Art Journal

To help introduce everyone to CreativeBug, Mikaela, our Community Services Coordinator, is undertaking a 30-day art journal using techniques and skills taught through the service! Check out updates on our Facebook page, or keep checking here for our daily update!

You'll need to use your BPL library card to log into the CreativeBug website. You'll use your card number and the first 8 characters of your last name in lowercase to log in here first. Then click the Day links to view the actual tutorials. 

Day 1: Packing Tape Image Transfer
 day 1 (2) Page Materials:
Photocopied or laser printed image (NOT inkjet)
Packing tape
Warm water
Mod Podge (to affix the image if the tape doesn't remain sticky)
Felt tip pen
Textured or patterned paper
Washi tape
Metallic paint

Mikaela's notes: This image transferring technique was used to create the image of the Library’s owl statue in the bottom left corner.  It was a quick and easy way to, basically, make a clear sticker of the image you want to reproduce- and it only took a few common materials (packing tape, printed image, water)! I also learned that you can use this technique with magazine images, which opens the door to a ton of possibilities. Catch me making stickers out of old Nat Geo pages unnecessarily for the rest of forever. 

Day 2: Handlettering
 day 2 (actual) Page Materials:

Prismacolor brush tip marker (or any brush tip marker)
Gel pens

Mikaela’s Notes:
Today’s technique is hand lettering… and let me tell you, practice makes perfect when it comes to this stuff. Thankfully, Michaela, the teacher of the “30 Days of Lettering” course, takes things slow. She breaks everything down step by step and builds on skills as the lessons progress. I only focused on the first 5 chapters, but it was just enough to get me started.

Once you learn the strokes and alphabet, the possibilities are endless. Feel free to jazz up your work with a simple watercolor background and gel pen outlines (though you can go a bit subtler than my over the top, Lisa Frank inspired, rainbow mess!

Day 3: Collage Making
 day 3  

Page Materials:
Images or patterns from magazines, books, etc.
Any other multimedia materials you want (paint, washi tape, pens, etc.)

Mikaela’s Notes:
I have always loved the freedom of collages- you can build a story or statement by compiling images and striking patterns and the end result can be whatever your heart desires. There aren’t rules, which is why these collage techniques are more explorations than learnable skills.

This tutorial doesn’t teach you to make a specific project, but gives guidance on the best tools to use, how to compose the collage, and how to let go of perfection. So, if you need to chill out, a collage is a great way to be recklessly creative!

Day 4: Galaxy Painting
 day 4 (2)  

Page materials:
Ziploc bag
Colorful scrap paper

Mikaela’s Notes:
The technique today isn’t a technique at all, but an exercise in being artfully messy. This tutorial series is all about throwing caution to the wind and letting the page evolve into something beautiful. I followed along with the chapter “Your Galaxy,” where the instructor created a galaxy effect by printing watercolor spatters onto the page via plastic baggie, a method I never would have tried on my own.

 My attempt turned out a bit busier and splotchier than the tutorial’s- I was overzealous with my paint and the small page size made everything a bit more crowded- but it was still fun to play with paint and let my own galaxy form in my mind’s eye. As my role model, Miss Frizzle, says, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!

Day 5: Basic Drawing
 day 5 (actual)  

Page materials:
Eraser (kneadable, if possible)

Mikaela’s Notes:
I’m terribly intimidated by drawing. I cannot wrap my head around perspective, I cannot shade, and I cannot draw a straight line to save my life, but this tutorial lets you practice.

The teacher is so chill and doesn’t get hooked up on conventions. By picking mundane and recognizable subjects for the drawings, she focuses on making sure you’re comfortable with a pencil in your hand and with getting the general likeness of the object on the page. This tutorial does not pretend it will turn you into a master of graphite, but it does help you to get your bearings and build from there!

Day 6: Patchwork Florals
 day 6  

Page materials:
Fine tip Sharpie or other felt pen

Mikaela’s Notes:
Spring finally feels real, so, today, I focused on the lesson from chapter 9 of this 30-day series on flowers.

It was fun to pick a vibrant color scheme for the patchwork and I liked balancing the different shapes and textures of my flowers and leaves. The teacher’s style and mine were a bit different (she likes sketchier, less orderly flowers… and I’m a perfectionist), but the beauty of a project like this is that the flowers don’t have to look realistic or stellar.

This was a nice, meditative way to doodle something quick, cute, and composed.

