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Best Supplies for Art Journals

Updated on September 19, 2017
Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell is a jewelry and watercolor artist. She currently teaches art to a homeschool co-op highschool class.

My "Can't Do Without" Art Journal Supplies

My family jokes that I collect supplies. Well...maybe its true. I love art supplies of all kinds and when I started art journaling, I had to try all the latest art media products. I came away with a few must have products that I would definitely recommend as I'm always reaching for these favorites every time I sit down to journal. I'm sure that I will be expanding this list over time because there will be new products out there that I just have to try.

Photo by Gayle Dowell

My Top Art Journal Choice

Without a journal that I love to create in, I wouldn't be journaling at all. If the journal folds up on itself, or if I have to wrestle it to keep it open, I loose interest. Also it needs to have good paper. No wimpy paper allowed in my journal as I like to use paint and other water media. It also has to be CHEAP. I mean, not expensive. Paying a lot of money on a journal intimidates me, and I will want to save it for my best work...that just never comes. So an inexpensive journal frees me to play and experiment.

Gesso for a "Just So" Foundation

Another art journal supply that I reach for is Gesso. I use gesso as a foundation or primer on my paper, both the white and the black depending on what technique I am using. I also use clear gesso as a finish coat as it takes pen easily and creates a protective layer that keeps my pages from sticking together. A gesso foundation allows me to wipe off paint when added on top of the gesso, giving me great textural affects.

See these tutorials on using gesso for texture.

Textured Gesso

Gesso Stenciling

Derwent Inktense Blocks

For vivid color that can be easily blended and manipulated on a gesso covered page, I love the Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils. See review of Derwent Inktense Blocks. Derwent Inktense blocks are one of the most versatile media that I've worked with. They can be used like watercolor paints and applied like oil pastels.

Derwent Drawing Supplies, Inktense, Ink Blocks, 4mm Core, Metal Tin, 24 Count (2300443)
Derwent Drawing Supplies, Inktense, Ink Blocks, 4mm Core, Metal Tin, 24 Count (2300443)

I've used these on fabric and it so easy to use and it is permanent. Just follow directions included.


Best Journaling Pen

I've tried many ink pens and markers, but I've found none better than the Sharpie Fine Point Pens. These are not to be confused with the markers which are also good but tend to bleed when used on certain papers. I like the fine tip that keeps its shape. It writes smoothly on my textured surfaces without skipping. The ink is acid free, water resistant, and smear proof. I find that I use them more than for writing, such as outlining my work and adding color to my art. They are relatively inexpensive and last a long time.

Make Stamps for Stamping in Art Journals

I love using stamps, but I love making them even more. I don't like to use store bought stamps as I want my work to be "MY work". Making my own stamps gives me the ability to create a one-of-a-kind stamp that will give my work a unique look. I like the ease of using stamps in my art journal and making my own gives me creative control.

I use stamps with paint, gesso, and the traditional ink pads. I mostly use stamps for background texture.

Speedball Speedy-Carve Rubber Stamp Making Kit – Great Starter for Beginners
Speedball Speedy-Carve Rubber Stamp Making Kit – Great Starter for Beginners

Using this stamp making kit makes it easy to make my own stamps.


Matte Medium for Collage in Art Journals

I use a lot of acrylic matte medium in my art journals. I use it to "glue" my collage to a journal page as well as seal the top of the collage. I then use a coat of clear gesso as a final coat as clear gesso keeps my pages from sticking together.

A Lot of Great Paper

I find that having a big collection of different papers to use as backgrounds or highlights in my work has a way of keeping me inspired. Start with a pack of color coordinating paper.

Prima Marketing Prima Marketing Paper Stack, 6 by 6-Inch, Nature Garden, 48-Pack
Prima Marketing Prima Marketing Paper Stack, 6 by 6-Inch, Nature Garden, 48-Pack

Because I love nature, this paper pack is perfect for my work.


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    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 4 years ago

      This is so helpful because I honestly had no clue where to start and I'm really interested in art journals! I'm going to FB and Pin it so I don't lose it! Thanks for explaining how each one is used and how they work together! Ohhh, another lens to nominate for a purple star!

    • profile image

      KyraB 5 years ago

      I like to draw and paint and like you have a lot of supplies :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      An art journal and a set of paints can pass away the hours. :)

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      cmadden 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great ideas.

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      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      I love collecting art supplies as well! It's like an obsession, I think.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Thanks for the supplies suggestions - very much appreciated!