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What is a Mixed Media Journal?

a handmade mixed media journal in woman's hand

My first experience with mixed media journaling was about a year ago. I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed when I stumbled upon a small, yet very appealing handmade journal. It was either A6 or A5 format (I can't remember for sure), but it looked so chunky and creative! I wanted to find it again, but I couldn't come up with a search term that was as creative as the handmade journal itself: a mixed media journal.

If you have never heard of mixed media journaling, but exciting to learn and even try it yourself, then welcome to today's blog post! We will delve into the world of mixed media journals, exploring their history, and popular techniques, offering tips to inspire your own creative journey. Are you ready to begin?

A Brief History of Mixed Media Journaling

The term "mixed media journal" was first used in the early 1970s, but the practice of creating art journals using multiple media has been around for much longer. You can track it back to ancient times and the Renaissance period, during which sketchbooks became popular among artists, scholars, and free thinkers. These notebooks contained a mix of sketches, scientific observations, and personal notes, offering a glimpse into the multifaceted minds of the creators.

However, the term "mixed media journal" specifically began to be used in the 1970s as a way to describe the practice of using a variety of art materials and techniques in a personal journal. This was a time of great experimentation in the arts, and artists were exploring new ways to express themselves. Mixed media journals allowed artists to combine their personal thoughts and feelings with their creative expression, creating a unique and personal art form.

Pablo Picasso's 1912 collage Still Life with Chair Caning is considered the first modern artwork to use mixed media. The artist combined paper, cloth, paint, and rope to create a pseudo-3D effect, breaking with the traditional conventions of painting. This work was influenced by the Cubist and Dada movements, which were both experimenting with new ways of representing reality. In the late 20th century, mixed media art took on new forms, such as installations. These works often incorporated found objects and materials, creating a sense of collage in three dimensions.

a handmade mixed media journal in woman's hand

What is a Mixed Media Journal?

Just like mixed media art, a mixed media journal is a type of creative journal that uses a variety of materials and techniques to create a unique visual aesthetic. Mixed media literally means mixing various materials in a single artwork, and this can be easily applied to journaling as well.

There are no rules and boundaries when it comes to mixed media journaling. You can use a variety of techniques randomly, trying out something new on each page, or bind the aesthetic appeal of our mixed media journal with a common theme. Use whatever materials and techniques you like any time you feel like!

Popular Mixed Media Journal Techniques to Try Yourself

In a variety of shapes and styles, there are still a few popular techniques you can try implementing in your mixed media art journal. While some of them are beginner-friendly, others are a quite handful to handle, but I still believe you'll be able to achieve good results. Let's take a look:

  • Layering and Collage: 

One of the fundamental techniques in mixed media journaling is layering. Begin with a blank page and build upon it by adding various elements such as torn paper, magazine clippings, fabric, or photographs. These layers create depth and visual interest in your journal pages.

  • Acrylic Paint and Watercolors: 

The use of paints is a cornerstone of mixed media journaling. Acrylic paints offer vibrant colors and a quick drying time, making them ideal for journaling. Watercolors, on the other hand, provide a translucent and ethereal quality to your pages. Experiment with both to discover your preferred style.

  • Ink and Penwork: 

Incorporating ink, whether through drawing or calligraphy, can add intricate details and text to your journal. Use waterproof ink to avoid smudging, and explore different pens and nibs for varied line thickness and style.

  • Stencils and Stamps: 

Stencils and stamps are versatile tools that can add texture and design elements to your journal. Experiment with different shapes and patterns to create visually captivating pages.

  • Texture and Texture Paste: 

Texture paste, gesso, or modeling paste can be used to create tactile elements in your journal. Apply these substances with brushes, palette knives, or even your fingers to add dimension and depth to your pages.

  • Found Objects: 

Get creative by incorporating found objects into your journal. This could include anything from dried leaves and pressed flowers to buttons, beads, or fabric scraps. These items can add a unique, personal touch to your pages.

  • Digital Media: 

In today's digital age, don't hesitate to incorporate digital elements into your mixed media journal. Print digital photos, use tablet drawing apps, or even integrate scanned artwork into your physical journal for a fusion of the digital and tangible worlds.

  • Writing and Reflection: 

Mixed media journaling isn't just about visual art. It's also a space for personal reflection and writing. Combine your artistic expressions with words, poems, quotes, or even stream-of-consciousness writing to capture your thoughts and emotions.

Let's wrap up...

A mixed media journal is a treasure trove of creative possibilities, allowing you to explore your inner world through various art techniques and expressive journaling. From its historical roots in ancient scrolls and Renaissance sketchbooks to the contemporary fusion of paints, inks, and found objects, mixed media journals offer a canvas for your personal journaling journey

So, grab your journal, experiment with different techniques, and embark on a creative adventure that blends the visual and written dimensions of your life. Whether you're seeking an outlet for self-expression or a unique way to document your experiences, mixed media journaling opens the door to limitless possibilities in the world of creative journaling.
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