Cute, Sweet, Illustration-Style Art Journaling

Jane Davenport has inspired many people to create elegant and charming illustrations in their journals. She’s made this easy with how-to books, as well as useful & innovative art supplies.

Here’s her story, in her own words.

I bought one of her books, Beautiful Faces, because I felt like I was getting into a rut with my usual illustration techniques. (Generally, no one is likely to call my journals “cute,” but sometimes I’m aiming for pretty… and needed some insights. Jane’s book definitely helped.)

It’s just one of Jane’s many books you’ll find at Amazon.

Next, in this demo, she shows how to use her die-cut embellishments. Wow! (I can see ways to use them in some Goth- and Steampunk-style artists’ journals, too. Purples, metallics, and so on…)

And here’s Tamara Laporte (Willowing Arts) demonstrating some of Jane’s art supplies. She starts with a blank page, then sketches in pencil, and then… well, you’ll see. (I’ve started the video at the 23-minute point. If you want to see the full unboxing, start from the beginning.)

If you like Tamara’s approach, take a look at the sample projects on her “Create Your Life” book page at Amazon. Those ideas may be all you need to start experimenting with new drawing, painting, and mixed-media techniques, right away.

But… no matter what your art journaling style, if you’re including your own illustrations, consider those materials and techniques.

Personally, I’m experimenting with magazine photos, pasting them (with gel medium) onto a painted page, sealing them with more gel medium, and then drawing & painting over them.

Lots of layers.

Not necessarily sweet or romantic, but these techniques & materials can work for more extreme artists’ journals, too.

Mixed Media Ideas for Art Maps and Landscapes

Maps, cityscapes, landscapes… they’re not just for travel journals.

There are many ways you can include them in your personal art journals, too.

First, here’s Brie Hatton demonstrating urban sketching in her art journal. For many people, this is the easiest way to draw and paint local scenery in a journal. You can go for a walk, or sketch what’s outside your window.

The full video is about six minutes long, but I’ve set this to start at the four-minute mark. At that point, she’s done a light pencil sketch and has started using a marker over it, for her final lines. That’s what interested me the most: how she completed her sketch as a finished art journaling page.

Full video link:

The pen she’s using for the final, darker lines is a special Sailor Fude pen you can find at Amazon.

rainbow stripe dividerMaybe drawing isn’t what you had in mind, but you’re still intrigued by landscapes.

If you’d like to create fine art abstract landscapes in your artists journal, I think Cathy Mevik’s demo will inspire you. If you’re not a painter, don’t let this scare you; I think anyone can create landscapes like these.

The video a little over 11 minutes long, but – for those who’d love to paint like this – it’s time well spent.

Video URL:

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At the other extreme, here’s what James Gulliver Hancock draws. It’s a two-minute video, and he explains why he draws buildings, and what he learns as he draws them.

Video URL:

rainbow stripe dividerAlso, I kind of love that one of his books – with buildings and maps – became an interactive exhibit. This half-minute video is worth seeing:

Video URL:

rainbow stripe dividerIf you’d like to explore making maps, this book looks fascinating.  As soon as I saw this review video, I ordered the book. (The video is eight minutes long, but you’ll get the general idea in the first two or three minutes.)

Video URL:

I thought it was okay, but I’ll admit it didn’t inspire me as much as I’d hoped. Here’s the Amazon link, anyway. Use the “look inside” to decide if it’s your kind of book: The Art of Map Illustration

rainbow stripe dividerIf drawing and painting aren’t your strong suit, don’t despair. You can still bring maps and architectural designs to your journaling.

Here’s a landscape-y, map-y kind of art journaling demo. It’s by Carolyn Dube, and she uses a stencil, some acrylic paint, and a pen. The video is about four minutes long, and – once you get the idea – you can fast-forward through it to see how she completes it.

Video URL:

The stencil is by Maria McGuire for StencilGirl, and you can find a similar stencil by her – and other StencilGirl artists – at Amazon.

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And finally, for oh-my-goodness inspiration…

At first, Blythe Scott’s work may look like modern landscapes but, close-up, you’ll see mixed media elements. She’s using some materials that never crossed my mind, and they could go into a mixed media artists journals, too.

This five-minute video includes breathtaking outdoor scenes, how her art is inspired, and some great insights about studio work, using drawing, painting, and mixed media elements.

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A Curious Lifestyle and Super-Creative Art Journaling: Dan Price

This 12-minute video is from Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Club, showing the progress of “Moonlight Chronicles” art with Dan Price. I think it’s a wonderfully inspiring example of how you can share your art journaling with others.

Here’s a 35-minute video showing where Dan Price lives and works, in an underground, kind of Hobbit-ish home.

Short, Fast Art Journaling Inspiration – Art of Danny Gregory

Need a quick jolt of inspiration for your art journaling? These brief videos can help… a lot!

Danny Gregory is an icon of art journaling. His artists journals were among the first to go viral, starting with his art journaling website and his books, including The Creative License – Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are.

Danny’s art is diverse. Watching these videos, I was inspired to break out my pens & paints, and start randomly journaling my day.

