Have you ever attempted a thematic art journal? A theme is a great way to generate creativity. Check out these 6 different art journal spreads, all created using the same theme.
Art Journal Round Robin Origins
In 2015, I excitedly became a founding member of an art journal round robin group. The other founding members of our group are Paula, Donna, Claire, and Tamala. Leah joined our group in the second round. We are all family members, colleagues, and friends of the organizer, Paula.
Check out Part 1 of the Art Journal Round Robin series to see the first book we completed and how to make the actual journal.
Recap of the Art Journal Round Robin Rules
We work in our own journal first. We decorate the cover, establish if we want a theme, and then create one internal spread before sending it to the next artist in rotation. That artist then has a month to create art in a blank spread of your book, before sending it on to the next artist in rotation. In the meantime you receive a book from another group member. You work on that book, finish a spread, and send it along. The order of artists never changes to ensure each book receives a contribution from all of the members before returning to its initial creator. Our schedule was to send by the 7th of the month. Eventually, each artist receives their own book back full of art work created by every member of the group.
Establishing a Theme
Sometimes our art journals have themes or prompts. My second journal had a materials prompt. When I saw this Label Frames Geometric Wallpaper, I fell in love with it, bought a roll, and had no place to actually use it (*story of my consumer life*). I decided to cut it up into pieces and asked each artist to use one or more of the pieces of wallpaper in their art journal spread. The theme became, “Art Within Art.”
p.s. I just searched for this wallpaper on Amazon. They don’t have the version I used, but they have some really cute peel and stick frame wallpaper. A children’s playroom decorated with this would be soooooo cute.
How Each Artist Handled the Theme
Boomer (me): Cover and Gallery Spread
After painting and stamping on the background, the wallpaper frames were collaged on. Little scraps of old art or painted papers were cut to size and glued atop the frames to make a chaotic, almost graffiti-esque art gallery scene. I then created a character somewhat representative of myself holding a bird looking a the art. Lastly, I added a frame around the entire cover to make it a third layer of art within art within art (*whoa. Deep, Dude*). On the inside flaps, I asked the artists to sign and date when they contributed to the book in smaller frames. That isn’t pictured here, but you can see it in the super quick flip through video below.
The interior spread is clean and minimalistic. After gluing down the frames, I cut pieces of previously marbled deli paper to fit in the frames, and then used white modeling paste and a brick stencil to give the appearance of the art hanging on a white brick wall. I liked the simplicity of the spread and also the practice of cropping the right portions out of the marbled papers. Compositions change so dramatically when they are cropped sometimes.
Tamala: Contrasting Flowers
Tamala did two clever things to make Art Within Art using contrast. I love how the background has a muted neutral tone and then she used bold, vivid, bright colors to decorate the frames. Additionally, the background artwork is created with dark, bold lines contrasting with the light, pencil artwork that fills the wallpaper frames. Lastly, Tamala created a really interesting composition having the flowers go off the edge of the journal.
Claire: Lots of Depth
Claire cut the center out of the frames and turned them into secret doors. The second door has a glossy photo collaged under it. Under the flaps, I can’t figure out how much of the art is original vs. altered vs. collaged because it’s so well integrated. You can see what’s behind door #2 when you watch the flip through video below. I love her lettering. It has so much character. How the messaging and imagery fit together can be interpreted different ways. I like that it has that kind of depth of meaning. Are the images behind the doors representing fear? What do you think?
Donna: Outside the Box
Donna worked on the journal in December and clearly used seasonal inspiration. She went completely outside the box and instead of using the provided wallpaper material, created her evergreen trees as though they were the frames. The trees are made of chipboard or some similarly substantial material. Sadly, the first tree detached and got lost at some point 🙁 Mirroring Claire’s idea of using them as flaps, under each tree, a different inspirational quote was hidden. As a finishing touch, she added a frame around the entire spread, so she also had art within art within art.
Paula: A Frame is Not a Frame
Paula went two ways with the theme that were very original. She used the provided wallpaper pieces and created the door, the chair, and the book in her setting. Pretty cool, huh? I didn’t even recognize them at first. Secondly, she drew a frame on the wall in perspective and added art within the art. The entire spread is beautifully done. The color scheme is to die for and the figure is so full of character and well proportioned despite that tough position she’s sitting in. Watch the quick video below to see how cool the little book is in the woman’s lap. It’s another unexpected surprise that this theme inspired.
Leah: The Truth Within
One photo does not do Leah’s art journal spread justice. You simply must watch the video below to see what’s behind the frames. Leah outlined the entire spread in masking tape and then colored and textured it into a wall of sorts. The frames are transformed into mirrors by my interpretation (especially with the ballet character). These ladies are not as pious as they appear to be. The mirrors of truth reveal their true desires, alter egos, or second jobs. That’s for all of us to figure out, I guess.
The Second Book Done
Here’s a little flip through for you of the second book.