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art journal friday – my favourite art journal supplies

art journal supplies art journal supplies

Today for Art Journal Friday I thought I would share with you some of my favourite art journal supplies. These days, you can walk into a store like Michaels and be happily overwhelmed with all the goodies and all the choices – there are some really beautiful products out there, and yes, I do succumb sometimes! But my favourite materials remain the simple ones – basic art supplies, found and saved ephemera, office supplies, etc… things which can be procured easily and usually at fairly low cost. Sometimes I find that the simpler and more basic the material, the more room there is for my own creativity and ingenuity to flourish. Here are the basics that my studio would never be without:

Acrylic Paints

My art training taught me the value of good quality pigments, and the skill of colour mixing, so I don’t go out and buy a million colours of inexpensive craft paints. Instead, I invest in a basic palette of quality paints. Don’t be afraid to mix your own colours – once you you get a grasp on it, your creativity will really be liberated. You can learn by trial and error, but I recommend teaching yourself basic colour theory – invest in a colour wheel and a beginner’s painting book. You will have fun experimenting and learning. Try Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials for a full range of high quality paints. They have great, affordable watercolour sketchbooks too.

Washi Tape

How did we manage before Washi Tape became popular? This is one “trendy” supply that I absolutely love. The only problem is knowing when to stop…


The possible sources of fun paper ephemera are endless. Start looking at every piece of paper that comes into your house with an artist’s eye. Food packaging, wine labels, wrapping paper, advertisements, magazines of course, but also business envelopes, newspapers, receipts, shopping bags, old playing cards, old books – you don’t need to purchase a fancy ephemera package, you just have to keep your eyes open! Browsing thrift, dollar, and office supply stores can be great too.

Watercolour Pencils

I love watercolour pencils for travel or for an on-the-go art kit, because you can get both coloured pencil and watercolour effects without much mess or fuss. Here is a place where it is worthwhile to invest in a lot of different colours! If you can find an art supply store that sells the full range of colours individually, that’s great, otherwise buy the biggest set you can afford. The pigments stay vibrant for years. I love my 168 colour set. It’s like that big box of crayons in grade school – same thrill. My fave brand is Karat Aquarelle; they are not too soft and the colours are vibrant.

Vintage Style Labels

These things are endlessly cute and useful. Martha Stewart now has a great line at Staples, with vintage style labels in lots of styles and colours. You can also search around online for printable labels.

Aquarelle Crayons

Watercolour crayons! Crayons for grown-ups! These are so fun to use, wet or dry, especially when you want to get wild and free with colour and line. Again, I like the Karat Aquarelle brand. They even come in metallics! They work well with other media too – I often use them in the final layer of an acrylic painting, and they are great to get a heavy load of pigment onto a delicate page without saturating it.

Hand Carved Stamps

Fun to make and fun to use. One of my favourite art bloggers, Geninne Zlatkis,  now has a book out all about making your own stamps.

Pan Watercolours

Even a simple child’s set will be fun to experiment with and give you good reslults. Once you feel confident with your painting technique, you can invest in a higher quality set. I always have a palette of watercolours in my travel art kit. I love the effects I get with watercolours on really old vintage books (the kind with cotton or linen pages) – beautiful effects you just can’t get with acrylics. Play and you’ll see.

Vintage Office Stamps

Date and number stamps are great for journaling. These are always much less expensive at office supply stores than at craft supply stores! And keep your eyes open at the thrift shops too.

What are your favourite art journal supplies, and how do you use them?

Bronwyn Simons

More Artful Living:

Retreat! Give yourself the gift of time and self-care this Fall. Join me for my Artful Island Retreat this September 2013 19-23 at Shanti House on gorgeous Denman Island. For five days, we’ll make art, dance, play, immerse ourselves in nature, eat well, meditate, do yoga, laugh, reflect, and rest deeply. This delicious retreat is open to six women, and I have four spots left. Go here to learn more and register.

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