15+ Ways to Art Journal {+Journal Tour!}

Hello, dears!

I’ve been looking forward to making this post for… well, I guess over a year! I first started this art journal in February 2019 and finished it May 2020. I haven’t shown you the process of filling it up because it was a surprise! I actually made this as a gift for my friend Aria. I gave it to her the night before her wedding and she loved it and I loved making it and ahh, this project just means so much to me. โค

I’m not going to show you every page because that would be tremendously long, but I wanted to select a few (relatively speaking) that will hopefully inspire you guys if you’re thinking about journaling for yourself! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, well, keep reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you enjoy scrolling through these journal spreads and hearing more of the story and ideas behind this book, as well as a list of page ideas you can use in your own journal or sketchbook. Let’s go!

NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, the price wonโ€™t change for you, but I get a small commission for advertising and you get to support this blog for free!

When I first came up with this idea, which I’ll talk more about in a minute, I knew I wanted to get a really nice journal to work with. I found this leather journal on Amazon which worked wonderfully for me! I loved how special the leather cover and bound pages made it feel. It really added to the experience for me as well, whenever I got to carefully unwind the closing strap and fill up a page.

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I didn’t make this cover page until I had finished the journal, since I wasn’t sure what I’d want to say here. I ended up just cutting title letters out of hand painted sticker paper and I must say, I LOVE the way it turned out! I’ll have to do this with other quotes and words.

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The first page I did in the book was the blue one on the right. I wrote Aria a letter explaining the project and what I hoped it would be. After I finished filling it in May 2020, I wrote a longer, fold-out letter on the left side explaining it a bit more in-depth and giving her a little preview of what was ahead – it turns out I started this journal right before she met her now-husband, so as you read, you get toย  watch their story as well as mine unfold throughout the whole book. โค

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Now let’s get to some of the pages! I’m leaving out most of the letters, life/diary entries, and other such writing and mainly showing you guys the more easily enjoyable artsy pages. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are some ideas on how to fill an art journal.

1. Lyrics

There are plenty of ways to add lyrics to a journal, but here are two of them. ๐Ÿ˜€

Left: I first made the sketch; then wrote a short lyric on sticker paper, chopped apart each letter, and stuck them all down individually. It takes a while but works super well for layering on top of existing artwork. Right: Aria plays guitar, so I copied down the lyrics and chords to an Andrew Peterson song I love, then added some washi tape and gel pen lettering. Super simple.

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2. Flyers, Pamphlets, Programs, Etc.

This might technically be a junk journal instead of an art journal, since it’s not just art – it’s full of… everything! Even if you don’t view yourself as “artistic,” you can still make a visually interesting journal by adding bits of your life, like papers, that are already made.

I stuck in a map of a huge furniture shopping mall thingy on the left, and a free watercolor flyer from Hobby Lobby on the right. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  You can also use tickets, programs from plays, notes or envelopes you’ve received, etc. Make sure to attach them so you can still open them up if you want! I’ll probably do another art journal posts on pockets and other ways to include ephemera like this. Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ˜€

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3. Drawings/Sketches

If you DO enjoy art (it doesn’t matter whether you think you’re good at it or not – do you enjoy it??) a journal is a great place to add random drawings or record stories in picture form.

Right:ย A drawing of a plant Aria gave me, showing how long it was. (I believe it’s now 15 feet long instead of 4. O.o Hmm… a plant growth chart page?? XD) I also drew a random flag design for my siblings, who were part of a made-up team/world at book club. ๐Ÿ˜› Left:ย A watercolor sketch of our tree in spring that year. And some doodles I made while I talked to Aria on the phone, heh heh. She had no idea I was working on a journal for her…

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4. Stories, Real or Fictional

If you’re more into writing, write down some of your short stories or plot outlines to look back on. I copied one of my favorites, “Pond Poems,” from this post, and printed out a photo to go along with it.

