Why Every Artist Should Art Journal? – Facebook Live Recording

I had my first public Facebook live yesterday! If you missed it, watch the recording below. As this is a live recording via the Facebook app, the quality of the image and the lip sync aren’t brilliant. If you are interested in art journals and using them for growing as an artist, it’s worth watching!

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Moleskine Sketchbook – Another Full Art Journal!

Rococo inspired page on a Moleskine Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

I just finished my red Moleskine Sketchbook. It always feels like an accomplishment when an art journal gets full.  So I’m happy to show a couple of photos and a flip-through video of all the pages!

Moleskine Sketchbook as an Art Journal

Moleskine Sketchbooks are one of my favorite books for art journaling. The paper is sturdy, and it can be used with a variety of supplies. I use mostly watercolors, acrylic paints, colored pencils and PITT artist pens. But I also use inks, gel pens, hand-decorated papers for collages, etc. The small size is handy for quick pages and easy to put in a bag. However, sometimes the size is a little bit too small, especially for acrylic paintings. So I also use other journals, especially large Dylusions Creative Journals. The paper is very smooth, so it’s not ideal for watercolors. But I don’t mind that too much, I use a little less water to make watercolors work with the paper. Some prefer coarser paper for colored pencils but I love how effortless it is to color the pages in Moleskine Sketchbook.

1960s inspired page on a Moleskine Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

The Purpose of an Art Journal

For me, art journals are little more than just sketchbooks. I like to call them “idea books” as I often process my ideas further when I am working on the page. I don’t always make one page on the same go, but work with it several times, adding more ideas as the page progresses. However, I have quite low expectations on how my pages will look. They are not pieces of art but more like collections of ideas to me.

As you can see from the flip-through video, my ideas are often connected to art history and different styles. The first photo of this blog post shows a spread inspired by Rococo. The second photo shows a spread that I made after browsing designs from the 1960s. Even if I sometimes write short stories or make notes about my current thoughts, I mostly write about beautiful things that I have seen and visualize the ideas I have gotten from it.

My art journals are not chronological diaries but random visual notes that I process to full images. I can make a quick sketch of a rose one day and then continue the page with painting on the other day. When I am working with a new art class, I use art journals to record my visual ideas and practice the techniques. I also see creating art journal pages a route to bigger paintings. When I paint on canvas, I use the ideas that I have come up with when making the pages. Every artist should also be an art journaler!

Flip-Through Video

Create Step by Step!

I have gathered all the most popular free step-by-step instructions and all my flip-through videos on a separate page. Go to Create Step by Step!

Draw Your Own Coloring Page

2 art journal pages created with the same idea, by Peony and Parakeet

These two art journal pages have been made in the same way: drawing simple lines and shapes and then coloring them with colored pencils. This is a fun exercise especially for those who like abstract art and want to show it in their art journals, and for those who are into coloring but want to create more personal images.

A) Draw a Coloring Page!

Drawing an easy coloring page in 4 steps, by Peony and Parakeet

With a thin-tipped drawing pen, create lines and shapes:
1. Draw a wavy line across the page.
2. Draw another wavy line in the opposite direction.
3. Add 1-2 angular lines on the top. The example above has only one long angular line.
4. Add some circles and squares in an area where you want to turn the focus.

B) Color Freely!

Choose your color scheme and add layers of color.

Coloring an art journal page with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet

Add even more layers …

Coloring an art journal page with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet

C) Add Journaling!

With a drawing pen, add your thoughts on the page. You can erase lighter areas for the journaling.

Journaling on a colored art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

My page is about my latest visit to an art museum. They are such inspiring places!

An easy art journal page, instructions by Peony and Parakeet

Get more coloring instructions: Buy Coloring Freely!

Art Journal Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

Every time I buy a new blank sketchbook, I get the feeling that I should not make a mess on it. But then, my art journals are meant for maintaining artistic inspiration, and messy making is part of that too. I often create pages in many phases and my art journals are never perfect in a way that they would have high-quality art all over. But I think that the imperfections make the books more approachable and more inspiring.

On this video, I show pages of my two Moleskine sketchbooks. If you are new to art journaling or would like to introduce this wonderful hobby to your friend or relative, share the video!

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Video: See What You Think

Are you searching for art inspiration? Are you wondering what to create to your art journal next? Let the pen move and see what you think!

Inspirational Drawing is built so that you can enjoy developing the three dimensions of creating:
1) increasing your imagination
2) improving your technical skills
3) using inspirational source material.

You will learn a creative process in detail through art journaling exercises. Course videos will not only show you how to do, but I also talk about the emotions and the inspiration behind them. I will answer your questions and help you adjust the process so that it will work for you. You can start enjoying free drawing without wondering what to draw or how to draw. The process itself will take care of that!

>> Sign up now!

