Creating Rituals around your art journaling

Hi GM BFFs, Elizabeth here.  In this Season of Connection, I’d love to share of my favorite rituals for connecting with my art-making and deepening my art journal experience.  If this all sounds a bit ridiculous outside your comfort zone… that’s perfect.  Outside your comfort zone is such a good, important, productive place to be. For me, my dedicated art-making time falls into a few categories or fulfills a few distinct purposes:

  • Experimentation: I have an idea I’d like to work out, I have a new supply or medium I’m excited to try out, I’m working through plans for a future project
  • Work: Starting, developing, or completing a piece for someone else (client work, commissions, gifts)
  • Play: Loose and fun art-making (often with one or both of my children)
  • Growth: Making art for the sake of making art, meditation, self-expression

Whenever my art-making falls into that last category (and occasionally when it doesn’t), I mark the beginning with one or more rituals.  These rituals are (mostly) uncomplicated and quick, but they help me shift my focus, thoughts and energy toward creating… and away from my phone, the news, the neighbors, and the laundry.  I’d love to share some of these rituals with you today, and look forward to learning how you bring your focus to art-making and connect more deeply with your creative process.

Creating Rituals to Connect to Your Art-Making

Making Space

rituals for artmaking Despite having a desk, I do most of my creating on the floor of our living room, with supplies spread out across our coffee table.  This is the same space that is often occupied by various trucks, dolls, building blocks, books, coffee mugs, newspapers, and whatnot.  Making space, both literally and figuratively, is often my first ritual before creating art. This ritual is often as simple are clearing off and cleaning the table.  A clean desk or working surface sends such an inviting a message of readiness (Hey!  Come create on me! Make me messy again!).  From there, I take the time to lay out my supplies in a way that is both inviting and helpful to the way I work.  I am right-handed (and a bit clumsy), so water jars, rags and paintbrushes go to the right.  Paper goes to the left.  Ink or paint hovers in the middle.


rituals for artmaking If I have additional time, or if I am feeling especially frazzled or distracted, I take a few minutes to smudge the area around my work surface with a bundle of dried sage.  If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, this article is a great primer on smudging. This ritual heightens and engages my senses, and helps me move on from whatever was previously holding my attention.

Apply Art Guard (or similar)

rituals for artmaking This ritual serves a very practical purpose (keeping my skin protected from paint and other mediums, as some brands/colors can contain toxic ingredients), but also provides another reminder to my brain that we are on the art clock… not the worry about the news clock (as much as that’s possible).  I usually apply Art Guard or a similar barrier cream just before I open up my paint and get messy.

Setting out inspiration pieces

rituals for art making Setting out a few pieces that inspire or interest me is another way I draw my focus toward creating.  Whether they’re rocks or shells, pieces of jewelry or crystals, old photographs, magazine tear-outs, or cherished books, I love having a collection of inspiration pieces at the ready. I rely heavily on natural elements in my rituals, likely because I spend so much of my time absorbed in technology and the human-made realm.  Creating and art-making often feels in opposition to that, in the best possible way.

Beginning with Intention

This ritual requires only the step of making a conscious decision to disconnect from other distractions, and dedicate yourself (as best as you can, and without judgement) to creating art. Other rituals you might consider:

  • Make and listen to a dedicated “art-making” playlist (see DJ Megan for playlists she crowdsources for each season of Get Messy)
  • Light a candle before beginning your art, and blow it out when you’re ready to move on to your next activity
  • Put on an apron (or some similar piece of clothing) at the beginning of each session — this repetitive action not only keeps your fancy clothes clean, but also sends a signal to your brain that you are now on art time


  • Choose a ritual from the list above and give it a try.
  • Take note of how this affected your art-making — was this a positive or helpful experience?  Was it weird and distracting?
  • Develop and/or share your own rituals with the Get Messy community.


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. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Beautiful photos as always! Some very inspiring ideas too, I also am reminded that I need to get some barrier cream. Thanks!!

  2. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    YES. Smudging and lighting candles are a big part of my rituals. I also love the idea of a clean, non-cluttered space. making time for that helps everything flow.

  3. Charlotte Erichsen

    Thank you for all these small and effective ideas! It’s so helpful to get the mind shifted! Funny coincidence: Today I actually started with candle and smudging (funny english word for it – always thought it meant smearing paint…)
    The biggest challenge for me probably is making /clearing space 🙂

  4. Sasha Zinevych

    Just reading about this made me calm and happy. Thank you for sharing!