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Playing with color-themed journals

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

If you have been following me on Instagram for a while you probably noticed that I have been playing with the idea of color-themed journals. It’s not the most original one and you probably have found someone that played with this very same idea already. But I couldn’t help myself to bound my very first handmade journal just for that. That way I could experiment with two things at the same time: bookbinding and color practice.

Let me say that binding my first journal was a much more enjoyable experience than I imagined. I was sure that I was not up to the task, but I had to try it. I’m the kind of person who only says that is not able to do something after having tried it. So, fortunately, the process went very well, and I loved all the steps, from spending days choosing the different papers to learning how to bind the signatures and finally add a cover. I will not say it was not challenging and that I didn’t make lots of mistakes throughout the journey, especially during the stitching phase. But it was very rewarding in the end to know that I now can bind journals exactly the way I want them to be.

Once I had the journal ready, I defined some color rules as to how I would address filling its pages. The first one was to pick the main color, in this case blue, my favorite one. And by blue, I mean, all shades of blue, from classic navy blue to vibrant turquoise blue. Then, I decided to let one color out of the journal, green. This rule I discovered to be even harder than the first one because I was tempted to use green for leaves all the time! Finally, I allowed myself to explore some complementary colors that included pinks, purple, and reds as well as all sorts of metallic shades. Black and white I considered neutral or basic colours.

One main benefit that I found from using this approach is that the journal ends up having a much more harmonious look because of the lack of major color contrasts. It gives coherence between the pages, which I really like. Don’t get me wrong, color contrast is great, it brings a very interesting dynamic to journal pages, but for this specific project, I decided not to explore it. I also found that working with a more restricted color palette has the advantage of freeing me up to think more about other aspects as the type of media or the style of the page. So, with this journal, I was able to concentrate on exploring a bunch of different techniques that I hadn't tried before without color worrying.

This first experience was so pleasant that I decided to keep exploring it, and I bound a second journal, the Green Journal. This time, as the name says, the main color was green, and blues were avoided. The other rules were also applied. However, I added an extra layer of complexity, which was to use this journal for the Get Messy May challenge. This meant that I had to respond to the prompts, thirty total, according to the color rules established. Oh, boy, this was way more challenging than I had expected and I found myself many times thinking about giving up. But you know, I’m also the kind of person who can’t leave things unfinished, I must go all the way through them. And I went! I finished the challenge, and it was a roller coaster, with me having epiphany moments and others just hating the page and ripping it off the journal because I just couldn't bear to look at it.

So from this experience, I learned two things about myself. First, I hate long challenges. Thirty days is too much for me, and I prefer short challenges of 5 - 7 days or more spaced challenges such as Flowers Magic that give two days between prompts/classes so people can catch up more easily. Also, I will never add one challenge to another again. It complicates things more than they should, and this is not helpful. I don't want to feel pressured when working on my journals. I want to feel relaxed and enjoy the pleasure of creating something just because. With that in mind, I kept filling the remaining pages of the Green Journal, at a much easier pace and with a feeling of self-enjoyment that was always the main goal of my art practice.

All in all, working with color-themed journals has been a great addition to my art practice, and I will definitely explore more of them in the near future. I am planning on doing a full flip-through video of both journals as soon as I finish the Green Journal. So stay tuned for more insights about this approach and how it can benefit your art practice.

Take care,


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Some lovely pages here. I agree combining challenges just becomes a challenge and not much fun. It can be hard keeping to the restrictions when the flow is going in a different direction. I love that you use white for drawing. I started doing that recently and really love it, I feel black is too harsh for me. I've started adding umber to black to make it softer if I want to use it for lettering to put in my journal. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to draw flowers and leaves like you, I have a but of a way to go ;-) anyway lovely journals and i enjoyed the blog xx

Camila Garcia
Camila Garcia
Aug 29, 2022
Replying to

I love to use both white and black pens, it depending on the background. Mixing umber with black seems to be a good idea, I might try that too. As for drawing flowers, I can say that practice is key. I promise that if you practice you will get better at it. And thank you for your feedback, Makes me happy that you have enjoyed the blog! xx

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