Art Journaling with Jenny & Aaron class 1

Guys!! It's Thursday! Hooray! 
Oh my gosh, we have been working like two nuts over here. First, let me tell you that this was a learn-as-you-go sort of thing. We considered doing the class as an actual moving video, but it just seemed as though you really don't get perfect shots or lighting, and the narrating thing could be awkward. So we decided that the best angle of attack would be with lots of detailed photos put into a video format! Of course on it's own it only gives an idea of each step, so we included full detailed instructions for you to follow along. In the upper left corner of each photo you'll see a title. In the instructions we've titled each step with those same titles so that you'll have an image to match each step. You can view the video once, or twice, or more...pause where you'd like, rewind, fast it here on the blog, full screen, or on youtube. We definitely think that this was the clearest way to get our points across and give you crisp, bright images for you to reference. 

We also went back and forth over whether we'd use both of our journals or just one journal. We decided to collaborate on one spread in one journal. If we did two spreads there would be like 200 photos! And we already kinda went photo crazy...which is another reason why we needed to go with a slideshow in video format. It's exciting that this has forced us to jump into using our youtube channel! eeee! This could get nuts! Just a warning. I'm thinking some vlogs could happen too.  

This week we decided to use Aaron's journal. So he had the initial choice as far as color scheme. But the singularity stops there. This was definitely a full on collabo. So much so, that I'm wishing this spread was in my journal! Haha is that weird?

( in the first steps below we're using Kraft paper, but you can substitute it for any paper at all. Use all the same methods described but change the words Kraft paper to whatever you like. These steps simply describe how to add a paper base to your pages. You can use a full sheet or even torn or cut scraps. Jenny often uses phonebook pages to thicken up her moleskin pages.)

reinforcing with kraft paper. Since marble notebook pages are flimsy we like to reinforce them. In this case using one of our favorite supplies, Kraft paper. Just cut a piece thats a tiny bit bigger than your page. You can trim off the excess later. And even if you aren't using a marble notebook Kraft paper is still a great base to work upon. You can glue it into any journal.

brush on medium. With your 3/4 inch brush, brush on a thick layer of decoupage medium. You'll notice the notebook page rippling quite a bit but don't worry, the Kraft paper will solve that. 

lay kraft paper down. Once you've got a nice thick coat of medium then lay down your piece of Kraft paper. Every time we teach a class we'll see that people like to lay the paper down and then immediately brush medium on top of it. We don't not subscribe to that method...brushing wet on top of wet will add bubbles and ripples. As described in the next step we smooth out the paper with our hands and let it dry and fully adhere.

smooth paper. With heavy hands smooth out the Kraft paper, eliminate any ripples or bubbles. Keep on rubbing until you know that it's fully adhered.

crease edges. To make sure that you get a nice adhesion all the way to the ends of the page run your thumb or finger along the edge to crease it.

flip page and trim. If you have excess paper turn the page so you can see the excess and trim it off with a scissor.

gesso pages. For this spread we decided that one page would be Kraft paper and the facing page we'd reinforce, or bolster, with a thick coat of gesso. In this case we used Americana brand gesso. It's super thick and when it's dry your page will almost feel like vinyl. We really like this.

reinforce seam with tape. After your gesso is dry run a piece of masking tape down the seam of the journal. This actually does reinforce your binding and it makes for a smoother transition from page to page.

select papers and elements. Think about what type of color scheme you'd like, what types of patterns, bits and pieces. This is the fun part. We wanted to go with a tight palette...a more masculine feel being that it's Aaron's journal. He has an affinity for the letter A and the number 9. 

tear and cut papers. With a bit of an idea of where you'll place things start tearing and cutting your papers and elements. 

play around with layout. Before gluing anything down it is always a good idea to play around with your layout. Just place things on the pages until it feels right. There are no rules.

adhere papers with medium. To adhere papers brush on decoupage medium and lay the papers on the wet medium. It's better to be generous with the medium. If you apply too little you won't get good adhesion.

smooth papers. Just as you smoothed and rubbed the Kraft paper, do the same in this step. Eliminate ripples and bubbles. But be gentler than you were with the tougher Kraft paper. 

consider your design. At this point your pages will start looking like something. Take time to pull back and consider where you really want to go with the where you might place writing spots...or photos...or doodles later on.

finish adding elements. Add the next layers of stuff. The details like our letter A and number 9. The scrolly writing spot. Your points of interest. All of ours are adhered with the same decoupage medium.

trace shapes. We used a couple bottle caps to trace circles onto the page. Why? because we thought a couple of white circles would look good right there. And later we could add some text maybe.

paint in shapes. We used a #6 round brush to paint in our circles with white paint. It only took one coat because it was quality white paint. You might need two coats if you want a solid look.

