Art Journaling 101 – Making Time + Space

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.

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Being able to live the creative life of your dreams isn’t about timing, or chance, or luck… its about doing the work to create the life you want. All creativity really needs is a little bit of time and space to flourish. But these are two of the hardest things to give yourself. So, here are a few simple tips to make it happen:

Declare Your Why

Many of the excuses that we give ourselves about why we can’t express our creativity stems from the misbelief that creativity is not important. So, take a moment to think about why you want to art journal, or why creativity is important to you. How would it effect your life or make you happier? Write it down, or perhaps create a poster to pin on your wall as a reminder.

Simplify Your Life

When you keep things simple, it gives you more breathing room in life to be able to do the things that you really want to. So de-clutter your home, de-clutter that to do list, and de-clutter that calendar! Learn to say no to invitations that are not so important to you, and say no to purchasing something that will only add to clutter.

Optimize Your Space

The best thing for your creativity, would be to have a dedicated space for it… even if it was just a tiny little corner of your home. It is so much easier to find a few moments to play in your art journal when everything is set up and ready to go. But, if its absolutely impossible for you to have a dedicated space, then put together a kit or something that you can easily take out and put away. Take a moment to consider what you can do in your home to be able to spend more time creating, and less time setting up and cleaning up.

Make it a Routine

When you want to incorporate something new in your life like art journaling, you need to pick a specific time of day and stick to it. Doing it right after a task you already do every day (like eating lunch for example) will create a trigger for you, so your mind automatically goes straight to art journaling after your trigger. Then, it just becomes a part of your day without even thinking about it.

Keep it Fun

When you do have time for art journaling, be sure to keep your attitude light and fun. Don’t stress over the outcome or make it a chore, or you’ll be less likely to do it again. You should also expect and embrace imperfection. Nothing is ever perfect. Just let your creativity flow through you and enjoy the process.

Has any of these tips helped you? Do you have another tip to share with us? Leave me a comment below!

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  1. Sharon Rivera says

    I LOVE the info that you shared!! It was wonderful information and I felt so encouraged and realized there were some things that I need to change. Thanks Kristal!!!

  2. What great advice! When I had more time earlier this year, I was doing some thing in my art journal everyday, I need to get back to this habit.

  3. Great tips! One way I actually manage to get creativity in on a regular basis is having a space set up for it (as you said even just a kit, so I have a creativity to go kit and a drawer) that are packed with time freindly creative bits.
    I also remember when I sit down to journal I don’t have to do an hour, I don’t have to finish the page I can start it, spread some paint, slap down an image etc. Even 5 minutes is a great place to start.

  4. I like the part about embracing imperfections. Give yourself room to make mistakes and learn from them. I think I really need to loosen up and do this and not be blocked by wanting to get it right, whatever that is!

  5. Karin Hofvander says

    YES! And when it comes to Art Journaling so should everyone else’s opinions away from your head!
    It’ll be my own time to myself, not a lecture on how I should be able to perform a new masterpiece painting. There should be a moment of fun and no requirement for perfection, an Art Journal reflects me and my life …. and I’m not perfect just plain human.

  6. Really am enjoying your videos and feel encouraged. You are appreciative of our time in making them bite-size. The reminder to make art journaling a habit resonates with me. Thank you.

  7. Tip #5 is probably the most important one for me…my inner critic can be rather harsh so just turning off that little negative voice and accepting whatever I end up with on my page can be challenging! I have only just started an art journal and found that by just having fun and playing with my materials really worked for me.

  8. Very useful tips. Only one I would add is, look less or
    even better don’t look at the tele.



  9. Starting Art Journaling has given me permission to relax and to play. It is freeing…to go back to that time when I didn’t know how to tell time….lol It has encouraged me to pursue more creative adventures.

  10. sarah hluchy says

    I take my art journal and some supplies with me to college to work on during downtime. It’s helped break the ice and started conversations with strangers!

  11. Am really enjoying receiving your emails. Great information :)

  12. Loving your AJ101 lessons. Thank you for taking the time to make them and SHARE them. They are extremely helpful for us beginners. xxx

  13. I’m new to art journaling and love to see what everyone has made, using so many styles and techniques. My problem is that I get so frustrated when my work looks childish, and I can’t get the look I want across. I ‘ve been trying really hard to use art journaling as a relaxing, theraputic tool, and bring out the expressions I want to release. I’ve discovered that by picking one topic or word to just splash it on the paper, and work with it… I am enjoying art journaling alot, and plan to make it a part of my life for many years to come. I am also enjoying this free e-class, it is very helpful and interesting.

  14. Guess I am not the only one that is too much of a perfectionist. I really have to work on that.

    Also, life just seems to get in my way. I have a problem trying to schedule anything. Something always seems to come up. Today was one of those days.

