You don’t already need to be an accomplished artist or creative person in order to start an art journal of your own. The most important thing is that you want to be creative and for that you need some art journal ideas.
An art journal is a visual collection of self created or curated images, which conveys or creates emotions or stories in pictorial form rather than the written word. It is a way of understanding and reflecting back our experiences using predominantly the visual rather than written form.
This blog post is full of creative art journal ideas for you to try. Either you can try one and then move on to another subject, or you could take time, say a month and do a deep dive into just one of the art journal ideas listed below.
As every creative person will tell you, you don’t wait for creativity to arrive and then get to work. Rather you get to work and creativity then arrives.
This is where are journal ideas are really helpful. They enable you to engage in your practice immediately and allow creativity to gently follow.
This blog post will tell you what tools you can use to create your art journal and then give you 65 art journal ideas and prompts that will help you get to work and trigger your creative juices to flow.
Combatting your inner critic
One of the main reasons that we don’t get started on any project or continue with a piece of art we are creating is because of our inner critic. Our inner critic is essentially fear disguised as protection.
Your inner critic will tell you that you have no good ideas as to what to create, which is where our art journal ideas are so useful!
Your inner critic will tell you that your work is no good, that what you are producing has no value and that if you continue to do what you are doing you will be shown by all to be a fool.
At which point you will be cast out of society as you know it.
This is untrue but your inner critic is a powerful driving force. The best way to deal with your inner critic is to say,
“Thanks brain, but I’ve got this. You can relax while I create some art.”
and then say to yourself,
“I’m doing this for me, to explore me and my creativity and that’s all that matters.”
Art is a powerful tool for creative expression
Use your art journal as a permission slip to create new ideas and practice new artistic skills. Creating an art journal is a high form of self care. It is an opportunity for people to connect with their authentic selves.
There are 65 art journal ideas that follow. They are designed to spark creativity and curiosity in yourself. Until you actually get started you won’t know what wonderful ideas you may come up with.
It is only by making a start that you will discover the creative ideas within yourself that are waiting to be revealed.
Addressing the blank page with art journal ideas
Now that we have addressed your mindset it’s time to create your own art journal. The first thing to think about here is what kind of art journal you would like to create and after that the art journal ideas will follow.
Here are some ideas of types of art journal you can create:
- A visual diary – A visual diary is like a daily writing journal but instead of writing you use visual imagery (using our art journal ideas) to describe and record your everyday life.
- You can use a traditional journal and decorate it with your art. You will illustrate each journal entry and the two will sit alongside each other, side by side.
- Create individual art journal pages and then bind them together into an art journal. You could produce a month’s worth of work and bind those. Or you could take one of the art journal ideas below and develop the theme over a particular time.
It could be over a long time, like a year, or you could give yourself a little time, like a week, and produce as much as you can within a constrained time frame, and then bind it together.
- If you are nervous of getting started you can challenge yourself to fill the entire page with colour or illustration. And then the next time when you are working on your next art journal page you can challenge yourself to work on a limited section of a single page.
This can be a lot of fun to constrain yourself in this way.
- Variations on a theme – Take one of the art journal ideas listed below and using a different medium on different art journal pages, keep the theme the same, but express yourself through different mediums. Use paints one day and pencil the next. Use collage one day and concentrate on pattern the next.
Creative tools for your art journal
You will need a certain number of creative tools such as:
acrylic paints, washi tape, watercolor paint, old magazines, old books, sketch book, coloured paper of different sizes, you can use markers, plain paper, plain card, a journal to put your art in or a loose leaf binder if you prefer, watercolour paints, brushes, felt pens, chalk crayons, writing pens of different nib thicknesses, glue, scissors, cellotape, spray adhesive.
Don’t overthink what tools you need. The best approach is to get creating, and as you create and explore different mediums and different tools, you will discover ones you really love, new ones to try and become bolder about experimenting.
There is no right and no wrong. Some things will work and some things won’t. Focus on the art journal ideas themselves and what they mean to you and use art tools to help you portray what is in your mind.
