Monday, June 25, 2012

Intro to Visual Journals, Part 4: Resources

[Not sure what visual journals are all about? Start here: Part 1.]
[Need some tips on supplies for visual journals? Try Part 2.]
[Need some tips on getting started with your visual journal?  Check out Part 3.]

As you begin to gain confidence in your visual journal practice and develop a habit of working in your journal regularly, you can also begin to look elsewhere for ideas, information on supplies and techniques, and to gain an appreciation for the many diverse styles of visual journals that exist.  Many books, blogs, and websites exist on all kinds of visual journals, from sketchbooks to art journals to altered books and more.  It would be impossible for me to list all of these potential resources here, but I will list a few that I have found helpful.  Of course, you are welcome to share your own recommendations in the comments.

The Decorated Journal: Creating Beautifully Expressive Journal Pages by Gwen Diehn

If you only read one book on visual journals, make it this one.  This was the first book on visual journals I ever read and the first one that I would recommend to a beginner.  Diehn does not teach a particular style, but provides clear explanations of the basic supplies (she also has a "less is more" approach) and showcases samples of visual journals in a variety of styles.  She gives simple instructions for a number of basic techniques and even includes a section on bookbinding (for the "reluctant bookbinder").  Overall, it's a great, concise, non-intimidating introduction, no matter what kind of visual journal you want to keep.  Diehn's earlier book, The Decorated Page: Journals, Scrapbooks, & Albums Made Simply Beautiful, is also good, although it covers much of the same material (with, I thought, a bit less detail on some topics and a slightly different perspective on some other topics).

How to Make a Journal of Your Life by Dan Price

This small book, hand-lettered and illustrated throughout by the author, is a great basic and fun introduction to visual journals that require no fancy techniques or supplies.  If you want to get more involved with different artistic techniques, this is probably not the book for you, but if you have a laid-back approach to visual journals and don't want things to get more complicated than what you can do with a basic pen and a piece of paper, then you'll probably love this book.  It is an approachable introduction to chronicling your life in your journal with words and simple sketches.

 A Life in Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal by Hannah Hinchman

Hinchman's focus in this book is primarily on what I would call the sketchbook journal and the nature journal - but if that's what you're interested in, then A Life in Hand is a great introduction.  This is an older book so it may be harder to find, but it provides clear information on topics such as getting started, developing your drawing and writing skills, selecting material, and composition of pages.  It is illustrated throughout with examples from Hinchman's own journals, and those alone are worth checking out.  (Her later book, A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place is also excellent, with a bit more of a focus in nature journals, nature observation, and the spiritual aspects of keeping a journal.)

(And if you're interested specifically in nature journals, I would also recommend Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth as well as The Art of Field Sketching by Clare Walker Leslie, both of which offer solid and approachable advice on sketching techniques and nature observation.)

1000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations edited by Dawn DeVries Sokol

This book might prove a bit too intimidating for complete beginners, but for those who have an established visual journal practice, it will provide endless inspiration.  The book showcases 1000 pages from visual journals created by artists and ordinary people, both male and female, from around the world.  The pages come in many, many styles - and many of them look nothing like what you may have come to expect a visual journal or art journal should look like.

Blogs and Websites
It is hard to recommend any specific blogs or websites, because the ones that will likely be most helpful to you will be the ones that are focused on journals that are in the styles that have the most appeal to you.  I will list a few that I have found helpful, but I invite you to share links to your favourites in the comments.  None of these blogs and sites are entirely about visual journals, but they are ones that have aided and inspired me in my journal practice.
  • iHanna's Blog - One of the first visual journal / art journal blogs I found, back when I started to keep my first art journal in 2008.  Hanna is based in Sweden, and her blog is about the creative life, art journals, crafts, and more.
  • Daisy Yellow - One of the best and most approachable visual journal blogs out there.  Tammy posts about art journals, mixed media, drawing mandalas, crafts with kids, and much more.  She also includes occasional tutorials on specific journal techniques.
  • Dispatch from LA - Another great blog for inspiration, if not for specific techniques.  Mary Ann Moss posts about art journals, travel journals, and the creative life in a casual, friendly style.
  • Journal Girl - Samantha Kira's blog about art journals and creativity.  She also runs classes and online courses, and posts frequent videos on journal techniques.
  • QuinnCreative - Quinn McDonald's blog includes reflections on the creative life as well as tips on journal techniques.
  • Roz Wound Up - Roz Stendahl's blog on visual journals, sketchbooks, bookbinding, and more.
  • Soul Journaling Prompts - A useful series of prompts from Sarah Whitmire if you want to get started in keeping an art journal.

This is only a very small sampling of the visual journal blogs that are out there.  Most of the ones that I listed here are more focused on art journals rather than on other types of visual journals, because that has typically been the kind of visual journal that I have been most interested in.  Again, I welcome your recommendations for other blogs and sites on all styles of visual journals!


This will likely be the last in my series of visual journal posts.  I have received relatively little interest in this series after the first post, and I currently have no plans to write further posts in the series.  If you would like to see more posts in this series, or other visual journal related posts in general, please let me know what topics you would like to see me cover and I'll see what I can do.  I'll still be posting pages from my journals on occasion.  I hope that you have enjoyed this series, and that you got something out of it that can help you in your journal practice.  Stay tuned for more great posts and reviews coming in the future!


  1. I've found this series interesting & it is tempting me to do some art journaling.

    1. Thank you, rubberstamper! I'm glad that some of you have found interest in this series. I hope that you do indeed try out art journaling.

  2. I have really enjoyed this series, and I am keeping visual journals of all kinds. Please do keep posting your pages - I love to see what others are up to!!

  3. I stumbled onto this today from a blog about pencils, and found it inspiring enough to want to start adding images to my journals. Your travel journal pages were also very beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous! I am glad to have been an inspiration. Do try adding images to your journals; it really does add a whole new layer of depth and meaning to the journal.


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