Art Journal and Your Child

Long ago a famous artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, kept a journal full of sketches based on his studies of life, art, science, music and architecture. The detail he used to record his entries in his journal is very impressive. I believe we would not have known so much about this artist of many talents if it were not for his journals.

As a parent, I keep most of the drawings my kids have made. The artwork is first displayed at my laundry room wall for a few months then stored away in a big box. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if kids can start their own art journal. An art journal they can go to write down their ideas or do some sketches. Where they can paste perhaps a picture of something they may later want to draw or samples of a colors they really like. Perhaps make a self-portrait every year with a few sentences on what they like. Where kids can practice a new art technique or just doodle.

This is not a diary or anything hard to maintain that it would feel like a chore. Just a simple art journal they go to, from time to time, to record their feelings and creativity. What a wonderful treasure it would be for them to have as adults. To be able to go back to their journals and see how they have grown, how they have improved and changed throughout time.

The art journal can be store bought or homemade. It can be a real fancy one or just a simple notebook your kids can decorate. The journal’s size should be one that will make it easy for your child to take on car trips or vacations to record nature, buildings, new experiences or collect meaningful things.

The art journal should be as unique as your child. Let your child experiment with it and allow his or her individuality to come through. It will turn out great when finished because it will be full of your child’s inspiration.

Here are some tips on starting your first art journal: 

1) If this is your first art journal keep it inexpensive. Choose an art journal from a store or make your own from a notebook or a binder you can add pages to. There are all types of papers and colors to choose from, just remember that the size should be one that is easy to carry.

2) The cover should be sturdy enough to take a lot of wear and tear. The inside pages should also be sturdy enough in case watercolors are used or at least strong enough so when you use glue they will not tear.

3) Once you have your art journal, you can start to personalize it. You can decorate it using your favorite colors, perhaps a collage of pictures you like for the cover, rubber stamps for the border or anything that you enjoy. Don’t forget to write your name on it!

4) Keep a pencil with your art journal, your favorite pen and other art supplies you may need.

5) Keep your art journal handy so you can take it with you everywhere you go, just in case you get inspired, you can write a quick note to yourself for later.

6) Sketch people, places, nature or events you would like to remember. If you don’t want to draw you can paste pictures, do a stencil, rubber stamping or any media that can help you express your creativity.

7) Express yourself in your art journal. Do not worry about your entries being perfect and do not tear out pages where you do not like your work. Just move on to the next page and forget about that one.

8) Write short sentences describing what the entries mean to you, date them and give them a title.

9) If you want to make it more personal, add things that can help you better remember such as ticket stubs, labels, a piece of wrapping paper or fabric you like. If it’s something that it’s not flat, like a sculpture, then take a picture of it and tape it to your journal.

10) When your journal is complete because you cannot add more entries to it and you need to start a new one, you can sign it and date it. It will be a piece of artwork in itself.

The most important thing about keeping an art journal is to be able to express your imagination, your dreams and to have fun!


Gladys Jimenez is a mother, artist, and author. She currently lives in San Diego, California. You may contact Glad by email at or visit

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