Art Journaling 101 – Mini E-Course

Art Journaling 101 Whether you are just discovering (or rediscovering) your creative spirit, or you've been creating for years, art journaling can be an amazing tool for self-discovery and to cultivate your creativity.

But dip your toe in the art journaling world, and you might just find yourself drowning.

I remember oh too clearly how it was as a beginner trying to find my way into art journaling. There were so many different paths to take, so many teachers showing their way to do it; I was confused.

Where do I begin?

Where the heck is the starting point?

It took me over a year to finally find my way and discover how art journaling can work for me; and once it clicked, not only was I cultivating my creativity, I found myself on a beautiful path to reclaiming who I really was.

That’s why I made it my mission to teach and spread the word about art journaling. Because once you understand the basics of art journaling, and what it’s really all about; you’ll finally be able to begin with the courage and freedom to express yourself; and experiment with your creativity in a personal, safe environment where no rules exist.

So let's introduce you to the basics!

First things first...

What is Art Journaling?

On the surface, an art journal is simply a bound journal filled with color, art, or imagery with words.

But when you start asking journal artists what art journaling is to them... you'll get a variety of answers.

Some may tell you it's a place to work out their ideas, or to practice and document their growth as an artist. While others may explain that it's a safe container for their feelings, or a retreat to escape from stress, or a place to explore their inner landscape.

It can be a place to practice following your intuition, to expand your comfort zone with the unknown, to play with new art supplies, a place to heal, to reduce stress, to learn more about who you really are...

What it comes down to... is that art journaling is really only defined by what YOU say it is.

Here's a little video I created about what art journaling is. (Mind you, I created this way back in 2012 and I find it a bit embarrassing! lol But it does seem to inspire all those who watch.)

(click here if you can’t view the video)

So you see, art journaling is a tool that can be used by anyone. A tool that can be used for almost any purpose you so desire. Pretty magical, huh?

So, How Do I Begin?

In truth, you already have everything you need to get started. All it takes is some paper (whether that be a journal, scrap paper, a ripped cereal box, or junk mail!), something to make marks with, and some curiosity and playfulness.

Art journaling is all about open exploration
and discovering what works for you.

Getting started can be as easy as gathering some supplies, setting your intention, and just getting started. But that's not always so easy, is it? I know stepping into the unknown can be scary, so let's give your mind something to chew on...

Choosing Your Journal

When it comes to choosing what to journal in, you have unlimited options which can get a little confusing or overwhelming. My favorite choice? Cheap composition notebooks. Yup, those one dollar lined notebooks that you can pick up in the school supply section. Why? Because they're cheap and not intimidating. Plus, there's something so satisfying in seeing that skinny little journal get fat with creativity.

Note: when using a journal with thin pages, you'll need to prepare them first with a coat of gesso, or by gluing together two pages or gluing patterned paper onto the page. That way they'll be sturdy enough for creative play.

I've tried using expensive journals with thick paper... but they seem to hold a sense of importance to them, like they're waiting for something beautiful to fill them with. Which is NOT what my intention is when art journaling. But perhaps this doesn't bother you, and having the thicker, ready to receive pages are more inviting. In that case, check out THIS BLOG POST for some more help in choosing what journal would be just right for you. Just don't let this choice slow you down in getting started. Sometimes, the best journal is the one you already have.

Gathering Supplies

Ooooh boy... supplies! If you've done any sort of creating before, or have stepped your foot in a craft shop, you know this is a HUGE subject! With the rise of scrapbooking, art journaling, and mixed media, manufacturers are going crazy coming up with the next, biggest, funnest art supply. Which is exciting for some, but overwhelming for many. I teach art journaling, and still I can't keep up with the latest, greatest tools! But I'm fine with that. Art journaling (for me anyway) is not about the latest supply or technique. It's about getting comfortable with what I own and letting it be a tool for self expression.

When it comes to supplies, I think simplicity is best. Especially when you're first starting out. Buying all of the latest supplies will only overwhelm you. Start with what you feel comfortable with, then slowly branch out over time.

Are there any supplies or mediums you know well? What medium looks interesting to try first? What is in your budget? What do you have already that you an use?

Right now, I'm loving the simplicity of magazine images, a glue stick, and water-soluble crayons.

Making Time & Space

I often hear the complaint that there's not enough time or space to art journal... Honestly, you don't need a ton of time or a large studio to art journal! As a mother of three young girls, I've worked with what I have to develop a practice. Even though I have a whole art studio in the basement, I can never seem to get down there to play. So, I've pared down my journaling supplies to fit in a large zipper pouch, and work simply on the couch, kitchen table, or often on the floor by the fire.

Limiting my supplies to a few simple tools, and having them all easily available in a kit makes it so much easier to find a few moments to play in my journal.

Take a moment to consider your lifestyle and space. What's reasonable for you? What can you do to allow for more time creating and less time setting up and cleaning up?

Facing the Blank Page

So, you have your journal. You have your supplies. You have time and space to play... now what? The simplest answer I can give, is to TRUST. Trust in what your heart wants. Trust in your intuition. Trust in that little voice that calls out for what you desire.

