{A} Art journaling 101

Art + Journal = Art Journal!

An art journal is simply art that you create in a book, on loose sheets of paper, or even on upcycled cardboard boxes, that you can then bind into a book or keep in a box. It’s a record of your journey, your thoughts, the things that move you, and your unique vision of the world.

An art journal can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be – it really depends on you. At its simplest, it can be a few doodles, sketches or splashes of color or collage added to your daily diary, journal or planner. You can use it as a safe place to experiment with this whole art thing and see if you’re any good at it or if you enjoy it. A lot of journal artists use their journals as a place to record their observations on life, to work through their own deeply personal problems or issues, to express themselves in bold and beautiful ways. And a number of artists also keep journals as a place where they can be loose and free, experiment and try out new techniques and color combinations, or explore art forms that they do not normally produce.

A peek into my New Moon art journal for 2015. Play in HD for best quality. {The video plays right side up!}

I started art journaling in 2014 as an experiment to see if I was any good at this whole art thing. I had always been fascinated with artists and artistic expression – with paint and drawing and collage, quilting and embroidery, polymer clay and book arts. This doesn’t imply that I did any of these things – rather that I was always fascinated with people who did and felt a longing to create beautiful things with my own two hands.

In fact, I took my first steps into the art world back in 2003, when I stumbled upon altered books. At the time, I was unable to find even some of the basic supplies, but that was something I managed to work around. What really got me was comparison – as a complete newbie, I made the mistake of comparing my initial efforts to the work of established artists. Needless to say, I was soon thoroughly discouraged and hung up my paintbrushes and threw out my paint.

Then, towards the end of 2013/start of 2014, I stumbled upon Melody Ross and Brave Girls Club, and rediscovered my love for art through her art+soul classes. This time, I approached my art fully prepared to hate my initial efforts, but to press on nevertheless, with the solemn promise to never compare my art with anyone else’s, and especially not with that of my teachers! Needless to say, I’ve had an absolute blast learning and growing my art journaling practice, and expanding my horizons beyond the journal to creating canvases, experimenting with numerous art forms and planning a foray into teaching.

I hope you join me on this month-long exploration of art journals. My deepest wish is to inspire you to pick up paper and paint and to spend some time lost in glorious painty play!

Posted in Art Journaling and tagged , , , , .


  1. This is truly beautiful work! Love it, love it, love it! Creative, imaginative, soulful and ohhh so you! I am going to share this with my kids and inspire them to take this up! Looking forward to your future posts 🙂

    • Yay!! Please do inspire them to take it up! I think art heals, it’s transformative and beautiful! There’s a lot of information and techniques and tips coming your way during the month!

  2. I’ve wanted to start art journalling. Too much on in April, but I’m going to make time for it after this. I think artistic expression is something that all too many people get told they’re no good at, at far too young an age. But everyone is creative & I wish more people felt free to explore it!

    Looking forward to your posts!

    Jessie Costin Writes

    • You’re absolutely right! We all started out playing with colors and shapes from a very young age. Along the way, we were told that things “should” look a certain way. But I say phoee to that! Just express – that is what is most important! Try out techniques and ideas, but do those that make you happy.

    • That’s the intent Ramya! I really want to inspire more people to pick up paint and paper – it’s therapeutic and so needed given the stressful lives we lead!

  3. Wow.. Art journal, it sounds fun and am thinking it would be super fun to try hands on. It happens at times we are not satisfied with our work and comparison is like killing your uniqueness. ” A master is one who have failed numerous times than the student have ever tried,” so it’s always great to see the struggle side of masters as well.
    Good going. Looking forward to your posts.

    Check : http://www.shalini19.wordpress.com if you need more motivation 🙂

  4. This theme caught my eye! I do maintain a journal, but I’m horrible at art. So it’s just a plain boring book.
    Looking forward to your posts, and I hope you’ve had a great first day 🙂

  5. One of the main points of an art journal is to vent emotions and opinions in a healthy way. You can put down things that happened in your life you can’t talk about, things that make you laugh, sketches of funny outfits you saw – anything, really.

  6. Good morning, and what a fun topic for the blog challenge. I’m terrible at art, but love it and love creating. When I was in the U.S. that was easy with templates and such, but no similar supplies now that I’m in Ecuador. I also find comparing work is troubling in writing as well, but I’ve read that all writers think their work isn’t good. Have fun with the challenge and keep creating that art and expressing yourself.
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

    • Ah! US is the Mecca for art supplies!! But I’ve learnt that you don’t need all the supplies to create some lovely art. There are tons of substitutes available, and a lot of things available locally that may give you similar results. Plus with a little ingenuity, you can even create your own stencils! There’s a lot to come this month, so I hope you join in for the ride 🙂

  7. I am sooo much in love with an art journal now that I really want to try my hands on it. Would connect with you offline soon…Awsome work and I really loved the video of your New Moon Art Journal 2015…excellent work Shinjini!! Keep posting and I’m right here… 🙂

  8. Beautiful. Thank you for letting us take a look. There is nothing more beautiful than expressing feelings, emotions though art. A great start to the Challenge. Happy AZs!

  9. Cant believe I missed commenting on your post. Drafted it in my head when I read it in my inbox . just getting around to drop by . Its one of my favourite themes this year . I hope I can learn a trick or two . will come in handy as I plan to take this up soon .. and if possible lose myself along with my 3.5 year old in the paintsy world like you recommend.

  10. Must say that this sounds so creative and beautiful! Never knew that there’s something called an art journal until now. Amazingly done 🙂

  11. I can’t tell you how long I have wanted to try art journaling. I maintain multiple written journals, but art journaling, using mixed media, captures my creative attention.

    I look forward to following your instruction and perhaps in May I can begin my own art journal project 🙂

    Molly @MyCozyBookNook
    My Cozy Book Nook
    Revising Life after 50

    • Oh I certainly hope so! By the end of the month you should have quite a handy set of tips, techniques and ideas to start an art journal. At least, that is my hope! 🙂

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