Visual Journal Basics

What is a Visual Journal?

A Visual Journal is much like any other journal or diary. It is a place where you work out and document your thoughts and ideas. The difference is you get to play with art materials. Color, line, movement, shape, images, and text combine in a unique form of creative self discovery.

A Visual Journal is a place for processing and experimenting. It is one of the few places in life where you can be messy and no one else ever has to know. It is a place where the final product is not measured in aesthetic merit, but in personal and emotional value. Keeping a Visual Journal is a priceless gift that you can give yourself!

Where do I begin?

1. Choose A Journal

  • Artist Sketchbook
  • Watercolor Book
  • Moleskin Journal
  • Composition Book
  • Heavyweight Drawing Pad
  • Unlined or Lined Journal

When it comes to choosing a journal, you have many options. I have found that working in a spiral bound book is easiest. The spiral binding makes it easy to lay your journal flat while working. It is also good to consider the materials you will be using in your book. For example if you would like to work with paint it would be best to choose a book with paper that can hold up to the water – such as heavy weight drawing paper or water color paper. If you like the feel of drawing materials the lighter weight papers found in a composition book or sketch book would work well.

2. Gather Materials

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Stamps & Inks
  • Collage Materials

Start by collecting art supplies you may already have in your home. (Feel free to raid your children’s art box.) Create a special place for your Visual Journal materials. It could be a box, a basket, a bag, a drawer, etc. It is important that you will be able to easily access the materials you will need when you begin working in your journal.

3. Enjoy The Process

  • Write
  • Paint
  • Draw
  • Scribble
  • Collage
  • Stamp

Keeping a Visual Journal can be an incredibly rewarding process. The process can be therapeutic, relaxing, stress relieving, & fun. It can be an amazing tool for self reflection and self discovery… If you let it be.

As you venture into this journey with yourself and your journal it is important to let go of the idea of right and wrong, shoulds and should nots, perfection, doubt or worry about what your image looks like. In this case the process is important not the product. Inside your visual journal pages anything goes. Use any materials you like in anyway that feels good to you. Let paint spill onto the page, color outside the lines, and let those “crazy” words and thoughts loose.

Trust yourself and have fun! Allow yourself to play around with different materials. Mix and match as you get more comfortable. For example you could do a pen sketch over a painted page or paint over a torn paper collage.

Tip: If you are using lined notebook paper you can hide those lines by creating a simple background. Your background can be made of glued down paper, a layer of acrylic craft paint, or a layer of acrylic Gesso. Once you have your lines covered up with the background of your choice you can create your journal page using any of your basic art materials.

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