How to Decorate an Art Journal Cover, Cool Technique

Don’t think.  Thinking is the enemy of creativity.  It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy.  You can’t try to do things.  You simply must do things.

~ Ray Bradbury

Do you decorate your art journal covers?  Some like to do that first thing, and still others wait till the whole journal is full of artwork and then decorate the cover.  Personally, I don’t really think much about the cover initially.  I’m terrible about setting my book in the middle of paint or play-dough.  If I decorated first, I’d constantly be freaking out about messing it up.  It would just add undue stress and rules to my art journaling world…

My hubby, on the other hand, takes the cover really seriously.  He likes the cover of his book to inspire him and draw him back to the book.  He’s not an avid art journaler in the way that I am, but he does use his books to work things out, to practice sketching, and to show techniques.  Not any of the wordage or journal writing.  At all.  It’s a very masculine endeavor for him, and I love to sit and ponder the beautiful projects he’s working out in his books.

I’m sharing one of his covers here with you because it’s a super-cool look at a technique that you could use all kinds of ways.  In an art journal background, on a canvas, on an altered found object, on book covers…

1. He used super heavy gel to put down the texture.  He applied the gel with a cake frosting knife so it was smooth and even, then used a comb to carefully and meticulously turn the circles into the gel.

2. After it dried, he painted it white.  Then he covered it with metallic oil pastels, followed by Tim Holtz Adirondack alcohol inks.

3. He then added the fish, which is an impression of a hand-carved linoleum stamp in aluminum foil (regular ole kitchen foil) stained with alcohol ink.  He glued it on and filled it in with super heavy gel.

4. It’s all sealed in with a heavy layer of matte, oil-based poly urethane, which seals in the oil pastels, and adds tooth, which then allows you to add more water-based gel.  He used gloss medium gel, and that’s what brings the depth and dimensions of color to it and allows the metals to shine through.  The high gloss also makes the cover fairly easy to clean and resists the dingy of everyday handling.

5. He later added a brass adornment to the edge of the front.

Not only does the cover look really cool, but it feels amazing to the touch.  It actually invites you to run your hands around on the cover, which is kind of a zen thing…and it gets you into the creative flow.  And that’s what the cover should do, right?

Share with us what you like to do with your sketchbook/art journal covers.  We’d all love to see!


5 thoughts on “How to Decorate an Art Journal Cover, Cool Technique

  1. That’s an amazing cover!! I always over think my covers and end up leaving them blank because I can’t decide what to put on the front. Might have to try something like this! Even if it just turns out textured, it’ll be fun to touch!

  2. Pingback: New journal pages « Kitty is Not Amused…

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