Day 7: Found Word Poems and Paint Scraping
 day 7 (page 1)   day 7 (page 2)

Page Materials:
Xacto Knife
Old book or magazine (that you don’t mind defacing)
Acrylic paints
Palette knife (or any flat tool you could scrape against a page- butter knife, credit card, etc.)
Glue or Mod Podge

Mikaela’s Notes:
April is National Poetry Month and I felt like this would be the perfect project to work on.

It can be fun to explore different ways of being creative- especially those that may be more mental than hands-on. This project combined both aspects by using a paint scraping technique to compose the background and allowing me to write my own (bad) poetry using found words from decommissioned books.

You can definitely use either of these techniques separately in other projects, but I like how they work together on this page!

Day 9 Rainbow Pop-Up
 day 9  

4 inch by 4 inch squares of colored paper (I used 5 colors)
Glue stick or double-sided tape

Mikaela's Notes:
Today’s technicolor page played with some fun 3D techniques that I learned from the 27th chapter of this really cool book altering tutorial. The rainbow was surprisingly simple to make once you got the folds

figured out- and no worries, the teacher guides you through each step. If you’re familiar with origami, at all, it’s just the general square base that you would use to start many simple pieces. I also added a few pop-up clouds using textured paper and a basic, little accordion fold on a small strip of cardstock. Honestly, you could add any cute pop-up details you want- go all in on the 3D-ness!

This technique would be great to add to homemade cards. Additionally, it is a good introduction to the world of paper crafts and origami.

Day 10: Artist Trading Cards
day 10   

3.5” x 2.5” cardstock
Whatever other materials you wish to use to decorate the card, such as:
Glue stick or other adhesive
Assorted collage materials (scrap or found paper, mementos, stamps, etc.)
Washi tape
Chalk or oil pastels
Rubber stamps and ink
Old books or dictionaries

Mikaela's Notes: The concept of Artist Trading Cards is so cool! The "movement" was started by a Swiss artist in the 90s and, basically, everyone has the same size canvas, but artists have the chance to express themselves in whatever medium they choose. Then, they can take these little cards and give people a taste of their work. These are fun experiments don’t take a ton of time, given the size, and they let you distill your style in a very personal way.

 This tutorial was really nice, for me, at least, because the teacher’s mediums of choice were very similar to what I like to use. She showed how you can boldly mix your media and try different techniques with materials such as stamps, ink, and washi tape. I reached a little further and incorporated some textured paper for dimension and some jewelry wire to make a beehive! If you’re looking for a tiny, shareable project to occupy your time, Artist Trading Cards are for you.

Day 11: Gel Pens and Block Lettering
 day 11  

Black Paper
Opaque Gel Pens (so that they show up on the black paper- if you’re using plain paper, any color or style should work)

When I was a kid, I begged my mom for a set of gel pens, 
because I thought they were the coolest thing in the world… and I still do. This throwback tutorial helps you balance color and effectively utilize space to fill a page with an eye-catching field of flowers that really pop on a black background. I also added some lettering to fill in space, loosely using a quick tutorial on block letters.

The teacher for the gel pen class is the same one who taught the patchwork florals tutorial and my one issue with her still stands: her flowers are too messy! I toned down the scribble in my own way, and, though it looks less carefree, it somewhat satisfied my need for order. Another problem I encountered was that my gel pens were a bit older and of lower quality than those recommended in the tutorial. If I ever do something like this again, I might invest in the gorgeous Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight pens that the teacher uses- they’re gorgeous.

Day 12: Watercolor Basics
 day 12 (practice)  day 12 (actual)

Watercolor paint
Brushes of various sizes (there’s one size- a size 6 round tip- that the teacher uses most often that would be good to have, if possible)
Sturdy paper (preferably paper made specifically for watercolors, but cardstock will do in a pinch)

I know I’ve stated that MANY mediums are my favorite, but Itruly adore watercolors. This tutorial focuses on building brushstroke skills by creating natural imagery. Each chapter runs through different techniques for painting lovely little leaves and trees, teaching you to mix colors, handle different brushes, and use brushstrokes for different purposes.

 For the actual wreath, the tutorial taught a more coherent final product with repeating themes and an actual color scheme. However, I wanted to practice mixing colors and work out different styles, so my wreath is chaotic (which is pretty on brand for me). If I’m being honest, I’m surprised that this project turned out this good. There were a few struggles and missteps, but, all in all, the results weren’t horrible for using a 99¢ watercolor set from Walmart!

Day 13: Geometric Collage
day 13   

Various paper- solid, patterned, scraps, found paper, etc. 
Glue or double-sided tape 
Pen (to doodle on some of the diamonds)

I have a huge collection of lovely scrapbook paper- both at home and at the library- that I often hoard rather than use. This project is a great way to use some of it up. It is an extremely easy craft to do, merely using the same shape over and over to create a striking pattern, reminiscent of a quilt.

