Get Started Art Journaling for Non-artists

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Can a non-builder use a hammer/spanner/screwdriver? Absolutely! And there is no difference for art journaling. Many artists keep a sketchbook to collect ideas but you can keep an art journal as a non-artist to play with paint. You never have to make a ‘finished’ piece in your journal if you don’t want to and you can revisit pages on different days and add things or cover them up. Think of an art journal as an edited document – it’s somewhere you can make changes. But you might want to create complete pages in one go, that is up to you.

A basic starting point for art journaling for non artists would be some supplies:

  • A journal: you can re-purpose an old book with fairly sturdy pages or you can use a watercolour sketchpad or, if you will not use wet paint, a scrapbook.
  • Gesso – this is a ground that seals up your paper so that it does not absorb the paint/media you put on it. It can also make the page a little sturdier. You can get it in clear or coloured.
  • Colour – in the form of pencils, watercolours, paints, oil pastels, crayons or even plant dyes.
  • Imagery – if you like to draw then that’s great but you can also get your imagery by printing images from computer/internet, tracing from books, cutting out of magazines.
  • Text – feel free to add as much writing to your pages as you like. Writing can be decorative, labels or diary entry style.


I made a short video a while ago showing some basic supplies in action.

There are so many ways you can art journal. You may be happy to journal about your day and keep your journal as a diary or you may want more inspiration for your pages. You could:

  • choose a poem
  • find a quote
  • take your favourite bit of a story


Check out my list of art journaling prompts if you are stuck.

There are also plenty of resources online such as YouTube (check out my Art Journaling playlist here) and FaceBook groups where you can find people sharing their techniques and process. You will see that there are many different approaches so just try following along with someone’s video to get into the swing of it. Soon you will start having your own ideas and trying techniques in different ways.

A simple strategy to get started art journaling would be:

  1. Apply gesso to your page – put it on thinly, you can always add another layer once dry
  2. Add some blobs of paint to your page and use a brush to spread them around, blending in to each other
  3. Dilute some white paint or gesso and tap a brush full of it over your page to create splashes
  4. Add some imagery (see above) that relates to your idea
  5. Add a title or quote – use handwriting/stencils/stamps
  6. Take note of what worked and what didn’t and apply your knowledge to your next page.


I hope this helps you get started art journaling as a non-artist. Check out this post for more info to get you started. Soon you will be an artist too!

Hugs, Ceri xx

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