Art Journaling

intro to Art Journaling – the BELLA way (long post)

Hiya sistahs,

Today I wanted to talk a little about ART JOURNALING and how it has changed my life.  Honestly, it really has.  I want to show you that it is not something to be scared of, intimidated by, nor is it something you should avoid.  I am going to talk to you about how I started, what triggered it, what keeps me going, who inspires me etc.  So grab your Starbucks, have a seat and enjoy the journey.  ok? OK!

Approximately 2 years ago, we had an event in Bellaland and one of our friends/customers Anna W. (I will always “blame”/”hug” you for this obssession sistah!) showed Dena and I a VERY empty journal of hers that she brought with her.  The pages were sporadically done (you don’t have to start at the first page.. I just open my journal and start from wherever I open it), different mediums used and at the same time, quite impressive.  Dena and I immediately ran to the book store to get some books that Anna suggested we start off with.  My first reaction was.. “ARE WE CRAZY??”… what are we getting ourselves into???  I am the FURTHEST thing from an artist… let alone a writer (although I do enjoy writing :)).

Well, of COURSE, since I immediately became obssessed, I immediately began doing some research.  Some MAJOR research.  One thing I do love to do is learn everything i can about the subject I am interested in.  I swear I am a walking encyclopedia at times.. (do Encyclopedias still exist?)…  The great thing about art journaling is the inspiration you can find everywhere.. artists who have different styles who can teach you different techniques.

First and foremost I have to thank KELLY KILMER as she was my first and continuous stop on this journey.  Her journals are BEEYOOTIFUL.. and she expresses herself via collage which is so LIBERATING.. finding images that pertain to you.. using your embellishments.. YUMMMM.. she teaches amazing online classes too which I have taken 🙂  I recommend Kelly HIGHLY!

I am also inspired by one of the pioneers in art journaling- TEESHA MOORE.. you can detect her style from a mile away!  Also involving collage, paper piecing of sorts, image altering.. so colourful.. so amazing!

Julie Balzer is a WEALTH of information and so talented and the fact that we have her designed stamps makes me so proud.  Her use of color, her boldness, fearlessness, her product knowledge is incredible!

Christy Tomlinson– has just hosted 2 online classes which are life changing as well.. playing with product, color, stamping, paper piecing  .. you name it!  Take a look and see! you will not be sorry! and she has a 3d class on the way!

Daisy Yellow – lots of fun and also extremely inspiring..

Ihanna– is so much fun!! so full of information

Now please forgive my definitions, opinions etc.. they are VERY subjective.. I am speaking from my perspective only so I am not sure whether I am right or wrong in describing what art journaling is but I am definitely going to tell you what it means to me and what it has done for me.

Some people are not comfortable with writing/journaling yet they still feel like they need to express themselves somehow.  Enter VISUAL journaling or ART journaling where you can express yourself via an artistic process..  The greatest thing about art journaling is that it is YOUR place to dive into.  You are not being judged for your work, you are simply enjoying the process and MORE IMPORTANTLY, ALLOWING yourself to enjoy the process.  Accompanying your art, you can write as well.. whether it be a word, a quote.. something to symbolize your feelings and mood but there is no necessity for prose.  no pressure at all.

An art journal can also be a place where you test out product.. you know those bags you have brought home full of product that you have yet to touch because you don’t know what the results will be?  Well, you can test it out in your journal!  colour, splotch, spray, scribble, dab, wipe, color, stamp, paint, glitter.. you name it.. again, it is YOUR own place to hang out in… it doesn’t have to be perfect.. it doesn’t have to be a “layout”.. the process of  “designing” your page should not be stressful.. should be fun , exploratory, and exciting!

Ok so how does one get started in this mysterious Art Journaling bidniss?

Well, the first thing you need is an Art Journal, of course! A journal is a very subjective thing.. you need to love it when you look at it.. when you hold it.. when you hug it.. so the only thing I recommend for one is that it has heavy pages in it so that it can take the “abuse” of mixed media….  you will see if you like a spiral, if you like “connecting” pages like in a moleskine.. or simply loose water color pages you can bind later on!

The STRATHMORE VISUAL journal is one option.. they have different types of papers for different things you want to play with!  Not only that, but if you explore the website, there are amazing art journalers on there giving FREE classes for inspiration!  Take a looky! Explore! have fun!

As I mentioned, you can also use an old book, a MOLESKINE journal (my FAVORITE in SKETCH and in WATERCOLOR), a leather bound journal etc.

I don’t have my journal here.. but take a look at DENA’s SCRUMMY YUMMY DEELISH moleskine (this picture does not give it justice).. OMG I want to marry it..(see I am already going back to my baby roots…LOL)

Now if the pages are thin, you can always coat them with a coat of GESSO.   Gesso is a primer for your page.. makes the page stronger and thicker while creating a white background with ‘tooth’ to grab on to whatever media you decided to layer on top of it!

Now I don’t want to give EVERYTHING away, as I am going to make this a regular post.. every monday we will discuss… now not only will we discuss, we will be INSPIRED.  And what I mean by that is that I would like an excuse to play more often in my journals, rather than thinking about what medium to buy next (I can’t help it!!). and in order to do that, I need to CHALLENGE MYSELF.. and along with CHALLENGING MYSELF, I was thinking of challenging da sistahs as well.  So, every monday I will post an art journaling challenge and the following week, if anyone wants to share their work (no pressure at all as this exercise is meant not to stress you) I will post on my blog with PLEASURE.. and I will post my work as well.