To make the diamonds, the tutorial uses a triangle template… but not everyone has something like that (including me). I just took a ruler and measured out equal lines- I did about 3/4 of an inch for these diamonds, but as long as you keep the line length all the same, you could scale them up or down. I made a template out of cardstock so that I could easily trace and reproduce the shape.

It was the most fun to combine different shades and patterns to make a cohesive image. The tutorial also encourages drawing some of your own patterns on some solid paper to add a more personal and handmade touch.

Day 14:  Doodle Quote
 day 14  

Fine tip pen/marker
Colored markers/colored pencils

Doodling a nice motivational quote is exactly what I needed today!
The art of doodling doesn't have many rules - you just have to fill space and have fun, which the teacher of this tutorial emphasizes. Know that you're going to make mistakes (especially with the lettering - it took me 4 tries to get the quote as clean as I wanted it), but that it is all part of the process. If you feel so inclined, it can be nice to finish your piece by coloring in some of the line work  that you  made. Including bold patterns, with even bolder colors, is a great way to make your work eye-catching. 

Day 15: Doodle and Paint an Animal Portrait
 Day 15 (3)  Materials:

Reference photo
Acrylic paint

Social distancing has kept me away from my cats, Noodle and Bella, who live down in Sioux Falls with my parents, so I chose today’s tutorial so I could doodle their cute little faces!

This project was so out of my comfort zone, but I honestly love how it turned out. Blind contouring is when you look at a picture or an object and draw it without looking at the page or picking up your paper- which is why these drawings look so wonky. I did a few trial runs and I felt so uncomfortable not having full control over the details, but the tutorial helped me let that fear go (though I may have peeked one or two times while drawing the final product). I did love how the blind contouring technique made really cool natural segments that allowed me to color the pieces in a very abstract way.

I love this project, despite it’s experimental and imperfect qualities. And enjoy the cat pics!!

Day 16: Kaleidoscope Gift Wrap 
 day 16  

Paper (I used origami paper, because the patterns are lovely and it is light/easy to fold)
Paper cutter or scissors
Double sided tape
Buttons (for embellishment)

My notebook is becoming a bit full as I pass the halfway 
mark in this challenge. That growth may have something to do with the 3D projects I keep doing, like this folded paper flower!

 This craft was so simple to do, with just a few simple, repeated folds, that it was easy to churn a few out in a short period of time. You can make larger or smaller flowers by changing the size of the squares (as long as they always keep that 1 to 1 ratio), and from there, you can layer the flowers up or add decorations at the center. The teacher offers a few great ideas for making variations.

 These flowers are taught as add-ons for gift wrapping, but they would be cute embellishment for scrapbooking or cardmaking.

Day 17:  Raindrop Monogram
 day 17  Materials:
Watercolor Paper

Markers (the tutorial uses alcohol-based ink, brush tip markers, but, honestly, you could use whatever type you would like)
Letter stencil (you can easily make your own. See notes.)
Removable or Washi tape

I’m prefacing this with saying… I tried. This project did not necessarily turn out like the tutorial’s example, as my “raindrops” kind of turned into blobs thanks to the smaller scale of my project and different markers that bled a bit more than expected. The concept stayed the same, at least.

 The teacher of this tutorial not only used lovely, alcohol-based Copic Sketch markers (compared to my dye-based markers), but also had a store-bought stencil (I did not). I improvised my stencils by printing out an “M” in the font and size of my choice on cardstock, and then carefully cut the letter out with a Xacto knife. It held up well, and it let me have more control over what my monogram looked like. I think that this technique would look really good on a larger scale or, even, with other mediums (I'm thinking canvas and acrylics? Some watercolors? The possibilities are endless).

Day 18: Photo Doodling

 day 18  

Photo (it’s particularly fun to use a vintage one)
Felt tip pen
Metallic or other colored gel pen for accents

 Today's page combined two things I love - doodles and vintage photos! 

I used my grandma's wedding photo and went wild with the background. This technique's tutorial follows a series by the same teacher that focuses on line drawing basics. She taught a bunch of patterns in previous classes and she uses those to accentuate photos. I used some of the designs she favors, but I also just kind of freestyled and even added in some hand lettering (or...numbering). 

I love this  project because it adds some whimsy to photos that are often a bit more formal. You can change the vibe of the whole image with just a few lines. 

