How to Start an Art Journal

Dear Diary, have you heard about art journaling?

It seems everywhere we turn these days, people are finding more and more ways to be creative.

From adult coloring books to art therapy, many of us are seeking artistic outlets to reduce stress and relax. This week we are taking a look inside the world of art journaling to help you get started in this beautiful and fascinating form of creative self-expression!

What is an Art Journal?

An art journal, or visual journal, can be anything you want it to be! Like a journal or diary, it is a place to express your thoughts, dreams, questions, fears, and ideas—what makes it “artsy” is up to you. Art journaling may include writing, drawing, painting, collaging, coloring, or all of the above. Simply put, art journaling is a form of self-expression that combines both images and text.

An art journal can be used like any personal journal, or it can be shaped around a specific theme. A garden log, musician’s notebook, collection of inspirational quotes, recipes, ideas for inventions—anything that you are passionate about can be the basis for a creative visual journal. Leonardo da Vinci and Frida Kahlo carried sketchbooks with them everywhere they went—you never know when inspiration will strike!

How to Start an Art Journal | San Diego, Ca | ECR4Kids GelWriter Gel Pens

Why Try Art Journaling?

Whether you’ve written in a journal every day for 20 years or are terrified of the blank page, visual journaling can provide a wonderful creative outlet. Similar to the meditative benefits of coloring, art journaling focuses the mind on the process of creating rather than the outcome.

There are no mistakes to be made or wrong answers—it’s purely about inviting your creative intuition to come out and play.  

Visual journaling is a common component of many art therapy programs, but art journals can be beneficial even if you aren’t looking for an intensive therapeutic practice. Art journaling allows you to experiment with different artistic techniques and styles, and provides a way of expressing ideas with more than personal writing. This can be an especially helpful way for kids and teens to process their thoughts and feelings. And, most importantly—it’s fun!

How to Get Started

You don’t have to be an artist to keep an art journal. You don’t even have to be able to draw a stick figure—really! One of the best things about a visual journal is that, like a diary, it is not made to be seen by anyone but you. There is no such thing as a right or wrong way to do it—you can doodle with gel pens one day and make a collage out of newspaper headlines the next.

All you need to get started is any kind of paper, notebook, or sketchbook that you want to use, as well as a few simple art supplies. Gel pens are ideal for visual journaling because they will write on any color paper, and can even write over dried watercolor or acrylic paint. With 70 unique colors in neon, pastel, glitter, and metallic, a set of GelWriters will get your art journaling off to a great start!

There are many websites and communities online with art journaling prompts to get your creative juices flowing. If you are intimidated by the blank page, check out this collection of ideas to help you get started. (A note of caution to new journalers: most of these websites contain pictures of art journal pages that look like they could be hanging in the Met. Rest assured, most of us mere mortals are more preschool than Pollock—and remember, your journal is only for you to see!)

We hope this inspires you to break out your GelWriters and start doodling your wildest dreams—don’t worry, our gel pens are really good at keeping a secret! If you love art journaling, we’d love to hear about it on Facebook or Instagram!