Best Art Journal Supplies for Beginners

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art journal supplies for beginners

If you are new to art journaling, you may be wondering what type of art journaling supplies you might need.

It can be very overwhelming if you are new to creating mixed media art journals, so I wanted to share some of my favorite creative goodies so art journaling beginners can dive in on the right path!

Note: This is a “living list” – I am always changing it and adding to it! The most recent update is September 4,  2018! You can also shop our Amazon Storefront to see a handpicked selection of my favorite art journaling supplies.

I’m always trying out new things and so as I discover different mixed media creative art techniques and products, I will continue to add them here and update information for items.

All items I have personally used, tried and tested over the past 5 years. Yes, you can say I love my art supplies!

art journal supplies for beginners

Pssst….Bookmark This Page! Add this page to your browser’s bookmarks and it will be easy for you to reference this page easily anytime you’re looking for some inspiration or considering which new art supplies you might like to try.


First: You Don’t Have to Spend a Fortune on Art Journaling Supplies to Get Started!

Before you go out and load up your shopping cart at the craft store, the good news is you can get all of you art journal supplies very inexpensively. Many of my favorite art journaling items I use all the time you may already have at home!

While there IS a huge industry of mixed media craft suppliers ready to sell you the latest and greatest products – you most likely don’t need to get them all right away to get started.

Sometimes starting simple is the best approach!

The possibilities are truly endless for what can be used in making an art journal, which is why we should probably more appropriately title this post as the {in}complete list of art journal supplies for beginners.

best art journaling supplies for beginners


1. Starting Canvas: Paper, Notebook, or Old Book

The first thing you will need is something to use as your canvas for your creations. When I first started, I would often use old notebooks and books.

Today there are a lot of great options that withstand to acrylic paint, watercolors, inks, and markers.


I'm on my third one in the past year!

The journal I recommend to most new art journaling beginners is Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Art Journal. I LOVE this journal!

It is available in 2 sizes – the large size is 11.375 x 8.5 Dylusions Journal, and there is a more compact 5 x 8 Dylusions Journal as well.

The inside of the journal even has a pocket for storing for ephemera, photos, pens and collage cut-outs!

It’s really one of my favorites! The best consistent availability and pricing I have found for these journals are on Amazon – sometimes you get lucky and Amazon will even have them on sale.

Below is an example of one of my 2 page spreads in the 11.375 x 8.5 Dylusions Journal. If you only have it in your beginner’s budget to get one journal to use as your mixed media canvas, this is the one to get!

dylusions art journal example

Created in the Dylusions 11.375 x 8.5 journal.

So, yes, I love the Dylusions journal…but…There are also a lot of other great options!

Other popular options for someone new are the Canson XL Mixed Media 7 x 10 journal and the Strathmore 5.5 x 8.5 journal. Both of these journals offer excellent paper quality and come in spiral binding.

The spiral binding of these types of books are nice for beginners if you are worried about messing up and would like to be able to take out pages you aren’t happy with.

Or, if you really want to be adventurous, you can learn how to make my Elusive Perfect Art Journal and you are easily able to add and remove pages anytime!

Although, I really do think messing up is part of the fun! Your art journal DOES NOT have to be a magnificent perfect work of art! See my post that showcases some of my art journal fails to understand what I mean.


If you would like to explore binding your own journals, another option is to use loose sheets of cardstock for painting and creating on – these papers can be sewn together create your own DIY journal later.

There aren’t a lot of rules about what you can use as blank paper – junk mail works! The main key is to use something that can withstand wet mediums, such as acrylic paints, waters, inks, and glue. Standard copy paper tends to not hold up so well!

For loose paper, I like Neenah 110 lb cardstock. While 80 lb also works, I really like to make a mess, so the 110lb is better for this. It holds up well to watercolor & acrylic paints without warping too much – I have also used old books, as well as notebooks, old magazines.

Just about anything can be transformed into an art journal canvas as long as it can be painted/drawn on.

Now that we have some idea of what to create on…let’s talk about what to create with!

Related Post: Best Art Journals for Art Journaling

2. Art Journal Painting Supplies

art journal painted paper notebook

You don’t have to use paint in your art journal, but it sure is fun! I’ve used everything from my kid’s Crayola watercolors and acrylic paints to the more expensive stuff you get at art supply stores.

If you’re on a limited budget, I recommend starting off with whatever is readily available and inexpensive to you. You do NOT need to spend a fortune on painting supplies to make an art journal!

Some of the popular Art Journal Paint brands are Liquitex and Golden. These paints are highly pigmented and are one of the “secrets” to getting bright and bold colors. A little goes a very long way, so even a tiny 2 oz. bottle can last me several months of regular painting.

Here are some of my favorite Acrylic paints I use:

Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics: There are endless colors to consider, but I would recommend starting small with the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics Classic 8 Set – this will get you started using these paints at a good price point.

As you learn more about your styles and color preferences, you can pick up colors like Liquitex Quinacridone Magenta or Golden Fluid Acrylics Green Gold– a couple of my favorites!

