Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process

art journal art journey nichole rae

I love art journaling, although I don’t have as much time (read: almost never) for it as I’d like. But while I may not bring out the acrylic paints and paintbrushes as often as I should, I do find myself devouring lots and lots of books about art journaling.

My main complaint about many of the art journaling and mixed media books I’ve read over the years is that there’s often a feeling of sameness to them. The color palettes, the basic styles, the overall look – often one book will mesh into another and in my memory they become one long book, the pages virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Not so with Nichole Rae’s Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process. I opened this book and was engrossed from page one. Unlike most other books on art journaling or mixed media, Nichole begins by plunging us right into her journaling process, and it’s a great process on its own, whether or not you decide to take what you’ve written and create an art journal out of it.

Her method of art journaling begins with her journaling process, which she does on the computer. She works with a list-style format of journaling which in her case reads beautifully, like poetry. It’s a very original, organic process, and just reading about it gave me lots of ideas for journaling different themes, which is something else she talks about. I always have so many ideas about various projects I want to work on, and I love how Nichole’s journaling process gives you permission to work on many themes at any given time:

“I often start multiple journal documents on my computer to set the writing process in motion. I save them to my desktop and am able to work on them little by little. Over time I will have a collection to use for my projects. Once I begin these journaling documents, my heart feels content to know they are created and will evolve with time. The simple joy of having them started provides comfort, knowing they are there to visit at any time.”

Once you feel you’re ready to print out one of your journal projects, it’s time to get into the creative process of putting all the pieces into a book. Nichole uses old, hardbound books for this process, and one thing I love is how she also incorporates pages from old books into her journals, in a method that’s a little similar to Austin Kleon’s blackout poetry, but with colour and without having to black most things out.

If you’re not a fan of working with altered books her techniques can definitely be applied to any blank sketchbook. I’ve made a few altered books before but have never really enjoyed the process. I don’t like having to glue pages together, or gesso them either, and I often lost the inspiration while I had to wait for the pages to dry. What I like about Nichole’s method is she doesn’t gesso the pages to give herself a blank canvas. Instead, she covers the page with a page from her printed journal and, in some cases, uses part of the page as her background or as part of the focus of the page.

While the discussion about laying out and assembling the pages is interesting, probably my second favourite part of the book, after the section on the journaling process, is the section on the creative mini projects.

“Working on a mini project while you are in the process of collecting and gathering supplies for your main project is a great way to be creative during this process. … I use mini projects to inspire my creativity and to help jumpstart the creative process.”

The mini project that appeals to me the most is the Inspirational Card Deck. There are just SO many possibilities for this one project. Not just from an art perspective, either. From a writer’s point of view, I can see myself creating writing prompts, mini character sketches, setting cards .. the possibilities are so exciting.

In fact, much of the process Nichole describes will help me with several of my writing projects. I’ve always loved combining my words with art, and Art Journal Art Journey gives me a process I can use without having to worry about my quite amateurish drawing skills.

There is an originality and freshness to Art Journal Art Journey that I really enjoyed. I finished reading it feeling very inspired, and the fact that her journaling process is one I can use for my writing was a huge, unexpected and very wonderful bonus.

8 thoughts on “Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I have a tough time doing it consistently. But despite this, the idea of journaling never fails to attract me!

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      There is such an ease to this method, Joy. And the fact that the foundation is in words – I found that so inspiring.

  1. Becca @ I'm Lost in Books

    OMG you found a book about art journaling that isn’t the same as all the others! HALLALUJAH!

    Man, I could not agree with you more that after the 3rd or 4th book on it, they all look the same! I think they are copying each other’s books!

    I need to get this one.

    1. Belle Wong Post author

      Yes!! It was so refreshing to begin reading this one and see how original it was. I’d been so tired of the sameness of the art journaling books I’ve been reading.

      And the emphasis on the list journal itself – so great for writers and lovers of the written word. I think you’ll like this one, Becca.

  2. james b chester

    I used to keep journals like this. Did it for many years and ended up with quite a few that I really liked. I worked in blank books and in altered books, made various cards. For a while I did my journal as postcards which I then mailed to various people.

    I have a shelf full of journaling books, altered book books, collage how-to’s etc. You’re so right about the overall sameness. You don’t mention photos of children in little party hat cut-outs or people with wings and crowns attached to them but those visuals along with the same color pallate over and over again finally drove me away from collecting the books.

    I moved on to other things creatively, but I’ve kept my journals. Who knows, maybe when I retire…..

  3. Vasilly

    You are so right about books on art journaling. So often they look alike with very little telling them apart. The only books I’ve found that varied are those that feature work of people who don’t make a living doing art. That reminds me, have you ever thought about participating in the Sketchbook Project?


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