Perspectives: Backgrounds for Journaling

It’s inevitable that I’m going to have to try digital work for journal backgrounds. I’m a pencil-and-paper kind of journaler, but trying out digital art could produce some interesting effects.

My go-to topic is nature–leaves, spines, dust. Every morning, when I get back from my walk and pull my water bottle from the freezer, I’m amazed at the complexity of air frozen in water. It occurred to me that this ever-changing perspective was a great place to start with digital work. The ice in a water bottle looks like many things

Seed pods:

Pineapple tops:

A wind-blown feather. These aren’t complete. Instead, they are the beginning of photographs I can change and work with to create something new, different and imaginative. There are so many spaces that can be made interesting here.

I know there are talented nature photographers. I know I’m not one of them. And just like with raw art journaling, I am not in competition with the brilliant photographers, artists, designers. I’m thinking of the fun of using this image and changing he perspective and background to bring out the cold.

This one has potential to be a burning landscape. Here it is turned on its side with a bit more red added:

Looking at something common with fresh eyes is always a new experience. Maybe this isn’t my next big project, but the idea of changing perspective is an idea that never grows old.

What You Get Is What You See

In the last section of Raw Art Journaling, I use photographs as a starting point. I find something in the photograph that wants out, and let it out with pencils, markers, paint. You can do the same thing with words. Look at the photos below and use them as the starting point for writing. A photographic journal prompt. In this case, I wrote haiku, although you can use it as a journal prompt for a nature journal as well.


Water: smooth. Danger?
Frozen, biting, hot and cold.
Holding time in check.


Earth waits for water
Water waits for freshing wind
Wind waits for no one.


Light years cool fire’s heat
Less in the burning desert
Even the moon is hot


Dust hangs in the air
Reflecting heat and cactus
Glass is dust, is air

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–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling.