Tammy's Go-To Art Journaling Materials https://daisyyellowart.com

Post updated July 2019.
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My Go-To Materials for Art Journaling: Paints, Papers, Pens, Mark-Making Tools & Materials

I've been art journaling for over a decade and that means a zillion experiments, tests, happy accidents and discoveries along the way! Whether you're just starting and feeling unsure… or delving into your 7th journal of the year, there are always new things to learn and explore. 

I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of my favorite materials for art journaling. This list is the result of extensive experience in my journals + altered books, and in working with artists in my mixed media workshops

I divided the post into categories. Here’s what you’ll find below! ↓↓↓

◉ Acrylic Paint
◉ Watercolor & Gouache Paint
◉ Pens & Tools for Writing on Acrylic & Collage Backgrounds
◉ Pens & Inks & Mark-Making Tools
◉ Stamps & Scissors
◉ Paper/Journals for Mixed Media
◉ Paper/Journals for Collage, Paper/Journals for Drawing
◉ Paper/Journals for Watercolor
◉ Brushes
◉ Adhesive for Collage

 Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is intense & opaque and incredibly versatile for art journalists. The paint dries quickly and can be layered, scraped, scratched & textured too. Although it is water-based, acrylic paint does not rewet once dry. You can use acrylics with a variety of mediums to alter their characteristics. When a layer of acrylics is dry [more about drying time that at the bottom of this post about getting words on journal pages…. it takes longer than you think!], you can add more paint or adhere papers without altering the original layer.

To learn how to create this type of mixed media art journal page, look into my Novel Approach & Groovy Grunge workshops!

Here are the acrylic paints I use!

Golden Heavy Body Acrylics {thick and opaque}
Golden Fluid Acrylics {more fluid}
Golden High Flow Acrylics {most fluid, almost like ink}

Artist quality acrylics are more intensely saturated and have a higher pigment load than craft/student acrylics, but they are also more expensive. Craft acrylics are less expensive but also less vibrant/saturated; lightfastness and consistency differ. I would suggest buying the best quality paints that your budget allows, even if that means buying fewer colors. 

You might start with five 1 oz. bottles of Golden fluid acrylic paint. If buying individually, consider: black, titanium white, quinacridone magenta, ultramarine blue & hansa yellow. Then… as your budget allows, add a green, an orange, a red & dioxazine purple. A splurge? A metallic like stainless steel, iridescent light gold or iridescent copper. 

 

Watercolor and Gouache Paint

Let's switch gears! Watercolor is transparent or translucent; gouache is more opaque and can be layered. They both dry quickly and can be rewet or further altered after they dry. You can use watercolor and gouache with several different mediums to alter their characteristics.

Watercolor and gouache are peaceful & relaxing. They are water-soluble and can be rewet. Paint abstracts of lush color or embellish inked drawings. I use Winsor & Newton watercolor paint and several brands of gouache. Artist quality watercolor & gouache paints have a higher pigment load and are more intense. You can mix paints to get a variety of colors, so there's no need to buy every color! Generally I would suggest starting with a kit of artist quality half-pan watercolor paints. You can gradually expand the colors in your kit with your experience and budget. Details about the watercolor and gouache paints that I use in my journals

https://daisyyellowart.com
Painting with gouache.

Painting with gouache.

 

Pens & Tools for Writing on Acrylic & Collage Backgrounds

Here's a question echoed by art journalists and mixed media artists around the globe. How on earth do we write on acrylic paint? After trial & error over many years, I'm happy to share my go-to ideas with you!

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist PensPermanent and quick drying. The M nib & brush nib & Big Brush nibs provide thick lines. Try dark gray, black, navy & sepia for light backgrounds.

An ordinary #2 pencil. I kid you not. Sometimes it works when NOTHING else works!

White gel pen, i.e. Sanford Uni-Ball Gel UM-153 gel pen or Sakura Gelly Roll

Dip pen + india ink. Draw your words with a dip pen nib with opaque india ink, i.e.  Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay White

Sakura Gelly Rolls. Here’s a huge post called All About Gelly Rolls. Love them!!!

Small brush. Hand-letter your words. Try  opaque india ink, i.e.  Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay White or acrylic paint, i.e. Golden high flow acrylics

Alphabet stamps. Also hand-carved stamps & alphabet stencils. 

Tons of details in Getting Words on Acrylics + Mixed Media Art Journal Pages.

 

Pens & Inks & Mark-Making Tools

Faber-Castell PITT artist pens. Fiber-tipped pens with permanent india ink, dry very quickly and don't tax my hand. You can watercolor on top and they won’t bleed. Get one in black, with a medium or brush nib {or get a set of all nib sizes in black}. For writing words on your journal pages including acrylic painted backgrounds. 

Sakura Gelly Roll pens. Metal-nibbed pens with permanent gel ink. The line is smooth and consistent. Dry quickly. Guide to Sakura Gelly Rolls.

Uniball UM-153. Metal-nibbed black or white pen for lettering on dark backgrounds. The line is smooth and consistent. Dry quickly.

Water-Soluble crayons and pencils. Caran d'Ache Neocolor II wax crayons. For edging, doodling & more. Guide to Caran D'Ache Neocolors

Dr. Ph. Martin's India Inks. Pigment-based inks in vivid colors. Use with a tiny brush or dip pen. Here's my Guide to Dr. Ph. Martin's India Inks.

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Stamps & Scissors & Tape

Hand-carved eraser stamps. Carve your own unique stamps from erasers or linocutting materials. There's a stamp-carving tutorial hereRubber stamps. Alphabet stamps.

Found objects. Use as stamps with acrylics or stamping ink. Medicine cups, cookie cutters, clay-carving tools, twigs, leaves & feathers.

