What’s an Art Journal and Why Do I Need One?

So what’s an art journal, anyway? An art journal is simply a place where you can empty your brain in a visual way. It doesn’t have to look “good”. You could make a whole page of solid blue, or three pages of little triangles. It’s your brain, and your space to dump it out. There are no rules, art teachers, or critics in your art journal. Go ahead and throw stuff on the proverbial floor.

And, you’re the only person who needs to see it. Maybe show it to your cat, or fish. Or post every page on Facebook if you want. Do whatever feels right for this point in your creative life.

What's an Art Journal

Why do I need to do this?

Do you ever get up from your work and stretch? Or maybe go for a walk when you’re stressed? Art journaling isΒ  another way to stretch, exercise, and free up your brain.

Here’s some science explained by actual scientists and not me (a humble blogger):

Summary: Science seems to agree that making art is pretty good for you. You can use this as a perfectly valid reason to cloister yourself away and make stuff. Because science.

What’s the difference between an art journal and sketchbook?

This answer will be different for everyone. They may be the exact same thing for you. Or you might alternate between sketching and journaling in the same book. There are no rules. πŸ™‚

For me, an art journal is more of a brain dump. I’m not trying to practice or refine anything, and I’m not thinking ahead to a larger piece. I’m just tossing down whatever my brain wants to in that moment.

In my sketchbook, I am usually trying to hone a skill; like anatomy. Or, I’m sketching for a larger project. I might sketch the same thing over and over again. I’m focused on my technique if I’m practicing, and I’m focused on layout and shapes if it’s a thumbnail for something bigger.

Does it have to look a certain way? I’ve noticed a particular style is popular in art journals.

If you search “intuitive painting,” that style is very similar to many classic art journal pages. That makes a lot of sense, since we’re putting down whatever comes to mind – intuitively.

Maybe you don’t like the style of typical intuitive painting. Maybe you’re more of a minimalist. Or you might be somewhere in between. Those are all fine, because your art journal doesn’t have to look any certain way.

Your pages can be monotone or rainbow. You can use a single pen or 10 different products and stickers.

 

Art Journal Tools

What do I need to start art journaling?

If you have any means of making marks, you can art journal. It can be with scrap paper and a pen. It can be with your finger in a drawing app. You just need:

  • Your brain
  • A way to record what’s in your brain, visually.

That’s really it. But here are some of the tools I use for art journaling:

  • Art markers
    • Faber-Castell, Copic, Prismacolor
  • India ink pens
    • Sakura Micron, Faber-Castell
  • Pencils
  • Kneaded eraser
    • If you have never tried one, I highly recommend
  • Strathmore Visual Journal in 140lb Watercolor
  • Canson XL Mix Media pads
    • These say they can take watercolor but I have not found that to be so
    • Great for pencil & ink, and dryer paint like acrylic is okay too
  • Tayasui Sketches app for iPhone/Android

Do you art journal? Has it helped you make more time for art, or helped you think about something differently?

Feel free to share this with someone you think would benefit from an art journal. πŸ™‚

Ready for more?

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What's an Art Journal

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Easy Custom T-Shirt: Doodle on Your Tee

Easy Custom T-Shirt

Here’s an easy custom t-shirt option. I love wearing clothes that are perfectly “me”, but they can be pretty hard to find. That’s especially true since I’ve decided to only shop thrift or sew my own clothes. However, there is plenty of potential in a good ol’ white tee. All you really need is a fabric marker, and a few household items I think every crafter probably has. πŸ™‚

Easy Custom T-Shirt Supplies

Easy Custom T-Shirt Supplies:
  • Plain white tee (or any light color)
  • Fabric marker (any fine-tip, permanent one will do)
  • Plain paper
  • Bold permanent marker
  • Ball Point Pins

Easy Custom T-Shirt Sketch

Step one:

I began by sketching out my design. Start in pencil if you like, but really you can go straight in with your bold pen. It doesn’t matter if you mess up, just don’t trace over that part on your shirt. πŸ™‚ You’ll see I didn’t use any of the smaller mountain lines in my final design.

