Art Journaling 101 – Finding a Focal Point

Art Journaling 101 - a FREE e-course designed to gently introduce beginners to the basics of art journaling so you can find your way with more ease and less fearThis article is part of my FREE e-course Art Journaling 101 – which has been designed to gently introduce beginners to the basics of art journaling so you can find your way with more ease and less fear. If you’re curious about art journaling or overwhelmed with how to begin, sign up for the full free course HERE.

Last time I showed you a few of my favorite background techniques. So you got some color down… now what? If you’re new to art journaling, or creating in general, here’s where it’s easiest to get stuck. So today, I want to share with you a few examples of different ways you can add a focal point to your art journal page.

I share these with you, not so that you feel the need to make your pages look like these, but to lay out some options for your heart to call you towards when you’re in the moment of creating. The more you practice in your journal, the more your heart will know what brings it joy; the more your heart will have confidence to steer you in the right direction in expressing yourself.

And remember, art journaling pages don’t have to look beautiful or even finished. It’s all about getting out what needs to be expressed in the moment, no matter how pretty or messy.

As you’re learning to trust yourself, these examples may help to spark some inspiration:

The first and probably most obvious idea is to use a large focal image like these ladies have done here.

(by Cathy Bluteau)

(by Jessica Sporn)

Or, you can use your journaling to fill the page like Paula and Kate did. 

(by Paula Bogdan)

(by Kate)

Sometimes just a simple quote can be pretty striking too.

(by Kristy)

(by Lori)

If you’re in the mood to doodle, black doodles look great over a colored background!

(by Francoise Melzani)

Putting a collage together with magazine clippings and photographs is a fun way to add bold imagery.

(by Kate)

But sometimes all you need is one simple word to make a real statement.

(by Ingrid Murray)

And on rare occasions… the background itself just feels finished.

(by Erin Partridge)

I hope these have sparked at least one idea for you today! Just remember to have fun in your art journal. It’s all about expressing yourself, not about creating a beautifully appealing page. Enjoy the process!

Don't miss a single, inspiring thing!

Subscribe to my Museletter for inspiration and practical tips to keeping on track with this scary journey of reclaiming yourself and your creativity. You’ll also get VIP access to my new goodies, freebies, special offers, and more!

P.S. We value your privacy and will protect it. Read our Privacy Policy for all the details.

Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Oh I love these, yes I was stuck on the top layer as well thanks for the post!

  2. These were so wonderful to see! Very pretty examples of journaling! Great to see what’s possible! TY!

  3. Thanks for including my page! So appropriate how you led into it too, because it is exactly what happened! I made a background and then decided, nope, doesn’t need anything else!

  4. Hi Kristin – thanks for including my page in your post. I only just realized it so sorry to be late to thank you! Just signed up for your email and look forward to visiting often.

  5. These are really fabulous! I wanted to say one thing though. I don’t think we beginners should worry about “copying” other artists work. We’re learning and mimicking more experienced artists in the beginning is a good way to pick up skills we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. We’re not in it for the money (at least not at this point). Our journals are personal and should be a place where we can feel free to copy things we see–after all, it’s going to come out differently anyhow. Just my thoughts on the subject. :)

    • Catherine Wolicki says

      I agree- I get so much inspiration from other artists work- and you’re right- when we copy it dies come out totally differently. And I find that, in the copying journey, other ideas all of my own come to the fore! So you’d never guess I had tried to copy someone!! ( and it’s usualyy the style or a particular use of colour or materials rather than the work itself I try to copy)

  6. Becky Bailey says

    I love all the pages think today I will try a doodling one

    Becky x

  7. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and support in creating Art journals!

  8. I continue learning to love my Art Journal!…when i feel happy, or tired or sad…any moment is proper to start playing my way…and then i dont want to stop!…Kristal, thanks for the “gentle pus”….ha, ha ha…

  9. i meant “gentle push”! thanks

  10. This is a super helpful post for a newbie like me who doesn’t quite know where to start. Thanks!

  11. Well, I tend to create a lot of pages with different backgrounds (rubber cement & watercolors, collage & watercolors, smeared crayons, doodeling etc.), but then it is really difficult to start and “CREATE”.

  12. Kristal…Thank you so much for the few lessons and a way to create Art Journaling.. sometimes we just need a push and see where it leads us..

  13. Great post. Thank you for these! Keep them coming :)

  14. Hi Kristal,

    I made my first Art journal in three days. What a whirlwind. I had three days to complete it because I am giving it to my daughter who is traveling to Asia for four months. She loves journals so I thought I could make one. Your ideas has helped me so much. I was afraid of the blank page and not knowing what I was doing. I had ten watercolor gesso pages to fill which are 11 by 9 I think. I decided to create my own for lack of time and money and to make sure I liked doing it and I do. :).

    I just have a couple of questions. Is it necessary to apply a medium over your finished work? I did do this on a couple of pages. I was thinking I might add some more things. And still can’t find a good pen to use to write on it.

    Thanks for your help and inspiration.

    • WooHoo! Happy dance! Congrats on finishing your first art journal! You shouldn’t need a sealer, unless you used a loose medium like chalk or something. Or, if your pages are sticking together. Other than that, no sealer should be needed. :) As far as a pen… that’s a toughy! Some work, some don’t; you just need to experiment. I tend to use Pitt pens, as they’re more like a marker. Hope that helps!

  15. Great inspiration. Thankyou. Really enjoying the course ?

  16. Wow! Just what I needed! I’ve been postponing page 1 but now I know how to start. I’m more of a pencil and ink guy, though. Thanks for taking the time and effort to concoct this marvelous course!

  17. Debbie H says

    Thanks, this post sparked a few ideas.

Speak Your Mind