The list of 65 easy art journal ideas
Here are 65 art journal ideas and prompts. I think it’s best if you take the words and interpret them for yourself. The words themselves should trigger your inspiration. However, if you are having trouble getting started I have included further explanation below the initial list.
You can interpret these words in any way that you want, there are various artistic ways to portray any emotion and thought, so explore your own way of doing so. Enjoy!
favorite song (lyrics to)
What you see first thing in the morning
What you see in the evening
What you see in the mirror
An outfit you would like to wear
My favourite memory
What I know
Pattern in nature
My ideal outfit
The school year
A day out
Favorite quotes – you can google these, or you may already have your own favourite quotes that you find inspirational. You can also make up your own quotes
Bucket list – What would you like to do before you die, before you’re 50, before you have children, before you….. whatever it is. This could be a list or it could be a visual representation. You could journal over a period of time for this one, including all your bucket list ideas. Or you could just focus on one.
Beautiful painting – what inspires you visually? What is your favourite painting? How do beautiful paintings make you feel?
Favourite song (lyrics to) – There is nothing like song lyrics to inspire you. Songs are such an inspirational part of our daily life. You can write these out or you can create a visual representation of what the song is about or what the song means to you.
Favorite place – Where do you go to feel refreshed? Where inspires you?
Favorite book – What is your favourite book now? What was your favourite book as a child? I don’t like ripping up books, but some people don’t mind at all. Book pages used as part of art journals look great, in fact maybe I’ll give it a go after all! So you could take an old book and use pages from that. If your book of choice is a favorite novel you could also create an art journal piece around the characters or the plot/narrative.
What you see first thing in the morning – Surely the easiest art journal prompt in the world!
What you see in the evening – Surely the second easiest art journal prompt in the world!
What you see in the mirror – How do you feel about yourself? What do you want to say? This might take you out of your comfort zone but be brave! You could also create images around how you would like to look, or be creative around your thoughts and how to visually recreate your thoughts.
An outfit you would like to wear – love this one. You can be practical and find images in magazines/books etc, or you can let your imagination wander and make really creative projects. There are so many different ways you can interpret this. Remember, these art journal prompts are intended to open up your brain to lots of different ideas, not close it down and narrow it.
Travel – Where would you like to go, how would you like to get there? What is your favourite form of travel? Where is your favourite place in the world? Where is a great place you would love to travel to and how would you like to get there?
The ocean – Use the different colors of the ocean to inspire and art journal creation. Use different media to portray the water, the ocean floor, the animals, the corral, the vegetation, the sun.
Space – the final frontier! Create geometric shapes and make a big picture, or imagine what other planets might look like.
Jungle – This could be an abstract painting or an intimate view of the jungle. You can focus on the greenery, or on animals, or the density of heat, flora and fauna.
City – City to me says busy, bustle, people, concrete jungle, work, industry, purpose. What does it say to you?
Family – Use photos as a starting point. What do you associate with your family? Is it a place? An object? A thought or a feeling? You could do some creative writing around this subject, including personal information maybe portrayed in a visual way. Go with your heart. What emotion does family bring up? If it’s negative, choose a family member who you love and take that person as your starting point?
Memories – Create a visual representation of your favourite memories. This could be really lovely to put into an entire journal of your favourite memories. Use different type of art for the different memories you have so that the journal itself has variety within it.
Christmas – What are you looking forward to? What presents have you bought that you are excited to give? Will you be with family? What does Christmas mean to you? Or, you don’t need to do such a deep dive and simply recreate an art journal page of the papers, wrappings, ribbons, cards and messages that you have received this year.
My favorite memory – This is a lovely mental health creative art journal prompt.
Nature – This has infinite variety. Again you can look at the bigger picture or the smaller picture. Bigger pictures could be landscapes, smaller pictures could be leaves.
Pattern – Create your own pattern, or clip snippets of patterns already created. Use different techniques to create your own pattern and make some fresh art that didn’t exist before.
Colour – Start with your favorite color and let that take you off on a journey….
Hobby – what does your hobby mean to you? How do you feel when you are doing that hobby? How would you represent that in a visual fashion?