Easy Custom T-Shirt

Step two:

Lay out your shirt nice and flat. πŸ™‚

Easy Custom T-Shirt Placement

Step three:

Next, slide your sketch between the layers. Adjust it until you’re happy with the placement. Then pin it in place so it won’t move around on you.

Easy Custom T-Shirt Trace

Step four:

Now trace gently over your sketch using your fabric marker. I found it easiest to go with the “grain” of the t-shirt (up, in my case). Also, I used more of a dotting motion rather than dragging the marker along the lines. This results in a light image, so definitely go over your work a second time. Then your lines will be nice and bold. πŸ™‚

Easy Custom T-Shirt Set

Step five:

Always heat set your work! Most markers come with instructions for heat setting. But basically, use the heat setting called for on your t-shirt’s care label. Then, move the iron around all over your image for a minute or so. This step is very important so that your shirt can be washed normally. Make sure to get your entire drawing. I also use a pressing cloth (or, another t-shirt haha) just to extra-avoid scorching anything. πŸ™‚

Easy Custom T-Shirt Final

And you’re all good to go! I have to say I really love how this came out. I wore this shirt to the farmer’s market with some cut-offs, and I may or may not be wearing it as I type this. πŸ™‚

Have you ever drawn on your clothes before? If you make something similar, I would love to see it! Tag @ceiltastic on Instagram.

Easy Custom T-Shirt Pinterest

DIY Festival Top, No-Sew

DIY Festival Top

As much as I like to be warm, I’m not a hot-weather person (just check out that, um, “fair” complexion). So when it gets above 90, I want to live in the fridge and look up fall desserts, or maybe photos of snowy mountains. But some of us like to party in the literal desert. Or the humid forest. So this DIY festival top is with you in mind. πŸ™‚

DIY Festival Top

DIY Festival Top Supplies:

  • A tshirt or muscle tee, any size will work. Mine happened to be a kids shirt. A too-big shirt will work too.
  • Scissors

I know, supply-intensive right? And because this DIY will take you all of 10 minutes, your excuses are evaporating.

DIY Festival Top

Step one:

First, layout your tee all nice and flat.

DIY Festival TopDIY Festival Top

Step two:

Then, if you like, lay a halter top that fits you over the tee as a guide. Or just free-hand it. Either way, trim off the sleeves and make a nice scoop up to the collar. Go through both layers. Just make sure you leave a solid 1-inch piece at the thinnest point.

DIY Festival Top

Step three:

Next, flip your tee over, and make a horizontal cut through the top layer (closest to you) only. Start where the arm holes end and give it a little scoop action. πŸ™‚

diy-festival-top-step-5

Step four:

Now make the straps that will tie behind your neck. Cut up vertically from your back-scoop to the collar. Meet up with the cuts you made on the front, again making sure that your strap is at least 1-inch thick at it’s thinnest. I flared out the ends of my straps, but you do you.

DIY Festival Top DIY Festival Top

Step five:

Next, stretch out the fabric along ALL your cuts. The edges will roll up and give you a more finished look without sewing. πŸ™‚ You can pull pretty hard, just be gentle on the seams at the collar. Your top will stretch A LOT, but don’t freak out, we’ll make it tighter in the next step.

DIY Festival Top

Step 6:

Then from the center back, measure down about 2-inches and cut horizontally across the whole back. Cut just to the side seams, and only through the top layer (closest to you). Then cut this new strip in half. Stretch these out like you did in the last step. You’ll use these back straps to tighten the body of your top to your liking. This is why this tutorial will work with any size shirt, you can simply adjust the fit with these straps. πŸ™‚

DIY Festival Top

Finally, try it on, tie it up, and you’re all done! I’m going to make a few more of these and experiment a little with the strap and fringe size. It’s definitely hot enough now to have a few these on hand. Happy summer!

