Why You Should Make An Art Process Journal

Title page for the art project “Turtle: Wherever You Go There You Are”

An art process journal (APJ) is a record of how you develop your artwork or project as well as your development as an artist. It may contain collected images, drawings, and even small paintings; printed or written text; research; color palettes and material swatches; samples of pen and brushwork; different designs, media, and techniques; and examples of things, artwork, and artists that inspire you or illuminate a theme you’re working on.

I collected copies of several paintings, including Bathers with a Turtle by Henri Matisse, and pasted them in the journal I’m making for my “Turtle: Wherever You Go There You Are” art project. Every image I’ve included in my APJ stimulated some new thought. Bathers with a Turtle caused me to consider the long relationship we humans have had with turtles as told in the myths and stories from around the world.

Why You Should Keep a Journal of Your Art Process

To be transparent, I didn’t know about art project journals until recently. I was aware, as you probably are, of creative journaling and artist sketchbooks. There are dozens of books and YouTube videos that show how and tell artists why we should do creative journaling and sketching. But I didn’t truly understand the differences (and some similarities) among the journal types. Nor did I understand the value of keeping an art process journal until I made one.

The VALUE of a process journal is that it encourages experimentation and critical thinking. It’s a place where you:

  • record, develop, experiment, and play with ideas and inspirations
  • communicate your understanding of the Arts
  • show your growing ability to think critically about and reflect upon your art work
  • convey knowledge of the technical aspects of your art work
  • demonstrate your ability to develop a visual language
  • demonstrate your ability to use the language of an artist
  • record the process involved in creating your art work
  • reflect on the project when it’s finished

Why These Things are Important

Having a written and visual record of your process and knowledge is a valuable resource. It will contain material you can use to write or talk about your artwork when the time comes to show, write about, and promote your art.

It’s a template to work from, which can save you time and effort, giving you a head start on your next art project.

How the Creative Process Improves When You Use An Art Process Journal

Creating is a dynamic, ongoing process of sensing, planning, and evaluating. Exploring the range of possibilities for your art work before you commit to a finished piece of art or a collection, will give you more options than you might have first considered.

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