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10 Fun and Easy Art Journal Ideas for Beginners (with Inspiring Images!)

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

Ever feel that blank page staring you down, daring you to be creative? Well, fret no more! Art journaling is a fantastic way to explore your artistic side, no matter your skill level.  This guide unlocks 10 exciting and approachable ideas to jumpstart your art journal, filled with inspiring visuals to spark your imagination and banish the dreaded white page forever!

Before You Begin Your Art Session...

Gather your supplies from the simplest of sources. No need for a grand art emporium; a humble collection of notebooks, pens, or even scraps of fabric will do. Embrace the eclectic, from old magazines to cherished photographs, as each item adds depth to your creative journey.

Let the act of art journaling be a gentle voyage of self-discovery, free from the shackles of comparison. Release the grip of perfectionism and relish in the unfolding process. It's a sanctuary of personal expression, where joy resides in the act itself, not in the outcome.

10 Fun Art Journal Ideas for Beginners

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 1. Capture Your Mood with Color Swatches:

Art journaling isn't just about pictures! Embrace the power of color to reflect your emotions. Here's how: 

Pick a theme: Is it a happy day? Use bright, warm colors. Feeling introspective? Go for cooler blues and purples.

Swatch Party: Drench your page with squares or circles of color using paints, markers, or crayons. Layer the colors, experiment with textures, and let the emotions flow.

Wordplay: Write down words that describe your mood (joyful, peaceful, energetic) and highlight them with corresponding colors.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 2. Explore Some Textures

The world is full of textures, from a pebble's smooth surface to a tree's rough bark. Bring that textural experience to your art journal! Gather your "tools", it can be anything that can create texture. Scrunch up tissue paper, wax, gesso, use bubble wrap as a stamp, or trace the ridges of a coin.

Combine paint with sand or sea salt for a gritty effect. Layer markers with pieces of textured fabric. Keep experimenting with natural materials that you can find in your backyard, like leaves, feathers, or twigs, and anything you would also use in your herbarium.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 3. Play with Patterns: 

Art journaling is all about letting loose and having fun! Doodling is a great way to relax and tap into your creative side. Don't overthink it – just grab a pen and let it flow freely across the page. Start with some basic shapes to get your hand warmed up. Practice drawing lines, circles, and squares. 

Once you feel comfortable, you can branch out and try more intricate patterns. Doodling mandalas, entangles, or paisleys are all fantastic options. If you need some inspiration, look online or take a peek at the patterns found in nature.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 4. Deconstruct the World Around You

Collage is all about creating something new from pre-existing pieces. It is probably one of my favorite ways to train imagination! Plus, it is a fantastic way to incorporate unique materials and unleash your imagination. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Material Mania: Dig through old magazines, newspapers, wrapping paper, or anything else with interesting visuals. Cut out shapes, words, or pictures that catch your eye and inspire you. 

Themed Collage: Pick a specific theme like nature, travel, or even emotions. Then, gather materials that make you think of that feeling. 

Beyond Paper: Don't limit yourself to paper! Use fabric scraps, ticket stubs, or even dried leaves to create a collage with more dimension and texture.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 5. The Beauty of the Everyday:

Look around you! Inspiration is everywhere, even in the most ordinary things. Take, for example, that mug you sip your morning brew from, or those comfy shoes you slip into every day. Heck, even the view out your window can be a wellspring of ideas. 

When you're doodling or sketching, don't sweat the small stuff. Embrace those little imperfections! Your lines don't have to be perfect, just let them flow. Instead of obsessing over getting every detail right, focus on capturing the vibe of what you're drawing. Play around with shapes and colors, and let your creativity run wild. 

And hey, why not give your drawing a little backstory? Scribble down a few words about why that object means something to you or how it fits into your life. It adds a personal touch and makes your art even more special.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 6. Get Lit (Literally!): Experiment with Light and Shadow

Grab a lamp or just imagine one, and let it cast those dramatic shadows across your sketches. Go wild with different angles and intensities, from that harsh overhead glare to the gentle caress of side lighting. 

Now, let's get artsy with silhouettes. Cut out bold shapes from black paper and stick them onto your pages. Then, jazz up the background with splashes of color or funky patterns to make those silhouettes really pop. And for a super cool twist, why not add some glow-in-the-dark magic? Paint hidden elements on your page that come to life when the lights go out.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 7. Art = Happy Accidents

Art journaling is all about exploration and embracing the unexpected. Sometimes, happy accidents can lead to the most creative results! 

Ink Blots and Splatter Fun: Drip ink or paint onto your page and let the splatters guide your creativity. See shapes or figures emerge? Use them as a starting point for a drawing or collage.

Watercolor Washes: Let watercolors flow freely across your page. The unpredictable nature of the medium can lead to beautiful textures and unexpected color combinations.

Embrace Mistakes: Don't worry about erasing! Mistakes and imperfections can add character and a unique story to your art, junk, or mixed media journal.

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 8. Listen Up: Art Inspired by Music

Music has the power to evoke your deepest emotions! So, you can freely use your favorite tune as inspiration for your art journal! First off, cue up your favorite jam. Whether it's something chill or gets you pumped, pick a tune that speaks to your soul. Now, let that melody flow through your fingertips onto the pages of your journal. Think colors that match the vibe or doodle abstract shapes that groove to the rhythm. 

Oh, and don't forget those catchy lyrics! Scribble them down or get crafty with a collage. Let the music guide your creativity and watch your journal come to life in the most melodious way possible! 

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 9. Travel the World aka Destination Doodles:

Ever dreamt of exploring exotic places? Let's spice up your art/travel journal with some travel-inspired doodles! Dive into travel magazines or scroll through those online vacation pics you've been saving. Time to get inspired by those dreamy destinations! Now, let's get down to business. Forget about nailing every detail. Instead, focus on capturing the vibe of the place. Sketch out those iconic landmarks or doodle some cultural symbols. Think simple sketches or funky patterns – whatever floats your artistic boat. 

Next step? Layer it up! Grab a map and let your imagination run wild. Add in those landmarks, draw up some mouthwatering local grub, or even doodle locals strutting their stuff in traditional garb. Let's embark on this artistic adventure together!

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages

  • 10. Tell a Story Without a Single Word:

Telling a story without saying a word? Yup, it's totally possible, all through your art journal! Picture this: you've got your journal, a blank page staring back at you, and a bunch of ideas buzzing in your head. Well, why not dive into the world of sequential art, you know, like comics and graphic novels? It's like having your own mini storyboard right there on the page. 

an opened sketchbook with creative illustrations on its pages


These are just a springboard to get you started. The possibilities for art journaling are endless, so let your imagination be your guide! Remember, there are no mistakes in an art journal – just happy accidents waiting to be discovered. Happy journaling!
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