Starting Out: Some Journaling Materials

So you think you want to art or visual journal? Wondering where to start?

Here's a handy list of some materials to get you on your way.

#1. A good journal. The good people of the artfire community make some great journals and sketchbooks. Head over here to check them out. Size and paper are up to you. I like a smaller journal- 100 or so pages and a medium weight paper, about 90lb.

#2. Some decent pencils. Many brands put out decent pencils in a range of hardness. I'd suggest HB, 2B, 4B and 6B. Brand doesn't matter but try a variety before you settle on just one. General makes some affordable pencils. I like Palomino. Get some erasers and a good pencil sharpener to go along with them.

#3.  A black pen. Roller ball, felt tip, dip pen, etc. Pick a pen and try it out. the important thing is that you like it. I'll go ahead and suggest Pitt pens and Rapidographs. While pricey they last well and put down substantial black lines. If your going to work on plain paper treat yourself to the rapidograph. Rapidograph pens need smooth paper and plug up if used on weird materials. Great for sketching and writing not always the best for art journals.

#4.Brushes. #6 and #8 rounds I like mine to be for use with acrylic paints, they have the best spring and work well with most media I use in my journal. A 1/4 in and 1/2in flat again mine are for acrylic paints. A #3 liner brush or larger. A few bristle brushes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Buy a cheap pack of them.

#5 Gesso. I could wax philosophical about gesso all day, but I'll refrain. I use liquatex basics brand.It covers well enough and is cheap enough that I don't feel bad using it up. I use the basic white but I also have clear and I'm planing on trying the black the next trip I make to the art supply store.

#6 Glue. Plain old white PVA, it dries clear, goes on easily and can be used in a variety of techniques. Also you can try some of the other methods to glue stuff to your pages. I'm a fan of the Beacon's 3in 1 Advanced Craft Glue, it dries fast, doesn't wrinkle the paper and when I get bored I can sniff it. (Just kidding i love my brain cells, sniffing glue is a BAD idea.) I don't like glue sticks becuase after awhile they can give up their hold. Also I don't like the roll on dry glues. I had a very bad experience with a major brand name roll on glue that gave up it's hold in a book project. Luckily it was an experimental book and I still had it in my possession but that was a valuable lesson- use a known glue in places where you need it.

#7 Acrylic Paint. I like liquatex and  Grumbacher. Buy one of those 6 color sets as well as a white and black. That's it, all you'll need. No need for 700 colors or the latest special thingie. Just 6 basic colors white and black. And for gods sake don't buy apple barrel or the craft paint in the squeeze bottles. I know I know- 300 colors at 75 cents each. STOP. Step away from the pretty pretty display. PUT IT DOWN and listen. Those paints fade, peel and stick together. The set of 6 liquatex (about $10) will last you longer, never fade and thought they might stick together your pages will never fall off the paper. For your money I'd rather see you buy the set of 12 student grade Reeves paints. Made by Grumbacher they might be lower quality and might skimp on pigments but in the long run you'll be better off. Trust me on this one. Stay away from the apple barrel and other craft acrylics

That's the basics. In addition to those, look further for more stuff…

#8 Watercolors. Koi brand has a nice 12 pan set that is great. I like dry watercolors for travel and tubes for at home. Either is nice. Cotman also has a nice 12 pan set in a nice plastic case. You can make your own out of a altoids tin. Look it up on instructables.

#9 Watercolor crayons. Caran d'ache. get a set of 10 basic colors is all you really need. These last a long time and are wonderful to work with.

#10 Watercolor pencils. Derwent. For the love of all things good in the world don't buy the crayola version. Derwent pencils are highly pigmented, go on smoothly and come in a huge range of colors. You can buy them singly or in a package. I'd recommend the tinned set of 12.

#11 A bottle of good india ink. Any brand. Waterproof is best. I like HIggins eternal.

Then there is of course all of the other things- various stamp pads, inks, rubber stamps, hand carved stamps, papers, brushes and stuff I love…

Can you think of a supply you can't live without? Leave a comment!