Sneak Art into Your Life

Local Expert | Kerry Molina

Start an Art Journal

I hope this finds you having given a little bit of thought to my theory that we are all creative.  I hope you caught yourself if you were about to say that you can’t draw a stick figure or stopped yourself from being self-deprecating about your creativity in front of your kids.  Remember, it’s there and, like the treadmill you may have unearthed in January, I’m here to help you rediscover it!

This month, I want to suggest you start an art journal.  Now this term is very broad. At its simplest, it is literally art + journaling.  Art journaling takes plain long-handed diary writing to a more playful level. Prose can be replaced by bullet point lists. Adding bits of art loosens up the feel of the journal and injects color and fun.  An unstructured blank book to dabble with both art supplies and the written word, your art journal will be a place where you’ll feel free to get back in touch with your creative side. Anyone can enjoy this and throughout the year I’ll be giving you more fun exercises to try within its pages.

There are no rules.  But allow me to share what I use as a jumping-off point.  I like to use a journal that’s spiral-bound, so it can lie open flat to work on two pages or fold up if I only need to see one.  I suggest that the pages be watercolor or mix media paper. Watercolor is a go-to medium and the paper is nice and thick, so it can hold any other kinds of paints or media.  The size is up to you. You might like to start with a 7 x 10-inch Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad.

Put your journal and the rest of the supplies listed here in a box so everything is all together.  You’ll be more likely to go to your journal if it isn’t a task to gather materials every time.

And now the fun begins!  Art journal pages are any combination of art and text—sometimes more of one, sometimes more of the other.  For your first page, to break the ice, write in the old-fashioned Dear Diary style you already know. Use an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie and just write stream-of-consciousness prose—whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about spelling or any kind of editing.  Fill the page. Add a drop of water to each color in the watercolor paint set to wet them just a little, then have fun painting over your writing. The Sharpie won’t smudge because it’s permanent ink. Repeat this process any time in your journal. For the next pages, try going in the opposite direction.  Paint with watercolors first to cover an entire page or spread. Notice how using more water gives you pale colors and using very little water produces colors that are more intense. Let it dry completely before adding any writing on top.

Going forward, the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can write about and what kinds of artsy flair you can add.  Dive into memories of your past, current thoughts and feelings, and goals for the future. List some concerts you’ve been to, what you liked about them and glue in some of the tickets you’ve saved.  Make a big “2018” in bubble letters and then doodle around it the places you went and things you accomplished. Pick a word that stands for the way you want your 2019 to feel, cut out letters and phrases from magazines that go along with that idea and glue them onto a painted background.  

Art journaling gives you a personal space to get those creative juices flowing. It lets art sneak in, tiptoeing behind the back of insecurity.  There truly are no mistakes and no rules.

I’ll be back next month with a different craft, but keep those journals going. If you’d like to share them with me, you can do so via I’d love to see them!


Spiral-bound mix media paper pad
Black Sharpies in ultra fine and fine
Set of watercolors
Acrylic paints
Water cup
Variety of paintbrushes
Sponge brush
Mod Podge craft glue, sealer and finish
Glue sticks
Storage box


Kerry Molina
About Kerry Molina 10 Articles
An artist, writer, teacher, and tutor, as well as the owner of Yellow Brick Road Studio and Enrichment Workshops, Kerry Molina was voted Lifestyle’s 2018 Best Local Artist. She holds a BA in Art History from Ithaca College and an MA in Museum Studies from The George Washington University.  She resides in Gainesville with her husband, two children, and two cats.

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