Do you want to start art journaling, but you’re not sure what you need to start with? Maybe you saw my list of Recommended Art Journal Supplies and started to feel a bit overwhelmed. Not to worry! Today I’m sharing my bare-minimum, 5 must have art journal supplies! So if you want to give art journaling a try, you won’t have to go buy out the entire arts and crafts store just to see if you like it.
I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. See my full Affiliate Disclosure here.
So keeping this list down to just five must have art journal supplies was not easy! So I’m assuming that you at least have a pen and a pencil around your house. Different types of pens (colors, ink-type, etc.) and maybe some colored pencils would be great, but aren’t necessary. Other than those, I’d recommend…
You have to have something to art journal in, and a sketchbook is a great place to start! But I’ve either used or seen other people use everything from old books to their coffee instruction booklet to art journal in, so you can definitely get creative!
Depending on your preferences, you’ll want either a spiral-bound or a hardcover sketchbook. My favorite spiralbound sketchbook — especially for beginners — is this Strathmore Watercolor Paper Sketchbook. I like it because the paper holds up well to basically all kinds of media and it’s super affordable (under $8.)
Hardcover sketchbooks are nice if you want to use both pages for one “spread”. The trick is finding one that will lay flat, or at least almost flat, yet still have thick enough paper to accept all kinds of media without buckling or warping. I really love the Field Artist Watercolor Journals for that purpose, but they only come in small sizes (like 4″x4″ – 4″-6.5″). The smaller size may be perfect for a new art journaler!
But if you’re looking for a little more room to journal in, I just got a Seawhite Black Cloth Hardback Artists Sketchbook and I love it! It’s a landscape sketchbook, with A4 sized paper (which means it’s about 8.3″x11.7″) and the paper is just thick enough to handle most media.
If you want to learn even more about different sketchbooks, please check out my post “Best Journals for Art Journaling.” (As a try more and more journals, I add to that list!)
I think most art journalers do some type of collage in their journals from time to time, and you could simply use the scissors you have on hand. But I recommend scissors with non-stick blades, in case you’re cutting into anything with something sticky on it (like stickers, papers glued together, washi tape, etc.)
You could get these 8″ Scotch Precision Ultra Edge Non-Stick Scissors like I have (and love!) Or, if you prefer smaller scissors to get all the tiny details, you could try these small EK Tools Precision Scissors which are also non-stick.
This goes back to the idea of collaging — you’ll need something to stick those cut pieces of paper down in your art journal. But glue sticks aren’t just for collage! I sometimes glue in things like cute packaging, concert tickets, bits of wrapping paper, and other ephemera, etc.
The key with glue sticks (or any kind of adhesive, really) is that you want to make sure they’re acid-free. That way you can be sure your art journals will last longer. Luckily you can buy Elmer’s Washable Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks (and share them with your kids, if you want to!) But my art school professors always recommended UHU Stics, and while they are a little pricier, they stick so well, I can see why they were recommended.
A Paintbrush Set
You could get a super cheap set of paintbrushes, and that might be okay. But I would suggest getting a set that is just a step or two up from that (but there’s no need for professional grade brushes at this point — or maybe ever!)
The thing is, a nice beginner to mid-range set of brushes will help you have a better experience when painting! And if you’re trying something new like art journaling, you want to set yourself up for success. I love this Amagic 9 Brush Set because of its affordable price, the fact that it comes with a storage box, and you can use any type of paints with them (watercolor, acrylic, oil, and more!)
If you’re brand new (or newish) to painting, you might not know if you want to try watercolors or acrylics, so I’ll explain the differences and hopefully help you decide. (And I assume most people reading this won’t want to start with oils, because of the slow dry time, the need for solvents, the odor, etc.)
You can dilute acrylic paint with water to make it a “wash” that looks a lot like watercolor, so you may want to try acrylics for versatility. But keep in mind there is still a difference! When dry, acrylic is basically “stuck” to the page, so you can add layer after layer if you want to. But that also means any “mistakes” are there to stay.
Watercolor, however, will lift if you add more water on top of it. This can be both a good and bad thing! Yes, you can still layer with watercolor, but it definitely takes some practice. Watercolor also tends to dry lighter than acrylic.
Either way, you can start out with a set of primary, black and white acrylics (with these you can make any color you want by mixing them), or a pan set of watercolors for around the same price.
And there you have it: 5 must have art journal supplies! Of course, if you want to expand beyond these basics, make sure you check out my Recommended Art Journal Supplies!
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