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Supply List and Paper Suggestions

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Art Journal Project – Supply List

Since the list got crazy long (mostly due to me pontificating about paper 😄) I'm attaching a PDF copy of it to this post.

Nothing from this list is mandatory apart from paper and a few things to make a mess with on the paper. You don’t need to get artist-quality paints, expensive archival-quality paper, etc. This is more about creativity and expression than making artwork that will last throughout the centuries.  

It’s easy to get bogged down in uncertainty over what kind of materials to use or to feel like you can’t do this if you don’t have the right kind of paper, good quality paints, and so on. This can end up making you feel like you can’t make art because you don’t have a ton of money to spend on materials to get started. And on the other side of the coin, having the expensive materials can make the blank page even more intimidating because you don’t want to waste your good paper. The most important thing is to start where you are with materials you can afford. 


Paint: acrylic craft paint is fine, you don't need to get the fancy stuff 

Gesso: Helpful if using thinner paper. Also useful if you're using acrylic paint on watercolor paper – helps keep the paper from absorbing a ton of paint. I have never bought nice artist-grade gesso – I use the cheap Artist's Loft gesso that Michael's sells. In a pinch, a thick-ish white acrylic paint would get the job done. 

Pens (micron, Sharpie, gel pens) 

Water-soluble media of some kind: Watercolor pencils or Inktense pencils, watercolor paint, Neocolor II (water-soluble wax pastels), water-soluble graphite pencil: One or two colors of any of the water-soluble pencils can be fun for experimentation without spending much. 

Ink (India, sumi or acrylic ink): I use this for mark-making in general (with a paintbrush or toothpick) and sometimes with a dip pen for drawing on top of acrylic paint/medium. (Note for anyone with respiratory issues: Some brands of sumi ink have fragrance added.) 

Spray ink can be fun to play with. 

Stamp pads (Ranger's Archival Ink is one brand that's reasonably waterproof. My favorite ink pads are Stazon, which are a solvent-based ink that will work on pretty much any surface. The smell of the Stazon pads bothers some people. It doesn't irritate my asthma, which sort of surprised me the first time I used it since strong/fumey smells tends to make me wheeze.) 

Gluing Stuff to Other Stuff 

Glue stick (cheaper, easier, makes the pages buckle less than matte medium or gel medium) 

Fluid matte medium or soft gel medium (matte, not gloss – the gloss kind tends to make pages stick to each other more) Has better stickingness than glue sticks but is less convenient. If I'm gluing down thin, translucent papers I'll go with fluid or gel medium because it helps the background of the paper disappear against the page somewhat.


Paintbrushes: I mostly use cheap nylon brushes like these: https://www.michaels.com/necessities-white-synthetic-flat-round-brushes-artist-loft/10335746.html  

Glue brush: you don’t want to use the same brushes for glue that you use for paint. My glue brushes are a few scraggly old paintbrushes that got too ratty to paint with and some cheap 99-cent brushes from the hardware store. (I tend to use my glue brushes if I’m putting gesso on the page since gesso tends to gunk up the brushes no matter how well I try to clean them) 

Jar for water/rinsing brushes 

Craft knife (#11 Xacto blade if you want to be able to cut paper or stencil film with a fair amount of detail, or a box knife for craft foam. For the thinner sticky-back craft foam scissors work, too.) 

Stencil film or thin clear plastic (page protectors can work for this) if you want to cut stencils 

For foam stamps: 

  • Sticky back craft foam  
  • Thicker (non-sticky) craft foam (or cardboard, but foam holds up to washing better) as a backing for the sticky foam 

Mark-making tools – anything that looks like it might make interesting markings with paint/ink: 

  • Paint bottles/tubes (makes grungy rings when stamping paint/ink) 
  • Cardboard ring from a roll of masking tape 
  • Rubber shelf liner/grippy can opener thingies 
  • Plastic canvas 
  • Bubble wrap 
  • Tulle 
  • Punchinella (sequin waste) –or– paper/cardstock punched with holes (not as reusable, but can incorporate the paper stencil into your work afterward) 
  • Magic stamps (heat-moldable foam stamps – fun but requires a heat gun) 
  • Cosmetic sponges and/or chunks of regular household sponges 

Used gift cards/expired credit cards or similar bits of plastic (for scraping paint around and/or smoothing down collaged paper) 

I save those infuriating plastic-coated ads that the cable companies keep mailing me to use as mixing palettes.  


Gel printing plate: Gel Press and GelliArts make them in various sizes. You can also make one out of gelatin for cheap (I haven't tried either of these recipes personally): 

Brayer for rolling out paint (I have a cheap one I use with the gel plate so that I don't have to be fussy about cleaning paint off it right away. Dried paint on the brayer will give it texture eventually but I don't find this a problem with the gel plate the way it could be doing relief prints.) 

One or two pieces of glass or plexiglass (the glass from a couple of cheap photo frames works well – the ones I have are 5"x7" I think, smaller is fine) For monoprinting from a glass plate,  you just need one piece, but there's a fun technique you can do with two that makes a really cool-looking print.