  15. Dawn Wilson says

    I am really enjoying your videos but wonder if they are one more excuse not to start. I have all the time in the world. I have a little space that would be perfect if I just make a few adjustments. I’ve been picking up a few supplies here and there. I have a book that would work perfectly fine but now the procrastinator in me can’t decide if I want to get a different book. And then the perfectionist is afraid to put that first mark on the page. I’m actually thinking about doing the composition book idea because they are so inexpensive that I can always toss it if if totally stresses me out. I don’t mind the extra work because that’s all part of the process. All this to say that the videos are not only informative but encouraging and supportive. Thank you!

  16. Gerd Andersson says

    Thanks, for all the encouraging advice! Helps a lot!

  17. Hi, Crystal, Tip 5 is the best!…world is not perfect,…why we pretend to be, when creating? i have learn that nothing is spoiled!…with a little of gesso , or creating a texture on top you can fix any error and continue with the same page, creating something spectacular…Thanks for all the tips!

  18. Thank you Crystal all these tips are great & have enjoyed watching your video’s. Lots of good ideas just have to put them into my life now. Ha!!

  19. Hi, Crystal,
    It is easy to think you have to have a formal studio, all the various types of materials and lots of time, before you risk starting journaling. These are all the little flags your Inner Critic is popping up in in front of you to actually keep you from doing Art Journalling! Actually it is much easier to start if you give yourself only 15 min., only the contents of a small basket of art tools! Then as you get in the habit of journalling you can gradually try out new materials, expand the time, maybe, and even get that corner of the house for a studio. When, for health reasons, I could not go downstairs to my studio for a year, I was able to build a little nest area near my recliner with a few materials and tools, that I actually started turning my words journaling into more art journaling. Before that I would either write OR do a full painting. Thanks for the set of tips to clarify this needed simplicity to get started!

  20. I actually got stumped by the first question: what is my “why”?

    I am a Computer Scientist: I don’t deal with anything directly art-related, I don’t need to be artistic in my job, and I don’t see how being able to draw and glue stuff in a journal can benefit me. All I know is that I am irresistibly drawn to beautiful journal pages, however, I cannot justify taking the time to create my own. :-(

    Does anyone have thoughts or advice that can help me get out of this dilemma?

    • I believe we were all born creative, and it’s essential to living a fulfilling life. Perhaps you’ve been away from your true creative self for too long, and it’s calling you back. Perhaps you’re ready to do something just for you for a change.

  21. Ladonna Zimmerman says

    Loved all your tips, having most difficulty with putting it into my routine and letting go of perfection, but getting there!

  22. Jenn Gallagher says

    Excellent tips! I need to work on finding a space in my home – not the storage closet! Although those shelves are awesome in there. For now, since I am a mom of a 2 year old and a 7 week old!!! I am focusing on doing art journaling with my 2 yo daughter, when baby brother is napping. It’s a start! And I love watching her color her pages with reckless abandon. I am sure to learn from her :) Thanks for your inspiring videos!

  23. Letting go of the idea of “perfection” is also my biggest hindrances. Like somehow there is a template I should be going by or a preconceived design that I should be living up to in my art journaling. So in my WHY, it is to simply learn how to be free. I’m so excited to have found you and this program. Thank you!!!!

  24. Loved this video. Thanks for telling me I am important enough to make some ME time. Most Mothers don’t think they have time for themselves. Thanks for being there.

  25. The trigger /after lunch tip is great!!! I think it’s gonna work!!! I am looking forward to thinking about it as I eat……..keeping it simple….. Thanks.

  26. Bracing your imperfections is the hardest for me. For example I hate my handwriting but others have told how important my handwriting is because it’s a part of me. Still working on this.

  27. just wanted to say thank you for this series! it is really helpful as i’m taking my first art journaling class (online) and am a total beginner. you are filling in a few gaps as i’m doing this.

  28. cheryl phillips says

    Thank you ,Crystal, for the tips and time to give us. Love the encouragement and look forward to giving time to creativity. Sometimes I start on a plan sheef of paper then if I like it I will do the same thing with more of ths feel for it on the page…kind of a rough draft…..then I even save and use ths rough draft sometimes by cutting it out and using another way…..just saying….fun is the key for me….

  29. Krystal, thank you for your heartfelt invitation to create the time and space to art journal. I keep a daily journal that is becoming more creative and expressive. You are so right about making it a habit. My house is very small. I have a desk tucked into a corner in the living room. This is where I write and collage, and now draw, color, and soon, paint. It is a mess, meaning this is where I do some important to me work. I have a tri-fold screen that blocks the view for me into the kitchen and for others (also for me) blocks the lovely mess of paper, colored pencils, glue, inks, etc. and this has worked well for me. Your encouragement to find a space and place and then, the time, to create is spot on. I had to develop what works for me. Turns out, I developed a post-it size notebook where each day, I practice. Not overwhelming, doable, and yes, so rewarding and respectful of my need to CREATE! Thank you, your encouragement is beautiful.

  30. Love this! You are inspiring and sweet. I am going to make a special place in my house this weekend to art journal. Not having it accessible keeps me from doing it as often as I would like to. Love these little “classes”…

  31. encouraging words! I’ve been cleaning out my craft room and making an art journal area…getting excited to start in…..

