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Art journal prompts for a fresh start

Here are some art journal prompts to support your mood and thoughts. Journaling is a nice exercise for any time of the year. Just a little bit each day, it’s easier than you think and it has so many benefits.

creative journal prompts
These art journal prompts – and journaling in general- will:

Improve mental health.

Increases self-awareness.

Helps with problem-solving and critical thinking through your issues.

Helps with memory keeping.

Serves as a spiritual roadmap to your thoughts

art journal prompts


If you are artsy, crafty like me, it’s a given to add in markers and paint.

It’s daily ritual before bedtime – art journaling. Actually, more like affirmation journaling. I want to improve my illustration skills, and I decided to incorporate an affirmation as well.

This is a little different from traditional journaling because we are adding in color, doodle, and illustration. 

The most important thing to remember is no one will see what you are doing, just you. Your journal is a safe space, so relax and be your authentic self. 

Finding the perfect journal

You can start with any blank book, paper, folder, notebook, just start. I have my fair share of fancy journals, but honestly, I use all kinds of things for journals! It might be easier to start with a small journal so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Related: Bullet journal DIY 


Art journaling – why it helps

The art journal prompts will help clear your mind of the day’s routine and allow you to focus on the present. Just plain doodling and coloring. Reflecting and also thinking of what you want to bring into your life. 

Crafty Chica hardback journals
Crafty Chica journal

It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the night, it clears my mind of stress and helps me unwind. Some people journal in the morning. Find the right time for you!

By the way – I’ve also started turning my phone off at bedtime, wow, what a difference! no middle of the night distractions when those random dings pop up. Anyway…

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


Focus on today’s little victories.

Make a list of all the random things that went RIGHT in your day. You didn’t fall when you slipped on that banana peel. You finally some some moola from your Scratchers ticket. Your favorite color of paint was in stock at the craft store. 

how to make a book from one sheet of paper
Journal made from one sheet of paper.


Sometimes little victories add up to be the big wins!

Related: DIY Fabric Embellished Journals

Practice sketching bodies

Instead of spending too much time thinking, start by looking through magazines for picture ideas of body positions. Beauty and health ads are great, as well as fashion pics. You don’t have to be skilled enough to just whip out a cool chica striking a pose. But if you find the right pic, you can use it as a guide for shape, balance and proportion.

Art journal prompts: Add an affirmation

Sketch using a pencil (and a healthy eraser!). Once the girl is done, look at her expression and try to “hear” what she is saying, then  come up with the affirmation. I honestly have no idea how the girl will turn out until she is inked and colored.

Like writing, drawing takes on a life of its own through the process.

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


Create an action phrase

This is good to create the action-themed phrase, doodle and draw around it and make a lit of actions you want to incorporate in your life and why.

What are the benefits? 

art journal prompts
Painted pages, decorated with paint pens


Set up a cozy corner in my room.

Say something nice to my body in the mirror every day.

Sit down and drink my coffee to savor the experience.

You get the idea! 

Take pictures of your page so you can look at it every day!

Add colors you normally don’t use

Color comes in so many forms when it comes to journaling.  Experiment with colors you normally wouldn’t use and see what happens.

Next, for this list of art journal journal about why you chose those colors today. Why do you normally not use them? How do they make you feel? Was there a specific incident that made you not like those colors? But now as you use them in this prompt, how do they make you feel? Maybe create a new list of reasons you like them.

Water down acrylics, just try new things you normally wouldn’t. Better yet, break out the watercolors!

art journal prompts

Up until  couple weeks ago, I used to use sheets of watercolor paper, but then I switched a chunky black hardback journal with blank pages.

I really like the idea of the book because I feel like I can relax and practice, I can make mistakes. If something comes out wonky, I simply turn the page and start over.

What do you radiate?

Take a deep breath and think about the words you often use. and you most common actions. Reflect on recent conversations. Either in your mind or when you are speaking or writing. These are what you radiate. Do you like these words? 

Make a list of them in your journal and then make a new list of other words you can add or replace them with.

If you like what you radiate, add more ideas. If you want to change things up, brainstorm new actions, words and phrases. It can even be one word! Just make it big and juicy with colorful pens!

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


What does a blank page represent to you?

art journal prompts

Some people are intimidated by the blank page, but I love it, it reminds me of Mondays – a chance to start fresh, from scratch!

Every day is like a blank page.

You can make it a metaphor and write about the feeling of a blank page. Or you can be literal and express the feeling of using a new pen or pencil on a clean sheet of paper. How does it glide, notice the layers of colors and how they stack and you add more pressure.

Apply the bank page metaphor to a new day or a new year. How do you feel each morning when you wake up to greet the day? Do you feel nervous or unsure? How about making a list of reasons to feel more in control about your day. Mention the favorite tree you notice on your way to work, or knowing you have plenty of coffee to brew. Or that your honey is right next to you. Or that your doggie or kitty is there to make you feel loved.

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


Choose one word or thought to represent your mood right at this very moment

Make it the focal point of your page. It’s a good way to also work on your lettering! I bought a few reference books  and boy does it help! Begin with a couple pencils, an eraser, fine line and thick markers. Nothing fancy, just get practicing!

I like this type of exercise because it uses both sides of your brain. One part is working on the lettering detail, while the other is all about the depth of the word/phrase and why it is stuck in your head.

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


For this one, I used India ink for the lettering – it’s sooo addicting because it flows so smooth and dark.

The ______ is your ________

Complete the sentence. you can switch out the “your” with “my” if you’d like!

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


This one I painted with acrylics, I do love them more than watercolors, I love my colors like I like my glitter – thick and bright!

Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.
Doodles by Kathy Cano-Murillo, Copyright 2014.


Sometimes just straight black and white is perfect for the mood. I allow myself 30 minutes a night to play and make my mark in my journal. Sometimes I’ll finish a whole drawing, others times I’ll continue a page from earlier. All of it is a work in progress, just like us, right? No expectations, no rules, just release!

The most important thing is to take action in your journal and create, doodle, write. 

Thanks for checking out these art journal prompts, I hope they inspire you!

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2 thoughts on “Art journal prompts for a fresh start”

  1. Thank you for sharing this Kathy. I truly admire you talent and find you to be a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary sad world. I want you in the new Heaven on Earth in my world 🙂

  2. I love your idea of the affirmation book! You inspire me to be creative and create. I am very much a novice so its fun to see what practice, practice, practice can become. Like you said, we are a work in progress. Abrazos de Texas!


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