Scissors. The ONLY scissors I use are Fiskars Softouch Scissors. That helper hinge means that they do not tax my hand like other scissors — that's a huge deal because I've had hand and elbow surgery. The scissors are extremely sharp, with a precise tip. There is a larger version for fabric.

Washi Tape. Japanese washi tape [MT is a great brand] is made from rice paper and is one of the must-haves in my art journaling kit! It is removable and can be torn with the fingers or tape - yet is surprisingly strong. [Note: This is not the same as the cheap dime-store tape which is not true washi]. It can be used to add pattern and color, to adhere extra cards or index card art inside your journal, and add dashes of visual interest.

 

I get lots of questions about paper! So let’s chat.

Generally you want to match the type & thickness of the paper with the medium and materials that you plan to use.

For this reason, the paper section ⬇️⬇️⬇️ is categorized by what you plan to DO with the paper.  Each medium interacts with each paper in a different way. So if you are frustrated with the particular combination you've selected, try a different type of paper. Or try a different brush. 

You can work on loose paper or in a bound journal. The options are endless, so my suggestion is to pick somewhere and simply start. It doesn't have to be perfect. As you refine your techniques and with experience, you will gravitate towards specific types of paper, paints & brushes.

Papers & Journals for Mixed Media
Working with acrylics, acrylics + collage, or collage using a liquid adhesive.

Select paper > 180gsm. You can start on loose sheets of watercolor paper or heavy card stock. Loose paper allows you the freedom to play without committing to any particular journal. You can bind it together later using book-binding techniques or simply store in a large flat archival box. You can also make your own journal from any paper in the universe. 

Hardback book from the discount bin, for a few dollars/euros. Gotta prep it for use with things like acrylics. Reinforce pages by gluing pairs of pages together. 

Strathmore 300 or 400 Series watercolor paper in huge sheets. Work on loose paper or bind your own journal.

Strathmore Visual Journal. I do not recommend this paper for watercolor, but it works for acrylics + collage.

 

Paper & Journals for Collage
Working with tape, washi tape, glue stick as a collage adhesive.

Strathmore 300 or 400 Series watercolor paper. Great paper, good value. You can get wire bound or buy 300 or 400 Series watercolor paper in huge sheets. Work on loose paper or bind your own journal. and cut to desired size. Standard weight for watercolor paper, 140 lb/300 gsm paper. I think this paper is the perfect balance of price to quality so it's my top pick.

Strathmore 300 or 400 Series watercolor paper in huge sheets. Work on loose paper or bind your own journal.

Strathmore Visual Journal. Again, I do not use this paper for watercolor, but it works for acrylics + collage.

Hardback book from the discount bin, for a few dollars/euros. Gotta prep it for use with things like acrylics. Reinforce pages by gluing pairs of pages together. The bottom two journals in the photo below are altered hardback books. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

 
Art journals by Tammy Garcia https://daisyyellowart.com #artjournal

Paper & Journals for Writing & Drawing
Working in Pencil, Ink & Markers

A standard writing journal will be sufficient, but if you plan to adhere collage elements and use acrylic paint, the thin paper of a typical {even if beautiful} journal from the bookstore won't hold up to acrylics and other wet media.

Moleskine Classic Notebook. The unlined and unlined versions have thin, smooth, slightly off-white paper. Good for doodles, sketches, drawings, lists + note taking. My to-do list resides in this journal. Too thin for paint applications.

Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketch Pad aka Aquabee journals. The paper is 93 lb/150 gsm. Excellent journals for pencil, ink or markers with a bit of watercolor/gouache/ink. You can use a bit of watercolor or gouache to enhance your drawings as well, but not for full pages of wet media.

Rhodia Web Notebook. Lovely drawing journals. Various versions including dotted grid, grid, lined. Classic orange cover.

Loose 300gsm cold-pressed watercolor paper, bound into your own journal!

 

Paper & Journals for Watercolor
Working in watercolor, gouache, ink, or a combination thereof.

Strathmore 300 or 400 Series watercolor paper. Great paper, good value. You can get wire bound or buy in huge sheets and cut to desired size. Standard weight for watercolor paper, 140 lb/300 gsm paper. I think this paper is the perfect balance of price to quality so it's my top pick.

Moleskine Watercolor journal. Contains 135 lb/200 gsm paper. I love the 5x8" version and have filled a stack of these over the years! I've found inconsistency in paper quality in the larger versions so I don't use these for watercolor/gouache work any longer. Excellent journals for pencil, ink or markers with a bit of watercolor/gouache/ink.

Fabriano Artistico Acquarello Watercolor paper. Yummy but expensive! 140 lb/300 gsm paper.

Brushes for acrylics.

Brushes for acrylics.

Brushes

You'll want to use a brush created for your desired medium, rather than a generic "mixed media" or anything goes sort of brush.

For acrylic paint. Acrylics are hard on brushes, so a brush will likely last just a few months. While it's fun to have a variety of brushes, the two sizes that I find most useful are a short-handled round or flat synthetic hair brush in size #2 or smaller for lettering and a short-handled round or flat synthetic hair brushes size #10 round or flat for everything else.  

For watercolor or gouache. A good watercolor brush can last for years! $10-$20 per brush seems like a lot but will give you a significant benefit in terms of quality of experience and results. I like short-handled W&N brushes — a round size #8 or #10 is indispensable, add a round size #2 for detail work, and 1/2” one-stroke or flat for large areas and washes.

Liquid Adhesive for Collage

To adhere collage materials to art journal pages, I use Golden fluid matte medium or Golden Soft Gel and an old junky brush. With the brush, you paint the adhesive on the reverse of the paper you want to collage, then press to the background. Fluid matte medium can also be used to thin {make more translucent} acrylic paint.