Ive been wanting to start an artists sketchbook or art journal for some time now and have been putting it off. Come August 1st I decided I wasnt going to put it off anymore and that I was going to actually START doing my art journal instead of just thinking about it!

So here goes….

Seeing as Im setting myself a personal challenge Ive decided to drag members of my Art Ventures Group into having a go too!! Maybe blog readers might like to join in too?

Just incase I’ll share my notes which Ive made about this challenge incase any blog readers or anyone for that matter fancies it too…if you decide to play along why not leave me a comment and post the url to your sketchbook pages!?

Getting A Blank Journal Or Sketchbook:

First of all you need a good sturdy blank artist sketchbook any size you wish – but dont overwhelm yourself by getting a HUMUNGUS one! Less is more – the smaller the book the less space there is to fill!

Consider a ring bound sketchbook because it opens flat and enables you to work easier across 2 page spreads.

Regarding paper quality in your book, bear in mind your going to be doing a lot of gluing and painting so make sure the paper is good quality in it. If you want to do double sided pages (ie paint on the backs) your going to need VERY sturdy pages! You may prefer to make your own journal using good quality watercolour paper and bind it using one of the various binding methods out there…

If your paper isnt very thick in your book you could still use it, just dont use any heavy paints like acrylic and make sure you only add paints to one side of the paper.

If your paper is thin, dont worry as you can always glue 2 sheets together to make it sturdier!

Hints & Tips For Adding Background Colour To Pages:

Once you’ve got your book you need to get some colour on those pages!

I like to colour my pages in batches of 5-6 at a time using watercolours, the reason I prefer the use of watercolours is because they dont weigh anything once the paper is dry, and also their colours are very rich and they dry to a smooth finish. I prefer to use watercolours in tube formats – squirt a tiny bead of paint direct to your page and then take a paintbrush dipped in water to wash the paint across the page.

You can use watercolour pencils or crayons too, scribble blocks of colour using the pencil/crayon onto the page and use a brush to wet the colour and move and blend it across your page.

You can use any medium you wish however, acrylic paints work well, but bear in mind that some paints may add more weight to your pages – you could always water them down!

If you’ve got good thick sturdy card in your book then you may want to colour both sides, if its not as thick maybe just add colour to one side of the paper. Or glue 2 sheets together to make it a bit stronger first.

Another reason I like to use watercolours to add colour to paper as it is a great way to add vibrant colour to your pages without adding any actual weight to the paper!

To prevent curling and warping it helps to heat set your pages with a heat gun as soon as you’ve applied colour.

Also take care not to add too much colour to the spines of your books as it may cause weakening and make it tear.

If your only adding colour to one side of your pages then you may want to take advantage of the blank backside of the paper with notes – you can put the date on that you made the page and any notes about paints and colour mediums you used etc.

Pens Used For Journaling And Doodling:

Im still learning myself at this stage! But I’ll list my favourite pens which Ive found best for journalling and doodling onto sketchbook pages.

  • Sharpies & Fine Tipped Permanent Markers – these are all great for making nice broad strokes on your page. The best thing about these types of pens is that they will write over different paint mediums so if youve used acrylics these pen types will work well.
  • Gel Ink Pens – A personal favourite of mine! I love how they write in a fine line which is perfect for mapping out your large creative lettering as well as journalling. My favourite brands to use are Bic Crystal Gel ink pens – particulary the black pens as I get through loads of these! Also check out the Uniball Signo range of pens as they are lovely writers – I love the white one best!! Sakura gel pens are also another good investment! Ive found that its better to pay out for a more expensive gel pen than opt for cheapo ones as they clog up and dont write for very long!

Getting Started With Art Journaling:

Once youve collected all your bits your ready to go and begin art journaling!

If your at a loss at where to begin dont panic! It happens to us all – even me 🙂

First thing you might want to do is find some journaling or sketchbook prompts – these are great for jump starting your imagination and helping you get over the blank canvas block. I have written a page of journal prompts to get you (and me) started, for this first art journal I decided to make the theme all about me or you 😉 Click here for ideas and prompts for the Book Of Me Art Journal Prompts & Challenge.

Still at a loss? Why not try this idea which always works for me: get a notepad and on each page of your note pad write down one of the page prompts from the sketchbook prompts list mentioned above. Now on each page write down any thoughts or ideas which spring to mind about each of the prompts – it can be anything at all. Random words, poems, quotes, short stories, pictures, styles, images, memories – ANYTHING AT ALL! Dont stress about it or worry about being neat as your using your notepad as an ideas book to springboard your imagination. Once youve got your notes, read through them and see if theres any way which you can interperate them into your sketchbook pages!

Finally the best way to get inspiration is to look at other peoples sketchbooks! Theres lots of sketchbooks out there if you look on Google! Heres all the ones I have done for this challenge: http://trishbee.wordpress.com/category/sketchbooks/ and also here: http://trishbee.wordpress.com/category/book-of-me-sketchbook-challenge/. Or check out the stunning journal pages by Teesha Moore for gorgeous eye candy!