Firstly, I should just point out, that I have only been art journaling for a short time. I’m soo not saying I’m an expert, but when I first started what I really wanted to know was, what do I need to get started. A shopping list if you like, of what materials I would need to begin. So for anyone else just beginning, here is a list of the things I use often and the reasons I chose them. Bear in mind your own choice of kit will depend on what kind of products you like to use and what is available in your country.
I chose an A6 ring bound journal. Mine is made by Daler Rowney.
The reason for this choice was that it was large enough to play, to have room to write, draw, stamp and paint but small enough to be very portable and not too intimidating. The ring bound style means the book opens flat, but because the rings make a large gap between the pages, I don’t have to do a double page spread with the page next to the one I’m working on. The ring bound style allows you to tear out a page if you want to, and to add glued in images without too much bulk being added to the spine.
Faber Castell Eco Pigment pens in black sizes 0.3 and 0.7. These are light fast and permanent, this means if I add water over drawing or writing that the ink stays put. Chosen as I already had them!
Zig Writer Black. Archival pen, as above it is waterproof once dry, light fast so it won’t fade over time. This pen has a fine 1.2mm nib on one end and a bullet nib of 0.5 on the other.
Uni-ball Signo fine gel pens 0.7 nib in gold and in silver. For highlighting
Ranger Gel Pen in white, also for highlighting but useful for writing over a dark background.
A Staedtler Mars.780 Clutch pencil. This is perfect as you can store spare lead in the barrel and the end is removable and contains a sharpener. So you can sharpen your pencil with out having to hunt for a sharpener. Great for travel
Caran D’Ache Neocolour II watersoluble wax crayons. A set of 10 for travel.
Lyra Aquacolor water soluble wax crayons, a set of 48. Great for laying down large areas of colour really fast. Scribble on a scrap sheet of card/plastic and use a damp brush to pick up colour for small detailed areas. Can be used dry for a crayon look or add a small amount of water for a painted look.
Crayola crayons set of 24, just because they are fun.
Faber Castell Albrecht Durer water soluble pencils. Better for smaller areas or detail work. Can be used as a regular pencil or add water for a watercolour effect.
Daler Rowney Cryla Artist Colour Acrylics. I already had a started set of 12 of these, so they weren’t bought especially. These paints are creamy and lovely to use, add water and you have a fast drying watercolour look, use them straight from the tubes for a dense colour that you can scratch into while it is wet, or stamp/write over once it is dry. Very versatile paint and stored correctly lasts for YEARS. I bought the set I’m using for my late father well over ten years ago and they are still fine.
Before you buy cheaper students paints do consider purchasing a small starter set of quality paints. I’m not being a snob, its just that students paints contain more filler than pigment. This means that you use far more paint to get a layer of colour, that is much easier to achieve with the artist quality paint.
Daler Rowney Gesso Primer in white. I chose this over other brands as I already had Cryla paints and this pot says it ‘goes with’ the Cryla’s :) I use this watered down, over a background of watercolour pencils/crayon to seal them in. I saw Milande use this with the watersoluble wax crayons and it blends the pigment but doesn’t wash it away as can happen if you use too much water with the crayons. You can add more layers of colours over the top without disturbing your base colours and it dries fast.
Ranger Acrylic Dabbers. I have a few earth tones as well and silver and gold. Love these for a simple way of adding depth and texture to projects. Also great, if tubes of paint intimidate you!
***Remember with acrylic paints, that you must keep your brushes in water or rise all the paint off them before leaving them or storing them. If you leave paint to dry on your brush it will dry rock hard and the brush will be ruined. ***
So far I have only a few brushes for acrylic.
- Cryla C15 a 6mm flat brush.
For blending my watersoluble wax crayons and pencils I use
- Daler: Dalon 88: 3/8″ Flat brush 50857159
- Daler: Dalon 77 No 6 Round brush 50857029
Again these were bought for my father ten years ago, so look after your products and they will serve you well.
I use the Winsor and Newton ‘Cotman’ range of brushes for more detailed work, as I’ve found these brushes hold their points better than the round Dalon ones. Personal preference with all things though. Cotman is W&Ns student range of products for water colours, these brushes are entirely synthetic fibres. Don’t wreck you nice Sable brushes on wax crayons!
The whole lot fits in a really small hobby case from the DIY store.
In addition to these ‘essentials,’ I use the inks and stamps that my rubber stamping hobby has accumulated over the years. I use Tsukineko Versafine ink in Onyx Black for stamping over gesso etc. It is a pigment ink and a really strong black.
For strong titles I like Hero Arts alphabet stamps, my personal favourites are
- LL031 Elegant Letter set
- LL029 Legacy Letters. This has a nice broken texture which shows colours through from the background page, nice for grunge styles
- LL761 Printers Type, LL762 Printers Lowercase. A nice clear font in a classic style.
Hope that has helped you out :) There are plenty of different styles of art journalling and it is a very personal journey. Your own choice of products will depend on what kind of art you like and wish to create.
The most important thing is to have fun, enjoy the journey and remember this one is for YOU. Do what you enjoy in this journal, no one said you have to show anyone else what you create. It can be as personal as a written journal/diary, or just a place to try out ideas.
For some excellent tutorials for art journals do check out Julie Prichard’s blog The Land of Lost Luggage.
Best wishes and thanks for reading
See you soon