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    Art Journaling 102: Materials

    All about materials that you can use in your art journals, with thoughts on the materials I like best!

    This is a companion post to Art Journaling 101.

    Paper + Journals

    Loose paper vs. Bound Journal. You can work on loose paper and bind it together later using book-binding techniques {fun to learn} or simply store in a large box. I started art journaling and doodling in a Strathmore wire-bound pad. Loose paper is a wonderful way to start because you can play without committing to any particular journal. If you adore the idea of working in a journal, there are a lot of great bound journals available. A standard writing journal will have thin paper which will NOT hold up to mixed media work or even wet media like watercolor or acrylics. So you'll want paper made for art. Or go the other direction and use an old book and prepare the surface for your art!

    For Mixed Media Work {Acrylics, Collage}:

    1. Strathmore Visual Journal. 
    2. Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper.
    3. Hardback book from the discount bin, for a few dollars/euro. 
    4. Buy loose watercolor or mixed media paper and bind your own journal.

    For Ink Drawings:

    1. Rhodia Web Notebook. Lovely drawing journals. Various versions including dotted grid, grid, lined. Classic padded orange cover.
    2. Moleskine Classic Notebook. Great drawing journals. The unlined and unlined versions have thin, smooth, slightly off-white paper. I love it for doodles, sketches, drawings, lists + note taking. My to-do list resides in this type of journal.
    3. Moleskine Sketchbook. Thick cream colored paper {kind of like a manilla folder} that is great for drawing. Note that watercolor does not work well on these pages, although acrylics will work fine.

    For Watercolor or Ink + Watercolor:

    1. Strathmore 300 or 400 Series Watercolor Paper. Excellent paper, good value.
    2. Moleskine Watercolor Notebook. 
    3. Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketch Pad or Watercolor Journal aka Aquabee journals. 
    4. Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper. 

    Art Materials

    Acrylic Paint. There are artist quality acrylic paints and craft acrylic paints. Get a few bottles of craft acrylics and a few bottles of artist quality acrylics and compare. See how it feels to paint with each type, what they are like when they are dry, etc. 

    Acrylics. On my art journal pages, I use Golden Fluid Acrylics, Heavy Body Acrylics and High Flow Acrylics. Artist quality acrylics have a higher pigment load. You can mix paints to get a variety of colors, so no need to buy every color. You can make acrylics more transparent by mixing them with Golden Fluid Matte Medium or water. Fluid matte medium is like clear fluid acrylic paint so it keeps the consistency of the fluid acrylics but thins them to make them more transparent. Note: Craft acrylics are less expensive but also less vibrant/saturated because they have a lower pigment load. The lightfastness and consistency also differ.

    Watercolor & Gouache. I use Winsor & Newton pan and tubed watercolor paints as well as several brands of tubed gouache paints. As with acrylics, artist quality watercolors have a higher pigment load. You can mix paints to get a variety of colors, so no need to buy every color. Details about the watercolor and gouache paints that I use in my journals.

    Markers. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are permanent and dry quickly. Be sure that your page is dry before writing on it. It could take a few days to a week for a page to dry fully depending on how many layers of paint, the temperature and humidity in your work environment etc. Here are my favorite pens & markers for drawing, doodling & more.

    Stamps. Add details to your pages. Carve your own stamps from erasers or stamp with lids, medicine cups, cookie cutters, old brushes and play-doh tools. Just dip them in acrylic paint or gesso and make marks! 

    Adhesive. Golden fluid matte medium and Mod Podge both work just fine for attaching paper to your art journal pages. Staples and washi tape work well too.

    Brushes. Buy basic, cheap brushes for adhesives and gesso because they will be trashed. I buy average quality brushes for acrylic painting and good quality brushes for watercolor. If they are too junky they will shed hair and not hold water well. Try various brands, styles and sizes, until you find an assortment you like. I like flats and rounds. For art journaling, almost any decent brush will do.

    Scissors. Fiskars Softouch Scissors. Having had hand + elbow surgery, I cannot use scissors for more than a few minutes at a time. These are the only scissors I use. Extremely sharp, with a precise tip. Work with paper, glossy magazines, photos, fabric, detail paper cutting. I've got a pair near the sewing machine for paper/fabric, and another with my art journal gear. There are larger versions for cutting fabric, by the way.

    Gesso {optional}. Get a small container of Liquitex Basics Acrylic Gesso and just play and see what it does and what it feels like, whether you like writing on it. Gesso is a primer. If you are using watercolor paper or other heavy paper, coating with gesso is not necessary. If you have thin paper {i.e. working in an old hardback book} prep with a thin layer of gesso as a base coat. White gesso can be used to layer and lighten your collages. You can create art journal pages without gesso, but you might enjoy using it to add layers to your work. 

    Neocolors. I love, love, love Caran d'Ache Neocolor II wax crayons. They can be blended with fingers, drawn and dissolved with a brush or used to paint like watercolors {by touching a wet brush to the crayon and painting with the brush}. Neocolor I are NOT water soluble. Neocolor II are water soluble. Note! If you write on top of Neocolors, you can ruin your writing tool because of the wax. 

    j. Old gift/credit cards. Great for pushing paint and gesso around a page, making borders, "stamping" lines, scratching off layers, painting a layer of gesso, etc. 

    k. Parchment Paper. In the baking section of the grocery store near aluminum foil and wax paper. After your page has dried a bit, place a sheet of parchment paper in between your pages and put a bunch of hardback books. The parchment keeps the pages from sticking together and the weights help your pages dry flat. If working within a bound journal or hardback book, keep parchment between the pages, close the book and put a bunch of books on top. Pages with lots of layers might take a week or more to fully dry. Remove the parchment and check on the pages from time to time. More in Unsticking Art Journal Pages.

    l. A surface to mix paints. Plastic lids from yogurt/iced cream {for mixing acrylics}. Watercolor palettes {for mixing watercolor or gouache paints}. And learn how to mix paints too! One of my favorite books about mixing color is the Color Mixing Bible.

    An index to all of my art materials reviews, lists, etc. 

    Favorite Pens for Writing, Sketching, Doodling & Drawing
    Color Quandary: Buying Art Materials
    Art Materials to Take on Vacation
    All About Sakura Gelly Rolls
    Using Masking Fluid in Your Journal


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