Here’s a brief (less than one-minute) video noting how drawing makes you see better. I like that he’s not super-finicky about things being perfect. Everything is suggested, and gives you a sense of what he’s drawing. It’s not intended to mimic a photograph.

A five-minute video about journaling your breakfast…

And – also from Danny Gregory’s YouTube channel, here’s a brilliant, short video about learning to watercolor in three minutes. This demo is by Felix Scheinberger and I picked up some really useful tips. (I’m not so sure about using a lighter to dry the art faster, but – other than that – I’m ready to try some of his ideas.)

If you’d like to see how Danny Gregory uses pencil + watercolor in a journal – following Felix’s tips – the last couple of minutes of this next video add more insights about this technique. That’s why it starts around the 3:56 mark.

(The full video is worth your time, but I’m mindful of friends who want to get to the art instruction, ASAP. So, if you want more insights, just pause that video & start it from the very beginning.)

SketchCrawl Inc.?

The good news is, the next announced sketchcrawl is October 16th.  I may organize one around Salem, MA.  It could be cool.

Well, maybe.

Right now, I’m on the fence. The email I rec’d from was very different from the fun, wide-open, no-rules announcements of the past.

First, there was this:

– A key thing, help us spread the word!
If you are reading this, we are sure you have a number of friends that might be interested in this as much as you are. Tell them about SketchCrawl! Let’s share this idea with the rest of the globe. No borders.

“No borders.”  I like that reminder. The idea of a global, art-based event always delights me.

So, I was in a happy mood, already thinking about where I’d like to organize a sketchcrawl in October.

Then, I reached the list of rules that weren’t on previous SketchCrawl announcements.  Here they are, cut-and-pasted from the email.

When you participate, please remember to:

-Notify us of any sketchcrawl events (as applicable)
-Link back to
-Give credit to Enrico Casarosa as the founder
-Must be a non-profit event
-Include sketches in and Flickr pool (as applicable)
-Try and time your sketchcrawls with the World Wide dates we promote at

Those sound reasonable enough, individually, but — in combination — they seem a little too much like corporate rules.

I did a quick check.  So far, the U.S. Trademark Database doesn’t show anything when I search for “sketchcrawl,” so the term “sketchcrawl” is still free to use without trademark-type restrictions.

However, it bothers me that I even thought to do that.

I may have to come up with a new word for these kinds of adventures.  I’m fine with giving the founder credit voluntarily, linking back to the official site, and so on, but… I dunno about this email from them.  Something in those rules feels a little hinky*.

Maybe it’s just the times, y’know?  Maybe I’m being hypersensitive. I’m seeing people staking out their own territory, trying to make money off things that were initially created to be free, fun and cool.  I don’t want to see SketchCrawls edging in that direction. It’d be like someone slapping a trademark on Earth Day.

I’m watching what’s going on, cautiously.

*”Hinky” is a reference to a term used by one of my favorite characters in the TV show, NCIS, to indicate something that’s not quite right.   (No, I don’t usually watch NCIS. I don’t like crime shows.  However, the character in the show… she’s truly cool.)

Sketchcrawl – 15 May 2010

sketchcrawl* is a full-day of sketching or drawing in a journal, or on some other art materials such as paper, canvas, etc.

It’s usually part of a stroll, alone or with a group, looking at scenery in one general location.

Sketchcrawl Supplies

The website suggests a list of supplies for your sketchcrawl,

I suggest:

  • A small notebook or sketchpad as a journal.
  • A pen or pencil, for drawing lines.
  • An eraser, if you’re sketching with a pencil.
  • Something to add color, like watercolors (and water, and a brush), or colored pens or pencils.
  • Tape, to fasten ephemera in your art journal.
  • Snacks, in case you get hungry.
  • Optional: A camera (you can use your phone), in case you want to add printed photos to your journal, later.

My advice: Keep your art supplies simple and as light (and perhaps small) as possible.

Here are some ideas for making your own mini-watercolor palette:

And here are the tiniest homemade watercolor palettes I’ve seen, in a 16-minute video:

What does a sketchcrawl journal look like?

Sketchcrawl supplies and examplesWell, in July 2009, I took part in a sketchcrawl around Boston’s Freedom Trail. (You can see some of my 2009 sketches starting at

Sketchcrawls are great practice for creating travel journals, too. The materials & techniques are the same, so why not try a sketchcrawl somewhere near your home?

Then, when I travel, I take those same sketchcrawl supplies in my purse or backpack, so I can work on my travel journals on the plane. (Just remember the four-ounce rule on liquids… no big containers of gel medium, glue, or tubes of paint.)

For me, sketching – with pencil, pen, markers, or watercolors – is a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery, wherever I am. Whether it’s a local scene or a trip abroad, art journaling helps me notice – and appreciate – more of what’s around me.

*  At one point, the owner of the Sketchcrawl site claimed that the term “sketchcrawl” was trademarked. Some of us objected to that, since we’d been using the word for a considerable time before he announced his trademark plans. Updating this page, when I checked the US Trademark database, I didn’t find “sketchcrawl” in it. Whew! I’m glad he changed his mind, as – at the time – it caused a rift in the journaling community.