seal pages. After all of our papers that we adhered were dry and after the painted circles were completely dry we then sealed our pages with a coat of matte finish gel medium by Liquitex...we also recommend Golden brand. When sealing pages be sure to apply a thick even coat...and get FULL coverage. Later on, if you apply washes etc...if you miss any areas with this sealer coat then those areas will be "vulnerable"...meaning washes will totally screw up any raw sections of paper. So just be sure to apply a nice even coat.

make a color wash. We used a tan paint that sorta matched the Kraft paper, but you can use ANY color you like. With a #6 round brush we dabbed some water into the well of paint on the palette. It's not an exact just want to water down the paint a bit. 

brush on wash. We thought the white was a bit stark so we "aged" it a bit with the tan wash. Just brush it on the areas where you want the wash. And start small and light until you get a feel for it. Don't  brush the wash on a giant swath of page because you might have trouble working with it in the next step. The key is to go little by little. Maybe like 4 square inches at a time.

blot wash. With a paper towel blot the wash that you've brushed on. Again, one section at a time.

blot and dab wash. This is pretty much the same step but we made it into two just to emphasize the blotting and dabbing. You're just doing it until you get your own desired effect. We wanted a parchmenty, tobacco stained feel. You can do your whole page or just accents.

speckling. We did speckling in two different and pale aqua. To speckle you'll have to water down the paint in your palette the same way you did with the wash. We use a #6 round brush...load it with the watered down paint...hold the brush a few inches above your page...and just tap the metal end with your index finger. Do it to your desired effect. We love speckling for it's imperfection. It's messy and haphazard and perfect in it's own way.

crosshatch with DIY stamp. Last weekend we made some stamps by wrapping yarn around a wood block. Here we applied paint to the stamp and created a crosshatch design. We really only wanted an accent up in the corner of the you can stamp all over the place if you want.

gesso wash to mute areas. Sometimes you want certain colors or patterns on your page to be less bold. In this case we watered down some gesso on our palette...the same way we made a wash with paint. Then brush the gesso wash on the areas that you want to mute and blot or wipe off with a paper towel. Again, do this to your own desired effect.

gesso and paint wash. This is pretty much the same as the previous step but we added some of the tan paint to our gesso wash. We just wanted to carry over some tan to match the Kraft paper on the opposite page.

consider your progress. At this point you've accomplished a lot and your pages are really starting to look like something. Now is when to consider some fun details...the little things...maybe add small pops of color and texture...doodles...heck, even glitter. Pull out some supplies. 

"glue stick" paint dots. We seem to always add messy, randomly spaced polka dots. We do this by either dipping a glue stick into paint or the eraser end of a pencil. Just dip your round tip object into whatever paint color you like and press dots onto your pages in areas that might need a little pop of color.

bottle cap paint rings. Again, we love the messy, imperfect look that bottle cap paint rings provide. Just apply paint to the rim of the cap and then press down on your page.

"distress" edges with paint. We love to "distress" the edges of our pages with paint. In this case we used colors that contrasted well. Aqua against the Kraft paper, and white against the aqua polka dot paper. This process is very imperfect. Just dip your thumb or finger in paint and rub the very edge of the page.

backing photocopy with watercolor paper. We knew we wanted to add an old photo to this spread, and we knew it was gonna be placed right on top of those bold stripes. Since the photo was a photocopy we had to first back the photocopy with watercolor paper. This way those stripes won't show right through the paper when we adhere it to the page. It also bolsters the photo a bit. Adds some texture to your page. To back it with watercolor paper just brush decoupage medium onto watercolor paper, lay the photocopy down on the wet medium, and smooth out just like you did when applying your papers to your pages. Then cut out. Again, we did not brush medium over the photo. 

adhere photo. Now adhere the photo in the desired spot using the same method as above. We often use a clean, dry paper towel to press down photocopies just so our possibly damp fingertips don't muss the picture.

faux stitching with sharpie pen. These are the little details that make your pages special. Use a sharpie pen to create faux stitching around shapes for a sewed on look.

outline paint dots with sharpie pen. Again, it's not about perfection. Doodling and outlining the shapes and dots around the page is a great way to add more interest and texture.

add bits of washi tape. Washi tape is so great for Art Journaling. It's often one of the very last elements we'll add to a page. In this case we wanted some metallic gold to set off the vintage photo. Even though Mr. Moustachio is securely adhered already, the washi tape gives him a scrapbooky feel.

Hooray! Yes, you now have a dazzling spread. For this very first class we wanted to take our pages to the step right before you write in them. Adding text is a very fun step and you might fill in your pages with words right away...or you might take your time and wait until you have your thoughts in order and you can really make your Journal statement. We have so so many pages that are at this stage...just waiting for text.

