Time to Get Real – What’s Stopping you from Starting an Art Journal Today?

So many women have come to me saying they feel the pull towards art journaling, but they’re waiting until things settle down. Or until they can save up for some supplies. Or until they can heal their bodies. Or until their kids grow older. Or until… whatever the excuse may be.

But ya know what? Art journaling doesn’t require any of those things.

Think you need a ton of supplies?

How about making a journal out of a few paper bags and some markers? Or cereal boxes and craft paint? Or how about an old book? One of my favorite ways to journal is with a $1 composition notebook and crayons.

Just because the majority of art journals you see online are covered in high quality paint, gesso, glue, glitter, and the works; doesn’t mean yours has to.

image from tumbler

Short on time or always busy with the kids?

I’ve been known to make messes along side my daughter, or limit my journaling to just 10 minutes a day. (It’s totally do-able! And I share that process in my e-course Roots.)

When it comes down to it, if it were a matter of life or death, I’m sure you’d be able to muster up a few minutes of your time. So perhaps the real issue is accepting the importance of art journaling or time to yourself. You can hear my thoughts on this and other tips on making time for art journaling here.

image by gina sekelsky
image by gina sekelsky

Struggling with your health?

I know this is a toughy. (And I can’t really speak from experience.) But there are many journal artists who create in bed or on the couch when they’re limited or in pain. Samie Harding shares some tips here on what she dubs “couch-art”.

image by samie harding
image by samie harding

I think the key here is to just keep it simple. You might be limited, but studies have shown that putting limitations on your creative projects actually increases your creativity! So if you have one working hand, you can do this. (Heck, you don’t even need hands!)

In fact, everything you need is already within you. (More on that HERE.)

And as the saying goes… where there’s a will, there’s a way.

So, dig deeper.

What’s the real excuse here?

What's holding you back?

Could it be fear? Fear of failure or that you’re not good enough? If you listened to my story, you’ll know that’s totally what happened to me when I fell in love with the idea of art journaling. I spent over a year watching youtube videos and flipping through pages of magazines, learning techniques I would never try.

It paralyzed me with fear. Fear that I wasn’t worthy of doing it myself. That I would fail, and never be able to create such beautiful work as they could.

Long story short, it wasn’t until I was able to move past these fears, put the focus back on myself, and start having fun that I was finally able to develop a fulfilling art journaling practice.

I’ve shared many tips in the past about how to overcome these fears. But the very first, most important step in moving past any fear is to simply acknowledge the fear and show yourself some compassion.

Start by being honest with yourself.

What is your fear? What’s holding you back from starting an art journal today?

Take a moment right now to practice courage and share your answer in the comments below.

And remember… these fears? Are simply that. A feeling that you can work through. (You’ve got this!) And that feeling of not being good enough? Is totally wrong. You are good enough, because you are whole. In fact, you are full of infinite possibilities.

Art Journaling ROOTS e-courseStill feeling stuck in starting that art journal? Why not delve into it with a supportive community and me as your guide. In my 6-week online e-course ROOTS, you’ll develop your own transformative art journaling practice as we let go of comparison and open ourselves up for self-exploration. Check out the information page HERE.

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  1. Thanks for this Kristal,…….i’ve been going thru ups and downs……even “chucked” a journal I couldn’t feel anything for and then dug it outta the trash a week later!!!…….but still haven’t done anything in it………grrrrrr……….this blog post , I’m gonna use it as a fulcrum and tip the scales.

    • I hope it helps Robin! How about starting by simply writing about why you don’t want to art journal? Putting down that first marks is always the hardest, but once you do things often start flowing from there!

  2. Kristal, thank you for your continued encouragement. I had posted before about my feelings of not being as good as my mother at art. She is a very talented realistic painter and I’m not. With fear of ridicule, I let her flip through my journal. She loved it! I am so grateful to you for starting me on this new way to express myself.