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5. Create Collages

This is one of my favorite types of art journaling. I love collecting magazine pictures, pretty paper, washi tape, packaging, book pages, photos, seed packets, and anything else that goes along with the theme of the page to create art without actually drawing anything. You can buy the mushroom sticker sheet here (in 1st photo), and a set of verse cards (2nd photo) here on my shop. ๐Ÿ™‚

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6. Quotes and Poems

Another pretty obvious but super fun one. If you want to add a page but don’t know what to write, consult your quote journal (see this post) and add one in! I wrote part of a poem on washi tape on the left, and used acrylic paint and a brush pen to illustrate one of my favorite quotes on the right.

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7. Add Texture and Touch

I stuck in some bubble wrap and a bit of rosemary for this spread. You can add in things to do (like popping bubble wrap) or just interesting textures to feel or look at, like feathers, faux fur, etc.

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8. Include Favorite Scents

Fun fact: if you paint a little bit of the laundry soap you use for your clothes onto the page, the journal will smell like your clothes and maybe your house. ๐Ÿ˜› In several places I also taped herbs like lavender or sage and ahh, it’s lovely to turn a page and smell them.

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9. Make or Follow Drawing Tutorials

I didn’t do much of this, but I think it’s a fun idea to show the way you draw a certain thing or your technique, favorite paint colors to use, etc. You could also just look up some tutorials online and enjoy following them on a page or two.

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10. Make List Poems

These are maybe the easiest and most fun kinds of poems to make! On the right page, I just wrote down a bunch of phrases and memories that reminded me of my childhood. It makes me so happy. โค

You can’t really see the left page, but maybe I should explain because it looks a little concerning. :[] It’s an entry from March when Dad called the ambulance because Mom’s heart… well, it’s kind of a long story, but the short version is, she had a cardiac arrest years ago and by God’s miraculous grace, healed almost completely, except now one of her heart valves needs to be repaired and she’s having surgery June 25th. O.o I will definitely talk about this another time in a less off-topic post, but I did want to mention it here. *deep breath* Sorry about the rabbit trail –ย  But truly, journal about your life. It’s amazing to look back on it all and see God’s hand at work. Okay. Now, where was I…?

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11. Make Favorite Lists or Doodle Tips

Left:ย I doodled several ways to use up leftovers because I thought hey, this is a good thing to remember, right? Drawing or doodling the tips makes the page extra interesting. Right:ย Record your current favorite movies, books, music/playlists, etc. These are fun to look back on and refer to.

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12. Take Notes

If you take notes during sermons, lectures, classes, etc., and there’s something you particularly want to remember, stick it in your journal! You can copy them in a prettier way if you want, or just add them in as is. This isn’t exactly notes, but I remembered a really good analogy from a past sermon and journalled some thoughts + illustrations to go with it.

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13. Use Your Extra Papers

#1: A cute little concept sketch for some art I was working on + word art design I ended up remaking. I still liked the drafts, though, so I added some flourishes and made a page out of them!

#2: I like folding up, cutting up, or otherwise including coloring pages as part of the journal since I don’t know what I’d do with them otherwise. ๐Ÿ˜›

#3: One of my favorite ideas is to save your paper towels from painting! I just think they look so pretty, particularly when you’re using a limited color scheme. I think these were test paintings or drafts as well. It turned out to be one of my favorite spreads!

#4: I included parts of our church bulletins as well as a song sheet from a retreat I went to. Hopefully you get the idea. Use this journal as a space to remember and record and SEE your life. Put in anything.

