Repeat patterns: creating decorative designs in your art journal

Hello Artists! Alicia here to share with you some of my favorite ways to create repeat patterns in my art journal. I only recently realized how often I add patterns throughout my art journals.

In this tutorial, I will show you three ways to use and make patterns for art journaling along with give you basic terms and tips for making your own repeat patterns. When I create patterns digitally, I use the computer to create a precise repeat pattern. However, as you will see in the video, I am not as precise with my pattern creation in my art journal. I give you permission to create imperfect patterns along with me today!


  • Art Journal
  • Scrap paper to use for collage later
  • Your favorite medium (paint, pencils, markers, pens, etc.)
  • Paper & pen for brainstorming ideas

As you can see, my patterns are not created with all motifs being the same precise size. I want to have fun and not be too worried about it. I do give them a general similar look and size. I also make my motifs go off the page as if the pattern is continuing on.

This spread could be complete as is, or at a later time, I may go back in and add something on top of it. You can also do this with your patterns in your art journal.

Creating patterns on scraps of paper makes great personalized collage ephemera for you to use later (or share with an art friend). I like having a stack of scraps of paper sitting near my work space to create patterns on with extra paint from my brush. I’ll also do this within an additional art journal that I have sitting around as a base or addition to a spread I am working on. #teamneverwastethepaint

Within this last spread I created, you can see that I layered multiple patterns together. I’d love to see your spreads with many layers of patterns and your illustrated motifs! BONUS TIP: I used a bee from a sketchbook drawing I did a year and a half ago (a similar bee from that drawing ended up on a greeting card I released earlier this spring!) Sketchbooks can be a great resource for inspiration for patterns! Your art journals may also have some inspiration for marks and illustrations that can be repurposed into repeat patterns.

Action Steps

  • Make a list of ideas for motifs for your patterns.
  • Collect up your favorite art supplies.
  • Consider colors for your backgrounds, layers, and motifs.
  • Consider the size of the motifs.
  • Create patterns directly in your art journal and on loose paper to be collaged into your art journal later.
  • Share your repeat patterns with the Get Messy community using #GMSeasonofSeasons and #getmessyartjournal.


Alicia lives in Portland, Oregon. She loves to create intuitively and freely and let the art come out without holding back. When it all comes together on a spread, it feels magical, meaningful, and like a deep breath for her soul.


  1. Cindy Balbuena

    Thanks for these great ideas and tips, Alicia! Can’t wait to try!

  2. Clare Etheridge

    I remember using this tracing technique as a kid! Such a great idea as it works so well. This tutorial is just what I need to jump into the season of Seasons! Thanks Alicia xxx

  3. Robin Lyday

    These are some of my go-to shapes and marks as well!

  4. Janet Bockman

    What a wonderful tutorial, I enjoyed it immensely!! I am a huge fan of your Botanicals class, I love the way you approach your subjects and the calmness of your voice, the way you encourage others to do creative things! Thank you so very much. I am wondering what were the shades of green Acryla gouache that you used? I could see a tube of Dark Green but could not see the lighter shade. Thanks! This is a tutorial I will be watching many times!

  5. Kate

    love the bees!

  6. RositaCC

    Hi Alicia, I just finished my repeat pattern spread. Thank you so much for all the useful tips. I love your work!