Diving Deep in Your Art Journaling Practice

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Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

One of the most beautiful gifts in my art journaling practice is the ability to transform my feelings on the page, especially by working in stages and layers.

Working over time and in layers creates a conversation between me and the art piece. I have to be open to what the art wants, and not try to force things. I stand back frequently, looking from a distance, and waiting. This process is deep, sacred, and cleansing for me. I’m excited to share it with you.

Mindful Art Journaling in Stages

First, I made an ink and string drawing (a technique I teach in Art Journaling 101.) That version of the page sat untouched for many months. Next, on separate days months apart, I doodled the triangles on the bottom left, and then added a light wash in blue and green high flow acrylic paint.

I liked what was appearing, so I added another layer of wash to deepen the values.

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I could have stopped here, but I needed to think through my feelings and find equilibrium. I felt relieved and more clear by the end.

Next, I added another wash of paint over my words in order to hide them a bit, that’s the photo you see below.

It seemed to me that the words should be even more hidden, so once the paint was dry, I began rubbing white gesso onto the page with my fingers. Using my hands gives me an intimate and direct relationship with my art. The black shape on the left page reminded me of a flower, and I imagined that the dots I drew were flower seeds floating away.

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After stepping back to take a look, I added more layers of gesso, again with my fingers. To get that smoky look, I use a pulling and dragging motion with the gesso.

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Next, I added some white dots around the edge of the gesso with my new favorite Posca pen.

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Soon the white started to feel overpowering, so I used the brush to do another wash with my high flow acrylic in blue.

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Then I added a little wash of sap green.

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And then suddenly it seemed to me the piece needed to drop down again into deeper tones. I used my new plexiglass palette to mix the colors right next to my page. It’s so convenient to mix the high flows on my table and then wipe them off when I’m done. I wonder if you would like it too?

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After that, it seemed that the dots wanted to multiply, so I let them. And then I stood away from it for a long while gazing at it from a distance.

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And then something magical happened…the paper cutouts! I loved the contrast of the translucent tracing paper and the opaque white pen against the depth of the green-blue shades on the page.

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I added more interest by layering the flowers. I glued the flowers down in the center, so that the flower petals could flutter and make little sounds with the smallest provocation.

I’ve always been fascinated by the many properties of paper, including the sound and texture,  and lately I’ve been experimenting with how I can use paper as a sculptural element in journals. This is an exciting step in that journey. It’s even more exciting knowing the the page started as a way to vent my frustrations, and turned into a piece that is full of life and whimsy. It makes me think about how changing my perspective and behavior can change my experience.

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I’d love to hear how you dive deep in your art journaling practice. Share about it in the comments and please share this post with a friend!


Art Materials I Used for This Page:

Moleskine Journal, Classic Colored Notebook, Large, 5 x 8.25

Golden High Flow Acrylic, Sap Green

Golden High Flow Acrylic, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, Transparent Line

Liquitex Gesso

White Posca Pen

Gel Pen in peach from Sakura Gelly Roll Souflee

Tracing Paper



Classes I Referenced with This Page:

Art Journaling 101

Fluid Art


Helpful Art Journaling Tutorials and Posts: 

Emptying Out, Filling Up

The Simple Art Technique I Just Can’t Stop Doing

The Guide to Creative Self-Care – My powerful, free class!



You can find more of my art and daily inspiration on Instagram: @amymaricle


Have fun with all these resources!

Creatively Yours,




*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you choose to click a link and purchase something, at no extra cost to you, Mindful Art Studio will receive a small commission to go towards our work to empower the artist in all of us.


  1. Lee Mears

    Thank you so much for sharing your process with this piece. I loved it when you first showed the finished product on facebook and how the petals fluttered. Now I love it even more. When I watch your talks it’s hard to believe that you ever get frustrated! You’re so calm and kind and friendly. That only goes to show that we all have frustrations or fears and how much our art helps us deal with them, at least some of the time! I’m 85 years old and have had problems with panic attacks for many years. Fortunately I have an excellent counselor and good “meds”. I am a member of an artist’s cooperative where I can show and sell my work. What a boost it is when one of my pieces sells! I’ve never done much with keeping journals. Mine have been more like scrapbooks, but now they are referred to as “Junk Journals”! So, I guess I have been journaling. Peace

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Lee:

      Oh I’m so happy to hear that you responded to this post. AND I realize by your comment that I probably ought to speak more about getting frustrated in art – I definitely have plenty of my own moments in art and in life!! I’m so happy you have the art and great support system to help you.


  2. Naomi

    I love your blog!
    I always feel peaceful when I see your posts 🙂
    Wishing you & your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Naomi:

      How lovely that I could bring you a feeling of peace! Thank you so much for that lovely comment and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  3. Chris Anthony

    Thanks for sharing the detailed process with this piece Amy. I love to watch you work and soak it all in like a sponge, learning as much as I can. I love the end result. Your art brings me much happiness. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family xo

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Chris – You know how to bring others happiness with your art and with your words. I wish you and yours a most happy and blessed Thanksgiving as well.

      XO Amy

  4. Aliya

    I am an Artist since I can remember but everyone scared me away from pursuing it as a career, I pursued Design which was quickly overtaken by computers that we used to hand render. I now work with Seniors of all types in Activities and push Art as an activity, stress reliever and creative some thing to leave behind. Unfortunately I often get the same “I’m not Artistic” response but after showing a step by step easy creative process, the residents can see how easy, creative and fun it is. That’s exactly what you illustrate….THANK YOU for inspiring novices and professionals! As an adult working full-time not in art it is so hard to make space and time for this passion. I keep buying supplies but hardly get to use them. I recently reclaimed my drawing table for Art Only as bills, my calendar/ planner and my son’s important papers used to take it over. Other than a stash of chocolate and candy people keep giving me it is Art Only!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Aliya:

      Oh I just loved reading this! I’m so happy that you are able to use art with elders and that you are reclaiming your art space. I find that makes a HUGE difference, as you know! What are you working on? Journaling?

      XO Amy

      • Aliya

        I just saw your reply and it’s Oct! I finally finished my nephews graduation present. An illustration with silhouettes of him dancing in front of the Philadelphia skyline and his name. On a regular basic I just like to play. After attending design school and working in the design industry, I have an anal retentive way of doing art. Before that I was a free spirited fine artist. I also make cards and want to illustrate and write my own children’s books after illustrating a few for other people.

        • Amy Maricle

          Aliya: It sounds like you have MUCH to offer the world. I’m so happy you finished the latest project and can’t wait to hear about the next. Maybe write to that free spirited artist you once were? xo amy

  5. Penney Mellen

    I just read your process on this piece. It’s so lovely. Yesterday I was tasked with creating a mood board as part of a business training….Your image was the first piece I chose. It felt serene as well as whimsical, two things that are at my core. I LOVE that you used tracing paper for the ethereal looking flowers!! I was exploring tracing paper this week too. There is so much to love about PAPER!! Thank you for sharing;)

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Penny: Oh how wonderful that this image could speak something for you. Vision boards are amazing. 🙂 🙂 And I agree, paper delights! xo


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