Creative Prompts

Here is a list of prompts to get the artistic side of you going taken from

That’s So You> Write a list of 10 things that you’ve loved doing for many years. Going to baseball games, reading Calvin & Hobbes books, sneaking a bit of brownie batter, ice skating, whatever. Write one sentence about each thing, describing a memory the activity evokes. For instance, “Reading C & H, I think of elementary school, passing notes to my friend Jason Tazponwollager.”

<Mod Meditation> Put an image or word in the center of a piece of heavy white paper or the next page in your journal. Work through the remnants in your scrap paper stash by gluing narrow strips of paper onto the edges of your center image working outward until you reach the edges. As you glue and glue, let your mind wander.

<Holiday Scraps> Grab a stack of holiday cards and cut them into artist trading cards (ATCs) measuring 2.5″ x 3.5″. Any part of the card is fair game. Add stitching, doodles, glitter glue, or stamps to finish the cards.

<Scatter> Use the word or concept SCATTER in your art journal. Scatter glitter across a page of black gesso. Write scattered thoughts about a problem you can’t resolve. Take a photo of birds before they fly away and use the image in your journal. Make a disjointed, chaotic, grunge page with no logic or order whatsoever. Ideas include picking colors at random, tearing paper, painting with your fingers.

<Tacky Tourist Maps> Start with a map of any type. Even a map of the mall. Cover most of an art journal page with part of this map. Cut out images and words and glue them to the map, renaming places and adding images like one of those tacky, gaudy tourist maps.

BOAT DRINKS> Write much thicker or much thinner than usual. If you usually draw or write in thick Sharpies in your journal, write in 005 Sakura Microns. If you use a thin line to write or draw, try a crayon or neocolor. Does the writing tool change how you work?

<CHANNEL Z> Do an art journal page in a style no-one would expect from you. Surprise yourself. Find one of your styles below and go to the opposite end of the spectrum!

  • Clean and orderly <–> Grunge, obscure, shock
  • Bold, saturated, psychedelic <–> Soft, pastels, peaceful, poetry
  • Intense, detailed handwritten journaling <–> Simple quote, alphabet stamps
  • One main color <–> Tons of colors
  • Painted acrylic background <–> Colored pencil shaded background
  • Collaged magazine images <–> Your own photographs OR no imagery only color

<UNWRITTEN> Pretend you are back at school and your teacher asks the classic question, “What did you do this summer?” Write the response FIRST (or on a simple layer of pale paint or gesso) as the focus of the page, with details or doodles or colors or collage around the journaling. That’s the idea behind 13 weeks.

<DAZED + CONFUSED> Use a Sakura glaze pen as a mask for an art journal background. Examples at Glaze Pen Masking and Glaze Pens & Faded Green.

1. Use pages from an old diary/journal that doesn’t represent who you are any more as fodder for art. Shred, tear, slice, burn, soak in liquid, crumble, fold &/or staple. You could weave strips of paper from the old diary, create new paper, do origami, make an envelope for a journal page, etc. 

#2. Create a page about toys you played with as a child. I loved playing with my little tiny dolls and a cardboard dollhouse I decorated. Sketch images, use images from a magazine, use colors that recreate the feeling you had when playing with your toys. Create a happy page.

#3. Start a new loose art journal page with texture rubbings. Simply place your paper on something with an interesting texture – a weathered wooden table, leaves, an embossed book cover, pottery, jewelry, another journal page.

#4. Pick a decision that’s been bugging you and analyze it from the perspective of a movie character. How about “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski, The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Sally in When Harry Met Sally, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz… Use colors that give the page the feel of the movie or character or problem.

#5. In the spirit of A Collection a Day, create a collection of something on your page.

#6. Create a colorful map of an imaginary world. You could sketch an island and label geographic areas in marker, cut fabric into various shapes and stitch the map together, use your kids’ stamps to create the fantasy space. Ideas from my kids at Making Maps and More Maps.


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