STEPS 1 + 2
Paint! Whoever said, "once you use paint in your art journals, it becomes addicting," was right! There's nothing more fulfilling than laying down that first layer of color, usually after I've applied a layer of gesso with a cheapo "chip brush."
I prefer to use a credit card to apply my acrylic paint because it's fast, clean-up is easy (keep a shallow bowl near-by, filled partially with water - or clean off immediately with a baby wipe or a rag), you use less paint and the BEST PART is that your pages won't stick. Rather than wasting leftover paint, just scrape it onto future pages (see my next post!)
Start with a lighter color. Then, after scraping the 1st layer of paint across your page, scrape a dark or medium shade overtop of it. Next, use your fingers to drip random drops from a glass of water or block the nozzle on a spray bottle with a finger, for larger "glops!" Wait about 1 minute, blot the excess water with a paper towel and SCRAPE to reveal the lighter color underneath. Keep adding water, as needed.
Paper and I have always had this love affair. 10 years ago, i referred to myself as a "paper artist" and I've got a room-full to show for it! Vintage magazines, nat geo (used here), old dictionaries, ledgers, primary schoolbooks, ephemera, postcards, cab cards, sheet music, scrapbook paper, cardstock... the list goes on. So! it's super fun to incorporate that extra layer either before or after gesso or in between paint layers.
Another layer that's a must for me is using handcarved stamps and grabbing something from my "mark making" collection such as bubble wrap, sequin waste (used here), old shower curtain grommets, corks (used here)...