Guest bloggers

10 Art Journal Ideas and Starting Points for Beginners to Advanced

Today I am lucky enough to be presenting you with a guest blog post from the amazing Kerry May! She is a 41 year old drama teacher who is a huge planner and art journaling enthusiast.  Her blog is awesome so please do check it out!  I asked her to do a piece on art journaling as it is an area that I have not delved into yet, although I have to say this post has inspired me to give it a go!  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!


Beginning the journey into art journaling can sometimes be scary; not knowing where to start or what tools and equipment you need, thinking it won’t be good enough, not having any inspiration… sound familiar? It needn’t be. Art journals are a means of self expression and are ultimately for YOU, no one else. So stop judging yourself and get going and go with the flow, you soon won’t be able to stop those creative juices from flowing. Read on for 10 ideas to get you started.

1. What do you need to start art journaling?

The first question to ask is what tools and equipment you will need. Well I have covered most of this in my post here Art Tips for Art Journalingbut you really don’t need all of that.

Basically you will need:

  • Some kind of book or paper (any type of insert on matte paper will be fine). Moleskine cahier sets, mixed media books, watercolour pad or any type of sketchbook is fine.
  • Some type of paint (watercolour, acrylic, spray inks, alcohol ink).
  • A paint brush or watercolour brush.
  • Any other type of pens, crayons or pencils – this may be wax, charcoal, felt tips, chalk pens, whatever takes your fancy. There is no right or wrong medium to use, go with what you feel comfortable using.
  • You may wish to invest in some stamps and ink pads, embellishments and die cuts, but again you don’t have to.

That’s it, that’s all you need to get started.

2. How do I start though?

Don’t over think it – EVER! Just get some paint on the page and then add some extra elements to it if you wish. I never plan what I am creating (only very loosely). You may wish to leave it as just the paint or you can add more detail after. See below for some inspiration.

3. Using stamps over paint

Using stamps over you paint (after it is dry of course) is a great way to get started. There are so many pretty stamps available now. Tim Holtz do great ones for mixed media or if on a budget have a browse through Ali Express and search for clear stamps, they are so cheap. I got some lovely ones with vintage writing on and they look amazing stamped on to my painted pages. For the image featured here I added a bit of white pen for extra detailing.

4. Using collage to add interest

Another thing you can add to a painted page is collage. This can be from magazines, a paid subscription such as through Patreon or from die cuts or ephemera / printables. It really doesn’t need to cost you anything and you can print whatever takes your fancy. Experiment with tearing sheets, layering, adding pen over the top or mixing elements up. All the collage elements in this page were free from magazines and collage sheets I found on Pinterest.

Inspiration and Printables on my Ephemera boards on Pinterest:

5. Decoupage Art

One of the first things I tried with my pages was decoupage. I bought a matte medium gel from Amazon and started by sticking different things down with it, then adding a layer of the gel on top. You can scratch away at it so that it shows through the paint or leave as it is. It is great to add tissue paper to a page or a torn sheet from a book and really adds interest to your page. You can also use one layer of a patterned serviette.


6. Adding words to an art journal page

The hardest decision I had to make when starting art journaling was how to add words and quotes to my pages. Well, the options are endless. You could add printed words, cut words from magazines, use chalk pens or gel pens like the uni ball, use paint pens like the posca ones, use die cuts or ephemera (printed or brought) or paint or stamp them. Don’t limit yourself or over think it and don’t be put off if your writing is not great… the printer and glue stick are your friends.



7. Adding embellishments

Anything and I mean ‘anything’ can be added to your art journal pages. Got some scrapbook elements or enamel dots? Buttons lying around? – use them in your pages. Simple and effective. Use a strong glue, glue dots, sticky pads or a hot glue gun to adhere them to your page.

8. Just add pen

Yep, just adding a bit of pen work to your paint can really make the page pop. The posca paint pens or uniball gel pens in white or any colour really are a great way to add detail to paint. Again, don’t over think it, just start doodling over the paint for amazing results. Alternatively just a black biro to add patterns or zentangles to a page can really be effective.



9. Doodle on your Art Journal pages

A page with a bit of doodling looks great in your art journals. I love to doodle and it looks great when directly on an old book page. You could paint the page first with a thin layer of white paint (or gesso if you really want to). A mix of doodles and words can really make a page stand out and it is so easy to do. This was actually my first ever go at art journaling.

10. Stop Comparing and Never Give Up!

Speaks for itself. You will never develop your pages if you compare to others. Keep at it, an artist is always growing. Remember the art is for YOU and no one else.


I have loved writing this post for Hannah, hopefully you will have found some of it useful in planning and starting your art journaling journey.

​Take Care, Kerry xx

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