You’ll love these art history art journal prompts!

Get some excellent ideas for your art journal pages with these art history art journal prompts, free pdf printable included!

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art journal prompts

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 journal prompts inspired by art history!

Related: How to Start an Art Journal for Beginners.

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 art journal prompts!

*Please note that this list of art history-inspired art journal prompts was carefully curated around art styles that I personally thought would translate well into art journaling. Meaning gorgeous illustration 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 journal prompts at the end of this article. Enjoy!

15 Art history-inspired art journal prompts:

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.

Victorian-era engravings, various artists, mid-late 1800s.

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 then search “vintage patterns.” Then simply download, print, and paste!

Related: 15 Creative Art Journal pages for Inspiration

William Morris patterns, mid-late 1800s.

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.

Impressionist paintings by Claude Monet- Morning on the Seine near Giverny (1897) and The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog) (1903–1904).

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

Art Noveau illustrations-Zodiaque or La Plume (ca. 1896–1897) and Salon des Cent poster (1896) by Alphonse Maria Mucha.

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.

Mark Rothko Color Field Paintings.

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 2-d image to look multi-dimensional, as the cubists did!

Related: How to Paint over a Large Canvas: Easy Mixed Media Wall Art Makeover

Cubist paintings by Christopher Wren and Reijer Stolk.

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.

Vincent Van Goh paintings- The Starry Night and Wheat Field with Cypresses.

8. Draw or collage vintage typography and design elements.

These typography and design elements make wonderful illustration inspiration. They can also be printed 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.)

Related: 30 Free Art Printables {Cute and Modern!}

Hermann Esser lettering and design elements, mid-1800s- early 1900s.

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!

Abstract art by Paul Klee- The Harbinger of Autumn (1922) and Untitled (1914.)

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!

Evening Calm, Concarneau, Opus 220 (Allegro Maestoso) (1891) painting by Paul Signac.

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?

Related: Cute Printable Birthday Cards For Her {Pretty and Free PDF Download!}

Illustrations from Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta or The Model Book of Calligraphy (1561–1596) by Georg Bocskay and Joris Hoefnagel.

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.

Woolworth Building June Night and Statue of Liberty (both 1916) from Postcards New York Series I by Rachael Robinson Elmer.

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 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. Stamps are a wonderful mixed media element for art journaling.

15 Art History-Inspired Art Journal Prompts {With Free PDF Journal Prompts!}

Prints by Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof, (1892).

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.

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.

La Fontaine de coquillages Robe du soir de Paquin (1914) and Fumée Robe du soir, de Beer (1921) fashion illustrations by George Barbier.

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.

Colorful modern graffiti art by unknown artists around the world.

Did you love these art history-inspired art journal ideas?

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. You can download these art journal prompts as a pdf printable worksheet for free from the link below. Then print and enjoy! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Art history inspired art journal prompts PDF printable

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Surrealism

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Rene Magritte, La Décalcomanie, 1966.

Art Noveau

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Cubism- Charles Demuth

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Art Deco

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Grafitti art

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Link for remix of Image Lady and ornament art nouveau png set, remixed from the artworks of Alphonse Maria Mucha

rawpixel.com

Using art history references as inspiration for art journaling is such a great idea!