5 Ways to Begin (and Finish) an Art Journal Page

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

One of the most common issues that folks run into when they first start trying to keep an art journal is how to begin an art journal page. Some people have too many ideas, some have none at all, and lots doubt their artistic ability. Art journaling is a beautiful practice because it welcomes us ALL – artists and non-artists alike, to record thoughts and feelings, explore, and play, in visual-written form. So how do you begin (and finish) an art journal page? I want to share 5 simple and fun ideas that will help you create expressive, beautiful pages.

ART JOURNALING IDEA ONE: Your Words in the Stars

  1. Write all over the page. Let it all hang out. Write the deepest, silliest, craziest, boringest stuff down that is swimming around your heart and mind. Give it over to the page. It can take it, because it’s your art journal! But if you are worried about someone finding the deepest secrets of your heart, worry not! We are going to cover it up for safe keeping.
  2. Paint your page black. Grab some black paint, high flow acrylic, or ink and paint over the entire page. Use a dryer to speed up this stage if you wish.
  3. Make your personal galaxy of stars. Use a white gel pen or a paint pen to create your own personal galaxy with what I call “dot clouds.” Let your dots (stars) cluster together as feels good, or look up some photos of the galaxy for a point of reference.
  4. More ideas with dots and doodles: You may also like the idea of creating with a buddy. Check out this collaboration I did with another artist for inspiration.

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    ART JOURNALING IDEA TWO: Adult Finger Painting.

    1. Use 2 – 3 similar colors – like a couple of blues and a green, or yellows and a red or you might end up with mud.
    2. Give yourself permission to play and tune into your senses as you paint. Notice the feeling and the smell of the paint as you push it around the page. Focus more on what feels good than what looks good.
    3. The one word. When it’s dry, use a brush or paint pen to write one word that summarizes what your experience felt like.
    4. More playful art: You might also check out this post on making watercolor and string prints in your art journal.

    ART JOURNALING IDEA THREE: Natural Object Tracing

    1. Trace a natural object that is meaningful to you. I’ve used shells and rocks mostly, but you could also do interesting shapes with acorns, dried flowers, or fruit. Imagine the fun of a banana page! Use a permanent drawing pen like a Micron so that it doesn’t bleed when you add other elements to the page.
    2. Trace the object multiple times on the page, or in multiple sizes. You might overlap them, or make it neat, or chaotic.
    3. Paint around the objects with a color that makes you feel peaceful.
    4. Paint in the objects with a color that matches and makes you feel happy. You’ve just created a cool pattern page in your art journal!
    5. You can find more ideas on making art journal pages with natural object inspiration here and one on making natural object sculptures here. I also have a whole Pinterest board on patterns where I save tons of inspiring ideas.


    1. Cut up one of your own art pieces. You might use circles, stripes, or squares.
    2. Glue the pieces on the page in a way that pleases you.
    3. Pull the page together with paint. Use watercolor, acrylic, or Neocolor crayons to create unity on the page. Pick one of the colors in your cut up art piece and keep the number of colors you use limited so that you bring the whole piece together.
    4. There’s a bunch of fun and easy ideas for art journal pages right here.

    ART JOURNALING IDEA FIVE: Meditative Art Journal Painting

    1. Choose your favorite color in acrylic or watercolor and a small, round brush.
    2. Keep a loose grip and paint circles. Hold the brush LOOSELY, and paint loopy circles (or another shape) all over the page. It helps me to pretend I’m a small child when I do this in order to keep my marks looking relaxed and almost primitive.
    3. Keep painting and overlapping your circles until you feel loose and the page is getting covered. While the page is still wet, mix a lighter version of the color using a bit of white, and layer a few lighter circles on top of the darker ones.
    4. Make your pattern consistent. Keep your circle placement feeling either very chaotic and unplanned, or very orderly and graphic, otherwise it might feel stiff. Be sure to run your pattern off the edge if it’s meant to feel chaotic.

    Still Overwhelmed About How to Start? I made a class just for you, The Guide to Creative Self-Care, and it’s FREE:

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      I hope this helps getting you creating today! Let me know your other good ideas for starting your art journal pages.

