9 must haves for every artist and creative soul


I’m an art supply junkie.

Seriously, I should own stock in several craft stores, not to mention all of the artist supply stores. When I have a few extra dollars and a 50% off coupon? – watch out! So it is safe to say that I have a pretty vast array of tools that help me to create to my heart’s content. But there are a handful of things that truly I could not do without. They are what I use day in and day out, regardless of the project I am taking on. Here are my 9 go-to’s that I would recommend for any start-up art journaler:

  1. A Journal – This can be any size, shape, texture or color. Pick something that inspires you. Some sketchbooks lend themselves to an easier journaling experience. If you are planning to use a multitude of chunky, wet or heavy media like paper collage pieces, glue, and acrylic paint, you are going to want a journal that can stand up to the task. My favorite: Dylusions 12×9 Mixed-Media Creative Journal. The paper is heavy duty and will stand up to whatever you throw at it – literally! ($24.99 at Michaels…use a coupon!)
  2. Stabilo marks-all pencil – you can certainly use any graphite pencil you want, even the trusty old #2 that you filled all those bubbles in with at school. But let me tell you about the Stabilo Marks-all. It is creamy, dreamy, it writes with a rich dark line, even on painted surfaces, and I love it. And – Blick art has them for $1.39. Enough said?
  3. Microns (set of 3: #o8, #05, #03) Also a michael’s coupon item. These come in sets of 5, 12 and also individually. The larger the number, the heavier the line. The three sizes that I noted here are by far the ones I use most, and I always buy them in black, although you can get them in colors and sepia too…hmmm, sepia. The great thing about Microns is that they are permanent. So you can sketch something quick, and then lay a wash of watercolor over the top of it without any blurry ink. Awesome!
  4. Colored pencils (watercolor, oil, regular) My favorites are the Derwent Inktense pencils. But these are kinda pricey…so if you have Crayola’s? Start with those. Watercolor pencils are really nice, though. After coloring something in, you can wash a bit of water over it to give your picture a painterly feel.
  5. Paint (craft, acrylic, watercolors) Choose what you are comfortable with. I like watercolors primarily, but I also use a fair amount of craft paints. Definitely use what you have. Most people have at least a few bottles of dollar store paint hanging around. THose are just fine for what we will be doing.
  6. Inks (pad, spray, India ink) – pads are for stamping, spray inks are great for misting over pages or on stencils, and india ink is another permanent ink that is fantastic for lettering. But gel pens work great too. Start with what you already have (most people atleast have a stamp pad) and add some other things later if you are so inspired.
  7. Markers (fine tip or brush style) – This is one of those items that can be cheap, like the skinny markers from school, or horrifically expensive such as the Copic and Prismacolor markers. Expensive is not necessary. I would gage what to get by what you intend to do with them. I don’t use a ton of markers.  We will explore using them, but I don’t recommend buying the artist quality ones unless you really want them. Don’t get me wrong – they’re nice, but not necessary unless you are a pro.
  8. Brushes (cheap are good here, too) I’ve had expensive sable brushes, and I’ve had cheapy throw away’s. They all end up looking the same. Granted, the cheaper brushes lose bristles…sometimes into your art, but a high price tag doesn’t guarantee that your pictures will be hairless. I suggest a good midgrade brush. You can usually get them in packs of assorted sizes for under $15 at …you guessed it – Michael’s. I’m not promoting Michael’s over any other craft store, it is simply the closest one to me, so probably the one I visit most. But if I will be driving by a blick art?  Now we’re talkin’!
  9. An assortment of papers that you like. This can be anything…and by that I mean ANYTHING! Newspaper, magazines, mailers, literature, book paper. Choose paper that has texture, color, or some other interesting feature. No one said that you had to use paper created for artists. But if that is what you have, by all means, use it.  I’ve used pieces of old bibles or music books that are falling apart. Even a piece of plain white paper can be painted with watercolors and then used in a multitude of journal spreads. Start by looking through the mail or in the slush pile. You would be surprised at what you can do with all of that junk mail. I’ve even used seasonal napkins at times. Choose something that speaks to you. Gather them up and put them in an envelope for future use.

And speaking of envelopes, the journal that I talked about first?  It has a large manilla envelope fixed inside the front cover to stash all of that ephemera that you will be collecting – Bonus !!

You can start with all of these items or none. It’s entirely up to you. Gather up what you already have and as you go along, you will figure out what you want or need. But from one artist to another – these items will serve you well!

happy creating!


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