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Creating an Art Journal & Journaling Ideas

some mixed media materials

A journal can be whatever you want it to be! Most of us seem to use a mixed media approach which has the benefit of allowing us a more expansive means of self-expression.


Here is a range of materials that people use for their journaling!

tissue paper

sugar paper

watercolour paper

cartridge paper

tracing paper

grey board


pencils & crayons

graphite & charcoal

paint brushes

paints & inks

gel pens & markers


● newspapers, magazines & junk mail

string, yarn and thread

felt, moleskine

scissors & scalpel

PVA glue

found objects

Art journaling ideas

Here are some good ones to try out:


● Record something that happens each day as text, image or both.

Use images cut out form magazines that are meaningful to you and stick them in.

Doodle, cut and color pages in your journal - not all have to be the same size, shape or colour

Set intentions for the year.

Include affirmations, declarations, quotes, creative writing, a bucket list, goals, things that you are thankful for, notes from travels, etc.

● Use your journal to explore all kinds of mixed media techniques like painting, collage, sewing (with paper), stamping, doodling, drawing & printmaking.

Totems are symbolic and use animals as emblems of a clan, family or group.


The Native North Americans, Ojibway and Rodnidze use (or have used) totems.

Idea 1: find out your totem

What animal is your totem? Once you have found out draw or paint it in your journal with a defination of what it represents. Perhaps there is an animal or bird that you identify with and that you feel represents you. Why is that?


You could also do this with your Chinese or western astrological sign.

Idea 2: how novel

Grab your favourite novel and randomly open it to any page. Read the first paragraph on that page and illustrate it.

Idea 3: scribble drawing

Pick an object in your house. While looking only at the object, put your pen to paper and draw it without picking up your pen. Now add some color to your crazy drawing.

Idea 4: take it outside

Take your art journal outside and document what you see. Write it, draw it, or paint it.

Idea 5: over the fear mountain

Think about something you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been too afraid to do. Draw a mountain and write your fear on one side and then what your life would be like if you could overcome that fear on the other side. 

Idea 6: mod podge

Use Mod Podge to adhere book pages to a journal page. Use that as your background and paint or draw on top of them.

Idea 7: stairway to heaven

Draw a staircase, and think about your biggest dream. Draw it at the top of the staircase and then fill each step with the “steps” you’d have to take to make your biggest dream a reality.

Idea 8: favourite songs

Make a list of songs that make you happy, songs that make you sad, songs that remind you of a person in your life, songs that help you fall asleep. What’s on your playlist? Use that as inspiration.

Idea 9: laughter list

Write down your favourite jokes and/or film quotes.


You could also make a 'how to be happy list' as if you were telling someone your recipe for happiness.

Idea 10: list of embarrassment

Make a list of the things that have happened to you that were embarrassing.

Idea 11: branching out

Find a twig or small stick and use it to mark-make and draw in your journal.

Idea 12: write your own quote

Write your own quote, maxim or mission statement and turn it into a piece of art.

Idea 13: create your own logo

Create your own logo. This could be using letters or hand drawn with geometrical shapes or brush strokes. Doodle some ideas first.

journal entries into art

Turn a journal entry into a work of art. Whether you're drawing inspiration from last week's misadventure or your third grade trials and tribulations, why not create a visual adaptation of your own first-person narration? Take an old journal entry - one that was especially poignant, difficult, joyous, or totally arbitrary and recreate the text as imagery.


Feel free to draw, paint, collage, whatever can best express the atmosphere of that one day. 

Activity: art with teabags

This lovely mixed media piece has been created by gluing used, empty tea bags on watercolour.

Created by Becca (Patina Moon)


Includes stitching and the use of a rubber stamp. 


Create a section in your journal for dried plants and foliage to paste in.

Idea 14: use an old book

Instead of buying a ready made notebook why not use an old book bought from a charity shop or library?


*An old hardback might be the best for journaling.

Idea 15: gathering up bits of the world

I thought these words (above) captured the essence of journaling: recording our experiences as we journey through life, 'gathering up bits of the world'.

Idea 16: use wallpaper

Use spare wallpaper left over from a DIY project or from old samples. Textiles can also be used.

Idea 17: use a print roller

Use a print roller with poster paints to create some background pages for your journal. Create different effects by merging and rolling over different colours.

Idea 18: family tree - genealogy

Use your journal to record your family tree, family photos and old black and white photos you come accross in your investigations...

Idea 19: hand lettering

Try different sizes and styles of hand lettering alongside your regular handwriting. Look into typography, graphic design and calligraphy for inspiration. You can also use type cut out of magazines and newspapers.

Idea 1: images

Paste in images to make you feel better. It could be a beach scene, lanscape, sunset, family gathering, pet, etc. Uplifting quotes are also good for putting things in perspective.

Idea 20: memories/experiences

Set aside some pages in your journal that chart key experiences in your life.  


This could be done in 'years' or 'events' as part of a 'recovery journey' or simply to record it for closure or future reference.

Idea 21: spider diagram

Create a spider diagram/mind map of 'possibilities'. This is a great visual way of getting ideas down on paper.

Idea 22: life journey map

Create an illustrated map of your life journey on a double page spread. It doesn't have to be a work of art - you can easily draw stick people and use symbols as part of this activity.

This map of the journeys in Lord of the Rings might provide some creative inspiration.

Idea 23: to the letter

Create a piece of art using letters only. These could be hand drawn/painted, traced, cut out from a magazine/book or a combination.

Idea 24: typography

Create a creative double page spread in answer to the following question:

Idea 25: Shakespeare

Create a page or sequence of pages around one (or all) of the following:


The Tempest

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Measure for Measure

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