There are many types of acrylic paint out there, but you do not need to be an expert by any means! It’s okay to get started with something like Apple Barrel craft paint.

While it’s not as smooth and buttery and magical with deep rich colors, it’s definitely easy to obtain!


Watercolor Paints paint-lifting-techniques

Watercolors in your art journals can also be a lot of fun – there are some pretty amazing watercolor techniques you can try!

They are a LOT of fun and super budget friendly – you can get student artist grade watercolors super cheap even at the over priced craft stores. 🙂

Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Kit was my “first grown-up watercolor set”. I really loved the quality, and it is super portable – it has traveled with me across the entire United States more than a few times!

I’ve also really fallen in love with Yasutomo watercolors  – the colors are beautiful, and they are easy to blend and use. See more about working with watercolor for some tips on supplies I like for watercolor in journaling.


Gesso:

Gesso: If you’re going to use acrylic paints in your work, you may definitely want to check out working with gesso! Gesso is similar to paint primer and is great for covering up mistakes, creating blocks or sections for journaling, or just adding some unique textures to your pages.

I also use Gesso quite a bit when making altered books and journals from composition books, as it helps prime and strengthen the page for my artwork later on.

Gesso can be a bit pricey, but it’s also a lot of fun to work with – and it lasts a very long time! If you really want the “best” Gesso – Golden Gesso is the gold standard, especially if you plan to use it for texture. 

However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to use the best paints on the best paper. Really, any gesso will work. I have used other brands with much success as well – I definitely like the price on the Daler Rowney Gesso.

Don’t let having all of the “best” art supplies first stop you from creating!


3. Pens & Markers for Art Journaling

start an art journal A set of nice pens and markers is also nice to have, but don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune on pens either.

Try to look for pens which are water proof or water resistant if you’ll be working with watercolors or wet surfaces.

I’m still yet undecided on my favorite pens for art journaling, but I’ve found that most gel pen brands work okay for most uses.

You can also use ball point pens if you have nothing else. Don’t let getting hung up over not having the right kind of pens keeping you from getting started in art journaling!

I love using a calligraphy style dip pen with ink for a lot of my art – read How I Use a Dip Pen for Art Journaling for more details on that.

White pens are very popular for art journaling and are a great way to add detail and journaling over darker paint.

Popular choices for white ink pens include the Uniball Signo white pens and the Sakura White Gel Pens – both of these are a lot of fun to use!

 

uniposca markers

Markers are also nice to have. Some of my favorite markers are Uni Posca Paint Pens and Sharpie fine tip markers.

The important thing to remember when using markers and pens in an art journal is to make sure any wet areas covered in paint are completely dry.

Writing on wet paint is a way to destroy markers fast, and no one wants that to happen!


4. Craft Heat Gun for Drying Surfaces

A craft heat gun tool is a great investment to make for your art journaling creative practice – it can be used to speed up the drying time for paint, glue and more!

I’ve used the Nicole Multi-Purpose Heat Tool for the past 4 years, and it is still one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my creative practice!


5. Colored Pencils/Crayons

color themed art journal

Colored pencils and crayons are really nice when traveling (not so messy!) and are relatively inexpensive, especially if you stock up during back to school times when they are often on sale.

Something also worth considering are water color pencils or the Caran d/Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons – these are so fun to use as well!


6. Ink

Ink can come in spray bottles or in pads and can be a lot of fun for creating with if you’re able to get some. With ink, you’ll probably want to get some stamps – but if that’s not in the budget no worries!

Some popular choices for ink include the Ranger Distress Inks, which can be used in a number of different ways. These inks are specially formulated to be used for blending and can really create some interesting effects.

These can be a lot of fun to use with a number of stamping and stencil techniques as well.


7. Household Items to Use for Stamping and Mark Making

texture acrylic painting technique

I’ve been amazed at all the household items we have that I’ve been able to use for making my art journals with!

Just about anything can be turned into a stamp – old paper towel tubes, kid’s toys, lids and caps from bottles, hardware pieces such as nuts and bolts glued to a piece of cardboard or wood…the possibilities are endless! mark making with paint

You can also use stamps for making backgrounds with a gel plate. If you haven’t used a gelli plate before, it is a super fun way to play around with different textures and stamping techniques to create unique monoprints.

 

stamping acrylic paint

 

Want to see what you can do with a gelli plate? Read Art Journaling with a Gelli Plate for some fun ideas using household items to create textures and prints.

I will likely be creating a post about some of my homemade stamps very soon because they are so fun to work with and the price is right. 🙂


9. Stencils

Stencils are also a lot of fun to work with in your art journal pages. You can either attempt making your own (hopefully will have a tutorial on this soon!) or you can purchase them relatively inexpensively from most craft stores or you can get alphabet stencils at just about any retail shop.

Some of my favorite stencils are Heidi Swapp stencils, Artist Cellar stencils – but there are a lot of great options out there! You can find these at most craft stores, or browse the huge selection available online as well.

10. Paper Ephemera

If you’ll be incorporating collage into your art journal pages, you’ll want to start collecting paper bits of things to include on your pages.

