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    « Art Journaling 101 | Main | Daisy Yellow Zine {Issue #10} »
    Saturday
    Feb012014

    Art Journaling 101 for Kids, Teens + Beginners

    "The artist must possess
    the courageous soul
    that dares and defies."
    Kate Chopin

    "stories"

    my daughter created this 9x12" art journal page when she was 8, watercolor paper, neocolors + water

    Welcome to ART JOURNALING 101 for Kids, Teens + Beginners who want to learn how to art journal! Hop over and read Art Journaling 101 for Kids [Prequel] for some background info. My kids started doing a bit of art journaling simply by playing around with the art materials out on the table. All it really is - playing with colors and words and images - playing is the key word. It is not about the pretty page at the end! It is about enjoying the part where you create the art. The part where you get thoughts out on your paper.

    This guide is written for folks who are starting from scratch in their art. If you have already started art journaling, or already do a bit of art, you might prefer Art Journaling 101

    Books! Find creative inspiration and learn about art journaling and sketching.  

    1,000 Artist Journal Pages by Dawn DeVries Sokol
    Journal Spilling by Diana Trout
    Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself by Sabrina Ward Harrison
    Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff
    Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists by Katherine Dunn
    The Creative License by Danny Gregory
    An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory
    Print & Stamp Lab by Traci Bunkers
    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Annie Lamott
    The Art Journal Workshop by Traci Bunkers
    An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators & Designers

     

    an art journal spread in an old hardback book

    Let's get started!

    1. Start with a basic supply of materials. Art journalists use a lot of different materials. You can start with just a few inexpensive materials and you can use free things like maps, catalogs and supermarket lists. You can find eveyrthing you'll need at a craft or art supply store. When you are starting out, you can try inexpensive materials and if you have fun with art journaling, you can invest money in higher quality art materials which will have more saturated/intense color or might be more precise, but that is a bit later! 

     

    a. A Surface. You'll need paper for your artwork. You can use many types of paper or old books.

    Paper. If you are going to draw a lot in your journal and use just a little paint or glue, you can use cheap composition notebooks {sold for a dollar at Target}. If you want to be able to paint your page a lot, or collage in a lot of layers, try cardboard or watercolor paper which is thicker and stronger and won't fall apart or warp much.

    You can use loose paper when you are just starting and playing and experimenting. If you want to use a bound journal, I suggest getting wirebound Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor pads or Drawring pads. Then just tear out the pages when you wish.

    For loose pages, use a three hole punch and keep your finished pages in a binder or collect your pages in a flat box. Most of my pages are actually not in a journal...

     

    Old Books. Here's another idea. Go to a discount bookstore or flea market and get a hardback book on the sale or discount shelf. You can get them for a dollar or two. Look for books with thick pages (like children's illustrated books, for example). To get the book ready to be an art journal, you will need to paint the pages with a thin layer of gesso, then stick wax paper or parchment paper in between the pages, then put the book under HEAVY books or bricks until they dry flat.

    art journal spread in an old hardback, acrylics, stamps, ink

    b. Paint. You can try both acrylic paint and watercolor paint and learn what makes them different just by experimenting. Here's a very basic idea of the differences.

    my daughter (9) created this page with colored pencils

    Acrylic Paint. Acrylic paint dries faster than watercolor paint. It can be more opaque and can be layered thick where you can't see thru the layers. You can paint acrylic thin or thick or even put little marks in the paint to create texture you can feel. You can paint acrylics over many different surfaces.

    Craft stores sell acrylic paint in small 1 oz or 2 oz bottles. They are often just $1 per bottle. Start with 5-7 colors, whatever colors you like {more about color mixing below}.

    Here's an example. A blue, a pink, a red, a black and a yellow. You can make purple with the blue and the pink or red. You can mix orange with the pink or red and the yellow and you can mix green with the yellow and blue. Even though there are 10 different blues at the craft store, you don't need the all and please don't spend time worrying about which one you pick. Just pick one you like! You can mix up other colors. If you want the paint to be opaque, use it straight out of the bottle. To get a lighter, more transparent color, mix in a little water.

    Watercolor Paint. Watercolor paint is more transparent, takes longer to dry, and you can paint one color over another and see through the top layer and your eyes will see the colors together. With watercolors, you'll want to pay attention to your paper, as it will act differently on various types of paper.

    Craft stores sell student quality watercolor kits, with a bunch of watercolors in a set, ready to go. If you find that you really like watercolors, you can buy a fancier kit or buy individual colors that you like.

    c. Materials for Mixing Paint Colors. Mixing your own colors is FUN and feels super creative! Learn about mixing colors in the wonderful book, Color Mixing Bible. With any paint, the more expensive artist quality paints have more pigment, more saturated color, more consistent color, etc. So as you spend more time and energy doing art, you will likely want to "move up" to artist quality paints.