DIY Festival Top

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DIY Kimono From a T-Shirt (No-Sew Option)

DIY Kimono, After

 

One of the best ways to be responsible with your style choices, in my opinion, is to embrace DIY fashion and thrifting. It’s easily the most fun form of recycling, am I right? And I mean who doesn’t like spending $2 on a shirt??

I knew there had to be a use for all those super soft t-shirts that were just too big for me. I also knew I wanted a kimono, but I knew I could make one. Unfortunately I just moved and my sewing machine is in storage.Β  So a no-sew, DIY kimono it is!

diy-kimono-beforediy-kimono-suppliesDIY Kimono Supplies:

  • Oversize t-shirt
  • 2 yards of fabric trim (any kind will do; tassel, feather, ruffles, whatever suits your style)
  • Permanent fabric glue
  • Fray stopper (if your trim will fray like mine)
  • Fabric pencil/marker/chalk
  • Fabric scissors
  • Ball point needle & matching thread (if you want extra reinforcement, totally optional)

If you have to buy everything, excluding scissors and needles, this will cost about $15. This project will only take you about an hour (if that), excluding glue-drying time.

See that blue ribbon? Didn’t use it. It was not ribbon, it was elastic. πŸ™‚ Always read the label, guys, always read the label. But a contrasting ribbon would be a nice touch, don’t you think?

diy-kimono-close

DIY Kimono

Lay your shirt out flat, and find the center. You can mark it with your pencil to help you cut straight, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. πŸ™‚

DIY Kimono

Cut down the entire center, including the collar, on the top layer only.

DIY Kimono

You’ll now have a vest-type deal, so let’s kimono it instead.

DIY Kimono

Sketch out a curved neckline (see below), or you can just free-hand it like I did. You want to take off the whole collar and leave a nice, smooth line.

DIY Kimono

Trim up any jagged edges (it still doesn’t have to be perfect). Then stretch the fabric along the cuts. Stretch vertically down the middle, and side to side on the back of the collar. This will roll up the raw edge for you, no need to hem. You’ve probably seen t-shirts with this unfinished edge before.

You can tug pretty hard for most of it, just be gentle on the top shoulder seams or they will rip. πŸ™‚

DIY Kimono

Now flip your kimono over to the back and lay your trim on top of it.

DIY KimonoDIY Kimono

Put fray stopper on the edges if you need to.

DIY Kimono

If not, get your permanent fabric glue and start running a steady line beneath the top edge of your trim. I used the top stitching of the bottom hem as a guide. Press the trim down gently as you go.

Most good-quality glues will dry clear, so don’t worry too much about any show-through. If you make a big mistake, you can wipe it up while it’s still wet with a warm rag.

DIY Kimono

Let the glue get tacky for a few minutes. Then, press the trim down firmly with your fingers along the glue line. Let it all dry flat and undisturbed for the recommended time. Mine dried for about 3 hours.

Now because I’m paranoid, I also hand stitched my trim in place. A simple running or whip stitch will do the trick. You can also just do this instead of gluing. Use ball point needles on knits (t-shirt material), so you don’t split the tiny threads that make up the fabric.

DIY Kimono

You don’t have to hand sew. Permanent fabric glue will be washer-safe in cool water, on the gentle cycle. You do have to wait a few days for the glue to fully cure before washing, just follow the instructions. If you plan to do a lot of embellishing type DIYs, I would spend the $3 on mesh laundry bags so you can be extra-gentle when washing your creations.

That’s it! I couldn’t believe how quick and simple this was, and I was taking pictures of the whole thing. You can knock this out in no time and it’s a great addition to your wardrobe. Or a friend’s, if you need a quick gift. πŸ˜‰

Think you’ll make a DIY kimono? Tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see it! @ceiltastic

DIY KimonoDIY Kimono Pinterest

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