Day 19: Bubble Print
 day 19  

Dish soap
Food coloring (or India ink, if you’re fancy and won’t stain things)
Paintbrush (flat one preferred)
Watercolor paper (other paper types will warp way too much)

When I worked in a ceramics studio, we did this same “bubble technique” with our glazes all the time, so, I have a few transferable troubleshooting tips from this experience:
1) Try not to dip your brush too far down when scooping bubbles, because you’ll soak your brush and then soak your page.
2) If you choose to do what the teacher calls the “dabbing method,” be gentle. The last thing you want are little brush marks all over because you smashed the bristles into the page.
This is a great technique for all ages. I love how accessible it is (you only need a few household items) and that you’ll always get a cool, bubbly look, no matter how messy you get. This a great way to make your own prints for backgrounds, cards, scrapbooking, etc. …or just use it as a way to keep kids busy for a while.

Day 20: Embroidered Constellation
 day 20 (option 2 actual)  

Page Materials:
Embroidery thread
Cardstock (or an embroidery hoop and some fabric)
Pencil (or transfer paper and a fabric marking pencil if you’re actually tracing rather than freehanding)
Glitter (optional… but amazing)

So, I found a new hobby today: embroidery!

 The tutorial is simple, quick, and runs you through the few basic skills you need to make this project. This is definitely best suited for beginners, so if you want more of an Embroidery 101 tutorial, look elsewhere. I took a different approach to this craft due to a lack of materials and, honestly, not wanting to deal with little things, like tension. I decided to just do my embroidery on the paper. The only problem with this is that you cannot always pinpoint where the needle will come back up at without fully poking it through the paper and leaving a hole, so I took to poking a bit of a stitch template so that it looked a bit better than if I was blindly stabbing everywhere.

 If using the paper technique, this is awesome for things like cards notebook covers. If using the embroidery hoop, it’s a lovely addition to your home décor.

Day 21: Bullet Journal Basics
 day 21 (1)  day 21 (2)

Page Materials:
Ruler (not necessary, but helpful)
Washi Tape (or whatever other embellishments you want)

Don’t get me wrong. I love journaling, I love doodling, but I cannot deal with bullet journals. They are lovely and fun, but they take so much time and effort to make look nice.

 The draws of this project are that there are so many possibilities and ways to personalize bullet journal pages and you need very few supplies to actually get started. This tutorial runs through a couple ideas to kick off your bullet journaling journey, but I only used one of them. I would recommend searching for inspiration online for other pages (Pinterest is a great resource for this).

 I’m sure there are people with more patience than I who will absolutely love this format, but I’m good at stopping after my two-page attempt.

Day 23: Messy Sketchbook 

 day 23 (1)  day 23 (2)

Old book pages
Acrylic Paints
Oil Pastels
Glue (or double sided tape!)
Glitter (not necessary, but I never say no to glitter)Creativity
An Open Mind

I’m going to be honest… I hate the chaos going on with these pages. Yet, chaos is embraced in this tutorial, as the teacher asks you to get messy in order to “spark creative discovery”.

Though I like a little (ok, a lot) more order and cohesiveness in my work, this was fun, in that I got be daring with colors, experiment with some shapes and ideas, and use new mediums (hello, oil pastels, my old friends!). 

 I guess we all need an excuse to go a little wild with our creativity once in a while.

Day 24: Map of Omission
 day 24  

Handwritten notes
Circle punches of various sizes

This week must just be a time for me to pour some chaos onto a page, because I have a crowded, busy page yet again. But this was an interesting page to do, as it combined artistic elements with a bit of self-reflection. The point of the project is that you write something out for yourself then only provide snippets of it on the next page so it retains meaning for you but the context and rest of the writing is hidden from the viewer.

The teacher recommended that you write abut things that peopl enever told you - thus the "omission" in the title. I wasn't feeling that today, so I kind of just wrote about things on my mind at the time ... so is my page a stream of consciousness map? Whatever it is, it's a nice exercise.

Day 25: Mail Art
 day 25  

Fun paper or book or magazine pages (mine was from a magazine!)
Envelope  of your choosing (or template found on the internet)
Pens, washi tape, etc. to personalize”

I LOVE snail mail and I always like to add a cute little touch- tape, stickers, and colored writing are my favorite ways to do so. This tutorial takes that personalization to another level. The teacher gives examples of bold stationary that uses unique materials. She plays with different mediums, kinds of paper, and even types of mailable items- some of the examples are envelopes, some are postcards, some differ in size, etc.

Now is the perfect time to start making envelopes and catching up with friends via the U.S. Postal Service!