  32. All the tips were very helpful to me! I think the one that helped me the very most was “to make it fun”. I’ve only have just begun doing this…and the few times I have, I found myself sitting there for long periods of time trying to figure how to make it look “right”. Thanks for letting me know I can make it “fun” :-)

  33. I really like the part about decluttering this is one of my
    biggest hangups I enjoy hearing from you and
    all the tips you give

  34. “Expect and embrace imperfection. Nothing is ever going to be perfect”
    I love this. This I need to apply to my life as a whole!

  35. Love the tip abot how I can create a space for my things. To have a basket with the sruff and to get a routine =)
    Thank U!


  36. Your advices are confirming what I want to do important. I need a space for art journaling and pick a time to do it. I’m thinking getting up a half hour before the rest of the family and journaling with my morning coffee will be best. Now, to find a good space!

  37. I love finding your lessons in my electronic mail box. I love and agree with all that you say, especially about making TIME for our art. That seems to be the biggest challenge. But then once I find the time, the challenge then becomes trying very hard to “expect and accept imperfection”! (Your words). Wow – that was a powerful statement!

  38. Kim Whidden says

    Instead of journaling every day, I do so once a week on Fridays when I know I don’t have to cook (we go out with neighbors). That way I can finish a page or two which is important to me.

  39. Imperfections, ugh… I’m a perfectionist; I tend to not do stuff I can’t do well. I’m hoping art journaling would make it easier for me to accept that I cannot be perfect. So far, so good – I make a few pages every day (I don’t work, so I can dedicate a lot of time to art journaling), and see progress, but not perfection. And it feels freeing.

  40. I am a retired widow so I have most of my time free to do art journaling. My problem is getting caught up on YouTube and the Pinterest Boards. One thing I started to do lately is to just paint and have fun. If the end result is something I really dislike I intentionally use it in my next piece by cutting into shapes, strips etc. This weekend I had a piece that I hated. There was one section, a tree, that I liked so I cut out that section and used it in my journal. I then punched out hearts and made a mini canvas and finally I used the pieces I punched the hearts out of as a stencil. Still have half the page left put I keep a scrap envelope of card stock so in it went. I felt very creative after that.

    • Thank you for the solution to my ‘Waste nothing/upcycle all you can ‘ motto that turned into a road block. I used to work in digital photography so it was no waste if I disliked a shot. But with paper, paint is different.

  41. Thank you for these great tips. The one that spoke to me was connecting my art journal to something else I do every day to create a new ritual/habit. I want to avoid electronic screens in the evening before bed to improve the quality of my sleep. This week I am going to try art journaling right after dinner as a way to wind down. 👍😊

  42. Great tips, thank you Kristal and all who have shared their thoughts. Two things that have worked for me. First, I created a page listing some of my ‘whys’ for art journalling. I revise this almost every day and helps me to re-affirm my purpose. The other thing is to leave a table in the corner of my dining room always set up with my supplies, a couple of journals in progress and everything else handy that I need to create. It is much easier to get into it when you don’t have to pack and unpack everything. I get home from work and either before or after dinner I carve some time to create. It has worked wonderfully!

  43. Hello, thanks for the tips….I am getting over being perfect on the BIG blank page. Do you have any other tips for getting into a routine? It has been 30 years since college and that was the last time I enjoyed routine. 😉 Any positive reinforcement? lol

    Sheryl Crawford

    • Hi Sheryl! Turning journaling into a routine has been a struggle for me as well, and it’s something I’ve been really exploring for the last year or so. What I’ve found is that I had to strip my practice down to a few simple supplies – like markers, a pen, and my journal – and start there. As a trigger, I used our nightly downtime, when the kids are in bed and hubby is watching tv (which I’m usually not all that interested in! lol). I sit on the couch or snuggle by the fireplace and do a little reflecting or doodling. Over time, I have found myself doing more and more, expanding the practice. But it varies from day to day of course – you need to allow your creative ebb and flow to take its course.

      I think finding a way to make it super easy is key; then just forcing yourself to do it, if even just a single mark. And ALWAYS be kind to yourself about it – some days you won’t want to do it, perhaps just flipping through your past pages or inspiration is enough. <3 Hope that helps!!

  44. MargaretGordonEspe says

    Thank you for the great tips. I agree finding a time is helpful. A few months ago, I promised myself I would draw a sketch of my breakfast, before I eat it. Hunger helps spur me on, and from there I can go sometimes go on for hours.


  45. Marcia Rawls says

    Hi there,
    I just watched your video. The know your “why” rang so true for me. If we start thinking about creativity as a part of our daily needs i think it takes some of the” I don’t have time for hobbies” type of mentality.
    This is my life. I should be able to decide some if what happens in it. There’s always another chore, something you need yo do for someone else.
    The declutter is also a goal. Do i need that or do i just want it? The minimalist mentality is who i wish to become. Clutter and too much overwhelms me. Lets keep it simple and live life to the fullest!

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