How to Create a Gorgeous, Authentic Art Journal Page

Free Art Journaling Class

Hello You Wonderful, Creative Soul:

This is a post I have been wanting to do for you for some time: a free mini art journaling class and tutorial! It’s a step-by-step tutorial for creating a gorgeous, authentic journal page with no canned stamps or stencils. I promise it will be FAR easier than you think.

Let’s do it!

Gather Your Art Goodies (Materials):

(Isn’t goodies such a more appropriate term for something so fun?)

  • Art journal (or just plain white or colored page if you don’t have a journal.)
  • Watercolors (I’m using block watercolors, but if you have a different kind that’s fine.)
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush
  • Plain paper for pressing
  • Paper towel for wiping hands or any messes

Optional Art Goodies:

  • Chalk pastels or Conte crayon
  • White gel pen or paint pen
  • White gesso

Create Some Simple Shapes on the Page:

1. Choose a color and paint a simple shape a few times randomly on the page.

Watercolor Shapes

(I chose a leaf shape.) You might do a circle, square, oval, triangle, or amorphous blobs. The shapes may overlap or not, run off the page or stay on.

I have better luck with my compositions when I try keep them a bit random looking. Play. Leave some white space. When you paint your shape, don’t “color in” your whole shape. We are going to layer in some other colors.

2. Choose a second color and “color in” some of the white space you left inside your shapes.

At this stage, I added more leaf shapes, as the page still felt a bit empty.

You can also choose to add a third color. For mine, I brushed in a little brown into some leaves and a little purple into others.

Try different things and see what you like. If this feels intimidating, have a scrap paper nearby to experiment before committing on your page.

Remember though, even if you don’t like what comes out right now, things are going to change a lot, so hang in there.

Watercolor Shapes 2 Tones

3. Cut about 12 inches of string.

Place it in your water cup and get it wet all over. Squeeze out all the excess water.

Next, press the string directly into a WET watercolor square to transfer the color to the string. Do this with 1 – 3 complimentary shades that are pleasing to your eye and get color on different areas of the string. Don’t be too exact.

String in Watercolor

4. Lay the string down in any random pattern on the page.

Then, place a plain sheet of paper over the string and press.

If the string is very wet, it will “melt” and “splatter” a bit. If it’s dryer, you will see more texture from the string. Follow your own taste and experiment to decide whether to keep it more wet or dry. There’s no “right” or “wrong.”

Press String with Page

You will end up with a “print” of the string on your journal page, as well as a print on your pressing page. You may want to use these pressing pages for other projects – they are so beautiful!

Press your string into your page as many or as few times as you wish. Again, you can experiment on scrap paper, or just go for it in your journal.

String Painting Impressions

Optional Embellishments

You might decide that you like your image as is right now. If so, then STOP. Don’t overwork it. Start another and take some more chances. This is a quick process, so experiment and have fun with it.

5. Choose a color (or two) and fill in some of the white spaces in between your shapes and your string marks on the page.

String Painting Fill In

String Painting 2 Colors Background

6. Use chalk pastels or conte crayon to accentuate a few areas in your painting once the watercolor is dry.

This will create more depth through highlights and lowlights.

You might create interest and detail with dots, lines, and areas of texture using a white gel or paint pen. (I like Gelly Roll from Sakura. You can find it online or at any art or craft store.)

Or, you might also decide to write in meaningful words, phrases, quotes, lyrics, meanderings, or questions somewhere on your page. Make several of these pages and play around with different options.

Another fun idea for those who have gesso on hand is to brush a bit over certain areas to “mute out” the color. I’ll have to try this next time!

Drop by in the comments box with any questions or clarifications.

String Painting Chalk and Pen

String Painting Detail

Isn’t this juicy and fun? I’m so into purple right now and combining print and paint techniques. What’s inspiring you right now? How does being creative help you feel better? Do you paint it out? Dance it out? Write it out?

If you want more fun, check out my Art Journaling 101 class.

What’s got you inspired these days? How are you making time for creativity in your life? Or, why aren’t you able to make time? Connect here in the comments below, or share your visual art with us on the Mindful Art Facebook group or on Instagram with hashtag: #mindfulartstudio

Thank you so much for going on this little art adventure with me. Please be sure to drop into the comments and tell us how you liked it and what’s happening in your art world today!

Happy Creating!



  1. Simona

    This is beautiful. I am inspired.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Simona:

      Thank you SO much for reading and taking the time to comment, it really makes my day. I’m so glad that you found it valuable.

      I wonder how you will use it. Will you experiment with the technique in your own art? Use it with your kids? Or are you an art therapist looking for ideas to use with clients? I crafted the post with all these ideas in mind. If you feel so moved, I love to hear back from folks about their results.



  2. mary muir

    That is a great idea I will try it – I have also done it with using the white crayon as a resist – before painting love your ideas

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Mary:

      I saw your name and it was SO familiar to me. It looks like you are doing some fabulous work and workshops with elders from what I can see on LinkedIn and other sites. I wonder how you think this technique might work with elders? Would you make any modifications? The wax resist with crayon is also a lot of fun. Thanks for putting that idea in the mix, and for taking the time to read and comment!

      Happy Artmaking!


  3. Peg

    Hi Amy! I’m delighted to have found your site via Pinterest. I just read thru this exercise and am looking forward to having a go. I like that I can’t plan the outcome, that it will be truly random once I lift the paper. My idea is to see what imagery shows itself for me to continue on with the page. I need the randomness, no plan, use my right side brain activities as much as possible! Thank you for sharing this activity and I look forward to looking around your site!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Peg:

      I’m so pleased to have you here! I think you have a great plan and can’t wait to hear more about what you come up with!
      Be sure to also check out our private FB group, Creative Self-Care.



  4. Crystal

    This was wonderful.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Crystal:

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂 Happy creating! XO Amy

      • Anshu

        I love the play of colours Amy the choice of colours !!

        • Amy Maricle

          Hey Anshu! Thanks for being here and taking the time to write. I’m so happy you enjoy! xo

  5. Tina

    I see this was a long time ago, but I dont care because it is new to me. I love this! First I love love the earthy colors! The purple really pops off the page, but does so quietly. Just awesome! Next, I love the random outcome. It’s like controlled chaos! Changing the amount of water left in the string, and changing how much negative space you fill in with color leaves endless possibilities. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.

  6. Lisa M Lovejoy

    Thank you so much for having options for those of us on a budget. It’s so meaningful that you have thought of this. Not all of us have the means to take classes. So for you to think of that is is really great. I love your website and your tutorials. After 10 years of hiatus from art, I am returning and I stumbled on your website. It is so nurturing. Thank you.

    • Amy Maricle

      AH! Art says it’s good to have you back, Lisa! I’m so happy this helps you get creating! XO Amy

  7. Maria

    This has me inspired and has take some of my fear away about starting.
    I loved this tutorial.
    Thank you

  8. Susan Hendren

    Just stumbled on this. Haven’t tried it yet but am excited to do so. I am no artist by any means, but this looks fun and easy —and seems to offer endless variety of ideas with which to play. Thank you for making it available. I’ll look at your website too.


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