52-Week Art Journal

Week 1: Make this Journal… and Journey Your Own

Let’s get started, Friends! If you haven’t yet gotten a mixed-media journal, that’s okay, you’ll be able to catch up. You could even do your small-art for this week on a different piece of paper and glue it in, and then do your journaling.

A great choice to get started is this three-journal set available on Amazon. It has heavy enough paper, (90-pound paper isn’t quite enough for all the wet applications we may do), and has more pages to get you through the year.

Our first step on this art journal journey is making our journal our own. There are various ways you could customize the cover, and if you’d like to do that, enjoy! Either way, we need to do something with that first blank page…

Watch this week’s prompts in the following video and/or read what I had to say below…

Week 1: Make this Journal… and Journey Your Own

Welcome to Week 1 of the 52-Week Art Journal Journey. I am so excited to have you here, that you have decided to make creative self-care through art journaling a priority in 2023 with me. The first week is about making our art journal our own, and establishing what we’re doing here, and what we hope to get out of this as we go through our year.

As you may have seen on Facebook or Instagram I started working on a first page in one of the journals I have from Blick Art Materials to try out this year. Let me just, it’s imperfect art, and that’s one of the beauties of art journaling. You don’t have to be caught up in making your art perfect, or “good enough” that you want to show others. Your art journal is as private as you want it to be. Mine’s a little different. I share things from mine because I want to share art journaling with others and invite them into my process so they can create their own.

I used watercolor pencils for a background for “52-Week Art Journal” & “#artjournalwithmelinda” to personalize, and promote, because I need people to see this is going on so they can join. Today I’m using Sharpies to get started in one of my trusty three-pack we use for art journaling at my library, and what many of you have ordered for your art journal.

The Purpose

You may have a picture in your mind of what art journaling is, and may think how I approach it is more like creative journaling. Some of you may have never heard either of these terms. But a great thing about art journaling and creative journaling is that they have no rules. The only rules they have are your rules. And, of course, if they’re art journals, they have to contain art. To me, if I’m creating an art journal, I’m creating images and I’m writing words. And both are about whatever I feel like expressing, however I feel like expressing it at the moment.

Some art journals have a theme, or a goal. My 100-day Art Journal didn’t have a particular theme except me doing art every day, which was also its goal.

The goal of our 52-Week Art Journal is to show up and make a small piece of art and do some journaling every week. We’re going to do some art that’s fun, like today. You can have as much fun as you’d making this art journal your own. (You can see I had fun with it… and it’s definitely unique.)

All of our art will also have a purpose. By customizing your first page you’re overcoming the dreaded empty-page block. This is YOUR journal, and you are going to own it.

Some projects may seem “deeper” than others. But, as with other things in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it… which isn’t quite accurate, as I found I got more out of art journaling than I put into it. But you still have to put something of yourself into it to get the most out of it. And we all know that different things can hit us differently at different times, based on what we’re going through. And what we’ve been through.

Some of our art and some of our journaling will deal with things that aren’t easy. We will, of course, incorporate joy. And strength. And when we deal with the hard things, the negative things, the things we might rather not deal with, by doing so in our art journal, we give ourselves some control. We can bring beauty to pain and chaos.

Emotions are real. And any emotion we experience is valid and deserves to be acknowledged, but we should never let our emotions control us. Sometimes we need to show them who’s boss. And that’s one thing we can do in our art journals.

It’s about you… in a GOOD way… OWN IT

During the video I got distracted from personalizing my page. Writing “[your name]’s art journal journey” with a colorful creative background is one idea. Maybe you don’t want to use words at all. Maybe you just want to let things flow, or capture an image in your head, by coloring, or sketching, or painting. You just need to do something that is uniquely yours. Because this journal is uniquely yours. Everything you do in it should be an expression of you, not a copy of someone else.

You ARE amazing, And I am so proud of you for wanting to make art a part of your life, and for taking the step of committing to one year, which seems a very long time, I know. However, when you think about it as just once a week, one piece of small art, and a little big of journaling—which will make you healthier, and more balancedwe’ve got this. We can do a year.

If you’re feeling like you still need permission to take the time to do this every week, I am wholeheartedly giving it to you. But it’s not my permission you need, it’s your own. So I am wholeheartedly telling you to do it. You won’t regret it.

Why we NEED this

We are wired for creativity, created in the image of the Creator. When we deny that, when we’re not creating, when we’re not giving ourselves outlets for creativity that’s fulfilling, we’re not going to be as healthy as we could be.

Maybe art isn’t your thing. But if you signed up for this I know you at least have enjoyed doodling or something like that. Whatever your involvement with art has been, from enjoying art class as a kid, or experimenting with various mediums and techniques as an adult, maybe you’re even a professional artist who hasn’t been giving yourself the time to just create for creativity’s sake or haven’t been using your creativity as part of your self-care.

We all know art can be powerful. We know it can be healing. We know it can help us process things when we don’t quite have the words. One thing about journaling is sometimes it helps us find the words.

Today’s Journaling Prompt

For journaling this week… What do you want to get out of this process this year? Where do you want to go on this journey, so to speak? I realize thinking about the whole year all at once may feel too big, so, if it helps, start with why you signed up in the first place. (Not signed up? You can here.) If you know me personally or on social media, was it because I talked about it so much, and was so excited to share it with others? Maybe you just stumbled across this 52-Week Art Journal Journey the same way I stumbled across #the100dayproject in 2022 and realize it’s your time to make art a priority, to establish a habit of creative self-care.

Write about why you signed up, and what you hope to accomplish.

Here’s the recap

This week you need to make your art journal your own. It needs to in some way be indelibly unmistakably yours, and part of this project, process, journey.

Use your journaling time this week to establish what you’re doing with this this art journal this year

You are committing to showing up every week to do your small art and some writing to establish your own habit of creative self-care. You’re not going to let all those other things, all those necessary things, all those important things, and all those just distracting things let you give up your weekly art date with yourself.

All of us can find 15 minutes in a week. If you can do more than that, awesome.

If you’re having a really rough week and fifteen minutes feels like more than you can do, that may be the week you most need to take the time. To just sit, and breathe, and create.

I’m here to encourage you to do so.

Our art won’t be perfect. But it will be perfectly imperfect.

So, on one of your journal pages, tell yourself:

You’re HERE.

You’re doing this.

And write your why in case you need to come back and remind yourself.

If you’d like to share

I look forward to seeing any art that you are comfortable to share with me. And if you are one of those people who want to share some of what you’re doing, I think that would be great if you get to the point where you want to use your art as an opportunity to bring someone else along on this journey, I would love for you to tag me @melindavanry on Facebook or Instagram, and use #artjournalwithmelinda or even #52weekartjournal. I’ll follow both.


If you’re on Instagram or Facebook and aren’t following me yet, you’re welcome to… of course.

If you watch my video and find value in it, please like and subscribe to be notified of prompt videos and other videos I’ll be posting about art and mental health as we go through our year.

Thank you for joining me on the 52-Week Art Journal Journey. Let’s take care of ourselves—our hearts, our minds, our souls—through art, together.

No one could accuse me of not having a unique first page. As I said, HAVE FUN WITH IT and don’t stifle yourself by striving for impossible perfection or even an arbitrary “good.” Let’s celebrate our perfectly imperfect, and our messy progress!


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