My Art Supply Bag for Art Journal Summer School

Hello lovelies! Art Journal Summer School starts TOMORROW!!! Eeeeeeeeee, I’m getting so excited! Expect many exclamation points in this post!

To get you a bit more excited and as a little intro, I thought it might be helpful to talk you through the art supplies I’ve got in my toiletry bag. You can watch the video and/or read the supply list with my personal explanations and input below.

Are you joining the course and community of 350 students? Read all the details, download the supply list and register your spot here.

Art Journal

My journal of choice right now is a Seawhite of Brighton A5 journal. It’s SUPER CHEAP. I bought it for £1.25 (that’s less than $2!). The paper is a bit thin but it’s ‘extra wet strength’ which I can confirm is true. It stands up to mixed/wet media remarkably well although it does buckle quite a lot. It’s made in the UK (and also well stocked in The Netherlands) so might be a bit harder to get across the Atlantic.

Brushes

I tend to use student grade brushes and I buy them in packs because they’re much cheaper that way. The ones you see in the video are Pro Arte Polar and Daler Rowney Graduate. I have one large flat one for backgrounds and bigger areas. One angled brush which I love for shading faces. Finally I have two different round ones for details, writing, swirling, and what-have-you.

Pencils

The supply list has a mechanical pencil which I do like using, but it brings out the perfectionist in me because you can do endless sketching and erasing, sketching and erasing. Although I love symmetry and perfection as much as the rest of us, it doesn’t tend to make me happy with my process. So instead I love using a Stabilo All pencil. It’s a lovely dark black and it’s watersoluble so you can activate it with water. It helps me be more intuitive, embrace imperfection and really commit to the lines I’m putting down on paper.

Erasers

I have one square white eraser for large areas and a Tuff Stuff eraser stick for details.

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Glue and Scissors

I have a pair of tiny scissors and a small pot of matte medium to glue things down. I am not into collage very much though so I hardly ever use these.

Black & White Pens

I use acrylic paint pens by Uni Posca for most of the writing on my pages. I also tend to use them for pupils, eyewhites and highlights in the eyes. They work really well over mixed media, but it’s important to wait until previous layers are fully dry, or you might clog/ruin the nib. They also don’t work very well on thickly applied Neocolor II crayons. I also use Uniball Signo gel pens for details, it has a bit more of a pen feel rather than a marker. Finally I recommend Faber Castell Pitt Pen in black. This is India ink in a pen, it is waterproof when dry. The brush tip is lovely for adding writing or details on top of mixed media.

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Washi Tape

Come on, you need this! Washi tape is so fun with all the patterns. Depending on the media underneath it might not always stick very well, in which case you can use glue or brush some matte medium under & over it.

Dylusions Ink Spray

The brightness of the colours are amazing! Beware of three things though: it goes EVERYWHERE when you spray, it will stain your hands for days, it reactivates when you work on top with wet media.

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Stencils

I don’t work with stencils that often, but they can add real interest to your backgrounds or composition. You can experiment with using sprays or paint. If you spray through a stencil, don’t forget to afterwards flip the stencil and press it onto the page to get the negative image.

Acrylic Paints

It’s such a great idea to limit your colour palette. It avoids overwhelm and gives a consistency to the work you create. In my bag I’ve packed a yellow, a bright pink and a turquoise along with black and white. Craft paints, chalk paints or matte acrylics are ideal for working in an art journal. They dry quickly, the pages don’t stick together and they’re usually non-toxic (do check your preferred brand) so suitable for doing art with your kids.

Watersoluble Crayons

I use Caran d’Ache Neocolor II. They are watersoluble wax crayons. Super portable and non messy while giving you nice bright colours! I packed these colours: apricot, raspberry red, turquoise, white, orangeish yellow, pink, jade, light ochre, ice blue & cinnamon.

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Extras

These are not on the supply list but I can’t live without them:

Rag

I use an old muslin cloth (you know, the type you use to mop up baby sick and when your kids pee on things). It doesn’t take up much space and it’s great for wiping excess paint off your brushes. I forgot this the other day when I went to journal in the park and I ended up wiping my brushes on fallen leaves. It wasn’t very effective. So jus’ saying, having a cloth is quite handy.

