Minimalist Journal Pages

Art journals right now are filled with color, layered with texture–each page is painted, layered, inked, stamped, collaged. It’s a wonderful, colorful looks that makes books thick with layers.  It’s practical if you are in a studio surrounded by equipment. But what if you are just sitting somewhere, with a pen and a journal?

I’ve always loved a minimalist look. And now that I’m experimenting with loose-leaf journals, I’m also exploring minimalist pages. There’s a big history of minimalism in  Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and American art.  There is a lot to explore.  I want to design a page so there is room for words and images, using as little as possible in the way of design. I want to leave room for writing. Below is a sunrise landscape I tried with a Micron marker, leaving lots of room for writing. Maybe I’ll add color later.

02 Black Micron on Co-Mo sketch paper 80 lb.

02 Black Micron on Co-Mo sketch paper 80 lb.

Almost none of my journal pages show people. I know right now it’s popular to have long-necked, big-eyed women gazing out from journal pages. Again, in this minimalist phase I’m in, I want to explore the suggestion of people, creating spaces inside the image outlines to write. I like the idea of an outline holding my thoughts. I like the idea of hinting at the spiritual aspect of people by just suggesting a form, and letting imagination flood in.

Figure of woman with writing, Micron pen on Co-Mo paper, 80-lb.

Figure of woman with writing, Micron pen on Co-Mo paper, 80-lb.

–Quinn McDonald is exploring loose-leaf, minimalist art journals. And a lot of other ideas.


22 thoughts on “Minimalist Journal Pages

  1. Quinn, you’ve almost exactly described the way I feel about my own art journal these days. When I started keeping an art journal, most of my pages were very complex and multi-layered, but lately I find myself favouring a much more minimalist style. My life already feels complicated enough, and in my journal I find it more enjoyable to explore pages that are simpler and less busy. My journal is a way to find my way to a simpler, more meaningful life where less is more.

    I also do not usually show people in my journal pages, but lately I have been feeling a desire to practice drawing portraits, which is something I have never done before.

    Thank you so much for this post. Most of the art journal pages that are shared on blogs are much more complex and multi-layered and, while I do appreciate those pages, it is great to see the other side as well.

    • The “layers on layers” that is now so popular is fine, but I find a problem with doing a bunch of backgrounds and then having to find the right background for that day. Which is why most of my journal pages are now loose leaf (I’ve got several methods of holding them) and for a while, I’m doing simple or minimalist work. It’s nice to vary your approach, I think.

  2. Wonderful, simply wonderful.
    Please post some more. I liked the tree (in the link) and how it seems to hover above the page, and also the integration of words in the woman’s form.
    I will have to have a play with this… soon, very soon.

    • It’s a little harder than all the layers, but as you strip away everything but the essentials, you discover a lot about yourself. That tree from my journal is an acacia, and they often have those improbably twists and turns in their trunks.

  3. I love the deceptive simplicity of your pages, that have layers of potential meanings in the perception and interpretation of the lines. I also like my layers. I am also aware that all my layers are not needed to tell the story.

  4. I am not a minimalist. Anyone entering my home would know instantly. I have the things I love most “all about me” as Maureen O’hara declared in “The Quiet Man”. It’s not piled or stuffed but displayed nicely, you understand. The point is although I like looking at this art technique, it makes me a little uncomfortable. I love color too and I find myself coloring in the space.
    It may be I just need to get outside my comfort zone a little…but to those of you that do like it – Enjoy!

  5. Love these pages, love the idea. The preponderance of supplies needed is hampering not only for being out in the world with the studio left behind, but also for people without studio space who have to make their art supplies fit in an already crowded home.

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