My 5 essential art supplies
Being a mixed media art journaller, I can get a bit carried away with supplies. It’s par the course. But it doesn’t always have to be expensive supplies, I use a mixture of label and non-label supplies for my pages. But here I am going to share with you my top 5 favourite supplies, which for me are essentials in art journaling.
Three key points
There are three things that I want to stay about my essential art supplies.
Firstly I am not (as of the date of this post) affiliated with any of the brands I mention in this post, I am just recommending what I like to use and what I would personally recommend based on my experiences with these supplies.
Secondly, everyone is different in their favourite brands and supplies, it depends on what your needs are, whether you find the brands relevant for your project or easy to use that counts. I’m also aware that there may be different brands available depending on where you live, I live in the UK, so this may be different than America.
Thirdly, you don’t need to buy everything on this list, I have built up my supplies over years of practice, often getting them for Christmas, birthdays and often buying these supplies instead of other things (such as unessential clothes, shoes, nights out !) I even gave up smoking so I could afford more art supplies!. If you do have some art supplies then you know that they can become a bit, hmm, well, addictive. If you don’t have supplies yet, start with a few supplies and build up from there, don’t buy the all at once – enjoy building up your supplies and learning about each one as you do it. Remember though ultimately creativity does not come from any supplies, it comes from you! With that being said lets begin.
My number one top supply is acrylics. I just love acrylic paint, to the point where I can’t creatively live without it in my journal. I have some cheap acrylics but sometimes they can not cover the page very well. This is because they have a lower acrylic paint pigment than the more expensive brands. To combat this I have started using All purpose acrylic paint for crafters.
Cheap and cheerful acrylics
My favourite ‘cheap’ brand at the moment is Do-craft Artiste range where the paint is slightly thicker. I have found a bottle of this (59ml) for £1.50 in the Uk (under $2). It’s quite thin and fluid like but it fills the art journal page very well, although it may not be the quality you want on a canvas or more expensive watercolour.
I don’t really use Golden Acrylics but I have heard that they are the best brand, they are very expensive for me personally. I don’t feel that I particularly need them for everyday art journaling, but if you can afford them then they are a great range. I have just the white one for mixing with the other brands which allows for the best of both worlds. I tend not to use it for everyday art – so it’s a paint for special occasions and certain projects (not to play around with). Generally they are heavy bodied which makes them thicker, more pigmented so teh coverage is great.
My favourite affordable acrylic brand
My favourite are Daler Rowney brand heavy body acrylic, System 3, they are a bit more heavy bodied, economical and affordable to replace on a budget. Very easy to use! Winsor and Newton Galeria are also a decent quality brand also as another favourite range.
There are also their cheaper Graduate Acrylics in the daler rowney range, however this is not a range for professional artists so it’s slightly lower grade, by suitable enough in their versatility for art journaling . One thing I’ve been told is that although for me the graduate paint is good for art journaling, but may not be good for canvas painting. Basics I would say has similar versatility.
I would recommend that you buy a set (for less than £15.00 or $20.00) as they are often cheaper than individual colours if you are starting up, then replace the colours you need. Another brand I’ve used is basics acrylic set, but I do prefer the Daler Rowney sets but it’s down to personal choice.
I would tend to advise that you consider why you are buying them (for an art journal or for a canvas), how much you are going to use them (or how much they will need to be replaced), so you can get acrylics within your budget.
Top tip: Sometimes I buy a cheap white or titanium white unbranded large acrylic paint tube for (£1.50 or £2.00) and mix it with the branded paint to give a better coverage. Since it is expensive to buy the white paint in the amount that I go through. So you could do this in your favourite colours or buy a more expensive white to mix with cheaper colours. You could also mix up what you use, so that you are using more than
Gesso is a fabulous investment you can prime your page with it to make a canvas style tooth on your page, or make it take more creating. Or you can use it to fix mistakes, or as a main in your journal page. You can also use it between layers to make it easier to put the next layer down or write over the top of it. I like the white gesso, but I’ve been experimenting with the clear gesso lately to go over my watercolours so future layers don’t reactivate them. My favourite is the Winsor and Newton brand (for white acrylics), although I am currently experimenting with other brands that are cheaper. I also like using clear gesso, which covers a layer transparently.
Posca pens are my ‘go to’ for detail. I am heavy handed so often I put too much pressure on the pens I use and manage to wreck them rather quickly Posco pens are basically paint pens. They have been really wonderful for me to use, as I don’t have that issue. I particularly love the bullet points (I have a number of them in white) and I’m going to invest in these next time rather than the finer pointed ones. But I do like the finer pointed ones too, better than most pens for creating. Just remember don’t use them over wet paint. There can be an issue with the pens not working or not lasting after awhile, I think they may get clogged up or blocked, so you may want to dip the end in a little drop clear water to unblock them. Or alternatively you may find yourself buying more. I personally feel that the bullet-points are more stronger and less infallible than the general ones for my needs. They tend to last a bit longer for me. As well as colours, black and white, they also have metallic silver and gold ones.