Is the pink crayon calling you? TRUST. Is the page calling out to be ripped? TRUST.

Trust, then follow your urges. One. Step. At. A. Time.

If you have trouble hearing that little voice, or just don't know where to begin, here's a few approaches to get you started:

  • Prepare a few pages - Thin pages require a layer of gesso, or a layer of collage before adding any wet media. If you're stuck, take some time to prep a few of your pages.
  • Answer a prompt - Choose a journaling prompt from online or one of my prompt books, then start writing or creating in response.
  • Begin with a word - Choose a word or randomly pick one from the dictionary, then explore the word in your art journal with writing, imagery, color, etc.
  • Go for "ugly" - Just for fun, challenge yourself to make an "ugly" page on purpose!
  • Spread some color - Squirt 2-3 colors of acrylic paint onto your page then move it around with an old key card.
  • Use an image prompt - Start with a magazine image, then build off of it adding details and layers to fill the page.

Keep Moving

Don't let "mess ups" or less-than-pleasing results slow you down. Not every page (if any) is bound to be a masterpiece. In fact, I don't expect any of my pages to look pleasing to the eye at completion. And remember, if you're just starting - you are a beginner. Give yourself compassion in the learning process. What you create may not turn out like what you imagine in your mind. Just keep coming back to the present moment and enjoying the process. It is after all, the whole point.

Going Deeper

Art journaling for me is a way to get in touch with my Soul. To learn more about who I am. To listen deeply within. It's more of a spiritual practice. For that reason, I don't teach art techniques beyond basic tips to get you started. I guide you toward listening within, finding your own style, building confidence, and more.

Not ready for the deep soul stuff? If you're looking to expand your skills as a journal artist, I would highly recommend 21 Secrets and Spectrum. Both of these e-courses are a collection of workshops from many talented artists and are sure to inform and inspire you!

Art Journaling 101But, if you ARE interested in using art journaling as a tool for self-discovery and true soul expression, stick with me. I have SOOO much to share on the subject! In fact, I have a free gift just for you: a two week e-course to jump-start your journey. Yay!

It's packed full of motivation, inspiration, and simple wisdom to get you expressing yourself fully in your journal.

Originally posted as a series on the blog, Art Journaling 101 has since been growing and evolving into a resource that has inspired thousands and continues to inspire!

This course was just what I needed to get started with art journaling. Kristal covered the questions & fears I had about art journaling [and] helped me to find the confidence to dive into it. Thank you. ~Christine R
Kristal is a genuine teacher-she is friendly and supportive. I am glad I took this course because I can now art journal in a way I couldn't before-with less self-criticism and more acceptance. ~Jennifer Spedowfski-Martin

For about two weeks, you'll receive daily lessons (full of images and videos) as we dive into the basics such as choosing a journal, what supplies to use, journaling fundamentals, stating your intention, creating sacred space, and more. As well as talk about the obstacles you may encounter such as finding time to journal, overcoming the fear of the blank page, the "research trap", and others.

Ready to get started?

Sign up now to ease your way into this wonderful world of art journaling and you’ll receive the first lesson instantly!

The cost? FREE!

Sign up to get the Free
Art Journaling 101 E-Course!


For about two weeks, you’ll receive daily lessons (full of images and videos) as we dive into the basics such as choosing a journal, what supplies to use, journaling fundamentals, stating your intention, creating sacred space, and more. As well as talk about the obstacles you may encounter such as finding time to journal, overcoming the fear of the blank page, the “research trap”, and others.

**PLEASE NOTE** Signing up for our free class by entering in your Name & Email above will automatically add you to our Newsletter list after you've received the initial course emails. We value your privacy and will protect it. Read our Privacy Policy for all the details. You are always welcome to unsubscribe at any time. If you’d like to request to receive the free class without being added to our list, please email me at: hello {at}

Why free? I believe in art journaling. So much so, that I want EVERYONE to at least give it a try. Art journaling has helped me open up so much in my life, I want to spread the word. So, this is my gift to you.

More on what others are saying:

Kristal is VERY informative on how to begin your art journaling journey!! I highly recommend taking her mini course especially if you are a beginner like me! It is full of tips, inspiration and clarity on what Art Journaling really means! ~Stephanie
This was one of the best art journal online classes I've completed. Kristal is an excellent instructor and I'm grateful for her gift of sharing all this material!
The course has helped me week by week to get my head around art journaling and learn whatever you create… it's your style… and its ok… in fact… it's just great! make it your own! So thank you for this course Kristal, it has CONFIRMED and SUPPORTED my own ideas and thoughts on art and journaling and through your videos, although talking to us all, you make it feel so personal. ~Paula Rosbrook
As the mom of a special needs child, it can be very hard to make time for myself. This course was the PERFECT thing to get me inspired and back on track to my self-care practices. Kristal does a wonderful job of making each lesson motivating.
This was my first time taking an art journaling course. As a beginner art journaler, I started many pages, but I couldn't move pass that point. This course gave me the inspiration to move past that point and to enjoy the freedom in being me. I am excited!

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