52-Week Art Journal

Week 5: Not Knowing… but Enjoying Now

Here’s this week’s video prompt. If you’d prefer to read… just scroll on by.


I’ll start by saying this week is different. For one, you never see my face in the prompt video. There’s also background music. And we’re finally breaking out the paints! But the BIGGEST difference in this week’s prompt is…

I’m not telling you what the project is.

I’ll tell you what you need.

And give step-by-step instructions.

But until it’s done, you can’t be 100% sure it’s what you think it’s going to be.

Let’s Get Started

As I said, this week we’re using paint. Preferably acrylic, but watercolor will work if that’s all you have, or that’s what you prefer. You need yellow, orange, brown, and blue.

You need a paintbrush, preferably flat for spreading paint. Five cotton swabs. And a toothpick.

It’s always good when painting to make sure you have a cup of water to rinse your brush in, and paper towels. If you don’t have a divided plastic paint tray palette, find something washable or discardable (but don’t throw it away yet) or recylable you can put a little paint on for easy use.

For this week’s art you’re also going to need scrap paper. I like newsprint for this type of project. But almost any type of paper will do. In the video I use part of an old envelope cut down to size. Your paper should be smaller than your journal page, but not too small.

Having extra paper on hand is a good idea.

Is your journal open to two blank pages side-by-side?

Instruction #1

If you’re right-handed, paint on the left page.

If you’re left-handed, yup, paint on the page to the right


If you’re using small bottles of acrylics, shake your yellow paint and pour some on the page you should paint on based on the hand you paint with.

You’ll need enough to fill most of your page, or a large rectangle on it. The size of your rectangle sets the size of your finished project.

Is it at least a little larger than your chosen piece of scrap paper?

If not resize one or the other.

Here’s somewhere having at least one more piece of paper is helpful: I like to brush out as much color as possible before I rinse my brush, so I used a big scrap of newsprint to brush out my yellow paint. Doing this keeps my rinse water usable longer, and also makes interesting bits and pieces for other projects.

After your brush is clean, set it aside.


Pour a small amount of orange paint onto whatever you’re using as a palette.

Pick up your cotton swabs and hold them, bundled together, as you would a paintbrush. Press the tips against the table to get them as even as possible. Five can be unwieldy, so if you need to use fewer, do so. Whatever works best for you.

We will be applying our orange paint to our separate sheet of paper.

Dip your cotton swabs in the orange paint, then have fun dabbing it onto the top half of your paper.

When you’re satisfied with the texture of the orange section of your paper, set aside your cottons swabs.


Our next color is brown. Back to our art journal page for this.

Drip enough paint onto the lower part of your your yellow area to allow you to cover a third to half.

You’ve probably found your yellow paint isn’t yet dry. And that’s perfect. Just what we want.

Have some more fun playing with what effects you can create with the brown on yellow paint. You’ll want a relatively even top edge, a third to halfway up your yellow box.

After you’ve had some fun and are satisfied with this texture, clean your brush.


We’re going to use the brush again, but go back to our separate piece of paper.

Put some drops of paint on the lower half, and paint across your paper below the orange section. Fill up as much of the lower half of the paper as you’d like, then trade paintbrush for toothpick.

Use the toothpick to make designs in the blue paint. Lines for stripes. Plaid. Polka dots. I turned giant polka dots below narrow stripes, into flowers. Do any interesting, random pattern or smattering of elements as you’d like.

Yes, I’ll say it again, have fun with it.

Do you think you know what we’re making? You very well might. And you might not.

The next step



Not yet.

You’re going to have to wait.

You may be right about what this small art is going to be. But if you thought we’d be finishing this project today… you were wrong.

For one thing, we need to let our paint dry…


Here’s something: Having our blank page on the opposite side of our painting and writing hand, means we won’t mess up our wet paint when we journal.

Yes, all of the instructions had a reason.

Let’s talk about this week’s journaling

This week we’re writing about not knowing

How often do you think about, wonder about, the future?

Are you excited about experiencing tomorrow, the next year, the next decade?

Or does looking forward without knowing what those days hold make you feel anxious?

Maybe you’re in a tough situation and long to know how it will resolve.

Not knowing can be hard.

But can you imagine what life would be like if we always knew what was next?

Maybe that sounds appealing…

But what would it really be like?

Do you like surprises?

Take some time to journal about your relationship with not knowing. How does it make you feel?

As you write… you may be surprised.

If you’ve been on this journey with me, you know I’m often surprised by what happens when I art journal. If you’re new, check out the first step to get started with us on this journey here.

What’s next?

After you’ve taken some time to journal, which may not have been much fun, it’s time to… have some fun.

Don’t put away those paints. Get them all out.

Make sure you have plenty of paper. You know I said it would be a good idea,

Grab some more cotton swabs, maybe… Maybe some small sponges, or piece of sponges… cookie cutters… other things with interesting shapes that you won’t mind getting paint on if they’re not washable…

I covered my work… play… space with a large piece of newsprint. You should cover yours, too.

Because how fun can playing with paint be if you have to be too worried about damaging surfaces… or making cleanup time longer than it needs to be…

Your final instruction isn’t a new one: HAVE FUN!


Be sure to keep your orange and blue paper with your art journal for our next steps next week. And keep the pieces of fun your create, because we’ll be using them, too. I even kept a few paper towels made pretty by brush-wiping.

H A V E   F U N ! ! ! ! !


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