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14. Make Random Collections

These pages were all so fun! For the first one, I stuck random stickers on the left page and other paraphernalia on the right – candy wrappers, small paintings, packaging… It’s just fun, especially when you add little notes and opinions to the elements. I also collected my MANY post-it note designs into a “sticky quotes” page which is a fun and easy spread idea. And even better: a washi tape swatch collection! On this page and the following (not shown) I stuck strips of basically every single washi tape I owned. It’s a lot – I might have a problem. :[]

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15. Make a Flap Memories Page

This is a great way to remember details of a vacation or day trip. I have a weirdly specific memory when it comes to details from time and conversations with friends, so I had fun illustrating bits and pieces and then writing the corresponding memory underneath the flap so it gives you a chance to try and remember it first. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Also a helpful layout for recording inside jokes and such. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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16. Use Pressed Flowers

I LOVE using pressed flowers in my journal, on my envelopes, taped to my wall… I just love flowers. XD Go out and find some buttercups or something and press them for a beautiful background.

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Miscellaneous Tips

  • Add page numbers with sticker paper at the end. That way you can put it over top of whatever art or collage you already have on it. Easy. (But SO time-consuming, sheesh.)
  • Have a footnotes section in the back. I went back and added comments on some of the pages if, for instance, I had updated information (or opinions) about something I wrote.
  • Sort your Table of Contents by date. My book was a jumble of tons of different topics, so it was hard to sort them in a conventional way. Sorting by year and then month worked well.
  • Record the original weight of the book at the beginning and then again at the end (if it’s a junk journal). I stuffed so many papers and ephemera and goodies into this that it literally gained ONE POUND. O.o Not to mention it hardly closed at the end. XD But it’s so satisfying, isn’t it??

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Phew! That was quite a jam-packed post! I hope you guys enjoyed that partial tour of my first completed art journal. I had so much fun filling it and it was definitely a good motivation to be filling it for a purpose and a person. But my new art journal is just for myself, which is also fun.

I realize I didn’t really explain the concept of an art journal that much in here, so I’ll definitely make more art journal posts in the future, but until then…

Do you journal in some way? What was your favorite idea from this post? Are there any related topics you want me to cover?

Thanks so much for reading, dears, and have a lovely day!

***Allison***

P. S. Photos taken with myย Nikon D3400ย and aย 35mm lens. Edited with picmonkey.com.

88 thoughts on “15+ Ways to Art Journal {+Journal Tour!}

  1. I LOVEEE this post, Allison! I would love to see more posts related to art journals.
    Now I realllyyy want to start one.
    It’s so sweet (and such a good idea) that you made this beautiful journal for Aria!
    I was wondering, about how long does it take for you to complete a page/artwork?

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    1. Thank youuu! Yay, because I hope to make some! ๐Ÿ™‚ YES, you should totally start one – they’re so fun and relaxing to do.
      Aww, thanks! We both really enjoyed it.
      Good question! Well, it completely depends. If I’m just doing a sketch, maybe 20 minutes or so?? If I’m doing an elaborate collage spread, it can be, like, an hour. O.o Sometimes I stick in a flyer so that’s super quick, and sometimes I cover the whole page with art and writing. So really, it depends on how you want to fill your journal! Sometimes I come back to a spread and finish it later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooo cool! Thank you for sharing! Yeah, I agree that it does depend on the type of art.
        For me though, it seems like whenever I make art or do crafting that I take foreveerrr (and it’s not even super impressive XP). Well, like, much longer than needed or necessary. I guess I just need to practice and do it often? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜†

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        1. Ha ha, I get that. Yeah, I’m sure practicing would help you figure out the best method to be more efficient, but at least… hey! That means you get to make art for longer! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. This is literally one of the kindest, most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. I just loved seeing all the pictures so much and I bet Aria was so incredibly blessed! What an amazing gift! I think I might have to try it sometime! ๐Ÿ™‚ You are so creative โค

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    1. Agghhh thank you SO much. *melts* I’m super glad you liked the photos, dear! It was super special for both of us. โค Ooh, that would be amazing! You're so kind. โค โค โค

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  3. Amazing Allison It’s beautiful…..Keeping a journal is fun and an art one adds more colour, feeling and beauty to it. There’s gonna be lot of memories ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. As it happens, I started journaling but then it was too secret and everyone wanted to get their hands on the journal, so I stopped. But reading this post has really inspired me. The best idea I think was the painting laundry soap to make the pages smell good. I really like laundry soap’s smell and I think this fact Is really cool. I really liked the paper towel idea and I am curious. Can you tell me more about it? I am really sorry for your mom. Hope she is completely ok now. I really liked this post. Though I loved your creative art, I really wanted you to explain more about your paintings and drawings, they fascinate me( the eye drawings, tree, flower doodle etc). Gosh! I said a lot didnt I? Well ,cause your post was so interesting ,that’s why!

