By the time you are reading this post we will be on our way to South Africa for the first of our Journey Workshops this year. When you return home after a painting adventure, a travel journal can be one of your best memories. Come along in the coming days as I put mine together. Sit back and relax while we explore South Africa…

I am so excited about this trip. This will be my first time to South Africa, too, so I don’t know what to expect. I love the feeling of not-knowing, that I have wonderful surprises ahead of me.


There are a couple of decent journals out there, but not many. Many journals are beautiful on the outside, but the paper inside is not good enough to use for painting. Drawing, yes, but painting no. Especially the kind I do – watercolor and mixed media, too.

So, most of the time I like to make my own. Here is the one I’ve begun for Africa.

So far, only the cover has been done. I’m making this journal so I can slip pages in and out of it. That way, I can take a page or two with me on location to paint, without having to take the entire journal. Light and easy is best when painting plein air.


Supplies you’ll need are:

Step 1

I use only a sheet of watercolor paper for the cover! Fold a piece of watercolor paper in half, as you see me doing here. You can make it any size you wish, but cut the watercolor paper two inches larger than the paper you want to put inside.

Step 2

Pour some Elmer’s into a cup and thin it with about 1/3 water. Mix well.

Set aside one sheet of white art tissue. It should be larger than the size of your paper.

Step 3     Step 4

Pour some glue out onto the paper (do only one-half of the cover at a time or the glue will dry too quickly), then spread it out to cover the paper very well. Be sure there aren’t any spots without glue.

Then lay the tissue on top. You do not have to cut it to size or anything like that. Just lay it on.


Step 5     Step 6

Carefully press the paper into the glue with your fingers. Then veeeeeery gently press the paper with a brush, trying to push out any bubbles. The tissue will be very delicate and if it tears, so problem, just push it on and keep moving.

Can you see the texture that I’m getting? I’m actually trying to get wrinkles. I’m letting the tissue wrinkle, but getting out all air bubbles.

When one-half has been completed, do the rest of the outside in the same way. Let the outside dry completely. There will be extra tissue hanging off the edges at this point.


Step 7

When the outside is dry, flip the journal over and trim the extra tissue hanging past the edge to 2 inches wide.

Brush the thinned Elmer’s onto the edge of journal (like you see in the photo), then press then paper into the glue and smoosh out the bubbles. It works best to do only a few inches at a time, so the glue doesn’t dry before you get the tissue on it. Let this dry completely.


You must use acrylic paint because watercolor will not stick onto the glued surface. I’ve squirted out Golden Transparent Red Oxide and Burnt Umber and will bits of both as I go. Just pick up the paint with a large flat brush and go for it. More paint = darker surface, of course.

The inside edges are also painted.

Step 8

At this point, the outside and inside will look like this:

Inside     Outside


Yes, we absolutely must make the inside beautiful. You can paint the entire thing, if you like. Sometimes I do paint the inside. In this case, I got a hankerin’ to collage a beautiful piece of batiked paper inside.

Step 9     Step 10

You can also use Elmer’s for this, but you may want to make it a bit thicker – more like ½ and ½. Brush glue onto a bit of the surface. I like to do only a portion at a time, smoothing out bubbles as I go. Brush glue on, lay down paper (carefully positioning it so will lay out correctly), pat down paper with clean fingers, then roll over it with a brayer to smooth out bubbles. Brush glue on, smooth down another portion of paper, smooth out bubbles. You got it! Let this dry completely.

TOMORROW we will finish up the details of the cover and talk about how to get the paper inside.


Thank you all for reading.  Will write again soon…from Africa!


error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This