Art Journaling with Colored Pencils

Being Alive, an art journal page made with Cretacolor Aqua Monolith watercolor pencils by Peony and Parakeet

My latest art journal page started with new colored pencils and rambling thoughts of the latest news from Helsinki: the architecture competition of Guggenheim Museum has ended and now there’s a big debate whether the city of Helsinki should finance the museum or not. I did not mean to include the winner building on the page, but you know how it goes: once you think something, it will appear! See the black element in the right!

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Watercolor Pencils

Last Monday I went to the biggest art supply store in Helsinki to buy some paper and see if they had any Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Watercolor Pencils. I had bought one pencil about a year ago just to see how it works. After many months, I noticed the growing use of that pencil. So now I was thinking to buy a couple more. It turned out that they did not sell the pencils individually anymore, so I bought the smallest set of 12.

Creatacolor Aqua Monolith Watercolor Pencils

As you can see from the picture, these pencils are nothing like ordinary colored pencils! They are not wooden at all; they only have a thin lacquer coating! For me, it took some time to get used to how they feel when holding them. But once I got over it and started treating them as any pencil, (pressing lightly and creating multiple thin layers), I noticed that they work great. These pencils are soft enough to make the coloring pleasurable but not too soft for detailed work.

Creating an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Using Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Pencils.

It is fascinating that you can also use shavings if you add a little bit water to them!

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Watercolor Pencils

My art journal page was made without water – these watercolor pencils work well that way too.

Creating an art journal page with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet

All of my colored pencils fit in two jars as I usually use them all at the same time, no matter what their brand or type is.

Adding Journaling to the Page

I was drawn to green tones even if I was thinking of the city view. There’s something magical when the tourists arrive Helsinki in the spring. They make shy and withdrawn Finnish people more friendly and helpful. When the hard winter is over, everybody is willing to make a fresh start.

While continuing the coloring of the page, I thought about cultural institutes and their events. Whether it is a city full of tourists or a concert hall full of audience, it feels alive and uplifting. It gives me energy and inspiration to create once I get back home. I felt drawn to the word “alive” and decided to add some words to the page too. By erasing some areas after coloring, I created areas for writing.

Erasing places for writing when art journaling with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet

For me, being alive is a visual thing. When I am using my senses, I see images. When I draw the images, I feel alive.

Being Alive, an art journal page made with Cretacolor Aqua Monolith watercolor pencils by Peony and Parakeet

Create an art journal page with colored pencils and words by answering:
What does make you feel alive?

More art journaling with colored pencils! >> Buy Coloring Freely!

Using Fabric on Art Journal Pages

So Much Gardening to Do, an art journal page that uses fabric pieces. A fabric collage by Peony and Parakeet
At this time of the year, at the beginning of summer, there’s a lot to do in the garden. I started early this year, but recently there has been so many activities that I feel I have neglected the garden. This guilty feeling also showed up on my latest art journal page!

This page is made on a spread of Moleskine Sketchbook, so the image is fairly small, about 10 inches in width. A special feature here is that I have added two small cotton fabric pieces to boost my imagination. Using the technique of fabric collage was just a sudden idea, but I love how the page feels when touched!

Creating fabric collage with fabric pieces and freehand drawing, by Peony and Parakeet

I attached the first fabric piece at the early stage. Golden Soft Gel Gloss Medium was used for attaching the fabric.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

After attaching the fabric, I doodled with a black drawing pen to get the creativity going.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

When I began coloring, I realized that I want to create a spread instead of a page. So I attached another fabric, purposefully a bit different from the first.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

While coloring the page, I added more details. As my garden looks wild at the moment, I wanted to show the growth on the page too.

Tulips in the garden

Here’s one corner of our front garden. Tulips bloom beautifully, and peonies (my favorites, of course!) grow fast.  Lots of weeding to be done!

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

Why not try some fabric collage in your journal?

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Art Journaling with Still Lives

Stay Still, the art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

For the last couple of years, I have feel drawn to still lives. I even have the Pinterest board of the ones that I especially like. I used to think that old still lives are very conventional but they really are not! There can be anything happening in the painting, like a squirrel running on the table, and there can be a wide variety of objects too. And even the flowers look magical! Art journaling has a lot to learn from the old masters.

So, I thought it could be a fun concept to create still lives by applying the tips from the previous blog post.  I could combine odd paper pieces and doodles with text and create surreal art journal pages.

A detail of an art journal page spread, by Peony and Parakeet

I kind of like how this first still life combines conventional elements like flowers with the more surreal ones, like the eye. The same contradiction is also seen in the colour scheme: bright purples look mystical when combined with olive greens and warm browns.

Group the elements!

The principal of composition in still lives is simple. Just group the elements closely together!

Unfinished art journal pageMy art journals often have unfinished pages with elements here and there. This page had some doodles and a small illustration that I had drewn for a surface pattern. I often glue odd pieces to my art journals to save them. A page like this can be a great starting point for a still life!

