How to start art journaling > Lesson 4

Translating inspiration into art (How to do the actionable inspiration thing)

All over the internet we have sites that promise inspiration, ecourses teaching us how to make boards to inspire, and an entire website devoted to this.

But here’s the thing.

Inspiration does not exist.

True inspiration is the kind that leads to immediate action. Inspiration that leads to nothing tangible is nothing.

Yup, we said it.

Before we dig any deeper, we want to clarify what inspiration is. Inspiration is not a group of pictures saved to Pinterest because it looks pretty. Inspiration is the good stuff that leads to making. Inspiration can be a long walk outside, a hot bath, a cup of tea, or time with a loved one. It can also be an art journal page you saw of someone else’s. It can be a picture from Pinterest.

As long as it leads to making.

It’s gotta lead to making.

Caylee on inspiration

There are few things that fill my inspiration well quite like artist dates. Watch the video to see how I translated a visit to my closest art museum into two art journal pages.

The gouache painting I printed out is from the Museum Geburtshaus Anselm Feuerbach and was painted by his sister and not him (sorry Emilie!).

    The gouache painting I printed out is from the Museum Geburtshaus Anselm Feuerbach and was painted by his sister and not him.

    My tips for translating inspiration into art:

    • Take photos of details that you like and want to remember
    • Create a small element for each thing, and then put them all together on your art journal page
    • Google is your friend
    • Be loose with your interpretation
    • Be very biased with what you’re moved by (this is what makes the page your style)

    Amy on inspiration

    I carry a notebook in my bag and indulge my interests. I make notes and sketches about any little thing or idea that captures my attention. I also collect natural materials. This keeps me creative every day, and when I’m ready to spend some time creating, I have ideas as starting points.


    For me, I find lots of inspiration from the books I read. The following video is a quick look at a few journals or projects that were inspired by stories that I was reading.

    In this second video, you can see me create a spread inspired by Circe by Madeline Miller, a book that is so full of inspiration for me, from the cover itself to all those delicious words contained within.

    You know when we said art journaling punches perfectionism in the face? In the video you will see me make a mistake when I wrote the final words. I noticed it when I turned off the camera. So what did I do? I just erased and corrected my mistake. I didn’t throw everything away or think that I was unworthy. This is the power of art journaling!

    Action Steps


    Take yourself on an artist date.


    Create a moodboard.


    Then create from that.

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