Water Spray Bottle

I love having slightly more runny paint so I usually spritz my pages with water before applying paint or while I’m shading a face. I also like making drips which a spray bottle is great for!


I do so hope you will join in on the fun! Can’t wait to see the wonderful artwork everyone creates!

Art Journaling In The Woods On a Camping Holiday

So this weekend just gone we went on an adventure! Andrew won a photo competition for Eco Camp UK which meant we got to stay for free at one of their camps for the weekend.

As you may know I’m preparing for being a guest teacher on Art Journal Summer School, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test drive the supply list (toiletry bag with limited art supplies – you can download the list here!) and do some art journaling while camping!

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Now I have to be honest with you, in the past I have found it hard to enjoy art journaling on holiday. I always take the materials with me, but I have a hard time choosing supplies (so I take too many and end up using none!) and then find it hard to enjoy making art. I think it’s about working in random/confined spaces and having to put things away again after a session.

So the challenge was to pack only the things on the supply list (I almost succeeded… I put in one extra ink spray and roll of washi tape… but that was it I promise!) and then to find the time to art journal and actually enjoy it!

Well I can say I truly succeeded!

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I think the difference this time was that I was more relaxed due to the limited supplies. Using a toiletry bag is super portable which is very convenient! I sat at a picnic table and at a certain point I also journaled while sitting on a picnic chair (no table).

You do have to adjust your expectations slightly. I’m usually very much into acrylic paints, but that’s harder when you only have a small water container (pro tip! Use an empty drink bottle with a wide neck for your paint water. I used a Fruit Shoot bottle). A water brush is definitely very useful, I use a Pentel Aquabrush.

As I was getting out my charcoal pencil for sketching I had a brainwave and decided I could use charcoal from the campfire!! I was feeling super authentic at this point haha. It also made me realise why we buy charcoal as an art supply, as it’s way more concentrated and easy to work with than charcoal from the fire.

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I’m feeling super heartened and inspired by this experience. I now can’t wait to take my little stress free bag of art supplies with me everywhere! Next up I think I’m going to try some places closer to home like the local park and a café.

If you’d like to learn to make beautiful pages with a limited number of art supplies, then I think you will like Art Journal Summer School. Early bird price is on until 31 May! The pages I showed you in this post use similar techniques and supplies as what you will be learning about in my lesson.

Art Supply Junkie – Acrylic Inks & India Ink

Inks

Watch the video below:

What are acrylic & India inks?

Both types of ink are highly pigmented and very fluid. Acrylic ink acts like acrylic paint in terms of coverage and finish (kind of glossy & plastic-y), except its viscosity is much more runny than paint. India ink is a traditional writing & printing medium and is now also used a lot for drawing and of course mixed media! India ink is not always waterproof. The brand I use (Bombay India Ink by Dr Ph Martin) is waterproof once dry and it also comes in more colours than just black.

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Why do I love it?

Unlike paint, ink just FLOWS, which is awesome. When you dilute regular paints to make them flow better you dilute the colour too, but inks are fluid with the same amazing concentration of pigment.

I started my love for inks with black India ink. When applied with a brush it is so much easier to make lines and swirls and script writing than it is when you’re using paint. It just flows off the brush very easily.

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It is also really easy to do drips and splatters with ink. You can make splatters either straight from the dropper, with an old toothbrush or by tapping a brush. For drips you simply squeeze the dropper at the top of a page and hold the page at an angle to let the ink run down it. You can use a straw to blow it in different directions. Then finally I love using ink with a dip pen. Instant pretty writing! White acrylic ink is amazing for writing on top of your mixed media artwork.

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Things to try

  • Use a dip pen and do some journaling with it. No special technique, although it’s easier to do when you write in script rather than loose letters
  • Use ink with a brush and paint as you usually would. Acrylic inks are especially nice for this.
  • Splatter & drip to your heart’s content! Experiment with letting the different colour inks flow into each other, or drying the inks between each new application.
  • Write swirly text straight from the dropper applicator
  • Draw shapes with the dropper applicator or make dots

How do you use acrylic ink or India ink in your artwork? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Oil Pastels & Oil Bars

Oil-Pastels

Watch the video below:

What are oil pastels?