Sketchcrawl notes (1) – 11 July 09

My sketchcrawl day started at about 8:30 a.m. when I arrived at Alewife MBTA station.  I’d been on the road for nearly two hours, so it was a relief to park the car and begin the day’s adventures.

My first sketch was on the train.  I decided to take photos at each sketch location — when possible — to document the day in sketches and photos.

Also, like my travel journals, I kept my receipts in my sketchbook, as well.  You can see one of them, below, on the page facing my first sketch.

(The flash increased the contrast.)
(The flash increased the contrast.)
Sketch with felt-tip pens
Sketch with felt-tip pens

I wasn’t entirely happy with the b&w effect of monochrome felt tip pens.  So, when I arrived at the sketchcrawl meetup location (Visitors Ctr at Boston Common), I switched to pencil… and almost immediately regretted it.  I didn’t finish that sketch.

Start of a pencil sketch at Bsn Visitors Ctr

After that, I returned to felt tip pen.  For the line drawing, I was using the waterproof Pigma Micron pen, 08.  However, even though it’s technically waterproof, I let the ink dry thoroughly before adding any color.

Man in Colonial garb on his way to work.
Man in Colonial garb on his way to work.

The next two sketches — on one page — were drawn from the same location as the previous sketch.  Mostly, I was using up time in case any late arrivals for the sketchcrawl showed up.

Man on park bench; people waiting in line.
Man on park bench; people waiting in line.

After that, I walked up towards the State House, following the Freedom Trail route.  Along the way, I paused to sketch a man walking along a tree-covered path. (The photo was taken after the sketch, when the man was out of sight and a woman in yellow was strolling the same path.)

Next, I stopped at the top of the hill, where a man was setting up his beverage stand.

Beverage stand at top of hill
Beverage stand at top of hill
Cool and shady path across Boston Common.
Cool and shady path across Boston Common.
My two sketches
My two sketches

Sketchcrawl notes (2) – 11 July 09

As I left Boston Common, the State House was glistening in the sun.  It’s both majestic and approachable at the same time.  I like that.

My photo of the State House.
My photo of the State House.
A couple of details of the State House, as I listened to a nearby tour.
A couple of details of the State House, as I listened to a nearby tour.
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

The Shaw Memorial is an amazing work of art, conveying depth with clever use of detailing and perspective.  In shadow, it didn’t photograph well, but I can still remember my mother explaining the art techniques to me, every time we passed this site.

It was time for breakfast, but the nearby BK wasn’t open yet.  I opted for Dunkin’ Donuts… but their credit card machine and ovens were all broken.  I ordered a glazed donut just to have something to eat, but it’s never smart to start the day with that much sugar!

Park Street Church
Park Street Church

My next stop was the church at the corner of Park Street.  I decided to try sketching it from an unusual angle, looking directly up from the sidewalk in front of its door.

A challenging perspective!
A challenging perspective!

My next stop was the Old Granary Burial Ground.  It has wonderful history, and the light and shadow give it a very timeless quality.

Old Granary Burial Ground
Old Granary Burial Ground
My hasty sketch
My hasty sketch

Sketchcrawl notes (3) – 11 July 09

The crowds were increasing, and it was time to find more quiet places to sketch.

King's Chapel -  A Freedom Trail stop
King's Chapel - A Freedom Trail stop
My very hasty sketch of King's Chapel
My very hasty sketch of King's Chapel

King’s Chapel is a lovely old church, and it is still in use for services.  Since it was Saturday, we could visit and spend time sketching.  Suggested donation is $1 to visit, and you’ll receive an interesting brochure explaining the site’s history.

The front of the church looks old and very spiritual.
The front of the church looks old and very spiritual.
I enjoyed sketching inside the chapel, listening to others talk about its history.
I enjoyed sketching inside the chapel, listening to others talk about its history.

By the time I left the chapel and continued along the Freedom Trail, the crowds had increased dramatically.  It became more difficult to find any place to sketch without blocking foot traffic.

So, I visited a few more locations, and found respite at the Arch Street chapel.  I used to go to church there when I was little, and my mother and I were in the city for shopping or a concert.

The Madonna figure in the chapel, with red candles in front of her.
The Madonna figure in the chapel, with red candles in front of her.

After that, I returned to a couple of Freedom Trail sites, hoping the crowds had diminished.  If anything, the sidewalks were more crowded.  At times, I had to step off the curb to keep walking, as tourists stopped to take photos and blocked traffic.

But, everyone was happy.  It was a busy day, but a fun one.  During the day, I think I heard Italian more than any other language, followed by English and then Russian and German.

It was time for lunch, and McDonald’s seemed the simplest — and least crowded — option.

I continued to sketch, and added color to my earlier sketches.  I’d brought all kinds of art supplies with me, but liked watercolor pencils for adding color.

Even fast food offers an opportunity to sketch!
Even fast food offers an opportunity to sketch!