The art of keeping a journal

We sent one of our writers to The Arts House to start her own journal.

Megan Low

Published: 17 March 2016, 3:48 PM

I think it is safe to say that most of us have tried to keep a journal at least once, and probably failed at some point.

If you are a perfectionist like me, your artistic pursuit might have failed due to one ugly page, or the fear of ruining a blank page. Or maybe, you simply do not have the time.

In any case, art journaling does have its merits. The best thing about it is that you can use virtually any medium, whether it is words, paintings, sketches or even daily ephemera.

On Mar 14, I was invited to a preview of an art journaling workshop, which will be offered during The Arts House’s annual open house this Saturday.


A starter kit provided for everyone at the workshop.


I was greeted by Donna from Curious College, who was going to help me kickstart my journaling journey. There were a few materials in front of me: a small notebook, a watercolour palette, stamps, labels, and a few pens.

I’m not going to lie – with all the materials arranged so neatly in stacks, it did seem very daunting. I felt as if I was about to take a test in art class, where one wrong stroke will mark me as “hopelessly uncreative” forever.

For starters, Donna asked us to write down the purpose of our journals. Some examples were creative expression, venting, memory keeping or soul searching.


There were many mediums to work with in the workshop.


We then began the actual act of journaling. At first, I was a little apprehensive. I constantly peeked at the journals of the other three participants before doing anything with mine.

To my relief, it was a common practice in such workshops. Donna called it “blank page fear”.

As the workshop progressed, I felt more comfortable working on my journal. I eventually ended up being in a world of my own as I painted and inked in my notebook. It reminded me of the times when I would doodle mindlessly in my school diary during boring classes.


The table was scattered with tools such as stencils, stamps and paint palettes.


Donna then brought out an array of tools, such as brush pens and silicon stamps, and taught us how to use them. It was a great way to try out new materials that would otherwise cost too much to buy from art supplies stores like Art Friend.

After a while, the table eventually got messier and messier, which made me feel more at ease and less afraid of making mistakes. I noticed that the other participants felt the same way too.


Donna asked us to keep the journal with us for 21 days, so that journaling will become a habit.


At the end of the workshop, I was completely relaxed and all my anxieties about my artistic abilities were cast away.

Before we left, Donna showed us a few of her old sketches, and the progress she made in her drawings was quite amazing. Through journaling, she was able to transform her drawings from cartoony doodles to intricate sketches with shading.


One of Donna’s recent sketches of the art house, created in a vintage math textbook.


So, if you feel imaginatively drained, or if you wish to rediscover your creativity, I would definitely recommend this workshop. You might leave the workshop feeling like a successful journal-keeper.

Head here for more details about the art journaling workshop, which will be held at The Arts Open House on Mar 19.

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