Word windows: adding text without affecting your images

Alright Artists, Elly again!

For me art journaling is as much about the story and the meaning as it is about the actual art work, so this season really aligns with my attitude. I hope that you have had a wonderful season of creation and recording. Story telling is so important.

As well as illustration and art journaling, I love reading and writing.

Sometimes though I will have spent so much time on an illustration that the idea of adding words to it, or covering any of it up fills me with dread. There are times too when I have too many words that they may as well go in a regular journal. Today I want to show you how you can add words to your art without having to add it to the actual spread.


You will need:

  • your art journal
  • your favourite art medium (I am using soft pastels in this tutorial)
  • a craft knife
  • a pen



Brainstorm the story that you would like to tell. This could be creative prose, poetry, a story from your life, quotes from loved ones, just anything. You will be expressing it in words and illustrations, so keep that in mind as you brainstorm.

This is a two-page spread. The first one will have the words that you want to share and the second will have your illustration. I started with the art first, but you can easily write your story out first. You choose.

Page 1:

Write out your story. If you want to, you can print this out using your favourite fonts, but I love seeing people’s hand writing – even my own messy scrawl.  Make sure that you leave spaces between the lines as you will need to cut windows out of this page. Consider grouping the words so that you can make different effects.

Use your craft knife to cut out the areas that you want to turn into windows. Be sure to leave a solid frame around the outside of the page to keep the page as stable as possible. Paper type will also have an effect on this. Be wise – work with what you have.

Page 2:

Create your artwork. You can use your favourite medium, pencils, paints, ink, collage – anything.


This is a very flexible technique, add plastic windows with sequins, cut out different shapes, be creative!

If you are using pencils or pastels that are dusty and you don’t have fixative spray – try using hairspray.

Action Items

  • Choose an event or moment from your life and illustrate it.
  • Have a precious photo? Use this technique to add journaling without damaging or drawing on your image.
  • Use plastic to make a window with sequins or glitter.



Elly lives in Sydney, Australia. Her favourite part of journaling is being able to play. She loves being able to test out ideas, and styles, and mediums without pressure. This applies to the ideas she’s expressing too: getting to work through experiences and communicating opinions in a place that is fun, safe, and colourful.


  1. Sarah Petrovic

    How cool!

  2. Jennilyn Nevins

    Running right to my craftroom to make one of these!

  3. Julia Bethmann

    Love how yours turned out, going to try this!

  4. TC Larson

    Sequins from when you were a mermaid! **heart melts** What beautiful pages and such a versatile technique! I can’t wait to try it out!

  5. Maura Flood

    What fun! Thanks for sharing this technique.

  6. Amber Coulter

    Such a fun technique! Can’t wait to try it!

  7. Clare Etheridge

    Going to give this a whirl! Love the mermaid sequins.

  8. Chelsea Corbett

    Can’t wait to get started on this tomorrow – I used to love paper-cutting as an art form in itself so the thought of combining two of my favourite things is so exciting!! Xx

  9. Pamela Rideout-Smith

    This is brilliant and I love your sequins from when you were a mermaid ‍♀️

  10. Thea Marie

    This is so cool, can’t wait to try it when I’m home from holiday!

  11. Nolwenn Parisot

    Love it, I’ll try it in my vacation journal. Thanks Elly 🙂

  12. Jill Holmes

    Very nice!!

  13. Stephanie Brown

    I love love love this process and am off to my studio to play. Thank You Thank You Thank You