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Must Have Art Journal Supplies

I am often asked for a list of my must have art journal supplies. As a supply junkie, it is a hard question to answer, but I tried to think of what I would like to give to someone new to art journaling. Thus, I narrowed down the list to 10 basic supplies.

Art journaling does not require a lot of materials. With just a book and a pen, one can create a fantastic art journal. However, creatives who wish to have a more colorful, mixed media type of art journal will love to have these 10 must have art supplies:

1) Journal

A good art journal requires a heavy weight paper that can accept fair amounts of wet media. Simple typing paper, for example, would disintegrate with the use of water and paint. Therefore, I recommend the Dylusions journals. They come in various sizes and I have never had an issue with media bleeding through the pages. They also last a really long time and have pockets built into them to keep little papers and momentos you might save for future use.

2) Pencil

A good mechanical pencil will last forever. I bought mine 4 years ago and have no plans to replace it. The quality set I recommend is the Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil set.

3) Waterproof Pens

Seriously, I could write an entire post about different pens. If you want to just buy one kind for a starter kit, I recommend Faber Castell Pitt Pens. This inexpensive set has different widths which should cover all your needs. These pens are filled with India Ink which is waterproof after it dries, yet still workable for a short time while wet.

4) Stabilo All Pencil

The Stabilo All pencils come in a variety of colors. I recommend buying a black one for sure. I also enjoy having a white Stabilo All pencil for writing on dark backgrounds. Stabilo All pencils are unique in several ways.  The water-soluble pencil will mark clearly, densely and legibly on any surface including acetate, paper, glass, metal, photo, and film. The high-quality pigments offer good, solid color that can be easily wiped off of surfaces with a damp cloth. When you write with them and then use a brush with water to trace over the line, it activates and creates a deep, almost smokey effect. I’ve heard it referred to as a “magic pencil” before. It is available in red, blue, green, yellow, brown, black, white, graphite, and orange.

5) Paints

Art journalers often use acrylic paints. Since an art journal is informal, craft or student grade paints work fine.  If you want the greatest set, though, you’ll want the starter set of Golden Fluid Acrylics. These professional paints layer beautifully. Their fluidity makes them transparent; yet, the color remains vibrant. I’ve taken countless art classes in the last decade and every single teacher agrees that the Golden paints are top notch.

6) Brushes

I don’t use or recommend expensive brushes for acrylic paints. I bought this brush set that I really like because it came with a variety of types and sizes in a roll that is easy to travel with. This Dugato Artist Paint Brush Set is pretty cool, too. It comes in a flat zipper case that pops up when in use, plus a palette knife, and a couple of sponges.

7) Stencils

When it comes to stencils, there are a billion options on the market. For an art journal, I recommend abstract designs. The stencils aren’t meant to be the subject matter of the page. They are meant to add texture and interest to the background. A tree would be noticeable if it was used on every page, but polka dots would blend into the background. That’s the point of the stencils. Crafters Workshop Mixed Media Stencils Set is an example of a great art journal set.

8) Matte Medium

Many people collage in their art journal. I do A LOT of collaging and my favorite adhesive is Liquitex fluid matte medium. It will glue down all kinds of papers and is easy to add more layers on top of the dried medium.

9-10) Guidebooks

There are many wonderful books on the market. Here are two I recommend:

9) Art Journal Courage: Fearless Mixed Media Techniques for Journaling Bravely by Dina Wakley is a well loved book. In the eight chapters, Wakely teaches 20+ mixed-media techniques to help you overcome your fears of new materials, using photos of yourself, creating layers, working without a plan and much more.

10) Another great art journaling book is the Painted Art Journal: 24 Projects for Creating Your Visual Narrative by Jeanne Oliver. It includes a series of guided projects that culminate in a beautiful, autobiographical art journal.

Art journals are wonderful ways to express your feelings, experiment with art ideas and products, record your goals and dreams, and practice no-pressure art.  I encourage all of my students and peers to keep one.  And, although art journals vary as greatly as the people who keep them, everyone needs some basic art journal supplies.

Want to see some sample art journal pages and the supplies they required? Check out my Art Journal Round Robin series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. To see a way to mix art journaling and bullet journaling in your own DIY planner, check out my guide to setting up a new Bullet Art Journal.

Do you think I hit the art journal supply highlights? What else would you include in the perfect gift basket?

Tags: art supplies, gift ideas, mixed media, product recommendations

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • I love art journals! I even use the heavy-weight ones for my writing journals, not just sketching/drawing/art. I also really love pastels, but that’s a matter of preference. Thanks for a helpful post!

  • I love the idea of art journaling but did not know what kind of supplies to purchase or where to start. Your list of supplies and recommendations as well as guidebook suggestions were very helpful. Thank you.

  • Jessica Vincent
    December 18, 2019 1:24 am

    I never thought of the waterproof pens! That is a FANTASTIC IDEA! Also, I absolutely agree, and absolutely LOVE, stencils. The metal stencils are far more durable and thinner than plastic ones but I have found some really cute/ useful plastic ones at different places.

  • This is a great list. I will have ot look for these as my daughter is sent off to college.

  • […] Since art journaling can be done in an infinite number of ways, the supplies needed vary by artist. If you’re looking for a starting point, I put together this list of what I consider must have art journal supplies. […]

  • […] but I caution you to make sure the paper is strong enough to handle wet media. Check out my list of art journal supply recommendations if you aren’t […]


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