If I’m in a funk, I can usually get out of it by playing in my art journal for an hour or two.
My art journal gives me freedom to express my creativity without bounds, because I know that I don’t have to share it with anyone. I know that whatever I produce, whether it’s good or bad, is for my eyes only.
If I’m working on a canvas and my inner critic starts mocking me, telling me that I’m not good enough, that no one will appreciate my art, I simply work in my art journal for a little while. My inner critic isn’t allowed near that journal.
Because I believe that every artist should have their own art journal to play in, to practice in, and to express their authentic selves, I’ve put together 50 art journal prompts for you to use when you just need to remove yourself from life and let go. You can print this list, put it in your art journal, and use these prompts whenever you want to spark your creativity.
1. Take a minute to connect with your feelings. Close your eyes and imagine what your feelings would look like, and then draw or paint them.
2. Grab your favorite novel and randomly open it to any page. Read the first paragraph on that page and illustrate it.
3. Remember in high school when you’d doodle on your notes? Just doodle until you fill an entire page.
4. Look outside and let the weather and your surroundings inspire your next art journal page.
5. Pick an object in your house. While looking only at the object, put your pen to paper and draw it without picking up your pen. Now add some color to your crazy drawing.
6. Find a beautiful picture in a magazine, cut it out, and make that the center of your art journal page.
7. Fill a blank page with shapes. Paint or color them in.
8. Imagine your inner critic as a monster. Draw or paint him.
9. Pick a quote and design an art journal page around it.
10. Write down five of your core beliefs. Pick one and illustrate it.
11. Journal about things that you love.
12. What’s your favorite fairy tale? Draw or paint your favorite scene.
13. Think about someone who inspires you. What characteristics of that person make her so inspirational? Use those characteristics to inspire your journal page.
14. Live in the moment. Journal about whatever’s on your mind.
15. Construct a journal page around the last time that you traveled.
16. Write down some of your life mantras such as, “Choose love. Follow your heart. Live in the moment.” Write them over and over again on your journal page, but use different lettering styles each time.
17. Take your art journal outside and document what you see. Write it, draw it, or paint it.
18. If you had one superpower what would it be? Journal about that.
19. Grab some junk mail and use it as the background of your art page. Paint or color over it.
20. Write down 10 things that you’re grateful for, and use them to inspire your next art journal page.
21. If you only had one more day to live, what would you do? Journal about it.
22. Pick a lyric from one of favorite songs and illustrate it.
23. Pretend it’s the New Year. Set a goal and journal about what would happen if you reached that goal.
24. Find a poem and let it inspire your next art journal page.
25. Pretend you’re a goddess. Draw her.
26. Think about something you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been too afraid to do. Draw a mountain and write your fear on one side and then what your life would be like if you could overcome that fear on the other side.
27. Illustrate your favorite moment from the past week.
28. Write a compliment to yourself for something you accomplished recently. Center a journal page around that compliment.
29. Write yourself a permission slip to stop doing things that you think you’re supposed to do, but you don’t want to do. For example, “You have permission to stop reading a book that you’re not enjoying. You have permission to buy cookies instead of baking them for the next bake sale.”
30. Journal about your unhealthy habits.
31. Draw yourself in a beautiful ball gown.
32. Journal about things that you think are lovely.
33. Think about something in your everyday life that you take for granted, and devote your next art journal page to it.
34. Draw a map from wherever you are to where you want to be.
35. Paint or illustrate how you feel when you’re at your favorite place.
36. Draw a large heart in the middle of a page and fill it with things that make your heart smile.
37. Think back to your favorite childhood memory and use that to inspire your next art journal page.
38. Journal about heartbreak.
39. Journal about peace.
40. Fill your art journal page with all the things your inner critic says such as, “You’re not good enough. You’ll never be anybody special.” Then paint over the words until they’re not visible.
41. Use Mod Podge to adhere book pages to a journal page. Use that as your background and paint or draw on top of them.
42. Pick three colors. Draw an animal using a pen, and then use only those three colors to fill it in.
43. Journal about magic.
44. Think about the last movie that you watched. What did it leave you feeling? Illustrate it.
45. If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be? Journal about that person.
46. If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? Journal about it.
47. Draw a staircase, and think about your biggest dream. Draw it at the top of the staircase and then fill each step with the “steps” you’d have to take to make your biggest dream a reality.
48. Journal about hope.
49. Think about a child in your life. It could be your own child, a neighbor’s child, your sister’s child, or any other child who see regularly. What do you want for that child? Journal about it.
50. Journal about things that make you laugh out loud.