Personalized Journal

When it comes to my brain having to remember things, I’m an old-fashioned pen-and-paper, hand-to-brain, make-it-stick kind of girl. I’m busy… I tend to take on a lot in my life with my “regular” job, my freelance work, my art, planning projects and keeping track of all those ideas and dreams, my three kids, my husband, my tribe… I have to stay organized and I have to write it down! There are tons of planners and journals out there, some pretty inexpensive, some pretty expansive, but I have my own little system of lists down to my own habits and I really enjoy keeping all of my brain-dumps in one place with my own flair.

So… being the wife of a high school teacher, I’m recruited every year to ah-hm – volunteer, shall we say? – to help with the year-end clean up and organization of said teacher’s classroom… And that means I generally have a constant stash of forgotten composition notebooks left behind by los estudiantes del señor… Finders-keepers! So… paint over the cover and tear out a few pages, and BOOM! We’re as good as new with a personalized journal!

Want to make your own? Let’s get to it then, shall we?

Journal Step 1

First, slather on a couple layers of gesso. This gives your surface clean “tooth” for the paint to grab on to.

If one layer doesn’t give you the coverage you want, give it another coat and you’ll be good to go. Remember you’re going to add on a few more layers of paint, so it doesn’t have to be perfect…

Grab a few fun colors of acrylic paint. I like to use plain ol’ craft acrylic paint and experiment with different color combos.

So once the gesso is dry(ish), block in your first layer of color. No rules, just color on the page to give that “fear of the blank canvas” a kick to the curb…

Continue adding in blocks of color and pattern – a grid of squares and dots give it some fun personality.

Oops! Well then… that’s just how it goes sometimes! Further proof that I use the inexpensive goodies for my supplies… No worries, just stick it back together and keep going! Ha!

Grab a Sharpie marker and start doodling!

Once you’ve got your doodles down, grab the brush and block in another layer of color in your doodles. No rules, just filling in however your heart desires. I didn’t have a plan with this, just filled in color here and there and let it build itself.

Using a white gel pen, add in some more loosey-goosey doodle details.

And keep adding in layers of details and color. I even ended up throwing on a few punches of bright yellow colored pencil to really pull out that saturated yellow.

And there it is, a personalized journal – all ready for your dreams, plans, doodles, and of course, heartwork!
(But Stacey, what about sealing it?? I don’t seal these… Sure it will get some scuffs and dings here and there, but for me that just adds to the character of a well-loved journal.)

Have fun!!


Want to know the specific items I used?

Composition Notebook (recycled from the clean-up day!)

Liquitex Gesso: Liquitex Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium, 16-oz

Craft Paints: DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint, 2-Ounce, Cool White

Blick Matte Acrylic Paints

Golden High Flow Acrylics: 4oz. High Flow Acrylic Paint Color: Titanium White

Sharpie Markers: Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 24-Count

Sakura Gelly Roll White Pen: Sakura (37819) Gelly Roll Medium-White, Sold Individually

Assorted Brushes: Pennelli Artist’s Brushes Medium Gold Taklon (Watercolor, Acrylics, Tempera)

(Note: this list contains affiliate links and I may receive commission if you choose to order these products. Thanks!)

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