Art Journaling Backgrounds: Messy Is Good


Art Journaling Backgrounds Messy is Good

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Lately I have been learning about the value of letting go. Art has a way of teaching you lessons if you are willing to listen. Watching very young children make art is instructive. They have no concern with whether or not they are “good” at art, whether they make a mess, and what the “product” looks like.

Recently I’ve been attempting to emulate this approach with my art journaling backgrounds. This idea of creating in a more unrestrained, child-like manner took seed in me when I wrote about being a more courageous artist, and has continued to develop. The results have been very exciting. I’d like to share some of my process with you.

Journal Blank Page

How to Paint Like a Child

1. Put on a smock, grab a glass of juice and a cookie, and get messy.

2. Move your brush in a haphazard way, bend the bristles too much, jab at the paper, make strokes too heavy and too light.

3. Work quickly.

4. Paint on multiple pages, circling back and forth between different projects.

5. Only work as long as you feel like it, leave your supplies out, and come back for a few minutes whenever the mood strikes.

6. Squeal with excitement at the unexpected things that appear on your pages. Love your art with enthusiasm, especially if it’s a mess.

Art Journaling Webinar: Click here to watch the messy background tutorial.

[bctt tweet=”Love your art with enthusiasm, especially if it’s a mess. -Mindful Art Studio”]

Here’s some of what I came up with today, using this method:


Free Acrylic Background


Gesso Journal Background


Fanciful Watercolor Background


Multiple Journals

This one is some light watercolor over the gessoed page.

Gesso with Watercolor


Watercolor Swirls


Messy Pink Background


Pink Journal Background


Starting Image

If you are detail oriented, you’ll notice that I have turned this one upside down. I liked it better that way, so I went with it!

Organic Mandala


Let me know what you think of the approach. What would happen if you made art with a bit of abandon? Remember to sign up for the webinar to learn more fun art journal background techniques this Thursday night!



  1. Dorlee

    Hi Amy,

    So sorry to have missed your webinar! I hope you’ll be offering another one soon (or providing on-demand access to the one you offered).


    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Dorlee:

      Oh, geez, I’m sorry that you missed it too! I would have loved to have you join us! But you are right, you can still catch it here on my You Tube. Let me know what you think, and also I’d love to hear what you would love to see more of in the future too because I will definitely be offering another soon!



  2. Dorlee

    Thanks so much for sharing the link, Amy!

    I look forward to watching your webinar.

    I’ll probably do it at some point this weekend with my daughter – it will be a fun activity for us to do together 🙂

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Dorlee:

      That sounds great. Doing art with my kids has always been one of my favorite activities. Let me know how it goes!



  3. Andrea


    I suffer of Cptsd since long time ago and casually a pair of years ago I found myself in front a clean sheet of paper ….
    Since I was a child I have always loved drawing …
    However, the point is that I begun drawing anything I was in mind: objects, animals, geometries, and so on…
    I realized a sense of well being, dued to the fact that the creativity process itself tends to take the mind out of the present time and space, and it is very helpful in the case your present is full of problems or you are severely afflicted .
    However, it can happen that you begin to challenge yourself in realizing an always better draw of a same item … Example ?
    I mean you draw a bird and than you say: oh it is not well made, it is ugly, I have to do it better !
    So you restart drawing the same item trying to do it better, and still on, much better again .
    Here it is that you want to demonstrate yourself that you are good in realize something, and concerning myself, at least, may be I am a bit perfectionist, however I can say that the therapeutical power of the art decreases rapidly to the absolute zero, or worst you begin to get frustrated by your work .
    Can you understand the paradox meaning of my words ?
    May be I am resulting a bit ” touched ” or weird, I don’ t know.
    By reflecting on the strange concept you propose, ” drawing like a baby ” …
    Well, I realize that It is not a so paradoxal concept, because in having the courage to abandon any acquired rules in the act of drawing that we tend to follow, and let the hand free to produce all the caos the mind also may have inside, at the and, it can give a more sense of pure freedom, a greater sense of liberation than the adult and structured way of drawing.
    I give you my excuses for the long text, I am trying to undetstand if I centered the sense of ” drawing like a baby ” that seems to me it is a great sense of liberation, so much more therapeutical power for those like me who make art to relief from pain.
    Did I understand, or misunderstood everything ?
    Has ” the drawing like a baby ” technique a greater relief power than the ordinary drawing, by breaking with any schemes ?

    My apologies for my English that’ s actually out of order, hope I will result quite understandable …

    Ciao ciao .

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Andrea:

      I’m so glad I’ve caught your interest with this idea. think I mean give yourself permission to create without expectation. Like children do. See how this is for you. You may like it or not, it’s about discovering what works for you personally.
      XO Amy

  4. Lisa J

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have never done mixed media or any art for that matter. I am very interested in giving it a try and have a 12 year daughter that I will be joining me. I like the idea of an art journal and I love the idea of just approaching the start with messiness and giving it a go. No judging, no apologizing, just pure child like messiness.
    Thank you so much,

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Lisa:

      I’m thrilled this speaks to you. The messy backgrounds are so much fun and leave so much room for what you can create with them. Working in stages this way has brought me a lot of art, and a lot of fun! Let me know if I can point you in any other directions. If you aren’t already, you can take my free art journaling and creativity class here: The Guide to Creative Self-Care.

      XO Amy

  5. Karolin

    Enjoyed looking at tһis, very gooⅾ stuff, thank you.



  1. Work in Layers in Your Art Journal - Mindful Art Studio - […] A “messy background” is one of my favorite page starters. […]

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