The first challenge will be to use children’s CRAYONS on your journal page.  Now I am not going to limit you.. you can use paint as well, cut out words, scribble etc.. but I want at least one element of your page to have crayon on it.  Think about what you can do with crayons besides scribble?  Sharpen them and take the shavings and glue on your page randomly or in the shape of something?  Sharpen, place on your journal page, lay a piece of wax paper over it and iron and see the results! play play play!

The reason why I want to start this with crayons is because I want us all to go back to our childhood.  How happy were we when we opened a brand new box of crayons.. the smell, the colours etc..Some artists actually keep a box open next to them to inspire them..

The most amazing thing about children is that they are not intimidated by colour, paint, paint brushes.. they hold the brushes as they wish to, they dip in any colour that they feel like at the moment.. and I want YOU to become like that as well!

So that is this week’s challenge.  I don’t want you to be scared.  I want you to enjoy.. relax and take this journey with me.  I am here for all questions as well.  Now you may feel *ahem* weird scribbling with crayons or doing any of the prompts I will ask you to do.. but I want you to get all of that out of your minds.. forget it.. just DO.. I promise you will feel SOOOO GOOOD… PLOMISE!!!

So who’s in?




  1. Kurlygirl says:

    I’m so glad you’re going to be doing this each week! I’ve been toying with the idea of starting an art journal, but haven’t bought supplies yet. I think this will be a great way to dig deeper. Sometimes I have no words for my thoughts and emotions and I think this would be a great way to explore those. This is going to be a great addition to your blog! I’m off to check out your links.

    ~Heather 🙂

  2. Laura Evans says:

    Me, me, me! Saturday! LOL

  3. Helen says:

    Excellent post, Emily! I think this is a great idea! 🙂

  4. Pinky says:

    I finally started one. This journal is just for me. Almost every card I make I give away. Almost every scrapbook page/book was done for family or friends as a gift. This journal is all mine. We will see where this journey takes me. Thank you for opening my mind to the idea. Love you!

  5. Vicki Burns says:

    I’m in, I think. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! You know I’m good with words for expressing/making a living, not so much with the other stuff.

  6. lindaH says:

    gotta go buy me some crayons! (my kids are 21…we don’t have crayons in the house anymore!) WHOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!

  7. Anne Porretta says:

    Wow! Fantastic post, Em! Thanks for some links I haven’t visited yet. I’ve been art journaling for a long time and love to see everyone’s different approaches and styles. I’m in! Now to dig out those crayons . . .

  8. marnie says:

    i just bought a mixed media book about 4 weeks ago with big intentions then i got over whelmed . i am a child of the 70’s and when i started school i was always told if you can not draw you can not do art . slowly after years of buying scrapping / stamping i am learning you can be arty and express your self with things other than drawing,but now you have inspired me to get messy and color outside the lines .than you Emily i will be excited to follow you Mondays

  9. Julie says:

    I will be doing this challenge! I just bought crayons yesterday to do this: Made from MELTED CRAYONS!!!!

  10. Rhian Lowe says:

    I finally started an art journal!!! So now I have more of a reason to play with it. Excellent idea, I’ll be creating! Hope I can keep it up.

  11. Dena says:

    Awesome post… Can’t wait to get going!

  12. I am soooo in…I will do it!!

  13. I am so inspired to get to this….now the key element is to do it! like Nike SAID “Just do It”….I think I will get a journal for my daughter (9), she loves to paint, I put slabs of dry wall up in our unfinished basement for her to paint on…..I think she will love this idea, and she’s always saying these quotes…her brothers laugh at her but I think she’s a doll…this will be a nice thing for the two of us to work on together…off to find some journals. Thanks EM!

  14. anna w says:

    you are so funny! Love your ideas, talents and energy!!

    Miss you!

  15. jenlynnie says:

    where are we linking up our journal pages?

  16. NancyW says:

    I have to tell you that you – Emily – opened my eyes up to art journalling about 2 months ago when I was looking around on your website and saw “Blogs I’m addicted to” and went over to Julie Balzer’s blog. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this whole concept, the freedom of just painting/stamping/writing/putting down whatever you want in a journal is so amazing. I’m completely hooked. I’m so glad you are doing this on your blog on a regular basis! Yeah!!!!!

  17. Sheryl (MileyCasey lol) says:

    Just bought my crayons – it’s been at least 35 years since I last had some just for myself – the box still has the trusty sharpener!! I’ve got my journal and I am good to go!!

  18. paula says:

    I bought my crayons! God only knows how I plan on using them, but I have them. woohooooo for saturday with the girls!!!

  19. Emsworthgrl says:

    I’m in bought my journal and found my crayons now to start umm so many possibilities…where to start! i will do this !!
    Thanks for inspiration and this is going to fun in summer

  20. iHanna says:

    Em, thanks for a great post about art journaling, it’s my big love too, and thanks for the mention! I appreciate it! 🙂

  21. Bobbie says:

    Yay! I’ve been wanting to do this for so long but needed someone to push me into it. Thanks!

  22. Corey Robert says:

    I’m in! Just kinda started a page, but I’ll add some crayon!

  23. Tracy Valure says:

    I can totally appreciate your discovering MMA and doing loads of research! I did the same thing a few weeks back. I always loved the way these art jounals and canvases looked but kept thinking that I couldn’t do them. I’m so use to card making and coloring with copics. Then I saw Linda’s Art Journal and I was hooked. I too have been on so many blogs, watched so many videos and have now purchased a small fortune in different coloring mediums! I plan to do my FIRST journal this weekend and I can’t hardly wait. Not enough hrs in a day! Thank you for diving in and I LOVE Art Journal Mondays! They are so inspirational!!!
    Tracy Valure

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