Art Journal

Cover Page Artist's Journal

This is my Art Journal.  I started it after seeing some of a friend’s altered books and finally having it strike a chord in me.  I’d read about altered books and art or artist’s journals but seeing and holding one in my hands made the difference.  (Thanks, Michelle).

You can click on any of the pictures and get a larger view.

An art journal doesn’t have to be in an altered book and an altered book can be many things other than an art journal.  But for me, the two came together and I was inspired and excited to get started.

Some months ago, Rem and I were out for a Sunday drive and found a little antique and collectibles shop and I discovered this book.


If that isn’t beautiful enough, how about the title?

Wild Life

I couldn’t find a copyright date, but the inside cover has an inscription “Christmas – 1913  To Dad from Jack”  I’d found my book. I just found a copy online that has a copyright of 1881.

The book was falling apart but I was going to give it new life as my Artist’s Journal.

Inside Cover Spread

I wanted to keep the inscription so I covered over the words with a piece of tape and painted around them, creating a two-page spread of banners and blue sky.

Here is a definition that I like for Art Journal that I found online:

An art journal is a journal or diary that has a strong visual element to it, an expression of your artistic creativity and imagination, not filled only with words like a traditional journal. It’s a journal for using your art to express your memories, dreams, and thoughts. How you create the images, and what type of imagery you make, is entirely a matter of personal choice. There are no rules. You can paint or draw, use pen and ink, photos, collage, doodle, stickers… anything and everything.

That is from guide,  Marion Boddy-Evans, an artist and writer.

Back to my old book.  It was written by Gustavus Hines, a missionary, about mission work around the world but mostly in Oregon.

I redid the title page.  I kept some of the original wording (I love “the fearless explorer of the Northern Pacific Coast”).

Fearless Explorer

I skimmed through the book – lots of this kind of stuff:

This part the author flatters himself will supply the Christian public with a needful desideratum with respect to the true character of that important Mission and of the courageous and self denying men who were the first to carry the Gospel across the Rocky Mountains and to proclaim it along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

I tore pages out to make it thinner because I will be gluing other layers in. For every two-page spread, I glued several pages together to make them stronger.

Illustrated Page Spread

As I started working on my own art journal, I looked online at other art journals of which there are many.  Here is a quote from Corey Marie Parkhill.  She is an artist and blogger and she not only does her own beautiful art journal pages but she crafts and sells art journals.

Journal = Journey

A shopping trip to BLICK Art Materials in Berkeley resulted in these hearts, punched out from the shopping bag.

Brown Paper Hearts

Brown paper hearts with dictionary washi tape reinforcing the pages.

Close Up Hearts

Driving to work on a wet November morning, the stormy sky, dark with low clouds, was a perfect backdrop to a row of trees, brilliant in their fall foliage.

Simply Trust

I remembered a song we sing in choir and used the lyrics The blue paper background was perfect to recreate what I’d seen in the morning.

The leaf was stamped onto a page torn from the book, inked and embossed in layers, cut out, and inserted into the book.


This next spread has a technique I probably first learned in nursery school.  Paint dripped on paper, folded in half and then unfolded to create a design.

I covered the pages in white gesso and let it dry before dripping and smooshing paint between the pages.  It looked like a butterfly, especially once I added the black detail.

Butterfly Flutterby

Songs weave together words and music.  That was what I wanted to do for this page: woven words & music.

Woven Words & Music

I used strips of paper woven with bands of music-printed washi tape.

Title Words & Music

I have another ongoing book, similar to an art journal that I’ve kept for years.  It is my Image Journal.  For that I have and continue to collect pages torn from magazines, along with postcards, old calendars and greeting card that I use to put together themed pages.

From my Image Journal collection I found this beautiful centerpiece from a Real Simple magazine article.  It was just what I wanted for Thanksgiving.  The background has been covered in gesso and stamped with a blessing.


An early morning walk inspired these pages.

Spiderweb with Dots

Foggy Morning

Coming from the parking garage on campus one morning, I saw a beautiful gingko tree and the bench and ground underneath thick with yellow leaves.

Bench Covered with Leaves

It rained the next day and the wind and rain stripped all the leaves off the branches and made all the leaves on the ground into a dark, sodden pulp.

The leaf is made of yellow paper.

Gingko Leaf (of paper)

This patchwork quilt is made from 30 small squares of paper, each one with the same curve sketched into it.  After coloring a design on each square, I put them together to form circles.


The patchwork pages were made in December before the holidays.

We were moving to a new office at work, I got sick with a bad cold that wouldn’t go away and my journal sat untouched for months.  I packed it in with other craft supplies for our trip up the coast to Sea Ranch and made some new entries.

Sea Ranch

Sea Ranch. Ahhhhh.

In which we celebrate

This isn’t really the view out the window because I don’t have the artistic skills to paint what I’m seeing.  But it captures the flavor of the view for me – and really one of the things I love about Sea Ranch.  Water and sky.

Water and Sky

The following page has an Anne Lamott quote, which my mom shared with me recently..  It is so obvious but somehow easy to forget.

When I got to Sea Ranch I had a twitch in one eyelid.  All I really wanted was to have no schedule, no decisions and no worries.

Anne Lamott quote

That’s pretty much how our time was spent.  Feel like taking a nap? Great, here’s a window seat and a slew of pillows.  After 6 days of salt air, visiting the lambs, working on a giant jigsaw puzzle and taking plenty of naps, I felt much more serene than when I arrived.

This is my birthday page.  Pisces girl.

Birthday spread

Not Born All at Once

Good quote for a birthday.

Edge of Waves

I did a green ferny page inspired by a green Valentine I made.

Green Fern Page

This lovely little poem by Stephen Sandy is clipped out of the New Yorker.


More about what an art journal can be.

Art Journal as Tool

Closed Door

I started this...

A scrap of road map and washi tape with the definition of journey.


As I continue my journey/journal I will post pictures to share with you.

My Artist Journal

Thanks for being on the journey with me.


Filed under Crafts

19 responses to “Art Journal

  1. michelle barrett

    Your art journal is beautiful. Love that you have posted photos.

  2. Jean

    Wow! I really like your artist journal, very creative. It reminds me of a book I found at Barnes and Noble called “Journal Spilling”. I began one and have not touched it since I moved to Seattle—but after this post of yours I might have to start up again. I agree, sometimes art is better than writing—creating a collage or something other than words is another great way to express yourself and emotions. Thank you!!

  3. violetannie63

    Just beautiful! I have books set aside for the purpose of starting a creative/artist journal but haven’t actually started one yet…this inspires me to get my act together! Lovely. 🙂

  4. Oh, I will definitely have to do this…How inspiring…and so beautiful as a keepsake to leave for family…I hope that didn’t sound morbid…but, it would be such an insight into who we are…or were…

  5. This is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!! Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Sharon

    absolutely beautiful and inspiring.

  7. HPK

    Love the art journal! Thanks for sharing (in particular, for taking all the time it must have taken to photograph and post all this).

    You have inspired me to dig out my “scraps” and actually execute the ideas I have floating around in my head … I love the mixed media kind of thing you do, plus using a book as the basis for your creation is GENIUS. Truly a one-of-a-kind piece that’s very precious.

    Keep sharing. : )

    • What a lovely comment, thank you! I am delighted to know I’ve inspired you. I hope you run with the inspiration and create some of those ideas. As for the altered book – well, I only wish it were my genius. I’ve been seeing them online and only recently was inspired myself to give it a try and I LOVE it! Thanks for your support.

  8. Pingback: Three Years of Blogging | dianne faw

  9. These are incredible! Can’t wait to give it a go! Taking copious notes 😉

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