I absolutely LOVE art journaling, but the truth is, some days it’s hard to come up with new art journal ideas! So I bought some art journaling books, and they have really helped me on those days. So I decided to create this round-up of art journal books to help spark your creativity!
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art journal books to help spark your creativity
Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking by Emily K. Neuburger was the first art journal book I picked up, and it is filled with fun and creative ideas. One of the things I like about this book in particular is that the author has some of the same ideas about art journaling that I do! Like her “no rules journaling” philosophy. And the fact that she encourages you to get messy (and not worry about it!) Art journaling should be fun (or whatever you want it to be!) But it’s definitely not a place for you to be a perfectionist.
From the publisher: “Using words, drawing, collage, and observation-based list-making, award-winning author Emily K. Neuburger highlights the many paths into journaling. Her 60 interactive writing prompts and art how-tos help you to expand your imagination and stimulate your creativity. Every spread invites a new approach to filling a page, from making a visual map of a day-in-my-life to turning random splotches into quirky characters for a playful story. It’s the perfect companion to all those blank books and an ideal launchpad to explore creative self-expression and develop an imaginative voice — for anyone ages 10 to 100!”
Below is my take on one of the art journal prompts in the book, “imperfect paper quilting.” They offered a few different suggestions, from using colorful scrap paper to using some of the collage papers included in the back of the book. (There are stickers back there, too!) I used some older watercolor and ink paintings I’d made, but wasn’t too happy with how they turned out. But I love how they look in my art journal!
Next up is The Art Journal Workshop: Break Through, Explore, and Make it Your Own by Traci Bunkers. One of the cool things about this book is that it comes with a DVD with recordings of the pages being made. I love that because it’s one thing to see a finished art journal page, but seeing the process behind the page can help you step up your own journaling process, as well.
The author also goes into details like getting unstuck (when you just don’t know what to make), how to create a three-page spread, and more.
From the publisher: “With beautiful illustrations, The Art Journal Workshop breaks down the entire working process of journaling with step-by-step photos and instructions from start to finish. You’ll learn how to use different media such as paint, photographs, and collage, while following journaling prompts and exercises to help you dig deeper and enrich the journaling process and experience. Traci Bunkers discusses the benefits of visual journaling, and walks you through battling a creative funk when you’re feeling down or uninspired.”
Now we come to The Complete Decorated Journal: A Compendium of Journaling Techniques by Gwen Diehn. I really enjoy the author’s subtle palette. It somehow makes pages filled with images and text and color, etc., seem somehow minimal… and simply lovely.
This art journaling book is filled with gorgeous images of journal pages that are sure to inspire you. But she also covers things like materials, tools, layering, book-binding (so you can create your own art journals) and so much more!
She covers topics like travel and nature, and includes a bunch of artist profiles, so you get to see a variety of styles, too! And at 240 pages, this is one of the longer and most in-depth art-journaling books you can buy.
From the publisher: “Now two of the most successful books by Gwen Diehn, The Decorated Page and The Decorated Journal, are bound together into one comprehensive and inspiring volume. The combined contents offer readers an unmatched collection of great ideas and techniques, from the latest supplies (papers, adhesives, paints, pens) to innovative layouts (mandalas, diagonals, cutouts, grids). Sidebars highlight specific genres, such as pillow books, nature journals, and illuminated manuscripts. Plus, newly added content includes journaling artist profiles along with galleries of their work, new techniques, and a new project where readers learn to make a journal from a butter box.”
For a more humous take on art journaling, there’s You’re Weird: A Creative Journal for Misfits, Oddballs, and Anyone Else Who’s Uniquely Awesome, by Kate Peterson. This book combines an art journal with an activity book and it’s so fun!
I did notice that some adult reviewers felt this book was better suited for pre-teens through teenagers, but others felt like it brought out their childlike sense of fun and humor. So, depending on your age and feelings about it, this one may be better suited as a gift for a young art journaler in your life. (But I don’t know… it sure sounds like fun to me!)
From the publisher: “You’re Weird is a valentine for the inner weirdo in everyone–that part of us that doesn’t quite fit in, and secretly isn’t even trying. Filled with hand-drawn creatures that are a bit…different…along with lists, writing prompts, activities, and more, it’s a delightful and affirming book for creative oddballs everywhere. In our mass-produced world that wants everyone to fit in and fall in line, this quirky book give us permission to celebrate what makes us each unique–and amazing. It’s the perfect gift for the creative teen, journal-loving best friend, or indie artist in your life…or for your own weird self.”
Feeling timid with your art journaling? Check out Art Journal Courage: Fearless Mixed Media Techniques for Journaling Bravely by Dina Wakley.
This book will help you build your skills and confidence in your handwriting and drawing abilities. Plus it teaches you mixed media techniques, working without a plan, and comes with many art journal prompts as well. The author also dispels many art journaling myths and fears you might have.
From the publisher: “Discover the techniques and courage you need to journal bravely! With Dina’s help, you’ll begin by working through any fears you have of using your own handwriting. You’ll get journaling prompts and techniques to help you develop a handwriting style you’ll love and words you’ll want to write! Then, you’ll move onto drawing: you’ll learn not only how to train your hand, but also how to appreciate your own unique drawing ability. As you continue through the eight chapters, you will learn additional mixed-media techniques to help you overcome your fears of new materials, using photos of yourself, creating layers, working without a plan and much more. Put your worries aside and create fearlessly!”
The Painted Art Journal: 24 Projects for Creating Your Visual Narrative by Jeanne Oliver is another art journaling book I bought recently, and it’s truly magical. I feel like it’s more of a “complete course in art journaling” than it is a book. It covers the basics like supplies, materials, collage, mark-making, etc., but there are also sections dedicated to teaching portrait drawing, composition, printmaking techniques, and more.
I think if I were going to personally only recommend one book about art journaling, this would be it. (It’s also the newest book in this list, which may contribute to why I love it so much! It’s definitely fresh and contemporary.)
From the publisher: “The Painted Art Journal opens doors to your most personal and authentic art yet. Tell your story as only you can, through a series of guided projects that culminate in a beautiful, autobiographical art journal worthy of passing along to future generations. Along the way, you will hone your own unique style of artful storytelling, filled with the images, colors and symbols that resonate most powerfully with you.”
If you’re looking for some serious eye-candy and art journal inspiration, check out A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks – 230 Artists – 30 Countries! By Dawn DeVries Sokol. This book is less of a “how to” and more of a ‘see how all of these other art journalers from around the world are doing it.‘
But the cool thing is, each art journal page example does include information about the techniques used to create the pages. But most of all, you will be inspired by the vast array of styles and art journal ideas.
From the publisher: “from artists across the globe. … behind-the-scenes interviews, give readers a glimpse inside the minds of new and established artists, making this a stimulating compilation sure to inspire beginners and seasoned art journalers alike.”
i think you’ll love these creative journaling books!
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