      Creatively Yours,


      *The products linked in this post are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, if you choose to click and purchase something, you’ll be supporting the work of Mindful Art Studio to empower the artist in all of us. Thank you!


      1. Edward Shumate

        Art journal? Me? Yes! Some pages of my journal, maybe more than a few, have turned out terrible, but there are other pages that have surprised and inspired me. Thank you.

        • Amy Johnson Maricle

          Hi Edward:
          Thanks so much for stopping by! What you describe sounds just like good art process, right? There’s definitely a lot of stuff that isn’t aesthetically pleasing, and we have to work at it, focus on the process, and the golden nuggets will appear. I find the more I focus on process, the more I enjoy my art as a whole. Thanks for being here and happy creating! XO Amy

        • Malisa Gomez

          What do you recommend when selecting a journal? Can you use any book? E.g. agenda or old calendar etc.

            • Becca

              I literally stuck at art. All my journals are just pictures cut out and glued in OR a TERRIBLE DOODLE LOL

              • Amy Maricle

                Hi Becca! It sounds like you have creativity in you, and also a very vibrant inner critic. If you want, you might ask her to have a cup of tea and watch a movie while you have a good time doodling or pushing some paint around in your journal. You might find it’s more fun and you like what appears more. I find I love my art most when I focus on the process over the product, and strangely, this makes room for me to practice more, and then I improve my skills faster. We are all different but given that you are commenting here, I thought I’d offer what works for me. You might also like my free class Making Beautifully Imperfect Art

      2. Kelly

        Hi Amy I think I’m scared to ruin my journal☹️I want to be creative but don’t know how to start?

        • Amy Johnson Maricle

          Hi Kelly:

          Gosh, I know just what you mean. You are not alone. It can be scary to face that white page. I’ve made it my job to help people out of this stuck place. If it feels to scary to start with the exercises I’ve given here, I’d suggest starting with my mini course: Freeing the Muse. It’s all about helping you to overcome the fear of the white page, ruining it, and all those anti- creative thoughts and feelings that can creep up. I think it will break you out of this stuckness. Please let me know how it goes if you decide to dive in.

        • Ruth

          You can’t ruin it. The good thing about using acrylic paint or really any paint except for oil oh, is that you can paint over it, or you can just so over it. Black gesso is extremely wonderful to put over things you don’t like.

          • Amy Maricle

            Yes, Ruth. I totally agree. I love the fact that there’s always a do over, another page, another canvas. xo

      3. Valiel

        I loved this ideas. Great for unstucking people like me who don’t know what to do or dare. 🙂 Thank you.

        • Amy Johnson Maricle

          Hi Valiel!

          Oh I’m so thrilled that these speak to you! It IS hard in the beginning. You are just building your skills, your confidence, and your visual vocabulary. Having a bit of structure can really help! You may also like the ideas in this post on 5 minute drawing and painting ideas.

          XO Amy

      4. Charmaine

        What weight of paper is in your journal that you can paint on it without is wrinkling?

        • Amy Johnson Maricle

          HI Charmaine! It’s great to have you here! I love painting on watercolor journals and Moleskine Art Plus journals. They are the ones pictured here. You can find those and some of my other favorite art journaling supplies here . I’m here if you have any other questions and I’d love to see what you are exploring. Happy creating! XO Amy

      5. Jolanda Epskamp

        During this COVID 19 isolation, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, my usual creative expression involves needles and yarn, but I decided now was the time to take the jump into the mixed art journal that was in my cupboard for over a year.
        This site is giving me soooo many ideas and is helping me get over my fear of the dreaded white pages

      6. Deborah

        Hi Amy
        I too have been journaling all year during Covid quarantines. Is there anything creative to do WITH the journals when they are done? I hate just having them sit on a bookshelf.

        • Amy Maricle

          Hi Deb – Well for me, an art journal is in its essence, a book, which of course inhabit our shelves. However, if you don’t like that, I suppose you could extract bits and pieces and make new art pieces from it, collage style perhaps. A deconstructed journal. Happy creating! xo

      7. Erica

        What a lovely post! I love these ideas.

        • Amy Maricle

          I’m so happy it speaks to you! xo


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