    Plastic for Mixing. You'll need a place to mix the acrylic paint (which can stain so use something you can throw away afterwards). Try the plastic lid from an iced cream or yogurt container as a little paint mixing station. To mix watercolor paint, get a few inexpensive plastic palettes from the craft store.

    my younger daughter (9) created this 9x12" page, watercolor paper, neocolors, watercolors

    d. Writing Tools. You'll want to put words on your page, so you'll need pens or markers that are sturdy enough to write on textured surfaces, something that won't bleed and will be legible. A lot of art journalists love Sharpie permanent markers, Sharpie water-based paint pens or poster paint pens for writing in their journals. Markers won't last that long because you'll be writing on uneven or textured pages so get a few! And be sure to let the page dry before writing on it.

    e Attaching Stuff. You'll need some type of adhesive to attach paper, lists, ribbons, whatever you choose. If your page is dry or not painted, you can use double sided tape, a glue stick or scrapbooking tape. I use Mod Podge to glue stuff from magazines + catalogs or words or photos to my art journal pages. You can also use staples, masking tape, decorative tape or stitch things to your page.

    f. Brushes. Buy 3 cheap brushes. I use one brush for glue, one brush for paint, and one brush for gesso because I am constantly going from one to the other and I don't want to keep cleaning my brushes. But a little warning. If the brushes are TOO cheap (like 10 for a dollar), the hairs will fall out while you work and that is super annoying. Brushes take a lot of wear and tear from art journaling, so they won't last that long. No sense buying expensive brushes!!! After you are finished journaling, rinse brushes dishwashing liquid and warm water. Store brushes hanging down or standing up in a container but not on their side.

    neocolor wax crayons drawn on acrylic paints

    g. Old gift/credit cards. To push paint around a page, make borders, scratch off layers, make lines.

    my daughter (11) created this 9x12" art journal page, watercolor paper, neocolors, oil pastels, watercolor

    2. Consider some other art supplies

    a. Watercolor pencils. You can draw and doodle with them and blend with a wet brush.

    b. Gesso. Gesso is hugely popular and super useful! You can use it as a first layer on your page (see Art Journal: Faded Blue). You can also use it to strengthen thin or rough paper or create a base coat of white. It's also good for layering over stuff like collages - you can make it more transparent by mixing in a little water. It's easy to clean gesso off hands and brushes with warm water. Gesso also comes in black, and you can color with colored pencils and acrylic paint for a really cool page.

    c. Stamps. You don't need to buy stamps; they are expensive and you can make your own or use things you find around the house as stamps too. If you have a bunch of stamps already, they are perfect for art journaling! Any little design can be used as an edge or corner decoration. Alphabet stamps can be used to stamp words or lyrics on pages (see Adjectives and Happy Life). They're available at craft stores in the scrapbooking section. One type of stamps that you might want to buy - alphabet stamps. Traci Bunkers has a lot of varieties of alpha stamps in various sizes.

    You can make stamps with stuff from the hardware store. Look around your house and you'll find things to use as stamps - lids, medicine cups, cookie cutter molds, old brushes, sponges, etc. You can even use twigs and leaves as stamps.

    d. Water Soluble Crayons. Caran d'Ache Neocolor II wax crayons are really cool! You can draw and doodle with them, blend them with your fingers, wet them with a brush, paint over them. See Altered Book: orange.peach. As you did with acrylic paint, you could start with a small assortment. For example, get 5 colors you LOVE. How about lime green, lemon yellow, turquoise, deep red and sepia?

    3. Find or make stuff to put in your art journal

    You can put almost anything that's pretty flat in your art journal. Some artists cut out pages from old books they find at the discount book store, cut out pictures and words from magazines and catalogs you get in the mail, cut up maps you don't need, receipts, stuff from other art projects, candy wrappers, scrapbook paper, your own art.

    Search your house for stuff like ribbons, lace, tissue paper, gift wrapping paper, fabric scraps, tea bags, etc. There are a bunch of ideas for creating things for your art journal in Step #574: Create Journal Fodder. More ideas in Psychedelic Batik Cardstock and stamp unique patterns. 