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    1. Ohhhh, that’s too bad. Yeah, I can see how that could be an issue but thankfully my family doesn’t come into my studio to open up my notebooks or anything, so it worked fine for me. I’m glad you liked the laundry soap idea! That was fun. Yes! So I use paper towels to blot off excess paint and water when I’m painting, so at the end of a project I have a colorful paper towel. I let that dry and then cover the journal page in glue and smooth down the paper towel on top. And there you go! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you soooo much. โค She is in surgery now but as far as I know it is going well! Oh, that's a good point! Yeah, I didn't explain much about the art in this post. If you want to hear more about that, you can check out some of my sketchbook tours, like this one: https://afarmgirlslife.com/2019/10/02/art-dump-sketchbook-tour/
      I love your comments! They're so kind and thoughtful. โค Thank you for reading!

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  5. Ooh, this was so fun to read! I love how aesthetic the entire journal turned out! What a unique & thoughtful gift for Aria! I have a journal thing that I write in sometimes, but it’s not at all aesthetic. XD Maybe I should work on making it more so. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, I’ll definitely be praying for your mom today! I hope her surgery goes well! โค

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Hannah! Ahh, thank you! Ha ha, honestly your journal sounds amazing just as it is – it totally doesn’t need to be aesthetic. ๐Ÿ˜› I just had more fun making it that way! Thank you so, so much. โค It's going well so far.

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  6. This is an absolutely beautiful idea. I know I would cry if someone did this for me. And now I want to do it for someone. Even though I have no artistic skills and I also don’t really have anyone to give it to… but it’s so, so gorgeous! And your art and poetry is so amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Aww! โค That is so sweet. Honestly, as long as you can write, you can do this… write letters and thoughts to someone or glue in things they might find interesting. And THANK YOU. โค

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  7. This is a such a lovely idea for a gift. I am sure Aria must have been thrilled to receive it. I do maintain an art journal, but it mostly just includes real life snippets and sketches. Sometimes I stick concert/movie/flight tickets, but that’s about it. I absolutely love the idea of using lyrics/quotes/things like flowers – I bet it is a more thrilling journey to revisit journals with things that remind you of a time that was. Thanks for the creative ideas!

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  8. Oh my word, that is so precious!! I am sure that Aria REALLY appreciated this; I think this could be one of the best gifts that you could ever give to a friend. โค I really enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures; lovely post!

    ~Esther

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  9. This was so fun to read! I journal/write down quotes but it’s not really artsy at all… maybe I’ll change that someday (: This seems like an amazing wedding present, so I guess I should start one for all of my friends for their weddings someday XD

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  10. I love how “messy” this journal is, but it also has all these bits and pieces from your friendship over the years. So special! It all looks amazing and I love all the creative ideas. Definitely wanting to go journal now ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll be praying for your mom โค

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    1. Yes I love that about it too! โค Thank you so much! And thanks even more for your prayers. โค She is out of surgery now and it went great! PRAISE GOD. โค Now we're just praying for a smooth recovery.

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  11. Oh my goodness… this is beautiful! I love to journal, too, but I’ve never done anything like this!!! Just wondering… were you able to do watercolor directly on the journal pages?

