An art journal is a collection of decorated pages along with writing or journaling that is bound together to make a book. It can be made from an old book by covering the pages with paper decorations or by just using a blank scrapbook or sketchpad. I've found many blank books at discount stores for a dollar or two.
Some folks use them like diaries or daily journals or to keep track of to-do lists, exercise and diet goals, poetry, recipes, songs, quotations, and other bits and pieces of writing. Unlike traditional scrapbooks that emphasize decorating a page to show off photographs, art journals are directed at illustrations and the written word.
They are wonderfully inexpensive to make. You can use all the scrapbooking supplies you already have. All scrapbookers have collections of leftover scraps of paper, stickers that didn't get used, and decorative embellishments and ribbons filling up shoeboxes. They are all the things that that we don't want to throw out but don't know what to do with. Art journaling can be the answer. Make beautiful gifts and get rid of some of your clutter.
If you're not a scrapbooker, then use illustrations cut from magazines or old books you can find at library sales or the flea market. There are lots of old books with beautiful pictures where pages are missing or parts so badly damaged that the books can't be used for anything but scrap.
Almost any scrapbooking or artistic technique can be used in art journaling; try rubberstamping, printing, layering, chalking, stenciling, embossing, and all the rest. Most pages are in the collage tradition with layers of papers and images with writing and embellishments here and there. If decorating the outside of the journal, then three-dimensional techniques can be employed. Some consideration to your materials must be made if you want the book to close. The Internet has lots of examples. Type "art journaling" into any search engine and you can find hundreds of examples.
As art journaling is all about writing, it is a great opportunity to use all the beautiful pens and markers every scrapbooker has. Neatness and perfect handwriting doesn't matter. This is the place where your unique scribble will add interest to the pages. If you're thinking about a gift, then you might want to just decorate the pages and leave the "journaling" part to the person receiving the gift.
Children love art journaling because anything goes. They don't need to stay in the lines or cut neatly. Students use them to keep track of their school year. They can add newspaper articles, sports memorabilia, party invitations, movie tickets, and even photographs. No need to be as formal as a traditional scrapbook.
There is no right or wrong way in art journaling. It's entirely up to you. They can be any size, color, or theme you choose. Some of the best ones have no theme at all. However, if you want a place for all your ideas about the perfect house, plans for your next vacation, or goals for the future, then art journals are perfect. You can create as many as you like for almost nothing.
So the next time you're looking at all that scrapbooking paraphernalia that you're not using, think about art journaling.
Georzetta Ratcliffe is a business teacher, freelance writer, and avid scrapbooker. In what's left of her free time, she volunteers at the local Independent living center.
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