These can be printable things you download from your computer, or cut outs from magazines, or maybe you start saving wrappers and receipts.  Old books, newspapers, and more can all be great places to find stuff to include in your art journals!

Useful Resources on This Site to Help You Find Ephemera:


11. Glue & Adhesives

If you’re going to do any collage work in your journal or plan on gluing book pages together you’re definitely going to want to have a lot of glue on hand for your projects!

They make a number of archival safe glues – but if that’s not in the budget traditional white glue will work just fine. I LOVE Uhu glue sticks – they really work well and don’t seem to create quite as much of a mess.

Elmer’s craft bond glue sticks work well also and can be a bit easier to find in most stores in the scrapbooking departments.

Elmer’s Craft Bond glue sticks are specifically made to be archival safe and permanent –  the washable kids type may not hold up as well over long periods of time or if they come in contact with water!

12. Wax Paper/Parchment Paper

It can be messy when you’re working between pages in your book. Placing wax paper or parchment paper in between each page to be a huge help in the process of prepping your book!

It can also help avoid paint spilling onto other pages of the book while you are working.


Phew! That was a very Long List of Art Journal Supplies!

While I’ve listed a TON of different things here – don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy them all today, especially if you are a beginner for art journaling – you can build your stash slowly over time.

Even if you are not a beginner in art journaling – hopefully this list will help you discover some great tools and products to help inspire you to create!

Sometimes learning about the different types of supplies can also be a great way to reawaken your creativity if you’ve been in a creative rut.

You Might Also Like: List of Things You Can Use as an Art Journal Book/Canvas

Getting started in art journaling does not have to cost you a fortune for supplies or hours at a craft store. You’ll be amazed at how far just some basic paints, pencils, pens & markers and a good notebook can get you in learning this wonderful craft!

We’ll be keeping this list updated and be hopefully adding some product reviews & recommendations to our site as well as more tutorials on creating your own supplies soon so don’t forget to stay updated through our RSS Feed or Follow Us on Facebook.

Are there any art journal supplies you consider essential we may have missed? What are some of your favorite products to use when art journaling? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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Last updated on June 17, 2021 6:17 am

 

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16 thoughts on “Best Art Journal Supplies for Beginners”

  1. I was thinking artist chalks would be a good medium to work with. I got a nice set for under $5 at our local A. C. Moore craft store. It has a lot of different colors and hues and they are pretty easy to work with for shading and using as background colors. I didn’t notice them on the list and thought I’d share.

    Reply
    • Hi Terri! Those do sound like they would be fun to work with! We don’t have an A.C. Moore here but I’d imagine I could find them at Michaels perhaps – I will definitely have to check those out! Thanks for the idea!

      Reply
  2. OK…..I”m getting psyched just reading all this stuff! Thanks for getting my creative juices. I have wanted to
    start journaling for 5 years and never knew this little “sub culture” existed, till I found a Pinterest entry.
    Thanks everyone. Fun to get my head back into art again….and I love the Sisterhood and willingness to
    share~ Chicken soup for my soul ladies!

    Reply
  3. Other good items for texture with gesso include the plastic netting from fruit – citrus – bags. Lay down a scrap of bag, gesso over it, and pull up the bag! You’ll have a nifty pattern like diamonds or squares.

    Reply
    • Yes, I love doing that too! I think I am going to have to make a second “art supply scavenger hunt list” for all of the things like this. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Thank you for mentioning the use of crayola products. When I got into art journling I used crayola watercolors and one of those cheap art kits for kids, the kind that come with color pencils, cheap markers, crayons, and oil pastels (that are more like a dried up crayon, to be honest). So many blogs and websites out there only do reviews on the expensive products and people think that they have to use the same items to get the same effect.

    In most cases that is up to personal opinion. I like my crayola watercolors as well as the student grade tubes I purchased from Michael’s. I even love combining the two, or going over watercolor pencil with them. Thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

    Reply
    • It’s true, I would never want someone to not create because they think art supplies cost too much. Sometimes limited supplies just means stretching your creativity further! Crayola actually to this day still makes some of my favorite watercolor pencils. 🙂

      Reply
  5. I have a lot of different stuff stored for years. I’m trying to go thru my stuff and see what I need. I need some gesso and some white glue. It is really nice how people share their different tips and ways to rely on their creativity. Thanks

    Reply
  6. I use the plastic bags that held my kids’ cereal. I cut them open into large rectangles and use them as page protectors when journaling. I think tney would also work to stop thepagesfrom sticking.
    I think that thick, slightly opaque plastic from cereal is called glassine in the States?

    Reply
  7. I recently made an art journal for a school project and used a matte gel medium to transfer images from one page to the next. I like it better than mod podge because then I won’t have to deal with the texture that the mod podge has. Whereas the gel medium makes it feel like it is actually on the page!

    Reply
    • I love how it’s more like a paint than a glue – you can actually see brush stokes when you use it too if you do so deliberately. Really nice for that painting with paper effect in collage!

      Reply

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