You’ll love these art history prompts to use in your art journal!
We will cover many different time periods and art movements, including artwork by some slightly under-the-radar artists.
Get excellent ideas for your art journal pages with these art history journal prompts, free pdf printable included!
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If you’ve ever taken an art history class, you’ve either loved it or hated it. Art history, depending on your interest level and how it’s taught, can be absolutely fascinating or completely boring. I personally love art history. And I love art journaling. So I figured, why not combine art history & art journaling by creating fun art history prompts to use for art journaling!
In this blog post, we will take a birds-eye look over art styles & movements from the past to inspire a wealth of ideas for art journaling.
From impressionism to abstract expressionism, art nouveau to grafetti art. There are so many incredible reference points to draw ideas from when art journaling.
So let’s have a look at some famous art movements and artists with examples. And get the journal ideas flowing with 15 inspiring art history prompts for art journaling!
*Please note that this list of art history prompts was carefully curated around art styles that I personally thought would translate well into art journaling. Meaning gorgeous illustrations to inspire your own drawings, printable collage elements, and paintings with art-journal-friendly paint techniques. These art journal prompts are inspired by some famous and not-so-famous artists. Because art history isn’t just about “the greats.” When it comes to art history, there is so much to discover!
You can download the free PDF printable art history journal prompts at the end of this article. Enjoy!
15 Art history prompts for your art journal:
1. Collage using Victorian-era engravings.
These Victorian-era engravings of the mid-late 1800s are cute and whimsical. They would be fun to print out and use as collage elements. To print, go to rawpixel.com and search “engravings.” Victorian engravings make wonderful mixed-media components on any art journal page. You could also use them as inspiration for your own illustrations.
2. Use Victorian-era patterns as borders or backgrounds for your art journal pages.
These Victorian-era patterns by artist William Morris are absolutely gorgeous. They would make excellent backgrounds or borders for art journal pages. Morris originally created them as wallpaper. You can go to rawpixel.com and then search “vintage patterns.” Then simply download, print, and paste!
3. Paint the rain and fog in your art journal pages, ala Claude Monet.
Impressionist painters, such as Claude Monet, often focused on depicting the natural weather elements of rain and fog, along with the play of shadows and light. Try depicting fog, rain, or snow as Monet did for your art journal pages.
4. Illustrate your art journal pages in the Art Noveau style.
Try your hand at illustrating in the Art Noveau style. This is one of my personal favorite art history-inspired art journal prompts. I love the way the women are depicted along with the fonts and motifs used. Simply magical!
Related: 15 Inspirational Art Journal Pages
5. Create art journal pages inspired by Rothko’s Color Field Paintings.
Mark Rothko was a brilliant artist from the Abstract Expressionist art movement of the 1940s and 50s. His Color Field Paintings are both minimalist and complex.
Try creating your own color block paintings in your art journal. A color-block page would be stunning on its own. But you could also add a short quote or some collage element layered on top.
6. Incorporate the multi-dimensional style of Cubism into your art journal pages.
Cubism was an avant-garde art movement of the early 1900s focused on exploring dimensions. Try to paint a 2D image to look multi-dimensional, as the cubists did! This is a really fun art journal prompt.
7. Swirl it like Van Gogh with bold, painterly brushstrokes.
Vincent Van Goho’s post-impressionist works of art are characterized by swirls and textured brushstrokes. Make some bold, vivid marks with acrylics in your art journal inspired by his signature “painterly” style. And make sure to incorporate some blue!
8. Draw or collage vintage typography and design elements.
These typography and design elements make wonderful illustration inspiration which is why I chose them as art history prompts. They can also be printed and then added as mixed media or collage elements in your art journal pages however you like.
Find these images to download at rawpixel.com and search for “Hermann Esser” (He is the artistic genius behind these lovely illustrations. One of many artists I never heard mentioned in art history class.)
9. Create an abstract art journal page inspired by Paul Klee.
Paul Klee was an artist of the early 1900s who was influenced by expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. His artwork has quite a childish feel and also reminds me of quilts. Klee was fascinated with color theory and wrote extensively about it.
Try painting a colorful art journal page with fun abstract shapes like Paul Klee. Don’t be afraid to allow it to look like an 8-year-old painted it! This art journal prompt is all about playing with color in easy ways.
10. Try pointillism à la French Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac.
Pointillism is a fun neo-impressionist way of painting by way of many tiny dots. It may take a while to complete an art journal page using the pointillism painting technique, but the results can be truly stunning!
11. Pen beautiful handwritten text or calligraphy in the form of a poem, story, or quote.
The examples below are quite ancient; there are many ways to combine text and images in your art journal. I happen to adore the gorgeous calligraphy and delicate naturalistic subject matter of these illustrations. What fun art journal inspiration from a lesser-known art history example. Don’t you think?
12. Create an art journal page in the Art Deco style inspired by your favorite city.
Are these vintage New York City postcards fun or what? And the Art Deco style will always be so cool.
13. Make some block prints or homemade stamps for your art journal.
You can make prints cheap and easy for your art journal by etching them into styrofoam or potatoes. Or you could purchase a block print kit, which is really fun to play with!
The simplicity of the designs below is quite inspiring. Furthermore, stamps are a wonderful mixed-media element for any kind of art journaling.
14. Create an art journal page featuring vintage or modern fashion Illustration.
These vintage Art Noveau fashion illustration images are lovely. Fashion illustration isn’t much discussed in art history outside of the fashion world. But fashion is such an exciting part of art history, so hence, these art journal prompts.
Why not create an art journal page inspired by fashion from a certain time period that you love? You could illustrate, use collage elements, or paint a fashion art journal page.
15. Use paint markers to draw graffiti-inspired lettering.
Have you ever tried “tagging” or graffiti art? I spent hours practicing graffiti lettering as a teen. I just always thought graffiti art was so cool! Paint markers are really fun to use for practicing graffiti art. But you can use any pen or marker.
Did you love these art history prompts?
I hope you have found plenty of art journal inspiration from this blog post! And maybe even a renewed appreciation for art history in general.
Art history can be truly fascinating when you study it on your own terms, or when you use history for creative inspiration.
You can download these art history prompts as a PDF printable worksheet for free from the link below. Then print and enjoy!
Art History Prompts PDF
Feel free to share the art prompts with a friend, or use them in an art class if you are a teacher.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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