join me on my creative journey of story telling through art journaling.