    4a. Do a practice art journal page with acrylic paint. These "backgrounds" for art journaling were made with acrylic paint. The idea is to just play.

    the pages tore because i closed the journal before the paint was dry, and i LOVE the tear!

    first i glued down some old maps, then painted with acrylics, then glued on some images and bits of scrapbook papers

    a. Take out paper, two brushes and 3-4 little bottles of acrylic paint.

    b. Set out 1-2 bottles of water for rinsing paint from brushes.

    c. Put a few drops of one color on a plastic lid. Dip in your brush, and make some swirls or lines on the page. Do this again with another color. Let it dry for 5-10 minutes.

    d. Meanwhile, go cut out 3-5 little images or words from a magazine or catalog. They don't have to mean anything but they can if you want to.

    e. Take a clean brush, dry it on a paper towell, and dip it in Mod Podge. Paint the back of the little clipping. Stick it on the page anywhere. You can just put it down, even without looking! Continue with some more of the little papers. There's no need to analyze this, just glue it down!

    f. If you have watercolor pencils or neocolors or other water soluble crayons, scribble around your page, little doodles or words or whatever. These marks will smear {which art journalists love} a bit when you add your next layer so they likely won't be clear unless on the top layer of your page.

    this is what acrylic paints look like on the palette... and they don't wash off after they dry!

    g. Put some drops of your third color of paint on your plastic lid and dip in your brush. Paint a little more... maybe paint around the edges or put a little border on some of the stuff you glued down. Let it dry about 5-10 minutes.

    g. With your black sharpie marker, write a word that you like. It can be any word, or a bunch of words, maybe some words to a song. You could make a list of something. Like your favorite songs, places you want to travel to, favorite foods, funny names you call your cat. Another idea is to write about what is going on at school, an argument you had with your best friend, the silly tricks your dog can do, on a piece of paper, then cut part out and staple or glue to your art journal page. Another fun thing to do is write the same phrase over and over, in cursive writing. You can do this on your background or on a separate sheet of paper and then attach it.

    4b. Do a practice art journal page with watercolor paint. These pages were made with watercolor paint to give you an idea of how an art journal backround painted with watercolors would look.

    a. Take out paper, two brushes and your watercolor paint kit. One brush is for Mod Podge and one is for paint.

    b. Set out 1-2 bottles of water for rinsing paint from brushes.

    c. Dip your brush in the clean water and put a drop of water on each color of paint in the kit. This gets the paint ready to use.

    mixing watercolor paints in a palette

    d. Dip the brush in water and pick a color, and paint a swirl or circle or wavy lines on your page. Paint without being careful. Just focus on the color only.

    e. Dip the brush in one jar to clean off the paint, and into the other jar to rinse with clear water. One water bottle will get dark and muddy and the other will stay surprisingly clear!

    f. Go ahead and follow step "d" again with another color. Swirl it onto the page, maybe touching the edge of the first color (they'll blend). Be careful not to use too much water, you don't want puddles. But you don't want the brush to be almost dry either. This is the time to practice.

    g. If you want to mix a new color - for example, a lime green, take a few drops of yellow paint and "paint" them into the plastic pallette. Clean/rinse your brush and take a drop of green paint and then mix the green into the yellow. You'll want more yellow than green in the mixture. If you need more yellow, clean/rinse your brush and grab some more yellow and mix it in. Now paint this new mixture on your page somewhere. A square, a circle, a wave, a line.

    h. While that starts to dry, go cut out 3-5 little images or words from a magazine or catalog. They don't have to mean anything but they can if you want to.

    i. Take a clean brush, dry it on a paper towell, and dip it in Mod Podge. Paint the back of the little clipping. Stick it on the page anywhere. You can just put it down, even without looking! Continue with some more of the little papers. There's no need to analyze this, just glue it down!

    j. If you have watercolor pencils or neocolors or other water soluble crayons, scribble around your page, little doodles or words or whatever. These marks will smear {which art journalists love} a bit when you draw on your page, because it is still wet. That is good! You can smear more by painting more color on top.

    k. With your black sharpie marker, write a word that you like. It can be any word, or a bunch of words, maybe some words to a song. You could make a list of something. Like your favorite songs, places you want to travel to, favorite foods, funny names you call your cat. Another idea is to write about what is going on at school, an argument you had with your best friend, the silly tricks your dog can do, on a piece of paper, then cut part out and staple or glue to your art journal page. Another fun thing to do is write the same phrase over and over, in cursive writing. You can do this on your background or on a separate sheet of paper and then attach it.

    To see some of the work kids can do in art journals, check out the work shared by Melody Nuñez.

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    Reader Comments (14)

    cool... thanks heaps :)

    paige (15yrs old)

    03.22.2012 | Unregistered Commenterpaige

    Thank you sooo much, I really wanted to start doing this, but had no idea on how to start or what kind of book/journal to start with... you have answered all my questions. I am so exited to get started, this is going to be a very special and personal kind of way to express my feelings and let my creative side come out...

