Here is the cover of my latest journal I just finished: “Explore New Ideas Outside the Box….” I made it out of watercolor papers and sewed it together. As I’ve been working on it I have been getting excited about the “Summer Art Journaling 2-day Workshop-Playshop” I’m teaching this summer in Hillsboro Oregon. It will be fun to play with paint and paper and doodle with pen. The journals we will bind in the workshop will be similar to this one.
The cover was one of the last pages to finish. I had gessoed the surface, but it didn’t clean and neat any more. I kept changing my mind on what I wanted the cover to look like and there was a lot of pencil and erased lines. Then my pen ran out and I used a thicker one than planned and wasn’t happy with how the lettering was going. But I decided to work with it. So I got a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and lightly smeared the letters. I let it dry and then began to paint the negative space around the letters with a dirty brush of Quinacridone N.A. Gold and Titanium White. I’ve used this method before and I like the look of it. The photo below shows the beginning of the painting. I wish I would’ve taken a scan of the letters before I smudged them, but I was too busy problem solving to think about that. The painted paper you see on the right side is folded over from what is glued onto the other side of the page, the inside cover.
Below is the finished step of painting the background or negative space. It’s looking better already.
Now, below you see I’ve begun to add color. 
And here it is again, the finished cover.
Here below is one of the two-page spreads from the same journal. I incorporated techniques I will be teaching in the Summer Art Journaling 2-day Workshop-Playshop: using painted papers I made for the house, swirls and sun, and tree, “Ribbon” lettering, and tinting and shading with paint.
Valerie Sjodin copyright 2012
I get asked about paints, what paints I use etc. so I have added a “page” to the right sidebar just below my book image with “Notes about Acrylic Paints” for journaling and what we use in my workshops. 
I hope you find it helpful.  
One more thing: I just revamped my website with a whole new look that coordinates better with my blog and current style. You can check it out at 


  1. Beautiful cover and I love the inside pages. I checked out the sidebar on acrylic paint and found your suggestions very helpful. Thanks

  2. What a good tutorial! Thanks for your ideas, offered from the heart.
    Having held some of your beautiful journals I can only encourage people not to hesitate to take your class. As a former high school art teacher you sure do know your stuff… and your studio is everyone's dream space.

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