Pencils (and sketching media)
Quickly becoming a key favourite supply. I do like drawing (and using colour) so I thought that I would include a recommendation in a sketch set and coloured pencils together. I do use different types of pencils..
So I would suggest that you use what you’ve got whether it be a royal langnickel pencil set (that are a cheap set that I use). I would recommend that you get the HB (medium soft to hard pencil) and a 2B (softer) pencil to start with.
I have to say that I do like my derwent sketching collection set, which provides a mixture of sketching media. FRom charcoal, to graphite and with the 24 tin a graphitint pencil They come in a 12 pack or the pack I have a 24 pack. Buying a set like this whatever make can help you test out supplies cheaply and see what you like, before buying a full pack of something. And yes I have been to the derwent pencil museum in the lake district as a kid!
For coloured pencils, I can’t choose between Sanford Premier Prismacolour pencils or Faber Castell Polychromos (which I was lucky enough to get for free).
Prismacolours are very blendable, I feel that they are little closer to a pastel pencil without the mess than the Faber Castell pencils. They are great for mixed media projects and can be used on top of acrylics. Whilst Faber Castell I describe as smoother almost silky pencils, that basically would glide themselves across the page if they could. These are great for design projects, they are very clean lines.
I would say that I got the Faber Castell pencils first and they changed the way that I thought about coloured pencils (not just for kids). But maybe you could get a few and try them. If you like coloured pencils then these two brands are definitely worth the investment, if you don’t like coloured pencils then they may change the way you think of them.
Markers and pens
I am going to ‘cheat’ by adding these together but there are so many different types to choose from I’ll recommend my favourite at the bottom of this section:
I use the uniball eye fine range, they are adequate for what I need although not waterproof, I can write over acrylics with them (the test of any pen). I’m not a fan of the micron pens (as maybe I’m too heavy handed so the tips tend to break easily). The other alternative is a regular ballpoint pen, which is as cheap as chips and not to be underestimated for creativity!
I have to recommend the signo white pen, its waterproof, and is the only white pen (with the exception of poscos) I’ve found to write over any acrylics. It’s such an intense and beautiful colour, great for doodling and art journaling!
I do like alcohol pens, they give a graphic design feel to any of my projects. Winsor and Newton (aka Letraset) Promarkers are my favourite markers (non-paint markers) as they are alcohol pens and can be blended beautifully. I haven’t tried copic markers as they are more expensive. I like using them in my mandalas. They do bleed onto the other side, but I have to admit I do like this as I get two slightly different art pages when I’ve just created one! That’s not for everyone though,
Top tip: If you stick with the same markers copic or promarkers try and build up a set rather than an assortment as then you will have more blendability.
But I have got a fair share of sharpies too, that I have used. I’ve heard that you can add alcohol to blend them too. Really sharpies are an art journal stable and can be used in many different ways, so I would recommend buying them first. They do bleed onto the next page also.
Tombows are watercolour blendable colours, I like these but they can be reactivated by water if you are doing layers. But good if you want something to use in a travel kit or for detail (I only have 6 as they are very expensive).
A Bullet Journal favourite, the Stabilo point 88 fineliners which are available in many, many different colours and are great for adding colour to any writing projects.
The cheapy marker ones
I love cheaper ranges too and one of my favourites are manuscript fine markers and also the broad ones. They are just fun to have – don’t bleed through as much as sharpies. They are a little bargain for adding colour to writing projects.
I’ve recently bought this week crayola super-tips I have heard that they are great for lettering projects and are a little bit water-soluble. So I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.
Ultimate Favourite Pen/Marker
Aw do I really have to? Did I mention I love mixed media? If I had to pick one of these pen (you would have to really twist my arm), I would probably recommend sharpies as they are fun, affordable and colourful. It’s what I started with too, so I know that you can create great mindful and relaxing projects with them
As I have said I wouldn’t go rushing out and buying all the supplies, this is just my essentials, and yours may be different. But as the above quote suggests, get to know the supplies that you do have or that you buy and see what you can do with them. Let me know what your top 5 supplies are whether you agree or disagree. On the next blog post I will be looking at my 5 next top supplies to play with.
Sending you Kindness
*I am not affiliated with any of the brands that are mentioned – I am sharing what I personally use, so these are my own personal recommendations.