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    1. Aww, thank you so much! Yes, it worked pretty well with light washes of watercolor (like the plant + flag design page), but if you watercolor more regularly, I would recommend the second journal I linked because it has thicker pages. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. GAH. I love journaling, so this is amazing!!! Haha, Greenfront snuck in there! Also, hurrah that you like Winnie the Pooh. Too few people appreciate that these days :). Lovely art! I do journal, although I made my own journal and add page sections when needed. I love the quote and poems idea, because I absolutely LOVE good poetry and quotes. Also the collages, because I put tiny collages throughout my journal and make larger ones for other things :). And the stories…and all of the other things, heh. :p
    So happy your mom is doing well!!!!

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    1. AGHH THANK YOU SO MUCH. Heh heh, it did indeed. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Couldn’t forget Greenfront. Yes, I love Winnie the Pooh! You’re journal sounds absolutely lovely! โค I want to make my own journal sometime but I haven't yet. Yes, good poetry and quotes are wonderful! And collages. And yep. XD
      Thank you so much! I am too. โค

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  13. Your art journal is so neat! It looks like you had a lot of fun creating it! I think I may try doing this. I have SO many notebooks that I have not even used yet! Maybe I’ll finally have a use for them. ๐Ÿ˜„ Can I also just say that I like Winnie the Pooh, too?
    And, I am so sorry about your Mom. I will definitely be praying for you and the whole family. I hope that all goes well with the surgery. โค

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    1. Thank youu! I sure did. โค Ooh, that sounds like a GREAT idea! Also HA, yes, Winnie the Pooh is great! *nods* I love how timeless it is and able to be appreciated by all ages. The books especially are just so sweet and funny.
      Thank you so, so much! Good news – the surgery went super well and she is resting up in the hospital now! Thank you so much for praying. โค

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  14. This is really cool. And itโ€™s so amazing that you made it for a friend! I donโ€™t know what I would do if someone made something like this for me.

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  15. That is such an awesome gift idea!! And oh my goodness, that journal is so so beautiful! *heart eyes* Your gift of making things just look beautiful is so amazing!! Wonderful post! โค

    -Laura โค ๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. OOOHHHHHH I LOVE THIS!!!!
    I would love to do something like this for a birthday for a friend or something. So awesome and so beautiful, Allison! How special, too! โค

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  17. I journal, but it’s mostly writing and stickers (my fave). Your art journal for your friend turned out really beautiful, I love the colorfulness of it! I liked the combination between picture/texture/scent/pictures. Thank you for sharing you tips!

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  18. wow! your art journal is absolutely amazing! i love these ideasss!!!! thank you so much for sharing๐Ÿ’ž

    Follow @everythingtips for tips and recommendations if interested! It would mean a lot to me!๐Ÿฅบ๐Ÿค

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  19. There are so many nice ideas here. I have not been the most dedicated person in journaling, maybe because I always have so many other writing and creative projects going, but I love your ideas and seeing what you did with your journal. I’m sure your friend Aria loved it. A good friend of mine is a journaling enthusiast, and I’m going to share your post with her. It’s nice to see that you are a fellow believer. I enjoy Andrew Peterson as well.

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    1. I loved this comment, Susan! Thanks so much for taking the time to write it. โค
      I'm so happy you enjoyed this post! Ha, I totally relate to having soo many other writing and creative projects going. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That's why I don't journal as much as I want, although at least bullet journaling actually *helps* me with the projects and time management! Aria did really love it – I was so happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks ever so much for sharing the post! Ahh, that's wonderful! It's lovely to meet you too. And yes! ๐Ÿ˜€

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      1. Maybe, that’s what I need, bullet journaling for time management. ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ™‚ I certainly could use some help in that area. It really is lovely meeting you. My friend is eager to see your post, and I think she would also enjoy your “creative pen pal ideas.” I know she corresponds with several.

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        1. Ha ha, maybe so. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ME TOO. Gahh, right now I am just so busy so I need SOMETHING, ha. Aww, that makes me so happy! I hope she enjoys my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed talking with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

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