Mark-making tools for monoprinting: Anything that can make marks in paint, such as:

  • Plastic fork 
  • Plastic comb 
  • String 
  • Bits of corrugated cardboard 
  • Bubble wrap 
  • Pencil eraser 
  • Rubber shelf liner/jar grippers 
  • Tulle 
  • Foam stamps (I don't like using my hand-carved rubber stamps with paint because they're really hard to clean up, but YMMV – there's no reason why you can't use rubber stamps) 


For your journal, pretty much anything will do for starters.  There are bound journals you can buy with nice paper meant for wet media. It's best to find something that opens reasonably flat and stays that way without a ton of coaxing. A spiral bound sketchbook that's meant to take water-based media can be a reasonable compromise if you don't want to have to do much to prep your paper but need to keep the cost down. Bound journals with the same type of paper are usually more expensive.  I like being able to make a two-page spread without a spiral in the middle, but that's the only real drawback to spiral-bound sketchbooks. 

You can use a cheap composition book and make the pages a little sturdier by either gluing pairs of pages together (with glue sticks or gel medium – this can make the paper a bit wrinkly) or by putting a layer of gesso on the pages. (Or both.) A lot of people like Moleskine notebooks for art journaling. The paper in those is pretty thin, too, so gesso and/or gluing sheets together will make it sturdier. 

Books with a bound spine and thin paper that isn't intended for for wet media can get a little iffy. You'll be making the pages thicker by adding paint, by collaging layers onto the pages, and so on, which can eventually overwhelm the spine.  

If you want to use paper that’s intended for mixed media, there’s a lot available. Typically this paper isn’t super heavy, so it does buckle somewhat once it gets wet – it's not going to stay perfectly smooth. But once you work on the other side of the same page some of the buckling will reverse itself. And you can always slap a layer of gesso on it first to make it sturdier if you need to. 

The Canson Mix Media spiral-bound sketchbooks come in a bunch of useful sizes and have paper that's a decent compromise between cheap and sturdy enough for wet media, especially the slightly heavier artist series ones. Their artist series mixed media sketchbooks are 138 lb/224 gsm (grams per square meter, which is the measurement system used pretty much everywhere except the US), and the cheaper Mix Media XL ones are 90 lb/160 gsm weight. There’s plenty of other good paper available – this brand is just what I have the most experience with for mixed media paper specifically. 

A couple of links for reference:  

Canson Mix Media artist series: https://www.dickblick.com/products/canson-mix-media-artbooks/ (138 lb/224 gsm, spiral bound) 

Canson Mix Media XL: https://www.dickblick.com/products/canson-xl-mix-media-pads/ (98 lb/ 160 gsm, spiral bound, cheaper but buckles more than the artist series) 

Strathmore hardbound mixed media journal: https://www.dickblick.com/products/strathmore-400-series-hardbound-toned-mixed-media-artist-journal/ (90 lb/190gsm) - I haven’t used this one but wanted to include a link to a bound rather than spiral journal. (Edit: I pasted in the wrong link originally - the one above has gray paper. This one has white paper: https://www.dickblick.com/products/strathmore-hardbound-500-series-mixed-media-art-journal/ )

You can see that the paper weights seem wonky if you compare the numbers between the paper at Canson and Strathmore links above. Strathmore is saying their 90lb paper is 190 gsm (grams per square meter), and Canson is saying their 98 lb paper is 160 gsm, so what's up with that? Traditionally, drawing paper and printmaking paper had different weighting systems. There’s an explanation here: https://www.strathmoreartist.com/faq-full/paper-weight-what-does-it-mean.html if you’re curious.  

If you don’t want to have to wrap your brain around wacky paper measurement systems, use the gsm weight for comparison – it'll be consistent from one type of paper to another. 

Watercolor paper is also a good option. My first journal was 90lb watercolor paper. The journals I'm using currently are ones I bound myself because I'm a nerd. One of my current ones has 130lb/300 gsm watercolor paper, and the other has cotton rag paper that's meant for printing out resumes. If you want reasonably heavy paper but want to keep costs down, you could pick up a pad of watercolor paper, fold sheets in half and nest them together, and use pamphlet stitch to make smaller journals. (Pamphlet stitch instructions can be found here: https://www.loc.gov/preservation/resources/educational/bookarts/pamphlet.pdf

Other Paper (for collage/monoprinting) 

Other types of paper that might be useful/fun for collage and/or monoprinting: 

Sewing pattern tissue (thrift stores often have a bin full of old patterns for cheap in the craft section – for this purpose it doesn’t really matter if the pieces are cut out) 

Deli paper (AKA interfolded dry waxed paper): nice for monoprinting, collages well. Once it's adhered to your journal the white parts more or less disappear. I got mine at Costco, in the restaurant supply section. I think you can find it on Amazon as well. Usually sold in a box of 500 sheets -- I'm only about halfway through a box I bought two years ago. 

Pages from old books (I have a couple of old dictionaries I've been tearing pages out of) 

Printouts of pages from public domain books found online. Inkjet printings will work as long as the paper doesn’t get wet. Otherwise, print on a laser printer/photocopier if you don't want the ink to smear. I especially love this this book of plant names found on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/standardizedplan00amer )  

Any paper bits that look interesting – I save bits of packaging, wrapping paper, etc. I've been known to buy paper napkins in fun patterns from Ikea for collage. 

You don’t have to have special paper to do monoprinting – printer paper is just fine. Don’t stress out about whether your paper is acid-free/archival/whatever! 



Art Journal Supply List.pdf

Edited by daisywreath
edited a bazillion times for typos/missing info

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A lot of the Arteza art supplies are on for Black Friday Deals on Amazon today. From what I have seen on YouTube reviews, they are fairly good quality materials and might be a less expensive option (even at regular price) for some art materials.

I am going to check them out later today but I did see a lot of deals ongoing and upcoming when I looked this morning.

Thanks so much for the list, this should be fun!


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