What I know – What do you want to say today? How do you want to say it? Use lots of different art supplies, be spontaneous and creative.
Pets – Draw a pet or find images of pets. Or draw a series of collars and leads in the style, say, of an Hermes scarf.
Leaves – Again a pattern one. Or you could use a leaf to get you started on another journey…
Pattern in nature – I was thinking of butterflies, ladybirds, and bird foliage. But you can think of anything….
Clothes – favourite clothes, fabric, sketch clothes you like
Fabric – what fabrics inspire you? Use them as a starting point, layering textures and colour.
Interior design – a favourite room, colour schemes, paint swatches, accessories for a room
The garden – pots, plants, light, birds, relaxation, hammock, BBQ, social life, grass, hedges, vegetables, flowers, gravel, firepit…
Jewellery – diamonds, semi precious stones, jewellery from around the world, jewellery you’d like to wear, jewellery with memories, family jewellery
Layering – this is more of a technique. Gather supplies together, like paper, sheet music, photos and then layer them, creating texture.
Portrait – Do a quick thumbnail sketch of yourself and use that as a starting point.
Diary – Do some creative journaling around a specific day and use that as a trigger for your creativity.
Children – Your children, someone else’s, children in general. Children playing, children’s poems or rhymes. Your favorite things as a child. Childish things that young kids would play with but are still appealing as an adult…
Parents – Use an image for this prompt. Or write about what the word parents means to you.
Joy – What gives you joy, is it visual, oral, written, descriptive? How can you portray it?
Gratitude – What does gratitude mean to you?
Love – How do you feel when you heart is full of love, what does love mean to you?
Play – What is play, how do you play as an adult?
Stars – Draw a star, use a new medium and create another. fill the page and then use that page to create the rest of your art journal idea
My ideal outfit – what does it look like? When would you wear it? What will you look like wearing it? How will you feel?
Symmetry – Create a symmetrical picture
Wedding – Your wedding, someone else’s wedding. The dress, the invitation, fonts, logo, colour scheme, venue.
Endings – What has finished in your life? How do you feel? Use one word as a starting point
The school year – the term time, holidays, school run, uniform, children, books, writing, exams, houses, school tie, friends
A day out – where would you go?….
Paper bags – I keep paper bags, am I the only one? Use them as a creative art journal idea by cutting them up and using them in your art journal.
Luxury – soft, velvet, sumptuous, unique, what does luxury mean to you? What do you have in your home that is pure luxury? How would you portray that?
A secret – what is hidden away in your brain, what would you like to tell people, what do you know that you hold dear but no-one else knows? Even after portraying it visually you may not have revealed your secret, so you are always safe.
Story – make up a story and display it visually
Printed text – book sheets, sheet music, print your own text, cut out newspapers, magazines…
Handwriting – Decorate your art journal with your own writing.
Decisions – What do decisions look like? What decisions have you made?
A plan – a floor plan, an idea, a project, a map, what is a visual represenation of a project to you?
Print – fabric print, find one, create your own, use print to lead your creativity
Fabric – do you have a favourite article of clothing that needs to go in the bin/rubbish/trash because it’s so old, worn, full of holes, decayed? Yes me too! Take a snippet of fabric and use it to write a thank you letter to this piece of clothing. This is a great way to record a memory and then get rid of the item itself (hello decluttering!)
Confidence – What does it mean to you, how are you confident, who is a confident person you would like to be like? or what have you achieved because you have been confident?
Encouragement – Create a picture that gives you total encouragement. Take your great ideas and find a way to represent them visually so that you can use this picture to encourage you to achieve them.
Determination – trekking up a hill, finishing a book, getting a new job, getting out of debt, having children, losing weight. What does determination look or feel like to you?
Birds – Their environment, their plumage, their colour, let whatever inspires your curiosity take you on an avian journey…..
Transport – vehicles, roads, geography, the built environment
Weather – Let the natural environment inspire you.
Further reading for similar posts to art journal ideas
I hope you enjoyed this post and find it inspirational. Other posts similar to this that you might like are:
Art Journal ideas for beginners
Creative journal ideas
The benefits of journaling for mental health