  3. I look at art journals and I drool. I want to start,but a paralizing stoke left me with only my nondominate hand.The result is I have difficulty in writing. I am able to paint and draw,but decent writing seems beyond me. An art journal with writing,or the written verse,doesn’t seem to be complete somehow. Have you any advise,as I spend a lot of time on my own,and journaling would suit me? Thankyou.

    • Some journal artists use their non-dominate hand on purpose! They say it’s the key to accessing your inner child and creativity. :) I love seeing childish writing in a journal. If it’s too difficult, or you’re just not liking it, could typing/printing/gluing be an option? Or perhaps some letter stamps?

    • Heather Lenton-Fritsch says

      Hi Dorrie and Kristal,
      I feel compelled to respond to Dorrie’s comment as I can understand the physical limitations interfering with my creativity. One method I have found helpful is to do digital art journaling. I use my laptop and only my laptop. It is an entirely different experience and forces me to find new methods to releasing my creativity. I will scan various materials I currently have, such as a photo or postcard or paper, and then use that as one of my resources. I also LOVE Etsy and the digital images I can purchase – and some vendors will send me free downloads just for being a customer. This is the perfect way for me to art journal and be creative on those days when I am traveling for work or need to physically take it easy. I hope this helps and happy creating!

  4. Pamela Reed says

    Thanks Kristal, my fear is not being enough. I suffer from depression and anxiety. They hold me back big time. I have all kind of supplies but I still can’t seem to get started. I would like to take online classes but I’m on a fixed income. So my fear is overwhelming.

    • I hear you Pamela. This fear of not being enough is something that I think we all struggle with from time to time. Keep working with it. Acknowledging it is the first (and sometimes most scary) step. So it’s huge that you shared here. I don’t have a particular resource in mind right now, but there are a ton of exercises and things online to help you work through this. The funny thing is, art journaling is one of those things that helps, and yet it could also be a trigger!

      One way to start, is to just start small. Perhaps use a composition notebook and just start with a pen and writing. Then, move on to one colored utensil, and expand from there. Baby steps. And you’ll gain what my hubby likes to call “small wins” to boost your confidence. :)

  5. Judith Kaufman says

    Hi Kristal,
    I’ve begun working in my journal! With paint, paper, etc. I’m even writing a little. Thanks so much for your inspiration….it’s helped me concentrate and I’m creating art as well!
    Many, many thanks! I’m beginning to use a long unused sketch book to try to learn to draw a bit!!

  6. Hi Kristal!
    You were one of the first artists that I watched when I started to research art journaling after my son died last year. You were encouraging, accessible, and adorable. You were the one who gave me the courage to begin. You kept reinforcing the idea that it IS all about the process. We all have our own unique talent, and should express it in whatever way feels natural and right to us. We are ALL ARTISTS!!!!! My art was dark in the beginning, downright depressing and sometimes angry. It was natural, and it was…..CATHARTIC!!!!!! I believe art journaling has saved my sanity and my life. I miss my son each and every moment of everyday…but thanks to art journaling….I am working through it. It is still dark art somedays…but also, filled with light other days. It, and YOU gave me (and continue to give me) hope. And, although I have absolutely no training in art. I consider myself an artist of my own heart and soul. Words arent always necessary in my journal, and the depth of feeling still pours out and shows through anyway. So, I just wanted to thank you for your continuing inspiration, and let you know that you make a difference in the lives of all kinds of artists….

    • I remember that Lynn, I’m so happy to hear that you continued art journaling and that it’s been helping. Thank you for checking in! I know how hard it is to allow ourselves to do creative work like this when we’re hurting. <3

  7. Hi Kristal,

    I just came across your website and I absolutely LOVE it. Is it okay if I put a link to your ECourses on my website for my clients? I think they would benefit so much from them. It’s a wonderful thing you are doing, well done xx

  8. Beautiful work and I find the idea of an art journal rather compelling.
    Maybe I’ll take it up at some point and even get more organised in work.
    Thanks for the idea Kristal

    Feal free what I do until my first art journal

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