    04.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEloise

    I love your work. I've bookmarked it for inspiration,but please stop ruining your watercolor palette with acrylic paint,get a nice, cheap, disposable palette ,it'll even give you more room to mix. Still,thanks for posting your lovely work.

    {Tammy}: Claud, I use waste paper or disposable palette paper for mixing acrylics when I am trying to obtain a specific color or mix; this palette has already been ruined thus not a problem when I am just putting acrylics for dipping the brush. Sorry it bothers you!

    04.28.2012 | Unregistered Commenterclaud

    I love this post! So inspiring and filled with amazing tips. Thank you so much for sharing and taking the mystery out of art journalling. I especially loved your photos and book suggestions. Happy creating...

    04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

    I'm fourteen and have wanted to start an art journal for a while. I've searched on Pinterwst for hours for tutorials on how to start one and this is so detailed and helpful! I know what I'm spending all my birthday money on now :)

    06.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarlys

    thanks! i see all theese beautiful pages.... all with paint and gesso ad stuff... but im 13 and cant get a lot of expensive supplies. i just have crayolam prang markers, some black faber castell and ink joy colored pens. most of my fodder is magazine cutouts... im addicted to them and i destroy my mums magazines as soon as she is finished reading them. but i am overjoyed mum treated me with modge podge AT LAST!
    i may do acrylics now and then... some watercolors... but.... i also cant afford a nice journal with thick pages for paint... so... what do it do??? i am thinking of using a plain hardbound journal with thinnish pages... that can handle glue and stuff... but wrinkles with water and markers can show through. does anyone have a good brand or tye of sketchbook thats cheap but can handle marker... and if possible.... occoasional paints? or is there a trick to making a cheaper one handle it... or to make markers not show through.
    unfortantly... i have horrible self motivation.... so... im gonna try! thanks for the blog... this is SO helpful. im doing the index card a day. mum bought me a tiny binder for them ages ago i never used, so i decorated it. sorry. im blabbing.

    07.22.2012 | Unregistered Commentersomeone

    im sorry... i dont mean to bomboard you with questions! im just a bit nervous/hesitant on art journaling. i love art and self expression... but i want my pages to look good, like the ones you see in books... though i try not to think that. its just SO hard!
    do pages have to have themes? or just whatever floats your boat.

    {response from Tammy} Someone: I will try to respond to all of your questions. I like to use watercolor paper for art journal pages and I buy a wirebound Strathmore journal for that purpose. You don't have to coat it with anything. You can tear them off the journal and then art journal on both sides to make the most of your money! If you buy a 12 page pad of paper, that's 24 journal pages. Plus you can put a thin layer of white gesso on the front and back cardboard covers (let it dry before using) and get 4 more sides! So in theory one pad could keep you busy for weeks. Just be careful not to blob on too much paint or it will get warped. Now. On to the other question of your wanting your pages to look good. Actually if that is your focus, I do not think art journaling is what you want. The focus of art journaling is to create. It's about the process. So see your journal as one HUGE experiment. What if I did this? What about this? What about that? Practice. Play. My pages typically have no theme, and they are not preplanned. I just play. But I've been playing in my art journal for 5 years!

    07.22.2012 | Unregistered Commentersomeone

    Okay, that's all fine with the paint and gesso and cutting out pictures, but what makes it a JOURNAL? I can do all the color and texture, etc., but then I'm terrified to write on it. I'm terrified to write on a plain blank page with no color on it. I just don't know. What do I write in it that I won't be terrified someone will read? I've thrown away every journal I've ever started, burned some of them, because I'm afraid they'll be found and read. What do I write that isn't too personal? Thanks.

    {response from Tammy}: Sasha, I totally get that you don't want people to read what you've read. When I started art journaling, I used quotes or lyrics as the only journaling on a lot of my pages. You truly don't have to write on your pages. Or you can write a WORD or a PHRASE that speaks to you at that moment. On one of my early pages I just wrote STOP. I think lyrics and quotes are perfect for art journal pages, because you can pick stuff that you really like... stuff that means something to you at that moment yet it's not your own words so you don't have to be scared to write them. You can also use funky text that is meaningless like found poetry (random words you snip from magazines). So. Please. Keep going, just don't worry about the writing. It will come. Keep creating your art and texture and keep your stuff. You will love to look back on it when you are older. Cheers!

    10.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

    I love your ideas, I was asked to teach a class on Art Journaling so your page is great to get idea. I as looked on some Art Therapy sites. Thank you for sharing you and your Ideas it will make my job easier

    03.4.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been journaling with my kids and grandkids for years now and have very much enjoyed the process. It has taught them how to take risks and to learn from the journey.

    05.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMyrta Harris

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