Day 26: Acrylic Paint Image Transfer
 day 26  

Page Materials:
Cardboard, wood, chipboard, canvas, etc. (basically any surface that can get wet to function as the base)
Acrylic paint
Laser Jet printed image
Mod podge to finish it off (optional)
Rag (to wipe off the paper, but I used my fingers because it seemed gentler)

(Special appearance: Legolas!… or at least Mikaela’s poster of Orlando Bloom)

Image transferring is so cool!! This was a really interesting page to do, because I did NOT trust it to work and it was so fun to reveal the image after waiting impatiently for everything to dry. The final product looks so crisp and it allows you to put any image you like onto a unique background.

 I had a few problems with this project, though, some of them my fault and some not. I had a few spots where the ink rubbed off or didn’t transfer and I’m pretty sure it was because I was being a bit to gentle and not pressing down (burnishing) the image enough, because I was scared to smush out the paint. I had to try this technique multiple times, as the first time I forgot to flip the images backwards so that they would print forwards (which is only a requirement if you are transferring anything with words or that needs to face a specific way. As for things that I didn’t love that was not my fault, there was always a line or small bit of discoloration around the image where the paper was stuck down, which wasn’t a huge complaint of mine. All in all, I’d do this again!

Day 27: Negative Flower Drawing
 day 27  

Page Materials:
Opaque writing utensil that will go over the Sharpie (I used oil pastels, because I didn’t have fancy poster paints and didn’t feel like using gel pens again…)

I have been avoiding this tutorial for a while and I couldn’t tell you why. It seemed a little too free-form for my taste and I couldn’t figure out what kind of pen or marker I had that would work on the Sharpie, so that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy poster paints. My laziness plus my rediscovery of my oil pastels led me to create this somewhat improvised page that vaguely represents the tutorial’s final product.

 This was a quick, experimental, kind of abstract project. I do have to say that I like it best with an all black outline and background, adding bright pops of color elsewhere. I tried doing the whole thing in brighter colors, but it didn’t look as sharp or striking, in my opinion. This could work well as a card or a print, if you’re feeling a bit whimsically artsy.

Day 28: Recipe Card and Watercolor and Salt
 day 28  

Watercolor paints

Today’s page combined a few small, simple techniques- hand lettering and watercolors with salt- which were used to add some more meaning and visual interest to a plain old recipe card.

 As I painted the background, watching the colors blend and seeing the texture that the salt was adding to the paint, my mind immediately jumped to water. I had once brought the cookies from this recipe to a lovely pond-side picnic, so the page became just that! Now, the recipe card reminds me not only of how to make the cookies, but also of the lovely memories that are connected to them!

 How cute would a whole set of handmade, memory-based recipe cards be? I think I’ve found my next project!

Day 29: Geometric Stamping 
 day 29  

Page Materials:
Stamp pads or markers (I used both)
Found objects with flat surfaces (to act as the stamps)

This tutorial is from a series promoting creativity at home, so the teacher shows how to stamp wiht things found around you house. The problem with found objects is that they may not pick up and deposit the ink well or evently, so play around and see what works best for your project. For me, an old screw, ends of unsharpened pencils, and an old rubber eraser were my favorite MacGyver-ed stamps.

Though my stamped shapes turned out lovely, I should not endorse my methods (but I'll share anyway). I grabbed an eraser I found, chopped it inot chunks and amateurly sliced away at the pieces wiht a X-acto knife until I had shapes I liked. It's a miracle that I didn't cut myself ... so probably stick to the things you find or be very careful if you choose to carve your own stamps. Actually, you really should just purchase some actual carving tools made for stamp making. Please don't follow my example but please do enjoy the colorful stamping!

Day 30: Zines and Smile Mixed Media
 Full Journal  

Page Materials:
8 x 11.5” paper (heavier weight, like watercolor paper, if you want to paint the pages)
Acrylic paint
Pens (like Sharpies or Microns, so that they write over multiple types of surfaces)
Gel Pens
Washi Tape
Any other embellishments

I’m DONE! Truly, I can’t believe that I stuck with something like this for more than 4 days, but it ended up being so much fun.

 I wanted my final project to combine a few things I’ve learned, and to reflect the freedom and creative energy that this art journal has ultimately encouraged. Getting messy, combining bold colors, using hand lettering, and doodling are all practices that I enjoyed immensely over the course of this challenge, so I tried to meaningfully pull those things together to create this multimedia, pseudo-zine, booklet thingy!

 CreativeBug’s wealth of inspiration and tutorials was a real surprise for me! This is totally a resource than anyone with an artsy/craftsy bone in their body should look into. Get out there and create!!