My sis, Mary, gives me these wonderful textured matt boards used for packing materials where she works. I use them in dozens of ways and now for my art journal. Above is the raw form, approx 4'X6" white. I bought a package of binder rings which I found at Michaels Crafts in the cross-stitch section. (normally used for a thread organizer system of clear plastic bags with punched holes that slip over these rings) These are the 1.5" size and come 2 per pack.
A lot of my art is "green" so, grabbing a phone book destined for the recycle bin, I tore out white pages, glued them on the matt board and painted with white gesso haphazardly. Set aside to dry and wait for that moment during the week when you feel like recess.
No fear. Played, experimented, used up scraps of paper, dug out old paint that needed to get gone, painted and covered over, painted and glued over again, pulled out ancient art tools, tried new art tools, and just cut loose. I'm finishing some pages at one sitting, others over a couple of days.
I'm not worried about artistic abilities here, I'm playing and discovering things I like and don't like.....I love a new set of Tim Holtz masks I stumbled upon for sale, a really good sale, at Michaels. See that whisper of a "9" here.....I'm lovin' these masks! And this is one of the more simple pages I've made and I'm liking simple better, I think.
"Art" is another mask, but I discovered doing this page that I don't like the masks highlighted, as with the white charcoal; I love the effect of subtle undertones, not a significant place in the mixed media. Used dryer sheets here, and some foil candy wrappers, rest is just leftovers from other mixed media projects. There is no pressure for perfection, rules... this is the sandbox.
If fear of messing up is hindering you from starting an art journal, even tho the pros tell you it's ok to mess up, maybe this would work for you. An inexpensive alternative to my sis' packing supplies would be 4"x6" index cards from the office supply store, even sturdier than most journal book pages....they will hold up to gesso and what's to follow!