Art journaling is a kind of magic. I mean, until you create an art journal page, it doesn't exist. You create it. You bring it into existence.
That's one reason why we might get intimidated at the start of an art journal page. We don't know exactly what we will create until we do it. And that unknown factor can be a little scary...or a lot scary if your Inner Critic is especially active.
But know this. To create an art journal page feels magical once you get going (because, as we just established—it is magical!) All you have to do is start. Tell your Inner Critic in the kindest way possible that you aren't listening (la la la la la la) and just start. In no time, one idea will follow another and soon you will have created something that did not exist before.
But just in case 'just start" isn't enough to help you, um, get started, here are seven ways to begin an art journal page:
1. Begin with no idea.
This is a very common beginning. You open to a blank page in your journal with no idea in mind—but you want to be creative. Great! Start with one thing that calls to you: a color of paint, a piece of paper, a fun marker. Slap it down! Blobs and blotches are great shapes, by the way. Now, what's the next thing that catches your attention? Look around your art table. Another color? An image come to mind? More paper? Choose the first thing that comes to you and draw paint it/draw it/place it wherever you want in whatever shape on the page.
All of this came from your intuition. You listened and now listen some more. The next step—choose something else—and then the next starts to get easier. You start to see a direction—go with it. Just listen to your intuition—without judgment—to take the next step and the next and the next. Your intuition will tell you what to do (trust it!).
2. Begin with a desire to express something in particular...your feelings in that moment, an idea, a song lyric, a quote...
If you feel such a desire to express something—you do have an idea—get thee to your art journal. My advice: Have fun. Play with your idea. Be open to new ideas the further along you go into the page.
3. Begin with a plan or purpose for that particular art journal.
Many of us art journalers have have multiple journals, each for different purposes. Perhaps this journal is for daily memory keeping so your page is about "Today". Or maybe this journal is where you work in one genre: daily sketches or abstract compositions. Or maybe your journal is focused on one theme, like "the sea" or "blue" or "cats" for example.
These are just some examples. When you have a journal with a focus already identified, then you begin each page with a direction. Just go in new directions from there, page after page.
4. Begin with a focal image in hand—or an idea for an image.
Perhaps you have a photograph or an image from a magazine you'd like to use. Maybe you have an image that pops into your mind's eye and a very quiet voice inside says: make that.
Build your art journal page around that image. Collage, photo transfer, sketch, whatever. You have an image—start there.
5. Begin with a word.
it's amazing what associations we can make with just one little word. If you don't know how to begin, choose a word randomly. Simply open a dictionary or a book and point at a word blindly. Or look at the page and take the first word that sticks out for you. Then, explore that word in your art journal. What does that word make you think of? What else? Let your intuition lead the way.
6. Begin with a journal prompt.
A great way to begin is with a journal prompt. There are thousands on the internet, just ask Google. Find a good one and let your creative mind go with it. Once you begin, more ideas are sure to come. Stay open as you fully express the prompted idea.
7. Begin with a freewriting session.
One of my all time favorite ways to begin an art journal page is with—journaling! Write first and the visual will come. A great way to journal is to freewrite. If you don't know what you want to express, just put pen to paper. You can write on a separate piece of paper or directly into your journal. Write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it's a nice exercise to set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes and make it a challenge not to lift the pen from the paper until the timer goes off. Then, re-read what you wrote and find the visual—start there in your art journal.
The next time you don't know how to start, look back at this list and choose one. Go!