Hakuna Matata – Art Journal Page for Absolute Beginners

Evening!  I hope you have had a good day – well, as good as it can be for a Monday!!  Whatever happened to the weekend?  I seemed to have blinked and missed it again.


I have had a lot of questions about art journaling recently – “What is art journaling?”, “I’m not any good at art, can I still do this?”, “Is it like keeping a diary?” So, I thought that I would answer some questions and do a brief tutorial on a really simple art journal page, that you can either copy or use to inspire you to create one of your own.  If you have any questions, please do contact me – I am always happy to help where I can.


Art journaling is meant to be enjoyable.  Do not worry about how people will judge your pages, they are for you and you alone.   Please do not be afraid to have a go – art, like anything else, is all about practice.  And above all else, enjoy yourself with it.


So, what is art journaling?

Simply, it is a sort of a diary.  You can still write your daily thoughts on the page; but, primarily art journaling is a way of depicting emotions or thoughts through colour, pattern and texture.  Some art journals contain hand written journaling; but, if you just wish to use a quote as inspiration, or a focal image instead, then that is equally fine.  Journal pages are brought together in layers, be it with texture, colour or items glued onto it and they can be as simple or complex as you want them to be.


Do I need lots of products?

I would advise starting with a few basics and then adding to your stash every month of so with a new product(s) to try out new techniques.

To start with, the one product you undoubtedly will need is something to paint/draw on.  There are many art journals for sale (I use one by Dylusions), but you can also buy a pad of watercolour card (look for a heavy weight paper between 250-300gsm).

In this post, I will endeavour to use as small an amount of materials as I can, just to prove that you do not need lots of new-fangled gadgets and gismos to create your layout.  Along the way, I will talk about the products that I have used


Supplies Used:

250gsm water colour card

White Gesso; Pebeo

Acrylic Paints – Cherry Red and Buttercup (Docrafts Artiste) and Light Magenta and Indian Yellow (Royal & Langnickel Crafter’s Choice)

Archival Ink “Jet Black”; Ranger

Blending Tool; Tim Holtz

“Go Wild” stamp set; For the Love of Stamps by Hunkydory

“Film Strips” border stamp set; Kaisercraft

PITT artist pen “Black”; Faber Castell


Where do I start?

It can be quite scary when you find yourself looking at a blank page.

If you are planning to add water to a page in an art journal (i.e watercolour paint or spritzers), I would suggest using Gesso firstly to prime your page; however, if you are using watercolour paper, this would not be necessary.

Gesso is a chalk-based paint, which provides a good base for you to add other products onto, without them seeping into your card/paper.  It comes in white, black and clear and, for this project, I applied a layer of gesso to the paper, using a paint brush, and then allowed it to dry completely before moving on.

You can force dry any of the steps in this project by using a heat tool.  This is not an essential part of your tool kit; but, it does speed up the times in between each step, if you are as impatient as I am.


Applying the first layer

Now, this is where you can add some colour.  I have wanted to do an African themed sunset layout for some time, as I love the phrase Hakuna Matata.  This was what inspired my colour choice – I chose acrylic paints in yellow, orange, red and deep pink (suppliers as listed above).

Paint can be applied to a page in many ways – my favourite way is using a baby wipe.  Yes, you heard me correctly, a baby wipe.  The moisture on the wipe enables the paint to go onto the page smoothly and also only being able to apply just a thin layer of paint each time.

I started with yellow at the bottom of the page and then moved up to orange, red and finally pink.  I swiped the baby wipe horizontally across the page to apply the paint.  Don’t panic if the first layer doesn’t look that good; as, to be honest, it doesn’t usually.  Once the paint has dried and you repeat the process a second time, the colours will blend even better.  That is your background complete.  That wasn’t too bad, was it?


Applying the second layer

For the second layer, I have decided to add some stamping as the focal point.  For this, I have used a set of silhouette stamps with an African wildlife theme to it.  I use a black Archival ink pad to apply colour to the stamps before stamping them onto my page; I use Archival ink because I want the ink to be permanent; so, if I had decided to do any other techniques on top of the stamped images, the ink would not smudge.  You can use acrylic stamping blocks, a stamping platform, or just as the stamps come from the package (in this instance, you may not get as crisp an image as you would by using a block or platform).

I stamped the animals and grass along the bottom edge of the page and then added some of the bird images higher up and “Let the adventure begin”.  I then used a border stamp to frame the remaining 3 sides.  Before using the alphabet stamps to spell out Hakuna Matata.


Silhouette stamps are a quick and easy way to add a focal point onto a page, as they do not require much messing with and you do not have to worry about how you are going to colour them in.  Another good product to have is a black pen (I use a Faber Castell PITT marker); as sometimes, with silhouette stamps, you don’t get full coverage of ink on the page – a black pen can fill in those gaps for you.

Alphabet stamps are another good bit of kit to have as they enable you to personalise your art journal page, with any quote that you wish.  If you do not have any letter stamps, then there is nothing to stop you from printing the quote out on your printer and then sticking it onto the page when it has dried.


Applying the last layer

Finally, I used the same black ink pad with a blending tool to darken up the edges even further and create a vignette effect, to completely frame the piece.  You can also use cut and dry foam or just scrape the ink pad over the very edges of the page.  And that is it…your first art journal page is complete.


Now, I will say that this was a very simple page to complete; but, for me it embodies the basics in art journaling.  Whilst I have not used texture paste and stencils, it has the colour and the texture, as well as the phrase meaning (not quite literally) “no worries” and then “Let the adventure begin”.  Art journaling is an adventure and should be worry free.  Each page you do doesn’t have to be littered with ephemera, texture paste and stencils; most definitely I love using those products; but, just sometimes, it is nice to take things back to basics, and focus on the simplicity that a page can have.

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Taking this further

The basics for this page are the same whether you choose to use sunset colours, or decide to do a sunrise (with blue and yellow) or a twilight theme (with pink, purple and blue).  Instead of wildlife images, you may prefer fairies and toadstools; but, the underlying principals will still be the same.

I wanted to keep this page to as few products as possible; as, I know too well, that adding products to your stash can be quite pricey; hence not using stencils, texture paste, embossing powder, etc.

In my next blog post, I am going to address adding texture to your work, using tissue/patterned papers, stencils and stamps, all without the use of texture paste.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be also be adding projects that I have done to this blog; be it art journal pages, cards, mixed media pieces; so, I hope you can join me for the next post and that I can inspire a little fleck of creativity and help you on your crafty journey.  Have a lovely week.

Gem x

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