Play With Repetition: An Art Tutorial

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

When I’m creating art journal collages, some of the elements I like to play with are repetition, variation, and texture. Let’s start with texture.

Texture in Art

If you haven’t thought about texture in art before, here’s some ways to think about it. Texture can describe the actual surface and the way it feels when you touch it with your fingers, but it can also describe what you imagine it would feel like if you could touch the surface of the art. Here’s a few examples: pieces with dense marks seem to have a lot of texture, pointy lines can feel sharp, and undulating lines can feel soft.

Repetition and Variation in Art

Repetition refers to having several occurrences of the same or nearly the same element – it might be a form, shape, color, pattern or text. Variation would mean a slight spin off from the original idea – perhaps different types of trees throughout a canvas, or several people wearing baseball caps and one wearing a fedora. Repetition creates pattern and predictability, variation keeps it form getting boring.

Art journal collage page from my class, The Little Book of Wonder

Repetition and Variation of Texture in Art

Let’s put the two ideas together and play with how to use repetition and variation of texture in an art journal collage. If you look at the art journal page above, the pattern all the way to the left is made of tightly-packed ovals. It feels to me like bumpy little cobblestones. The pattern just to the right of it has bigger ovals with lines in between. These round shapes feel like holes to me. If I was as small as an ant, and could walk on the page, I’d hurt my feet on those hard, bumpy cobblestones, feel relief as I walked on the smooth surface of the lines, and then topple over into a huge hole.

If I managed to crawl back out, I’d make my way across the page, and I’d be in a wide open space where I could grab hold of a rope, or a giant, strong weed. It feels dry and hard in my hands, but flexible. It makes big, looping round shapes as it overlaps itself.

See how if you slow down enough, and let your imagination out to play, there’s so much to be discovered? Can you see how I’m playing with texture, density, and repetition and variation with oval shapes? There are ovals throughout, but I’m using them in different sizes and densities in each pattern. This adds a lot of interest in art, and it’s wonderful to play with in art journal pages with slow drawings.

Art Journal Prompt:

For a little art tutorial invitation: I invite you to make your own journal page playing with repetition and variation with texture.

Collage Materials for Art Journaling:

  • Slow drawing patterns
  • Torn or cut parts of drawings
  • Small pieces of paintings – watercolor, acrylic, or gouache

Art Journal Collage Tips:

  • Focus on repeated shapes, colors, or lines
  • Play with variation in your patterns
  • Pause and think about the texture of each collage element.
  • Play with repetition and variation in the texture of collage pieces

Art Journal Collage Experiments:

  • Make several collage pages
  • Create some quickly without a lot of thought, and others in a more analytical way, thinking about these elements.

See Others’ Pages and Share Yours:

  • You can post your work and see what others are making by looking on the #mindfulartstudio and #createwithamym hashtags on Instagram, and the  Mindful Art  group on Facebook.

I am excited to see what emerges from your art journal collage experiments. If you’d like to learn more about how I collage and add doors, windows, and pockets in my collage art journals, you can check out my class, The Little Book of Wonder. I can’t wait to see all of the wonder you create in your journals.

Creatively Yours,



  1. valerie

    thanks for the great tips! love your ‘mindful art studio’

    • Sue

      This is really helpful, inspiring video. thank you!

      • Amy Maricle

        I’m so glad it speaks to you Sue! xo

  2. Leenie Hobbie

    Thank you! So helpful and inspiring.

    • Amy Maricle

      YAY – I’m so happy to hear that!


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