yucky colors
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Can I show you some of the worst art journal pages I ever created?

Because I think when we see all this beautiful gorgeous stuff on Pinterest and in magazines and whatnot…it’s so easy to feel intimidated.

Hopefully these terrible art journal pages will help you feel a little bit better about being a beginner!

And that self critic monster pops in and says “You’re not an artist!” and “You’re not good enough to be doing this” and whatever other nonsense our critical self might say…

So, please, allow me to share with you my “Art Journal Failures” – pages I just don’t like.

Now, some people will agree on me that these pages are horrendous, some of you may think I’m being too hard on myself…

Either way – I didn’t like how these pages turned out. I think I could have done better.

But then, I also accept that I’m not perfect, my pages aren’t perfect, and spilling out some ugly color combinations or things that don’t make any sense can happen on occasion.

In some ways, I think sharing ugly art is more helpful than sharing good art. We can’t make good art if we don’t know how to first practice making bad art, right?

yucky colors

So how do you deal with an art journal fail?

Well, there are options 🙂

1. Gesso over it and start anew

2. Tear out the pages.

3. Cover up with magazine photos

4. Recycle the page and use in another art journal page as collage fodder.

5. Take a deep breath and remember that you aren’t creating an art journal to be pinned on Pinterest or to be featured in a magazine.

Consider making a page about the reasons why you art journal to remind yourself that it’s the process of creating – not always the end result that matters most.

I hope by sharing some of my horrendously ugly art journal pages I’m not particularly proud of, it will help inspire you to create anyways.

If you’ve made a terrible, ugly, no-good, awful art journal page, will you share it with us? Sometimes art journal pages don’t turn out as we hope or plan. That’s OK. I’d still love to see what you’ve made – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

What matters in the end, is that you’ve found something you enjoy doing – and that is what makes you an “ArtJournalist” 🙂

Sharing is caring!

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  1. It’s all relative I suppose. Where you see fail I think, “I wish my stuff looked that good”. I’ve always considered myself unartistic and recently my 7 year old has inspired me to explore that side of myself more.

      1. Olá!
        Imensa gratidão pelo seu site!
        É MARAVILHOSO e está me ajudando muito!
        Super obrigada!

  2. i am new to this and i just discovered your site. i think it’s wonderful! you have just made it possible for me to get going. thank you so much.

  3. It may seem like a fail for you Chelle I think its glorious and inspirational, maybe not perfection you were hoping for but that is how life is so why should its reflection be any different. I m expecting most of my art journal masterpieces to be more like mess-ta-pieces but Im OK with that 🙂

    1. “Mess-ta-pieces” – I like that! That’s how my first page in my journal turned out. I’ve never done this before & I was SO disappointed in it. Then I thought I should just accept it as it is as I’m not a creative person, but hey, it’s just for me & after all, “who’s going to fire me”?

  4. I am new to art journaling, having just started around Christmas time. I’ve created a couple of pages, and purchased some more products to get me going. Santa brought me a Gelli Plate and gee have I had some fun with that…now all I have to do is learn how to incorporate it with what is in my mind…not always an easy task, lol.
    I’m really looking forward to your course and cant wait to see what comes next.
    I think your yukky pages look good, although I am feeling a bit the same as you about mine, lol. I have decided to keep them all though, as it is a journey and the journey must start somewhere….so thankyou….here I am.

      1. HODGEPODGESPV it is a a silicone type pad, they come in different sizes…with them you make “prints” of your art, so you paint, stamp, scribble, and then place a piece of paper on it and it prints your design… than you brayer your colors and print again… you tube “what is a gelli plate? for more info

  5. Well, I think your failures are only failures in your own eyes. Maybe they don’t look like someone else’s pages that you greatly admire…but, thank goodness everyone’s artwork is not all the same.
    My problem, I can never think of anything to say! It just becomes a book of pretty pages because I love the techniques.

    1. Have you tried checking out quotes sites online?
      Or maybe using great song lyrics that you love & that speak (sing?) to you?

  6. Something we should keep in mind is that failure is not fatal. That is for the newbie to the top professional in the field. You have a lesson in the failed piece. It can have a key to something better. In my own art I have several approaches to my paintings or prints. Trials on sketch paper, or tracing paper or on an old yucky canvas. After this preliminary work I have found most of the pitfalls and the “serious” work flows much better. That is why I am finding the art journal so enchanting. It is a place to play like I do in my preliminary exploratioy work. Here we are going with the flow with materials and imagination. No great expectations in my case. Just incredible freedom. LOVE IT!

    1. I totally agree Sherry, I am finding my journal to be a safe place to play with ideas. Some of them I will put on canvas. Thanks for sharing

  7. I find it hard work if I end up making something creepy or unpleasant! Overanalysis I guess 🙂 need to do it more tho, it’s good for the soul, but it’s very hard to leave my art critic out of the process!

    1. heydeba, I used to have a very similar problem, one I am worried I might encounter while art journaling. I used to write, everyday. Poems, essays, freeform, anything really. It felt good at first, but I am chronically ill and as that took over my life my writing became dark, angry and sometimes plain creepy. Before I knew it that was all I could write. That was around the time I switch mediums completely to the visual arts and crafting. I actually found it less difficult to see a little darkness in my art then the obvious misery in my writing. I noticed too that with the dark writing I shared people had little to say about. The dark art was a different story, people would see in it there own darkness, suddenly people would ask questions or start talking about how it made them feel. My suggestion then I guess is to edit out any writing on these ‘creepy’ pages and just work through them anyway. It will be a good release but you won’t have to explain exactly what you meant if you show it cause people will often see what they want anyway.

