"The eyes are the window of the soul." Learn to draw eyes for your journal as well as avoid some common mixed media journal mistakes!

Those Eyes! Drawing Eyes in Your Art Journal

We are on our third prompt for the Simple Art Journaling Challenge (learn more about it here), and our prompt for the next two weeks is going to be Drawing Eyes.

Oh my goodness, I don’t know what it is about eyes, but they are so much fun to draw. And easier than you might think! I’ll link to a great video later on in this post, but first . . .

Let’s talk about WHY you should draw eyes in your art journal


Drawing eyes is my favorite! I love these tips for drawing eyes in my art journal and making them pop with beauty! #artjournal
I used Jane Davenport’s Power Pastels for this girl. Swoon! Click the picture to get a set. They’re like drawing with lip stick. 🙂


“The eyes are the window to the soul,” said Shakespeare, and I’m sure many of us agree. They also tend to steal the show when you draw them on a face in your journal. Especially if you go all out and add a bunch of detail.

  • Even if you’re not great at drawing faces or the female figure, if you get drawing eyes down, everything will look better.
  • Being able to draw eyes means you can do a self-portrait in that art journal of yours—a simple one, that expresses who you are currently or who you want to be.
  • It’s fun to fill a whole page with various versions of eyes. I’m telling you, once you start, you’re going to LOVE drawing them.

Like I mentioned above with eyes stealing the show, in many of my art journal pages, I tend to make the main focus the eyes. Other elements are great, but if you add the most detail to the eyes, they will pop out from the page.

Experimenting with drawing eyes

Your art journal is a personal art experiment book. It’s your journey. It’s your place to try new things and not feel like someone is looking over your shoulder. Or vice versa, that you need to “make it perfect” so the world can see it.

When you’re first drawing eyes, I recommend starting off drawing them in pencil. Using a variety of pencils (medium to soft leads) will allow you to learn how to form the eye and shade it. A pencil can go a LONG way. Use a kneaded eraser too to erase the parts that don’t look quite right. (A kneaded eraser is your best friend when you’re drawing. It won’t leave bits of eraser behind.)

After you’re more comfortable with what an eye should look like, you can make them more dramatic if you’d like.

  • Make the eyes bigger
  • Try different eye colors, even ones that realistically wouldn’t be a human eye color
  • Layer the eye colors: blue, green, teal, etc. to add more depth
  • Use colored pencils to draw the eye even more realistically (I recommend the Prismacolor brand because they are so smooth and literally glide on the paper. Not your kid’s typical colored pencils!)
  • Try to draw the eyes with different mediums: pastels, chalk, acrylics, pens, markers, oil crayons, watercolors, ink. Which ones do you like the most?

Blunders to avoid

One of the biggest mistakes when drawing eyes is to draw it like you think the eye should be shaped, rather than how it really is. Our brain can be really lazy and it knows that an eye is basically an oval. So you draw an oval, shade it in and . . . well, it doesn’t quite look like an eye.

That’s because there are more nuances to an eye than that. Look in magazines or at pictures online to see how the eye really looks. Observe your own eyes in the mirror.

Draw what you SEE.

Here are a couple of great books that teach you how to draw what you actually see, rather than your preconceived ideas of what things look like.

Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adults Too

Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain

And here’s a great video tutorial on how to draw eyes with pencil.

Another mistake happens easily when you’re using mixed media in your art journal. Believe me, I’ve done this one too many times.

When you are initially sketching the eyes, it’s okay to use watercolor pencils (lightly!) that will blend eventually with the other mediums (oil crayons, acrylic, etc.) But be careful with using water soluble pens and mediums.

A water soluble medium is one that gets wet and “moves” when it touches water or anything that is wet like paint or gesso. The one that most commonly comes to mind is watercolor. But many ink pens that are used for fine detail are also water soluble.

I made this mistake on the girl below. I outlined her eyes and added all the detail with a fountain pen, thinking the ink inside of the pen was waterproof. I let it dry and then was painting some more details when, ahhhhh!!!! I smeared her eye across the page! Nooooo!!!!

Sometimes you make mistakes in your art journal. It's a learning process. But you can fix them too, if you want! #arjournaling

After some “reconstructive surgery”, I was able to get her back to how I wanted her, but it reminded me to test my pens and mediums on another sheet of paper before I dive in. Lesson learned!

Drawing Eyes in Your Art Journal

For the next couple of weeks, draw eyes in your art journal. Experiment. Play. Have fun! They don’t have to be the only thing you draw on a page (though they can be.) Just practice and try and see where this adventure takes you.

I especially challenge you to try as many mediums as you have on hand to draw eyes. And then mix some of them. Can you use colored pencils and watercolor pencils together? What happens when you use oil crayons?

By the way, if you want to draw dramatic eyes, check out Jane Davenport’s book, Drawing Beautiful Faces. She loves to play up eyes big time!

I hope this art journaling prompt is a fun one for you! I’ll be sharing eyes and more eyes on my Instagram in the next couple of weeks, so come on over and join me.

As always, have a fun {and creative} day!






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