Thursday, January 21, 2016

Choosing Your Journal

First things first...

In order to Art Journal, you must first have a journal or, at least, some type of paper on which you can journal. If you are new to art journaling and you have looked around the internet or your local bookstore, you may be quite overwhelmed with your choices. So lets cover some of the more popular choices...


  • Moleskine (or similar) bound journal- these come in different paper types...thin, writing type paper can be found in the ruled, squared, plain styles so if you plan to use wet media (paint, watercolors, inks, sprays, etc.), these wouldn't be your best bet. If one of them is what you already have, go with it (we'll cover how to thicken up those pages later on.) Moleskine also has the sketchbook and watercolor journals. Both are great choices for wet media with no real prep-work. (The Moleskine sketchbook is one of the first art journals I used.)
  • Handmade Journal- depending on the type of paper, these can be a great choice. (*See paper types under the Moleskine journals.) Also, the binding of your handmade journal is something to consider...copic bound and comb/spiral bound journals will lay flat while you work in them. Others bound in different ways may not be as easy to work in if they constantly pop-up or have to be held open.
  • Loose pages- Some of my favorite art journalists use loose pages and bind them later (check out Roben-Marie Smith.) This can be a great option, if you are sure you can keep them together. You can choose the paper type (watercolor paper, cardstock or even file folders which hold up great for journaling) which is a huge plus.
  • Composition notebooks- this is what my first art journal was. The paper in these is regular notebook paper so it's thin and won't hold any wet media on it's own. You can gesso/glue 3-5 pages together and then gesso the thicker ones in order to get them to stand up to wet applications. Not a horrible choice but definitely one that will take more time and work.
  • Altering an old Book- this is probably one of the cheapest ways to art journal. It will to make your art journal a really individual journal of your art and your life. Hard back books are really cheap at thrift stores and your library book store. As with Composition notebooks, you can gesso/glue 3-5 pages together and then gesso the thicker ones in order to get them to stand up to wet applications.
  • Etc.- Some of the less thought of art journal ideas are: index cards, rolodexes, calendars and datebooks, cereal boxes/food packaging that you’ve torn down. You may think of some place to journal that I haven't covered and that's awesome. Go with it.                    
    (img from
    A Colorful Journey)

Choosing your art journaling canvas is a very personal thing. Look at what type of art journaling you plan on trying out in/on your journal choice. You'll need thicker paper if you want to use the wetter media but if you're planning to only use pencil, charcoal, colored pencil, pastels, thinner paper will be just fine for you.

If you don't know what you'll be using because you're just getting started, my suggestion is to use a thicker paper...that way you're prepared, no matter what.

If cost is a limitation (as it is for so many of us these days), use what you have already. You can make anything work, I promise. If you need help making what you have work, leave a comment and I will give you suggestions and ideas.

The size of your journal is also something to consider. Do you like the idea of large pages that you can fill with lots of stuff and lots of journaling?  Is a tiny place more your style? Do you not really have an idea of what you want? If you are a bit confused or unsure of what size journal you want, my suggestion is to go with a middle size, 5"x7" or so...not so big it's overwhelming and not so small that you feel constrained.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Be sure to leave me a note. Your comments are the best feedback there is...and it will let me know if I'm covering everything you want/need to know.


Now, go find your journal.

Next up we're talking supplies!

Peace & Love,

1 comment:

  1. Barb, I've started following your blog, I followed a link from pinterest. I really find your art journal pages inspiring (previous post) I've only been art journaling about 12 months and I really like the idea of making my own art journals, with a variety of papers. I have only made one myself, with old book cover that I bound with my papers. So I would love any posts to do with cover choices, binding ideas, etc. One thing I have difficulty with is the heavier watercolour paper is difficult to bind in signatures. Can't wait to see more of your art and handmade journals.


Thanks for stopping by and joining me at the Art Journal Cafe. I appreciate your comments tremendously and hope you'll make this a regular stop in your blog reading.
Peace & Love,