Ok guys, this was our first week. As you can see, there are so so many steps and the text takes up a lot of space. This is why we went with the slide show video format instead of trying to squeeze the photos and text into one post. That would be a whole lot of scrolling. If you have any questions or suggestions...please please send them our way. We would love to hear from you and see your results. Below is a link-up that is reserved specifically for this class. So if you have a blog and you are participating in Art Journaling with Jenny & Aaron...This link-up is for you. We want to hear all about it and see all about it! Whatever you do this it "homework" if you want...or if that conjures bad it something else...just try make it a point to come back to this post and use the link-up below. It will be so much more fun for ALL involved...getting to see and hear about your own Art Journaling. 

Again, our pages are an's just what we do...our style. Don't for one second think that there is one ounce of rigidity in Art Journaling. Do what you want...How you want. We just hope we can offer a hand.
Also, we'd love for you to grab the button above and put it on your page, spread the word, all that good stuff. This was really fun for us...and if we've added even a smidge of creativity to you life then we are as happy as can be! 

'til next Thursday! Keep on Art Journaling!
xo, Jenny & Aaron

P.S. If you are just joining us, we blogged all of our favorite supplies here.


  1. These tips are helpful, and that video must have taken forever to put together! Very cool. =) You know I already jumped the gun and tried out my first art journaling over the weekend, but I look forward to filling my entire journal and utilizing all of your great tips. Love this spread, although I haven't seen one I didn't love by either of you quite yet. What a beautiful collaboration! Thanks for laying it out so nicely too. =)

  2. P.S. Added your cute art journaling button to my blog! A lot of people seem interested in art journaling these days, so hopefully they check out your lessons! =)

  3. @Kelsea Echo Ohhh gosh...thank you so much! Geez. I can't lie that video DID TAKE FOREVER! All day actually. And I'd never used any of those programs or anything before... so it really was so intense..haha...I think it had me sweating! But for a first try...we are happy and hope the format works ok for everyone. YES! LOVED your pages!! So so excited for you! :) And Ohhh you had me smiling so big...being that you linked up!! Party!!!

    Love ya!

  4. I can't wait to try this out. Tomorrow I will get the rest of my supplies :) I dont have Gesso or Medium yet, here in Holland we use different types of brands. So I will have to look for the proper ones :D
    I also linked you up with the pretty button.
    Thanks for the wonderful class and great video to go with it!
    xx Susie

  5. I'm so excited about your series, Jenny and Aaron!!! Dumb question, where do you find Kraft paper? Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge and techniques!!!


  6. Shared your button on my blog =)
    Wish I had time to participate but I'll be there in spirit until my busy schedule lets up. Happy Journaling (~~) Julie

  7. Really lovely and simple ways to make journals look better will defiantly use some on them when i start back at uni, thanks x

  8. You are both amazing!!! I just loved this!!!!

  9. I love these pages!!! This is so darn fun! You guys gave really good instructions and the video was a great idea! I'm so exited to get started! I've just got to find myself a bit of space here in this crowded little house of mine to create and find all my supplies which have been stashed away for so long. I haven't made anything since my last baby was born over 3 years ago! I can't believe it has been so long! This class has me inspired to get started again! Thanks so much for doing this class!
    Michelle xoxo

  10. Hi Jenny! Just found you. I'm cofounder of the website Creative Clearinghouse, where we are trying to provide a one stop shop for folks looking for creative classes and retreats. Mind if we link this sweet post on our facebook page?

    TIA! Lori Leissner

  11. LOVED this, Aaron & Jenny! Watching the video (which was SO very well done!), really helped me mentally work through a few methods I've been wanting to try but not really understanding how to implement in my journals--thank-you!

    I love your style here--so many things I see that I'd like to do--thanks for such a great example!

    Looking forward to these Thursdays with you...what fun!


    p.s. Just posted your button to my blog...

  12. WOW guys! I am so completely inspired! I would have had NO clue how to do all that! THANK YOU!!!!!

    As for the linking up - Do I do that now or next week when I have something to show next Thursday?

    Thanks again, you two ROCK!

  13. Fantastic post! I think crafting can be so much fun and just allowing yourself to be creative esp after a busy day (mine with my three small children lol) is the best. Off to scrapbooking I go! xox

  14. This is awesome! I have spent my free time in the past couple of days setting up base pages for my journal - it's going to be an art journal mixed with a smash book :)

  15. You are both angels to take the time and show us all your wonderful tips. I can't wait to get started. I have most of the supplies here at home, however, I don't know what Kraft paper is or where to find it. It looks like just brown paper, but I think it's more.
    Thank you again for all your precious time and talent!