  8. I love the idea of art journaling. I have a travel journal that I usually pull out when I’m with my sister. I love stamp art and she loves sticker art. My journal is a combination of both. It even has a few of my attempts at drawing scenes we’ve visited. One page is smeared with black stamping ink because our eagerly anticipated time together was interrupted by 9/11. It’s a powerful page that made my best friend cry when she saw it.

    I decided to “journal” a poster with my favorite Bible Verse. I tried to make it worthy of a wall hanging instead of just letting it flow. I wasn’t happy with the results, but parts are wonderful. I’ve been reading a lot about journaling and think I’ll cut it up and use the parts I like in a collage.

    And the journey continues …

  9. thank you thank you thank you. I sat here in tears (literally) this morning looking at what I was considering pages of art journal fail. I kept reminding myself that I cannot compare my beginning to others middles and ends. That combined with the frustration of not finding a black pen that would write well on top of acrylic paint made me really cranky. Or perhaps its the feet of snow that remain outside contributing to my crankiness.

    appreciate your post and the comments.

    1. I started journaling in March. I’m on my ninth spread, and there are very few that I really, actively like–it’s almost impossible for me to not do the comparison game.

      Meg, you’re right–it’s not fair to yourself to compare your beginnings to others’ middles and ends. It’s not fair to compare yourself period, of course, but for those starting out, we have to remind ourselves constantly that much of what we are seeing online and in magazines are from women who have been doing this for years (or if they have not been journaling for years, they have some artistic/creative background or history).

      I tell myself that, instead of making myself feel badly for how my work looks compared to theirs, I need to be inspired by how long they have been doing this, and just know that by doing it, whether I think it sucks or not, that’s an accomplishment. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I don’t always believe it, but I tell myself that. 🙂

  10. Just found journaling art on the net when I was bored out of my mind. I have painted for many years but not a professional. This is just great, marvelous, I love it and had never heard of it before.

  11. Just today I created two of the ugliest pages I have ever seen. Truly gross. So, for a while I just Adding Layers. And Then Eventually I Stopped. I Will Revisit Them Later.

  12. Ladies try the Junk Journal Junkies on facebook. The ladies there are wonderful and have lots of great ideals. Although I have no ideal why they call them junk journals. LOL some are so beautiful. I have been making them also out of boxes of whatever I can get my hands on. Complete covers with a spine. Check them out.

  13. I appreciate your showing us the examples of your “failures.” Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?

  14. NOT fail. There are no art journal fails… just perceptions of failure, which is not a FAIL, only one idea of what is acceptable.

    Accept and move on. Another day, another page…more art… it is all exemplifying where you are at a particular time… so, no FAILURE, just NOW and move to the next NOW!!

  15. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve had some pretty bad ones and ended up trashing my ENTIRE art journal in a moment of anger and fusturation. I started a new one today. I’m gonna be level-headed. This is suppose to be calming, not stressful

  16. I have been repinning tons of art journal entries, buying supplies, and scribbling about my life in odd places, hesitating to put it all together. Watched a video of someone layering everything in quick unplanned ways and I was inspired. Made three spreads today and they look pretty good for a beginner. Dive in journalists!

  17. This cheers me up a little, was feeling depressed today and decided to do a page in my art journal, but that made me even more depressed as whatever I did it didn’t look great. Also all these perfect pages you find on Pinterest etc. are depressing sometimes and now I realize I’m not the only one, I feel a little more positive and inspired.
    Thank you!

  18. I discovered your blog in quest for starting my own blog, I absolutely love your posts and this one has encouraged me infinitely! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I relate to this post. Yes I agree I can see how you dislike some of your “fails” but some where absolutely beautiful to me… Totally agree with you that it’s not about the aesthetic level, not at first anyways if ever (depends on ones artistic journey), but what one person views as fail another sees as wonderful. I will definitely rummage through my fails and share. Thanks for being you and sharing all you do

  19. Actually to my personal taste and opinion number 3 and 4 from top to bottom look really good. Especially number 4.
    And thanks for posting this: it’s brave and motivating! 🙂

  20. Thank you for posting this. I actually came across it through pinterest where I was looking at gorgeous pages and getting down on myself for my beginner art skills. Its nice to see someone else has “fails” too 🙂

  21. Failure is the reason that I switched to using binders and loose-leaf for my sketchbooks. Well, really it was interrupted progress and I’d rather transfer used pages to a different binder and add new pages rather than picking up a half-finished sketchbook that had sat for a long time or leaving a half-finished sketchbook.

    My main sketchbook is a 5.5 x 8.5 address binder, and I can easily find old dayplanners to store old sketches in.

  22. I don’t see anything “wrong” with any of your pages. I like them, my favorite is the big one with the pink swirl in the upper left corner.

  23. Fail is in the eye of the beholder. The first one looks like stuff I saw in the art journal magazine I recently bought and the second is a great Sketchnote.

    Thank you for sharing your real process. It’s so important in this age of filters and influencers.

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