You may have heard the term “bullet journal” before, but if you haven’t, try to picture the love child between a planner, a journal, a to-do list, and a scrapbook. Basically, a bullet journal is a build-your-own creative planning outlet that you can fill with whatever you want.
Personally, I use a dotted notebook primarily as an artsy planner / brain dump receptacle. I carry my bullet journal with me everywhere and I love to fill it with things that make me smile. Since you’re here, I can assume you share my love of Disney and won’t be surprised when I tell you I love to put Disney alllll over my journal.
For Christmas, I got Ben, my fiance, tickets to see Aladdin live. We’re not going until the last week in July (waiting is the WORST), but I wanted to make sure my journal was fully prepared for the level of excitement I’d have when the time came. So, I decked that puppy out…
All ideas have to start somewhere, and mine started…well, here. Genie is my favorite character in Aladdin, so I knew I wanted him to have a prominent place on my spread. The Magic Carpet is also a pretty cool dude, so I wanted him to make an appearance. The palace tower got picked pretty much because it’s the right shape to fill empty space along the edge of a page. Don’t be afraid of the rough sketch — even if it’s REALLY rough.
First, the background: I wanted to try something new for my background – swooshy watercolors (technical term). I’d never painted with watercolors before, but YouTube thankfully exists to give some simple instructions. My first attempt was…unique. Nothing else quite like it! (for good reason)
Alright, so this was a learning moment. There’s a way to watercolor, and this was not it. (Is it just me or do those blue lines kind of look like something from the Upside Down?) This is why a lot of my artistic experimentation happens on separate pieces of paper and not directly in the journal. Next piece of advice: don’t be afraid of failure. This is a safe space. I decided to give it another go, but I worked slower, and I kept everything going in the same direction.
To make this background, I first taped a piece of watercolor paper on to a glass table with painters tape. I wanted to use a gentle masking tape, so I wouldn’t rip the paper when I later took the tape off. The tape helps keep the paper from curling too badly, but mine did still warp and bubble up a little. Then, I used a large, clean brush to brush a liberal amount of water all over the page. I chose blue and purple for my colors because I was trying to mimic the feel of an Arabian night (picture the sky during A Whole New World – ya feel me?).
I took a TINY amount of the blue and purple paint, smaller than the size of a pea, and put each in a small cup. I used the brush to add a decent amount of water (it was definitely wet, but nothing was swimming) to each and made broad strokes horizontally across my page, pressing very lightly. I made the strokes close enough to minimize white space, but far away enough to hopefully encourage the colors to kind of bleed into one another and blend. It kind of worked… I left the page taped down for a few hours to dry, watching closely to make sure curious kitty paws steered clear (I was visiting my dad and his cat is named Simba; how cute is that?). After it was completely dry, I peeled off the tape and sandwiched my page under some heavy books to encourage it to flatten out. My last step was to splatter some white paint on the page and let that dry. The white didn’t end up splattering too well, so I’m thinking I probably should have used a different kind of paint for that.
Close enough! Bullet journals aren’t about perfection, and I was happy, so it stayed.
Next, the drawings: Because of my dark background, I knew I’d need to draw each of my characters (and the palace) on separate paper because they’d never show up drawn on the watercolors. Also, this gave me the freedom to mess up, erase (a lot), and try again without destroying what I’d already made. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m what I call a “lucky” artist. On occasion, I can copy an image and it comes out looking alright. (Full disclosure: I looked at a picture of Genie from the movie and I duplicated it.) This time, I got VERY lucky. I couldn’t be happier with Genie. I’ve been using my bullet journal to challenge myself to draw more, but if drawing isn’t your thing, know that there are tons of other options for decorating your pages. It’s your journal, so feel free to print out pictures, trace things, or use coloring book pages. Anything goes. For each of Genie, Carpet, and the palace, I drew first in pencil on regular printer paper before tracing everything in Pentel SignPen Touch Brush marker/pens. (I’m not entirely sure what they qualify as, but I love them.)
Finally, assembly: My last step was to put everything together in the journal. I had to cut out and insert the background, arrange my drawings, add white spaces for each day, and final touches. For this process, I used Tombow adhesive, rather than Scotch tape or glue. The adhesive comes in an applicator similar to the ones for white out tape, so you just drag the tape across the page and it leaves a thin layer of very sticky double-sided tape. It keeps things where they should be without adding too much thickness to my already-stuffed journal. Know that once you stick things to the adhesive, though, they’re not easily coming back off in one piece.
For the last touches on this spread, I got some help from stickers and washi tape (my new crafting addiction), and a movie quote to round it out (but I wish it was easier to read… next time!).
Water Colors (12-color set) – AC Moore $5
Brush Set (3 brushes) – AC Moore $3.99
Washi Tape Tube (appx. 10 rolls) – AC Moore $9.99
Pentel SignPen Touch Brush (12 colors – used for Carpet, Genie, and the palace) – Amazon.com $21.13
Tombow Adhesive (6 rolls of SUPER sticky double-sided tape for assembly) – Amazon.com $12.99
Gold extra fine tip Sharpie – AC Moore $4.49