Art journaling…where to start?

I recently put together a short virtual workshop on art journaling for the Ottawa Public Library Wellness Fridays program! It entails 1 hour long lessons on two back to back Fridays. (To learn more about this initiative visit here.)

There are so many ways to fill your art journal. It is a place to chronicle ANYTHING. (Current, past, or present events, memories, thoughts, and experiments. It can also be random).

Sometimes it might seem like a scrapbook, a sketchbook, a travel book, a day planner, a goal setter (think vision boards), a doodle pad etc. That is what is so fun about them, anything goes! Your journal is creative place just for you! It is a place where you can combine reflection with creativity. It is where you can meditate, learn, plan, dream, and have fun!

The idea that anything can happen in your art journal is freeing, but it can also cause us to pause and think…but

How do I even start?!

In the first workshop I introduced 4 of my favourite themes and art journal entry ideas to help get you started! I decided to summarize them below for anyone interested! I’ve also added some links to my free printables in the descriptions below.


There are so many ways to fill a page. Let loose and see what kind of backgrounds you can create with whatever materials you have. Here are some fun ideas

  • Draw patterns with wax crayons, candles, or oil pastels and paint watercolours on top. Watch how it resists and creates a neat pattern!
  • Paint a page with watercolours. While it is still wet, drop or brush on rubbing alcohol and/ or diluted dish soap. What what kind of effects it creates
  • Paint a page with watercolours. While it is still wet, sprinkle salt on top. Let it sit and watch a beautiful texture appear!
  • Paint a page with watercolours. While it is still wet place plastic wrap on top. When dry lift it off to see a cool texture!

2. THE MINDFUL LANDSCAPE ENTRY (I’ve documented this approach more thoroughly in this previous post.)

The inner landscape. Think of the landscape your imagination takes you to. A place that makes you happy. A place in your mind’s eye. Take this time to be mindful and aware of it. Is it a place you have been? Or want to be someday? What does it feel like there? What is the air like? Are there plants and flowers? What time of day is it? Is it peaceful? Warm? Quiet? Draw, paint, or collage how this place looks in your art journal. And if you wish, accompany your image with written descriptions and thoughts. Sometimes adhere an envelope with notes or a letter to myself. Feel free to use my mindful landscape printable with prompts.


Create an entry that tells a story of one of your trips you’ve had. It can be big or small (a trip to a new country or even at trip to the grocery store could be something to journal about!) Or where you want to visit some day. Feel free to use my Travel art journal printable and prompts.


Probably the most classic entry. Journal what you did today. This is my printable I used for my workshop.

As you can see, your art journal allows complete creative freedom! There are so many more ways to fill out your pages. If you need help getting started, I hope these 4 simple prompts and approaches do the trick!