10 Songs 10 Minutes 10 Pages

When I’m staring at a blank sketchbook or art journal page, feeling the call to create but at a loss for where to start, I often turn to music. A good song can evoke so much. I draw from the lyrics and the score, as well as the mood and memories that a song stirs up in me.

I thought I’d share a simple exercise that will get you jamming… and hopefully creating. After 10 minutes, you will have the foundations for ten new art journal spreads.

If you’d like to listen along with me, here is the Spotify playlist I created for this exercise.


What you’ll need:

  • A playlist of 10 songs (these could be your favorite or most-listened to songs, or you could simply shuffle through your collection, or skip across the radio dial—just be sure to note the name/artist as you go)
  • 2 pieces of scrap paper (I used printer paper, but you can use whatever is laying around)
  • Something to write/draw with (this could be a simple as a simple as a pen, or you could have some markers, ink or paint available, as well)
  • A timer
  • Optional: Color swatches you’ve previously made (if you’ve made an inventory of your paint, ink, markers, etc.); a few magazine tear-outs or ephemera you’re hoping to include; easy access to favorite art journal pages you’ve created.

My work surface as I prepped for this exercise:


How it works:

  1. Fold your paper into quarters and label each box 1-10. I used the front and back of one sheet, and the front of the second sheet. This left me with two extra boxes, which I used to brainstorm as the exercise played out.
  2. If you’re working from an existing playlist (or one you made for this exercise), write the song and artist info in the corresponding box.
  3. Set your timer to countdown from 1 minute and press play on your first song. Note: You can play the first minute of the song, or you can jump around a bit, but you will only be listening to 1 minute of each song.
  4. Write, draw, sketch and express (in the allotted box on your scrap paper) everything that comes to you during that minute. You might take notes on the mood and corresponding colors; jot down lyrics that you find especially moving, expressive, beautiful or challenging; images that convey the song (which you could draw or find in a magazine later on, for example), etc.
  5. When the minute is over, move along to the second song and repeat the process. You can do this for all 10 songs, or for however long you have time and energy.
  6. If ideas come to mind that are unrelated to a particular song, jot these down in your brainstorming section on the second page. Come back to this section when you need inspiration in the future.

After the ten minutes and ten songs have passed, you should have the foundation or blueprint for ten different art journal spreads. You may want to move ahead with all ten, you may not. Here’s what my scrap paper looked like at the end of the exercise:


I chose 8 to create in a mini book to get me warmed up for the Season of Music. You’ll see how I translated my notes from the exercise into actual pages below.

gm-10songs10mins10pages-04 gm-10songs10mins10pages-05 gm-10songs10mins10pages-06 gm-10songs10mins10pages-07 gm-10songs10mins10pages-08 gm-10songs10mins10pages-09

I’d love to see what you come up with in ten minutes, inspired by ten songs. Feel free to tag me on Instagram (@ElizabethEv)!

What is currently playing on your creative playlist?


Elizabeth lives in Boston with her husband, two young children and not-so-young French bulldog.  She is passionate about encouraging others in their creative pursuits and building peaceful communities. She almost always laughs at her own jokes.


  1. Stephanie manic

    Gosh! I really enjoy this! I

  2. Meghan Deinhard

    Love this idea!!!! I’m going to have to try it. THank you!

  3. Michelle LaPoint

    I love this idea too! I’m going to do this! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Nel Wisse

    A really wonderful idea! Thank you so much, also usable for other subjects
    Flore Moeder

  5. Romana

    So very creative!!

  6. Rebecca

    Awsome, yet intimidating! Which is why I will have to try…

  7. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    This is a GREAT IDEA! I love all these pages Elizabeth!

  8. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Oh I love this idea! I am going to have a go at this today! Thanks so much for the post x

  9. Emily@squiggleandswirl

    Elizabeth, what a gorgeous post ! So inspiring to just begin! LOVE your pages !

  10. Gilly Welch

    This is brilliant Elizabeth…I’m feeling a bit stuck this week & going to give this a try, thank you.

  11. julia Thomas

    AH! That heart page <3