Obscuring journaling with mixed media layers

Hello Wonderful Messians!

I’m so excited to share this technique with you! One of the best advantages about keeping an art journal as opposed to a written journal is the ability to cover up entries that just feel too raw and exposed. I kept a written journal for years, but there were always certain entries that felt too vulnerable just sitting there. Sometimes I’d tear pages out or glue them together. I never liked that solution much.

With this technique, you’ll be using a journal entry as part of your background “texture,” and then layering in repetitive circles, smoky layers of gesso, and more circles. It’s a very calming technique for me because of all the repetitive motion and the fact that I can transform what I’m feeling into something new.  I marvel at how each time I do this I find new organic forms emerging. It’s a wonderful way to discover, rather than push, your images. I think you are going to find the same!

In terms of the outcome, I’ll teach you how to create an organic looking page similar to mine, but please, if something else tries to emerge, don’t be afraid to follow it. Like all the other techniques in art journaling, I trust you will take what works for you and leave behind whatever does not.

I’ve filmed the video in a combination of real-time creation with some trimming and speedups. If you are someone who likes to work a technique all the way through with company the first time, you’ll likely want to work along with me, perhaps even pausing the video at times. If not, you might just let it play through the first time, taking in some of my suggestions about working in a less planned, mindful way.

STEP 1: Write down your feelings on a two page journal spread.

STEP 2: Choose 2 – 4 very similar colors of Neocolor crayons.

STEP 3: Draw circles all over your page, clustering them together into organic shapes. No straight lines or sharp corners.  (Unless you want to go for something more graphic, that would be great too!)

STEP 4: Use a dry brush with stiff bristles and gesso to mute or blend the circles on your page.

STEP 5: Draw another layer of circles.

STEP 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you get results that appeal to you.


  • Choose colors that are only a few tones off from each other. This creates harmony.
  • Apply your circles in organically shaped blocks of color. Allow it to flow like a river, branch like a tree, grow tall like a mountain, or extend like a landmass on a map.
  • Let your imagination take hold and direct you. If you begin to see the circles as cells multiplying, go with it. You might even do a quick search of images of  cells to gather inspiration.
  • Take your time. This is a wonderful exercise because it’s so repetitive. You can really tune into the sound of the crayon moving across the page, the motion of the circles, and your breath. If you tune into these experiences, it’s a very relaxing, mindful art exercise.
  • Work in layers. Don’t worry too much about the outcome, just get into the rhythm of applying the circles, then the gesso, then more circles. After a while you will find a rhythm and it will come together.
  • Remember to dry your brush before dipping it into gesso in order to get that “smoky” look.

  • Vary your brush strokes to achieve a good blend.
  • You may also add a quote that expresses how you feel or how you want to feel or something you feel the piece is expressing.

Isn’t this fun? I hope you do a whole series of these. Doing a great way to really grow grow as an artist. You can stretch the technique by working bigger or  smaller, working with or without color, making it neat or messy. I can’t wait to see your work on Instagram!

Creatively Yours,

Amy  XO


Amy Maricle is an artist, art therapist, author, and blogger who wants everyone to experience the healing power of art. She works in Foxboro, Massachusetts and lives nearby with her family and two trouble-making, lovable pooches


  1. TC Larson

    Amy, I am so in synch with your gentle approach to art journaling. It’s the way I try to come to my pages, with acceptance of whatever arises and a willingness to allow myself to follow my creativity where it leads. It’s always interesting to see what emerges, isn’t it?? Thanks for this beautiful tutorial — I’m looking forward to trying it this evening!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi TC: I love how you put it – that gentleness is such a gift in art making. As someone who tends to try to plan and control, it’s a wonderful way to counter that in my life. I’m so happy this spoke to you.


  2. Sasha Zinevych

    Really fun! Thanks for sharing Amy! I don’t have any crayons, but I just tried it with water based felt tips. It gives such a gentle wash of color!

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Sasha:

      Funny how that word – gentle – keeps popping up! I’m so glad you enjoyed Sasha!

  3. Elizabeth D.

    You work is so lovely and meditative. I am so enjoying learning from you!

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Elizabeth:

      Thank you so much. It’s so fun to be here!

      🙂 Amy

  4. Misty Granade

    So lovely! Thanks for the neocolor/gesso tip. I don’t know if I would have come up with that. The bonus blooper at the end made me howl! 🙂

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Misty:

      HA! I’ve always loved bloopers – do you remember that show? That’s the kind of silliness that makes me laugh too – so glad it struck your funny bone and that you liked the Neocolor gesso combo.