Five minute art journaling
I love to have a regular journaling practice. It’s time to myself, dedicated time for art and a place to express myself freely. I can choose my materials, style, colour palette and words to suit my mood or situation. I wrote this blog about starting an art journal but five minute journaling is part of how I make this happen for me!
One thing I may struggle to choose, is how much time I have to spend in my journal. There are days when I can spend half an hour or more playing with paint and choosing stamps, layering collage and searching quotes. On other days, I have a long to do list, places to be and life’s responsibilities to meet. On days when I do have time to journal I can find myself frozen, unable to put anything on paper and not sure where to start. I’m afraid of creating a “bad” page or wasting the precious time. On these days my art journal lies shut on my table.
At least, it did until I developed my own style of 5 minute art journaling. This really helped me create often and I quickly built my confidence. I actually prefer this style of journaling now.The idea is to put simple guides in place to limit the time spent thinking about creating and helping you to focus on making the page as well as giving permission for creative time.
How does it work?
- Prepare limited materials before you start
- Set a timer
- Keep it simple
Keeping the process simple is essential when you only have 5 minutes to create! This is how I do it and it’s just a guide.
I go to my art shelf and I choose from my favourite supplies. I pick up things I’m comfortable with so I’m not going to get any surprises. In the beginning I set myself a 5 minute limit for choosing my supplies too because I’m easily distracted! Now it takes me less than a minute to prepare.
Choose no more than three supplies to add colour. You might choose an ink, a paint and a watercolour crayon or three coloured pencils. I love to use acrylic inks so I usually pick 2 or 3 of these. To reduce the risk of a muddy mess when working so fast, less is definitely more. Avoid complementary colour combinations such as blue and orange and go for colours that will blend together well such as yellow/orange/red or turquoise/blue/purple or blue/purple/red. My favourite combination right now is turquoise and purple. I also like to choose a main colour and then a highlight colour.
Find a way to include texture that is quick to use. This can be a stamp and ink pad or maybe a patterned paper scrap and glue. There are loads of texture stamps available but I’ve also used bottle caps, pieces of foam packaging and kebab sticks. Scraps of wrapping paper or even junk mail can be perfect collage. Don’t think too hard, just grab what you are drawn to at the time.
I don’t always include words but when I do I like to use just a couple of words, particularly if I’m stamping them with letter stamps. Sometimes I find the same phrase coming up for me over and over.
Famous quotes or affirmations can be a great way to pin down how we are feeling. I keep a Pinterest board of quotes that can be scribbled out onto my journaling page quickly. I find paint pens are good for this but having your favourite scribbling tool near your journal is useful.
Clearly you will need a journal or paper to work on. I keep a pencil and a black paint pen close by as well as a waterbrush. Because I like to use inks and paint I have my heat tool ready nearby if needed. These things might be different for you depending on your favourite supplies. Use what you love but try to keep your supplies to a minimum. Reduce the time you spend choosing and switching supplies and techniques.
Ok so we have our tools but why use a time limit for art journaling?
I wrote this blog about starting with journaling and talk about boundaries. Limiting your choices can reduce the feeling of overwhelm and limiting your time can encourage you to make the most of the time you have.
If you finish early or go over time that’s ok! The timer is there to help you value that time for art and fit it in to your busy day. It’s your time to use how you like.
What am I supposed to journal about?
I think the answer to this is quite personal. We arrive at journaling for our own reasons even if we benefit in similar ways. My journal is emotional, it’s a place to put whatever is on my mind and sometimes I don’t know what that is until it comes up on the page.
Other people keep beautiful travel journals or visual diaries. There is no right or wrong. Do what feels right for you and you may find your journal changes over time.
I’m a fan of intuitive journaling, I just turn up, pick my colours for the day and go. Sometimes the choice of my colours says a lot about my mood! Other days I know exactly how I’m feeling and I need to get it on paper. Just remember, you only have 5 minutes, this is not about long planning and preparation for the perfect page. It’s about turning up.
Creating the page
Do what you love to do when creating your page. Start your timer, pick a colour and put some on the page. Maybe you do what you feel, do what you always do, do something small or paint the whole spread one colour, there is no wrong, just start.
I tend to make some repetitive marks or shapes and this gets me started. I do think the marks reflect my thoughts from closed circles to thoughtful splatters and hopeful steps. Move quickly, don’t worry about merging colours. If you’re using wet media, a heat tool or hairdryer can be useful. (Whether you count this drying time is up to you!)
As soon as your colour is down, head for your textures. Use your stamps freely or use them once, just do it. Glue down torn scraps or threads. You have nothing to lose. Your page is private if you wish and you are not aiming for perfection. Just get it down on the page.
With textures done and your timer counting down you have a short time to add your sentiment or expression. Whether you scribble your own (readable or not) or stamp it or stick it in, let it be something that pins down your page, the reason you needed to be at your art journal.
I recommend you date your page, i usually use a pencil in the corner but date stamps look fantastic in the page too.
Finishing the page
When I started this process, I always worked past the timer. I had a strong need to finish to the page, to keep adding layers, just one more thing. I couldn’t just leave it. Here are some thoughts I have about that.
It’s ok to want to spend more time on the page, if you have it, do it.
It’s ok to go back to the page another day.
It’s ok to leave a page unfinished.
It’s ok to set your timer for 10 minutes or 15 minutes or not at all.
It’s ok to write your thoughts in your page another time.
It’s ok for you to make your journal your way.
This process works for me. Try it, maybe it will get your daily art practice on track and your journals, overflowing with colourful practice, thoughts and memories will be piling up on your table. You can see some of my journal pages posted over on Instagram.