One Prompt, an infinite number of art JOURNAL PAGES

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Why prompts? Why not just create whatever you want? Why revisit prompts?

If you’re a member of Get Messy you’ll notice that we are big on prompts around here. Each Monday we release a handful of prompts related to our season theme and encourage everyone to create a page around at least one of them. But why?

A little backstory, prompts are how we (Caylee and Lauren) got started with art journaling. Back before Get Messy existed and we were just internet friends texting about our desire to be artists, we didn’t really know how to art journal. We purchased an art journaling course and used the prompts to create our first pages.

Using prompts took away the pressure, gave us guidelines, kept us motivated and was a fascinating study in how different our styles were (though we didn’t quite know what those were at the time).

When Get Messy started to grow and others were joining in we could no longer use the course for so many people, so we started writing our own prompts. I, Lauren, found I LOVED writing these and write most of our prompts still to do this day. But again, we found the prompts to be a great way of connecting all of the Get Messians so we were creating together around a theme and helping people shuck the issue of ‘not knowing what to make’.

As we began discussing our art journaling course with Creativebug, we immediately knew our course would be heavily based on prompts as our goal was to introduce new creatives to art journaling.

To develop our prompts and ideas for the course we looked back through past art journals we had made to find prompts, techniques and ideas we wanted to incorporate. This is where I found this page:

I LOVED this page when I created it years ago and still to this day it is one of my favorite pages. It is based on the poem Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. I started thinking about this poem and how it asks what Mary’s garden grows and my mind quickly leaped to a metaphorical garden and what the blooms of my life were.

I created the garden scene and wrote a poem, in the same format as the original, of what my garden grew.

I used the same concept to create the prompt and page for Creativebug. You can see the similarities here in the page I created live on camera for the course:

Let’s go ahead and say this is not my favorite page I’ve ever created. But, it is a new iteration of the same prompt. I actually went on to make 2 more iterations of this page. The prompt was just so simple and perfect and malleable. I could make it work to any specific day for how I was feeling or in general. I could get weird with it or make it beautiful. For the page I created for Creativebug I focused on the different important external things in my life, where I lived, friendships, etc.

In this iteration of the prompt, I wanted to explore the darker side of the prompt. I hand built the flowers with scraps and added in shocking imagery to make the flowers come alive. I wanted to explore more of the contrast and more complex depths of what can grow in us. I let the imagery speak for itself in this one.

For the last page, I made it during one of our live creating sessions we did to celebrate and follow the course. I melded the background with one of the lovely watercolor techniques that Caylee teaches in the course and channeled a lot of her style on this page. I simply added a single floral image and kept my journaling short and tight to the image allowing it to be more of a visual focal point.

And then comes the best part of teaching a course: getting to see what the students create from it. I shared this prompt and then put it in the hands of the students to see where they would take it.

Let’s just say it’s kind of amazing.

You can see how varied and different I created these 4 pages using the same basic idea, but take a look at how these students interpreted it.

One simple prompt. That’s all it took to create all of these beautiful and wildly different pages.

Prompts aren’t meant to be followed exactly to the letter, but they can be. You can use one word in them to spark an idea for you. You can manipulate the parts of it you like and the parts you don’t. Even if you feel like you have a million ideas and don’t need prompts, they are a creative challenge. A way to work out your creative muscles in new ways and force yourself to think a little differently. It may be uncomfortable, but that is what art is all about: Creating what isn’t comfortable.

What can the power of prompts do for you? What does your take on this page look like? What does your 4th take on this prompt look like?

We would love to see your take on this prompt on Instagram. Please share your art journal pages with us by tagging @getmessyartjournal and using the hashtag #getmessyartjournal

If you would like to learn more about our course with Creativebug and receive this full prompt and tutorial you can register here.

If you would like a regular helping of prompts and tutorials each week, we would be delighted to have you join Get Messy and make with us daily. Learn more and join here.