Wednesday, November 27, 2013

AJ Wednesday - Facing the Blank Page

Just to let you all know, I have no end point in sight for our journaling adventure together, I don’t want to be in a rush but I also don’t want to drag my feet, either.
I trust that you guys will let me know if I’m going to slow or too fast, if I'm including too much or not enough. I just want your place here, and this is your place, to be somewhere you come to let go and really immerse yourself in a true learning and growing experience.

The real first steps have mainly been covered when you found your journal and gathered your basic supplies. You will find yourself wanting to expand your supply base as you continue to art journal but begin with some of the simple supplies we discussed earlier.
IMG_1270Now it’s time to find a  place to work.

(←This is where I do most of my art journaling (and yes, it gets even messier than this, lol) but I have been known to take my art journal and a few pens to bed to doodle while watching TV before sleep. I know of quite a few people that do a lot of their art journaling in coffee shops and cafés, too.)

What you need to find is a place where you can spread your supplies out, and, if you’re using paint/inks, you need somewhere you can get messy and not have to worry about staining the table or carpet. Don’t forget about little hands (if you have them around), we don’t want them getting into anything.

It can be the kitchen table, the coffee table, in your craft room or art studio, it can be on a TV tray with your journaling supplies in a box beside you. It just has to be somewhere you feel comfortable.

Once again, don’t get hung up on semantics...use what and where you have available. There is nothing wrong with the kitchen table or on the coffee table.
Okay, now that you’re all settled in, let’s do this…

Everyone has to start somewhere and the blank page is where it all begins. For every single one of us. I remember the feeling of terror that would wash over me in the beginning when I was faced with the blank page. I beg of you…don’t do that to yourself. It is just paper. Nothing but paper.

The first step for most art journalists is page prep.
Think about these things:

  • are your pages thick enough?
  • Do you need/want to *gesso? (And what the heck is this gesso she keeps mentioning?)
  • Altering a book and need to glue pages together?
  • Using thin lined pages that need some extra umph?
Just be sure to take care of any of these issues before you move on.

Next step is the background and most of the time, the first step to that is adding color. So, let’s begin by putting some color down on that dreaded blank page…get it over with…you can add color in any way you want. If you have tons of scrapbook paper and want to use some of it as your color base, go for it. Glue it down. Collage different colors and make your page exactly what you want it to be. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake.

Image1Maybe you’re a marker person, by all means, use them to make your pages bright and colorful (or dark and mysterious...go with how you feel.) Or pick 1, 2 or even 3 colors of your craft paint, acrylic paint or break out your watercolors and spread beautiful, wonderful, fabulous color onto your page.
There are so many ways to get the paint onto the page. Of course you can use a brush or, if you’re using craft/acrylic paints, spread them around and cover the page using an old credit card or room key card to scrape the paint onto the page. You can use your fingers to spread it around or a sponge or wadded paper towel to dab and smoosh it all over the page.

Use some colorful inks and drip them onto the page so they splatter everywhere. Make your colors calm and evenly painted or grungy, scrubbed in and messy…it is your journal so it is your choice.

Here are two different pages of mine, one calm with a solid colored blue background and the other a little grungy with reds, yellows, and oranges together as the background. I love doing both...and more!

What other ways can you think of to add color or basically get your blank page from white (or tan) to a point that you’re not so afraid of it anymore? To a point that the colors excite you and make you want to experiment? Colorful in a way that speaks to you and makes you want to tell your story or reminds you of a quote or song lyric that means something to you. Maybe the colors make you think of that day at the beach or the mountains or in the rain.

A few words of caution…if you plan on writing in a particular place on the page, I would caution you not to use any wax based colors such as watercolor crayons, water soluble oil pastels and even most colored pencils. These can be hard to write over with most pens and will even clog up sharpie permanent markers and, my favorite, Sharpie or uni-Posca Paint Pens. Just be aware of that fact when adding color to your pages. (There are ways around this and we will get to that down the road a bit.)

I love art journaling and realize that when I found it back in 2008, I really found my passion. In the 6+ years since, I have learned not to take things so seriously between the pages of my journals. There really is no such thing as a mistake…just something else to work into that page.

Please don’t let your art journal be a burden or one more something to add additional stress to your life. Let it be the place that you can go to and unburden your soul, your mind, your emotions, your thoughts.

When choosing your colors notice that the colors you choose can speak as to your mood and your inner feelings. I have often noticed that I use reds when I am angry, blues and greens when I’m calm and peaceful, blacks and browns if I am down and depressed, yellows when I’m cheerful or happy, and I find that I do this subconsciously.

Last note, I hope that you won’t just do one background of color and stop, waiting on our next step…experiment, put a color layer of your choice on a few pages or more. Have fun playing with color combinations or different mediums…acrylic one page then watercolor on the next then go ahead and try gluing some great papers or magazine pages down on the next page.

For goodness sake, have fun playing. Remember what it was like to be a kid. Just relax and have a good time in YOUR journal.

Questions? Please ask…I’m here and I will answer.

Up next…the next layer (adding images and collage.)

For all my friends in the USA, tomorrow is Thanksgiving for us and I hope that each and every one of you have a wonderful day and that we each remember all that we have to be thankful for in our lives.

peace & love,

*ges·so [jes-oh] noun,
1. gypsum or plaster of Paris prepared with glue for use as a surface for painting.


  1. I am loving AJ Wednesdays! There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming and suck the time and motivation right out of me. Your simple, step-by-step suggestions are just what I needed to jump into art journaling and start creating on paper what I see in my head! Thank you!

    1. I am so very glad that AJ Wednesdays are being of use to you. I often wonder because no one seems to comment so thank you, thank you, thank you...I needed your words today. Lots more coming up, too.
      peace & love,

  2. I'm enjoying your series.... I've be AJ for about 5 years or so and it's fun to go back to the basics. Have a great holiday! BTW... not sure if you remember but I won a spot in one of our classes.... I'm going to be in The Villages early 2014... how close are you to there?
    Hugs, Emie

    1. Emie, I do remember that you won a spot in Into the Groove and am excited that you're doing some traveling, too. But I live way down in Florida so The Villages are nowhere near me, although I wish they were. :)
      peace & love,

  3. I follow too many blogs to comment every time on each blog I read but I wanted you to know that I'm enjoying your posts on art journaling. Keep it up!

  4. Barb, I just discovered your blog through a Pinterest pin.....what a crazy world the internet has gotten to be! I am sitting here looking at some blank pages and took a break to find something inspirational, and found your AJ Wednesdays, and Supply Saturdays. I will AJ with you guys for a bit. I am enjoying reading your posts. Keep 'em coming!

  5. Barb, I just found your blog through a Pinterest pin....what a crazy world the internet is these days! I cruised through some of your AJ Wednesdays and Supply Saturdays entries, and really enjoy your writing style, it's conversational and warm. So I will join you guys on this AJ journey. Makes me want to resurrect my blog. I'm going to be housebound for a few weeks for medical reasons and need some serious play time. Keep the posts coming...they are welcome!

  6. LOVE your site! I just sat down with a hot cup of coffee and am going to read until somebody stops me!

  7. LOVE your site! Thanks a ton for all your wisdom and generousity to share!


Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by. I am open to any comments, questions, suggestions, critiques, etc, so lay it on me...
Peace & Love,

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