10 Art Journaling Supplies for Beginners

art journaling supplies10 Art Journaling Supplies for Beginners

Art journaling can be as simple or complex as you make it and for beginners it might be overwhelming not knowing what supplies you might want to use. 
For many, art supply shopping is half the fun, but really it does not take a log of supplies to create in an art journal. There is nothing specific to get started, but several beginners prefer a list of supplies to get started.
Use what you have or can pick up easily.
To get started, I suggest these 10 art supplies and after some experimentation in a journal, more supplies can be added to your stash over time.
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Start with these 10 Simple Art Journal Supplies

Here is a list to start and I will go into more detail below on the specifics of the art supplies. 

  1. Art journal or art pad
  2. Acrylic paints
  3. Watercolor
  4. Gesso
  5. Matte medium
  6. Glue
  7. Pencils
  8. Pens
  9. Mail, magazines, and catalogs
  10. Old books, ledgers, maps, and music

art journal

Art Journal

There are so many options to use for an art journal, from books you can purchase to books you can make. As a beginner, my suggestion is to purchase a small inexpensive journal with a heavy art paper to begin. Thin paper will work, but it can be frustrating if you plan to use paints or other wet media. 

Here are a few suggestions to begin: 

Strathmore Softcover Watercolor Art Journal 

Canson Spiral Mixed Media Art Journal

Speedball Artist Journal

There is an endless array of art journal options for beginners in a variety of price ranges. If nothing else, start with a plain spiral notebook.

My current obsession is journaling in a Composition Notebook. Here is a link to more about that:

10 Reasons to Use a Composition Notebook Junk Journal

The other option, and one of the most fun for those who are like myself, and have hoarded old scrapbook paper and other art papers, you can make your own art journal. This is a little more complex and I plan to put together a tutorial to make a journal at some point. 

The final option is to use an old book and simply use the pages within the book to journal. As an art journaler, I can attest that getting creative with what you use as an art journal. 

acrylic paint

Acrylic paints

There is no way to choose which paint, because I go back and forth between acrylics and watercolors.
Acrylic paints also come in a variety of qualities and prices, but you cannot go wrong with a brand such as Liquitex and this set would be a good place to start:


If you prefer to begin with watercolors, I would suggest purchasing an inexpensive set and playing with them – in your art journal, of course – then perhaps invest in a better quality set 


Although gesso’s main purpose is that of a primer, but there is no better white paint than gesso in my opinion. It is opaque but thin and it allows a surface to take paint in a beautiful way.
I like using it to mix with other paint to lighten the color and it is great for the different page textures in an art journal.
I would recommend a good quality gesso such as Liquitex Gesso. Another option is a black or gray gesso.

Matte Medium

Want to use collage in an art journal (and why wouldn’t you want to use collage???) you will one hundred percent want a good quality matte medium to use. 

 Collage and layers are what makes an art journal so fun in my opinion. Although glue will work, the quality of the surface left with matte medium is so good.
If you have ever used mod podge, this is a similar process; however, mod podge will leave things stiff whereas matte medium is much more flexible.
Again, I would recommend a good quality matte medium and you cannot go wrong with Liquitex


Along with matte medium for collage, there is also a time for using glue in an art journal to add other elements. 

I keep several glue sticks, tacky glue, and fabritac on hand for different applications. 


The recommendation for a beginner is a good glue stick. One that I have been using for years is an Uhu glue stick. These are permanent and easy to use. 

Aleene’s Tacky glue is easy to find at any discount store, such as your local big box and is very affordable. 

Fabritac is a permanant adhesive that can be use for fabric. This a a great adhesive if you plan to make your own art journal; or if you are adding fabric to your pages. 

Adhesive can be a personal choice so use what you like. 


Pens and Pencils

One of the most important and basic supplies a beginner can have for art journaling are pens and/or pencils. 
My suggestion is use your favorite writing instruments for journaling and experiment with water soluble and permanent to find what you like. I have recently discovered the Stabilo All pencil and I am OBSESSED! These are dark with thick soft lines and so fun to scribble around or draw on a page, then go back over with a wet brush. 
I would also recommend a good fine line, black permanent pen for when you want to journal and keep it in tact.  My current favorite is the  Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen in S – superfine (the one I lost in the video!)

Mail, Magazines and Catalogs

Other items you can gather pretty easily and inexpensively comes right to your mailbox by way of junk mail, security envelopes, magazines, and catalogs. If you have cut down on receiving much mail, check with friends and family to see what they might have. 
One of my favorite things to use in an art journal for collage is the inside of an envelope, or a window envelope itself. There are so many creative ways to utilize what you already have. You might be surprised at how many different patterns and colors there are in a security envelope interior. 
I enjoy using interesting faces or people from catalogs. Color combinations always inspire (looking at your Ikea catalog!)

Old Books, Ledgers, Maps, and Music

Next time you are at a yard sale or thrift shop, don’t forget to check the book section for art journal material. I love using old book pages for collage. I also cut out words and phrases from books to use in my journal.

BEWARE: This can be a highly addictive endeavor when you begin looking for old books to use. It also opens up pandora’s box for book-making, which is a post for another day!

Use the Art Supplies You Have 

There is an endless list of supplies you could have to art journal, but part of the fun of art journaling is finding creative ways to use what you have. Before shopping for any of the supplies above, I suggest finding something in your junk mail pile, grab some glue and a pencil and get inspired to create with what you have.
Begin adding to your art journaling supplies as you feel inspired and think outside the box. Add washi tape, stamps, stencils, pastels, paint pens and other supplies as you want. Mostly, enjoy the process!

10 Art Journaling Supplies for Beginners

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