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Visual Journaling by the Seat of Your Pants!
By Violette

"Often the journal page has some incredible insights for you which lay hidden in the recesses of your subconscious mind only to be set free by allowing yourself the luxury of being in the flow."

Visual Journaling need not be daunting or inaccessible to the novice visual journaler. The way I like to approach it is in an intuitive manner or by the seat of my pants! This manner of journaling is exciting because you never know where you?re going to end up. Often the journal page has some incredible insights for you which lay hidden in the recesses of your subconscious mind only to be set free by allowing yourself the luxury of being in the flow.

Be prepared to be influenced by what is going on around you at the time. For example, when I?m watching TV while visual journaling, the programs I?m viewing somehow find their imprint on the page. Once when I was watching a show on Monty Python, the heading on the journal page was written in a very scrolly decorative font which was a bit reminiscent of the fanciful beginnings of the show.

Preparation and Getting Started

Doodle Faces
Practice doodling faces until you discover a face you might like to include on your page. Create the face on a piece of cardstock which you can cut out and add later to your journal.

Make Borders
Make up a series of borders which you can use repeatedly in other journal pages. These borders might be checkerboards, spirals, or even stamped designs in black and white which you can photocopy onto cardstock.

Have a Variety of Embellishments on Hand
Begin to create a stash of fun embellishments which you can incorporate into your visual journal page. Some of these might be: crepe paper, glitter, feathers, buttons, safety pins, hand dyed papers, fabric scraps, sequins, beads etc. If these embellishments are easily accessible then you?re more apt to use them.

Assemble Your Tools
My favorite tools to use these days are my micron pens and Twinkling H2O water colors. Sometimes I use watercolor pencil crayons too! You might choose to use a paint set to color your page.

Visual journal pages can be designed in any creative way hat suits you. This layout includes a collage of elements prepared and cut out ahead of time, embellishments, blank space, and a talk bubble to write in.

Creating Your Visual Journal Pages
Begin by doodling a large face in pencil. Ink it in with your Micron pen, erase the pencil lines. Paint the face with your Twinkling H2O?s or a watercolor set. Choose a border that you have made ahead of time and cut out. In this particular journal page I?ve decided to use a talk bubble so draw it on cardstock and cut out. On a separate piece of cardstock paint the background page in a pleasing color. At this point you can choose whether or not to leave the page plain or you can splatter it with paint (like I did here) or add another pattern as in the checkerboard background. The lighter the background color the easier it will be for you to write over top of it. When the background piece is dry glue your face, border and talk bubble onto it.

Now here is where the intuitive and fun part comes in. Ask the page what it wants to say and go with your first impression. You might get a word like ?Inspiration? or ?Create? or ?Blurt? which you write onto your page with your Micron pen... then let your thoughts flow from there and write them into your talk bubble or in the blank areas of the page. Don?t censor yourself or think too much. Thinking too much gets in the way of the magical creative process. After you complete this part you are free to embellish the rest of the page with your stash of ornamentations.

Filling in the details: Listen closely to what your page wants to
say or needs. What insights lay hidden in the recesses of your subconscious mind? Set them free!

If you listen closely the page will tell you what it wants or needs! Flying by the Seat of your Pants has never been so much fun! ?

? Violette 2006. All rights reserved.

About the Author | More by Violette
Violette is a whimsical creative spirit living in B.C., Canada. She can be found driving her Glittergirl van around White Rock, B.C. and living in the Magic Cottage. You can find out more about her art, workshops, and read her online blog at


How to create and keep an art journal
by aisling d'art ?2006

Artist's journals are illustrated diaries and journals on any theme.

An art journal can be a record of your daily thoughts, a travel journal, an exercise or diet diary, a dream journal, a place where you jot down your goals or to-do lists, or... well, almost any record that you'd like to keep in a book or notebook.

They become "art journals" when you add any kind of illustration or embellishment to the pages.

These pages share ideas and tips for creating and keeping your own illustrated journal.

How to create an art journal
How I started my art journals - Early notes about how I work, from a 2001 email.

Art journaling techniques
How to collage in your art journals - A summary of the basics.

Materials and supplies for art journaling
Gesso - what it is, how to use it - To support layers of paint, or heavy embellishments.

Tea staining your art journal pages - Make your pages look 'old' by dyeing them with tea.

Wax paper and art journals - Use it to keep wet pages from sticking together.

Writing tips, prompts, and ideas
Fairy tale journal prompts - Revisit your favorite children's stories for journaling ideas.

Keeping a travel journal
Travel journals - Supplies - Suggested art supplies for your travel journaling.

Travel journaling - Choosing a subject - What to draw, paint, or photograph for your journal.


Hi HeartArt,
Very interesting post, thank you for the information, you must have been thinking about this topic HeartArt.
I am looking into the information about paints and types of paper used in journals. I have been to the art shop around my area, the lady is going to get back to me, with more information. She also mentioned glues can be different also for certain art projects.
Have a nice day! :)


Hi Holly,

I am currently teaching a class in Creating Art Journals at the Schizophrenia Society in Toronto. They are so much fun to make and this article just came to my attention and I thought it would be interesting for you and others here. Since we have talked about this I thought you might like it.



Yes, there are a number of glues you can use. Most art sketch books are good for art journals, especially the ones with the ring binding because they open very flat. For art journals the sketch books that have paper that can withstand watercolour or arcylic are perfect. Sketchbooks are acid free which means they will not deteriorate like regular paper. Using glues that are acid free are also wise and you can get acid free glue sticks. The Gel medium is your all round paste and protective cover for collage.


Hi HeartArt,
I let you know more when the store gets back to me, you may know more about the products also.
Thank you for the information on this project, look forward to updating you about what is suggested! :)


Wow-- there seems to be so much "work" involved in this visual journaling! When does one have time to journal? Do you guys have a really big creative side? I'm not really creative. I suppose I'm a little freakish in that sense. I don't even journal regularly. I have a file on my PC that I write in sometimes. Five to six times a year. Sometimes more. I couldn't imagine going gung-ho and creating such a work of art, so to speak, then messing it up by writing in it! I dunno about all the glue and pins and feathers and all. But the papers sound neat. Maybe a journal made of special papers...



Hello Poohbear!

I really try to make time for "creating" but don't do a daily or regular routine either. I don't use writing in my art journals...just images.

I don't think it is a matter of having or not having a creative side. It is more a matter of interest. So instead of saying you don't have much of a creative side it is more fitting to say that you are just not that interested in.....whatever it is you feel you are not creative in.

If you are interested then please don't deny yourself the pleasure of creating. Just get some material and use the amount of time you want and create a visual journal.

I like the idea of using special papers and plan on making one with special papers next. We have a place in my city called the Japanese Paper Company so I'm planning on visiting there for the some paper.

With these journals there are no rules. You do whatever you want without even having a plan if you like? It's interesting to see how things turn out. I have a special shelf for my art journals.

I also like to use altered books for my art journals. That gets very interesting!

Hope you make one soon and have fun doing it!

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