  16. This looks wonderful. i have watched the you-tube twice. What is that incredible music? great job!

  17. You guys are awesome and inspirational!!

  18. This first class was fantastic! Loved joining in the fun.

  19. The video was so awesome Jenny!! Loved it! You both are so talented and truly inspiring! Thanks for such a great class! ;) xo Heather

  20. What a beautiful scrapbook and great tips! I'm really inspired now.

  21. How exciting! I can't wait to try all of these methods!

  22. Hi Jenny! I've been working on my journal pages, but I have a couple of questions. Is it o.k. to use glue to adhere the pages instead of decoupage medium? Is there a specific reason you use it? Also, is it necessary to seal your pages or do you only do it if you are planning to do a wash? And if you add elements that you print off of a printer, do you use a laser printer? I have an ink jet printer and have had problems with ink running when using paint.
    Michelle xoxo

  23. Hello, just joined your class I have trouble using gesso Liuidtex spelling ? anyways it effects me with its grittyness is there another gesso that would be smooth ? or something else to use on pages thank you so,

  24. Hey guys!!! Thank you SO SO much for your excitement!! We are so happy to have you joining in the fun! :) We'll be answering all questions that you have this coming Thursday. But if you leave us an email address or a link , we'll get back to you before that you can start creating without any roadblocks! :)

    Love you guys!!!
    xo J&A

  25. Hey! I cant wait for todays post. Ive added pictures to flickr and scheduled a post for the 24th which will be done using this link -

    so I hope that I can add to the linky thing after that date! my pictures of the layout are here

  26. @Bernadette Thank you so so much for your sweet words! We are more than happy to share! :) Thanks for being here!! As for Kraft is also known as postal know "brown paper packages tied up with string" :) It comes in a few different weights. Some are thinner and a lighter tan color. You could really use anything! Cardstock, construction paper...anything to "thicken up" your pages. That is..if you are using a book with thin pages. The Strathmore Visual Journal for mixed media is super strong and thick! I LOVE it! :)


  27. @Claire Donovan Oh my gosh..your pages are gorgeous!! So up my alley! :)
    Thrilled to have you journaling along with us! I love your blog. :)

    I look forward to your post!! Thanks so much for spreading the love & word! :)


  28. Hey guys! Michelle (Rose Garden Romantic) asked some really good questions. We emailed her with answers but I thought you may like to hear them too! :)

    Michelle asked:

    Is it o.k. to use glue to adhere the pages instead of decoupage medium?
    You definitely can use glue but it would be a departure from the
    methods that we are using. We use decoupage mediums like the product
    from Deco Art, or Mod Podge, or gel medium...because our Art Journaling
    is a "wetter" process than scrapbooking. Since we'll be using washes
    and paint in later steps, we adhere our papers using a decoupage medium
    so that we can then apply a sealer coat once it's dry. The sealer coat
    protects the papers from the washes etc... If using glue to adhere
    papers then you won't be able to do sealer coats later...because the
    glue won't give you enough'll get lots of wrinkles and

    Is there a specific reason you use it?
    For the reasons said above and also for us it goes hand in hand with
    mixed media Art Journaling.

    Also, is it necessary to seal your pages or do you only do it if you
    are planning to do a wash?
    Yes, the sealing is for the paint processes that we do in later steps.
    The sealing protects the paper and saves you from many would-be
    disasters. For washes the sealer is necessary, otherwise the raw paper
    will just get destroyed. Also, with speckling, paint flecking, polka
    dots, bottle cap rings...that kind of stuff...if the page is sealed you
    can wipe off mistakes etc...

    And if you add elements that you print off of a printer, do you use a
    laser printer? I have an ink jet printer and have had problems with ink
    running when using paint.
    Yes, ink jet printers are a no no when it comes to decoupaging,
    sealing, and most painting methods. We have a laser printer at home and
    that still gives us copies that are a bit delicate and tend to smudge.
    In order for us to get copies that do not smudge or run at all, we use
    the self serve color copiers at Staples or Kinkos, which is now called
    Fed Ex Office. We'll gather all the papers, ephemera, photos etc... and
    we try to fit as much stuff as possible onto the glass scanning area of
    the copy machine. 8 x 10 and 8 1/2 x 14 color copies are .49 cents. The
    bigger ones 11 x 17 are like 1.50 each sometimes. So to spend as little
    money as possible we cram in tons of imagery into one scan.

    Our Art Journaling methods are very mixed media and use lots of wet
    processes. If your style leans more toward scrapbooking, and that's
    what you are comfortable with, then by all what feels right
    for you. You can get lots of great layering effects without decoupaging
    and sealing and washing...where your layers will rely on the variety of
    patterns, and paper textures, and colors. I hope we were able to clear
    some things up.

    xo, Jenny & Aaron

  29. jenny & aaron, i discovered your blog through claire's blog. :) beautiful art aesthetic & design, & you are very helpful with your process!

  30. @Teddi Ohhh Thank you so much!! So happy to have you!! Happy to have you journaling along! :) xo


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xo Jenny & Aaron

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