Don’t worry about it. You can’t do it wrong. Whatever you want to do is correct. This is an excuse to play and express yourself in a new way. Nobody has to see it, so you don’t have to worry about it looking “right”. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy art journaling.
Remember “A picture is worth a thousand words”? You can often express yourself in ways you’d never have words for by doodling, scribbling, or splashing paint on the page.
Cut and paste is a totally legitimate form of expression. I use magazine cut-outs all the time.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. Often it is best to start out with a simple inexpensive journal that you don’t especially love. If it is too precious, you won’t feel free to cut into it or paint on it.
It is good to pick a journal that you enjoy holding and is portable if you are going to sketch away from home. I like one that has a spiral spine so I can work on just one side at a time. Good paper matters – you want something that will hold up to what materials you are using. If you are using wet mediums you’ll want to use thicker paper so it won’t warp.
If you are going to be gluing things into your journal, go ahead and cut out every 5th page before you even start. This gives the journal room to absorb the extra bulk without making it splay open or breaking the spine.
You can combine scrapbooking, journaling, and sketching. There are no limits to this art form. You can glue in concert tickets or menus from a memorable evening. You can take photos and print them out and glue them in.
If sketching people who are moving (like musicians or workers), watch them for about 5 minutes. They will have a ‘default” position they will return to. Roughly sketch that position. When they move out, sketch what is around them. When they return, add more to that part.
Most people won’t even realize you are sketching them because they are so distracted by what they are doing. But try to be polite and discrete about it anyway. People are best to sketch when they are being themselves.
Sketching isn’t about making a photograph. You’ll need to leave some things out. The goal is to capture an impression – not to make a perfect replica of what was there.
Leave space in your sketch to write in notes. Things I like to include – day, time, how long the sketch took, location, what was going on (why was I there – was there a special event?) and weather conditions if I am outside. Consider using an interesting ink color.
There are many different materials to sketch with. I like using watercolor pencils. They are portable and easy to work with in the field. I add water using a small brush later.