Art Journaling – There Are No Rules


I often see people asking ‘how do I art journal?’ or sometimes I see people lamenting that they ‘don’t have the right supplies/skills for art journaling’. I have good news friends! With art journaling THERE ARE NO RULES!

The definition of what an art journal is is such a broad one. It’s literally any type of art or mark making in something that vaguely resembles a book. OK that’s it, this post is done now…. *grins* I kid, I kid. Keep reading =p

Love starting a new art journal! Especially after filling a previous one, feels like a reward! Sketch with a Pitt pen while at the park yesterday, filled in with watercolours at home. #watercolour #schmincke #artjournal #artinthepark #whimsical #artoninstagram #irisimpressionsart

Watercolour & pen. Simple art journaling in the park.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I want to open up this world of art journaling for you, and give you permission to have your own unique art journal. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s and there are no special skills, supplies or club memberships that are required for you to start.

It’s true that when you look at the well known art journalers out there, it can seem like there is a certain style and certain supplies that define art journaling. To me they are simply trends.

Art journaling or ‘artists journals’ actually go back in history a long time. An artist might have kept a journal to make notes, do sketches, work on ideas for paintings, collect clippings, experiment with colour etc. The type of art journal I keep is a safe space for self-expression and self-discovery.

Today has been an art filled day. #mixedmedia #intuitiveart #artstagram #artjournal #irisimpressionsart

Mixed media. A spread to process feelings.

Have a think about what an art journal means to you. Perhaps you’d like to have more than one art journal for different purposes? You could give an art journal a theme. You could explore your dreams in one journal and practice drawing faces/birds/flowers in another one.

In terms of techniques and art supplies: start where you are and build from there. The potential for art and self-expression lies inside you, not inside the materials.

5 minute texture play, nom nom nom! (yes I know you can't eat it....) All you need is a dirty #gelliplate a brayer and an old credit card! #mixedmedia #artjournal #irisimpressionsart #gelliprinting

Limited supplies. Creating a background with only acrylic paints and some texture tools.

Art supplies are soooo exciting and it can be easy to think you ‘need’ the next hottest thing that everyone is talking about. It’s never worked for me but ymmv. The things I’d recommend getting (if you really do not have anything yet) are staples like acrylic paint (craft paint is cheap and you can do great things with it!), black & white pens (Uniball Signo and/or Uni Posca are nice for working over the top of mixed media backgrounds) and a set of student grade brushes. Maybe a set of (watersoluble) crayons or pencils. Buy what you can afford. Use the stuff you have before going out and buying the next shiny thing.

Then comes the most important thing: go and create!

Try not to be held back by the ideas in your head of what art journaling ‘should’ be. Do what it is to you. If you need some ideas to get started, go and grab my free Get Inspired PDF.

This article was inspired by Felicia Borges and her concept of Art Journal Rebellion. Check back here on 24th August to read an interview with Felicia.

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  1. Hi Iris,
    Just read your post and all of it is true!
    Thanks for the reminder 😉


  2. I love this! I think art journalling is similar to the tag “vintage” these days in that it can mean so many things!

    Loved seeing your pages too 🙂

    Sarah recently posted…my tips and tool kit for art on the moveMy Profile

    • So true Sarah! I think we all benefit when we allow these concepts to be more inclusive instead of exclusive. Thanks for leaving a comment. xx

  3. Karin Kuilman says:

    Hi Iris. Like your blog very much. And also like the pages you share. Most girls you paint do look a bit like you I think. ( but ofcourse I cannot really know because I only know you from your fb picture ) grz Karin

  4. Christine says:

    Thank you, Iris, for simply stating what I needed to be reminded of this morning as I plan a Sunday of playing in my journals. Great timing to repost!
    Best, Christine

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