Art Journaling Background Techniques

Sometimes, our art journals begin with a background. Those colors and textures inform everything else we do with the page.

Here are a few videos that may inspire you to try new background colors and techniques.

The first is by Purdy Creative Things. I love the variety she achieves, so quickly and with such simple techniques.

Next, this 8-minute video by Mercurial Milk presents some juicy colors and varied ideas, with useful tips for five different art journaling backgrounds.

The next video is by Maremi’s Small Art, and she shows how to create a textured, magical art background.  This video is nearly 10 minutes long, but worth watching, even if you skip ahead as you understand each step.

The next video is by that same artist. It includes several one-minute background techniques. All of them are simple and use just a few colors and tools.

The video is about 7 1/2 minutes long, if you watch it all the way through. The techniques are repetitive, but each background is unique. I think the variety will inspire you to try some of her ideas, yourself.

And, in Mark Montano‘s video – about 4 1/2 minutes long – he assembles completed artist’s journals pages.

I’m including this video because many of his techniques are fast and easy ways to create vivid, unique journal page background, too.

After watching these, I’m ready to work on my journal. I hope you’re excited about these materials and techniques, too.

Magpie Journals

Magpie Journals - videos, how-to, free clipartA magpie journal is a wonderful concept. (Magpies are known for collecting all kinds of things, especially shiny objects… but that may be just a legend.)

What are magpie journals, in the art journaling community…?

They’re an assortment of things you’ve collected, organized as (or in) a journal. Or something journal-ish.

  • They may be random or themed.
  • They can be entirely paper, or mixed media, and include random objects.
  • Items can be glued, sewn, clipped, or collaged to your pages. (There are no limits.)
  • Don’t want to attach the item? Can’t attach it? Some items could be in pockets or fold-outs.

The earliest magpie journals I could find were from a 2012 Swap-bot swap.

Magpie Journals, in Videos

Here’s a late 2013 video – about 7 minutes long – of one of those early, Swap-bot magpie journals. You’ll get the idea in the first few minutes. It’s by Diane Baker-Williams.

Link: https://youtu.be/_SGztluUtFg

Next, take a look at this 2-minute video by Wishfulkelly, and it’s described as a smash book / glue book / Magpie journal. It’s a very quiet video, with music playing faintly in the background. It’s fun.

Link: https://youtu.be/Hzy6x87zIDA

The next video is by Paula Foerder. It’s about 20 minutes long. (Her magpie journal, shown page-by-page, fills about 15 minutes of the video.) Even if you watch just two or three minutes of this, I think you’ll glean some delightful ideas.

Link: https://youtu.be/RCfSp1LanFM

Next, Elizabeth Metz (Conifer Crow) creates “magpie bundles,” which are mixed media journals you can leave as-is, or take apart, embellish, and add to. The following is a 6-minute video showing one of her smaller bundles. (This one has already sold.)

I like this video as a starting point, to imagine my own mixed-media magpie journals.

Link: https://youtu.be/Ha931rXhY-E

Also, you’ll find lots of inspiration at Theresa Mask’s Magpie Journal Pinterest board.

Free Magpie Clipart

If you’d like to create your own magpie journal, here’s a sheet of printable clipart to get you started. It was created at 300 dpi, which means you could probably enlarge the pictures to double their size (at 150 dpi) and they might look fine.

The original is black & white. If you print it on heavy paper, you could color it with paint, pens, colored pencils, etc.

I’ve tried to place the images far enough apart that you can cut each one out (or tear it out) to use in collage.

Free magpie journal clipart

To download, click on the picture
or use this link: http://bit.ly/magpiepix
(You can share that link, too. It’s a PDF at Google Drive.)

Art Journaling with Magazine Images – Part 1

Art journaling with magazine collages - how-to videos and tutorialsI’ve always been enthusiastic about collages made with images from books and magazines. It’s something anyone can do, with no art training at all.

Since the 1990s, that was one of my missions: To show people – especially women – that they could express themselves in art, no matter what.

Initially, I focused on torn-paper collages, because they were easy and were supposed to look a little “messy.”

Also, some of the words & slogans in magazine advertisements… wow! They can be great lines to include in your artist’s journal.

If you’re art journaling with magazine photos and text here are some videos that may inspire you.

First, a short video of Kelly Kilmer flipping through some of her artist’s journals. She uses lots of magazine images in her work, but also pens, paint and other fine art supplies.

Not seeing that video? It's at https://youtu.be/gVfe1wlwbd0 where you can find more of Kelly's art journaling videos, too.

In the next video, you’ll see how pitje4life adds magazine images – one over another – in her journal. (This starts part-way through the video, where she’s actually putting the images on the page.)

I don’t recommend using white glue to attach paper, because you risk it bubbling the paper, even after it’s dry. But… I’ll talk about that, later. First, the video:

Link: https://youtu.be/uo0Wsf2kaqc

Instead of white glue, I recommend something like Golden acrylic medium (Soft Gel, Gloss). I apply it gently with a sponge brush. Then I place the paper where I want it to stay. After that, I leave it as it is.

Do not smooth it, or you’ll stretch the damp paper and it will stay bubbled after it dries.

(I learned that technique from collage artist Claudine Hellmuth, when we both taught at Artfest.)

Also – from my experience – I have better luck letting the collage air-dry, instead of applying heat. (Your mileage may vary.)

Or, you could try gluesticks, as Jenn does in the following video. It’s about 10 minutes long, and she shows you exactly how her two-page collage came together. It’s from the “One Magazine Challenge.”

Her YouTube channel is Art Therapy with Jenn. Video link: https://youtu.be/H6FFrTRLf84

And, if you’re wondering where artists find delightful and deliciously quirky images for these kinds of collages, here’s Colleen McCulla‘s seven-minute video explaining her resources.

Link: https://youtu.be/EfliO_D78QE

I hope those videos inspired you to create some magazine collages in your artist’s journals. (I can hardly wait to start a new journal, after seeing these.)

If you have any questions or tips, I hope you’ll leave a comment, below.