I started working this page by adding the text so that it creates the vase for the flowers. I emphasized that with colored pencils. Then I colored the soft background with colored pencils. The softness is a great contrast to the graphic element on the bottom.

2 art journal pages by Peony and Parakeet

The third still life is formed around a doodle found on another page. It included just the bird and the flowers. I added the pot, stamped the text, colored the doodles with colored pencils and finally created the background with markers.

Why are these pages so fast and simple?
1) The starting point does not have to be grand, just some doodles, or paint, or odd pieces of paper.
2) Stamping few words tie the oddly placed elements easily together.
3) Coloring does not have to take a lot of time when it adds something new to the page.

More still lives
Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting – my video introduces an easy method which is especially suitable for surreal still lives and landscapes
A Formula for Composition – another way for creating a still life
Stretch Your Style – instructions to step out of the comfort zone, showcasing one of my favorite still lives

Visual Chronicles and Fast Art Journaling

In the newsletter sent 5th November, I mistakenly sent a wrong link, here’s the link to the latest video

An art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

In Finland, the weather got colder last week and I got a terrible flu. It is so frustrating to be able to do nothing but sleep. Being healthy feels so important then!

If there’s anything positive in lying down and doing nothing, it’s the creative break. It is weird how much processing time some things require. In 2006, I saw a new book in Amazon.com. It was called Visual Chronicles. It was nothing like I had seen before and I felt strangely drawn to it. I was mesmerized by the concept of creating relaxed pages combining text, paint, simple illustrations and photos. Art journaling was a new word in my vocabulary.

Visual Chronicles, an art journaling book by Linda Woods and Karen Dining

I took the book everywhere. While reading it, I tried to understand what it is actually about. I picked a blank book and tried to fill its pages. It was so disappointing to see how horrible my pages looked and furthermore, I did not have good time when I created them. I browsed the book over and over again. I could not get it!

But I did not give up. During the time I bought more books and made more experiments. I also noticed that there seemed to be other people doing the same thing. I took some online courses and finally… My first art journal was finished in 2010! (See the journal and my first blog post about art journaling)

Four years of agony! And now when I read Visual Chronicles, everything that I had learned stands there so clearly! However, there was still one thing that had been bothering me from 2006. The pages in the book are very simple and still I find most of them visually appealing. But if I tried to do the same, the end result was nothing alike.

After sleeping two full nights and the day between, I finally figured it out! It is the stamped journaling that makes the pages stand out in the book! I had never tried to stamp the words as I have always hated handling the alphabet stamps. But I do own two sets and had many pages waiting for journaling!

Using alphabet stamps in art journaling

Now I am hooked!

My mind is like a paradise, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Sometimes my mind is like a paradise”

My life, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“My life, my problems”

Small changes, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Small changes, big impact”

Swim like a bird, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Swim like a bird”

Visual Chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino is still one of my favorite art journaling books. It does not take art journaling too seriously. Linda and Karen also have a blog which is written with the same humorous attitude. “If you are alive you have succeeded” is one of their recent advices. While still recovering, it feels very relevant at the moment!

Tips for fast art journal pages:
1) Divide the making of the page into three phases: a) doodling with a black pen b) coloring the doodles c) adding the text
2) Use colored pencils for easy coloring. A Moleskine Notebook and the colored pencils work really well together.
3) Add the text by grouping stamped words with the doodles. Use big and small stamps to create contrasts.
4) Let your personal history of art journaling get recorded into your journals! If I could turn back time, I would not toss those first pages.
5) Buy the book: Visual Chronicles

Art Journal Inspiration from Children’s Books

An art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about finding inspiration from children's books.

The art journal spread shown above is created from hand decorated papers, colored pencils, and markers. The main message here is “You can ride with your imagination in any way you want.” As it implies, I like my art journaling to capture dreams and fairy tales, not so much everyday life.

Mini-Worlds and Fantasies

I think that an art journal can be childish and playful. The way I see it, children’s books are the predecessors of them. Children’s books also combine illustrations and text to create mini-worlds and stories. I love to add both decorative and naive elements on the same page, and children’s books are great inspiration for that!

Read more about finding inspiration for art journaling from children's books.

I buy used children’s books from recycling centers. They cost only a few euros (few dollars). That is a fantastic value considering all the inspiration they can give. I pick the books that have a lot of good quality illustrations. As I love detailed drawings, I try to find books with sharp lines and many details. Browsing children’s books can be a good practice for finding your artistic style. Pick the books that you feel most drawn to and then list all the things they have in common. I prefer books that have matte pages because I sometimes create collages from them. Then it is good if I can draw or paint on them.

Illustrations from children's book and a collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about finding inspiration from children's books.

I made the collage on the right while teaching at a workshop last fall. It’s one of the pages where I have used the papers from children’s books. I often give few pages from various books for each participant of the workshop. It’s much easier to start creating when you don’t need to stare blank paper.

That little explorer resembles anyone who is entering the world of children’s books!

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