Oil pastel (also called wax oil crayon) is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike “soft” or “French” pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels provide a harder edge than “soft” or “French” pastels but are more difficult to blend. – Wikipedia

The way I would describe them is like crayons in shape, but more like lipstick in substance. They are soft and creamy and heaven to blend with your fingers. The brand I have and would highly recommend are Sennelier. Expensive, but amazing to work with. I buy singles of the colours I know I’ll use rather than buy an expensive box with loads of colours I’ll never reach for.

The thing that is important to know about oil pastels, is that they are not water soluble. That means it’s not very easy to use them in conjunction with watersoluble media (such as acrylics or watercolours) as they will simply not ‘stick’ to the oily medium. As a general rule you can use oil pastels on top of watersoluble media, but not underneath.

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What are oil bars?

Oil stick, oil bar, or oilstick, is an art medium. It is produced in a stick form similar to that of a crayon or oil pastel. It is distinguished from oil pastel, to which it may appear similar, in that the oil used is comparatively volatile, causing a skin to develop on exposed surfaces. – Wikipedia

The oil bar I have is made by Winsor Newton. It looks like a huge oil pastel and in terms of application it feels quite similar to oil pastels (although due to the size you have less precision). The way it differs is that it’s like oil paint in stick form. This means that it actually ‘dries’ after a few days by forming a film over it.

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Why do I love them?

It’s creamy spreadable goodness in pastel form! I AM IN LOOOOOVE! I love blending these with my fingers. They blend really well with oil pastels and even with acrylics (you can watch a video here where I demonstrate this technique)

The amazing thing to me is their drying properties. If you mix them in with oil pastels they still dry to a film, so it’s a wonderful way of making sure your oil pastels dry without having to use a fixative.

You have to have patience with the drying process, it generally takes about 24 hours (depending on how thickly they’re applied) to no longer be creamy to the touch. It probably takes several days to a week to dry fully. When I use it in my art journals I leave the page open for a few days and if I do need to close the journal I put a protective blank page in between.

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Things to try

  • Apply oil bar liberally and blend out with your fingers. Add shading/colours with oil pastels and blend into the oil bar.
  • Apply oil bar liberally and blend in fluid acrylics with your fingers.
  • Write over oily media with a Stabilo All pencil
  • Scratch into a layer of oil bar/pastel to create interesting texture
  • Use oil pastel in conjunction with beeswax. Oil pastels will work both under and over beeswax.
  • Melt your oil pastels and spread them around with a heat tool/quilting iron (best to use cheaper oil pastels for this).
  • Use oil pastels as a resist (apply oil pastels, leaving space around them, then apply a wash of watercolour over the top)

How do you use your oil pastels and oil bars? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Acrylic Paint Sprays

Acrylic-Sprays

Watch the video below:

What are acrylic paint sprays?

It is simply very fluid acrylic paint in a spray bottle. This means that when it dries it cannot be reactivated by water. The ones I have are from the DecoArt Media line. Art Anthology also do a spray although I haven’t used it myself so I can’t comment on it and I’m not 100% sure it’s acrylic.

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Why do I love them?

I get frustrated by sprays that reactivate when using wet media on top. It usually causes a muddy mess in my work. So getting the fun of spraying and knowing the paint won’t reactivate when I work on top is excellent! Depending on the colour/type of paint some of these are opaque, which adds another interesting dimension when working with these.

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You can control the spray that comes out of the bottle. If you press down hard, you get a wide fine mist. If you press down a bit more slowly, you get a more targeted spray. If you press down really slowly you get splatter droplets.

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Things to try

  • Layer 2-3 different spray colours using different pressure for each layer. Start with a full layer of the first colour, then add a layer where you press down more slowly for smaller areas of colour and finish off with splatters by pressing down very slowly
  • Spray through a stencil. Remember you can use the negative image by flipping the stencil over once it has paint on it. (Clean your stencils! I’m speaking from experience… I’m usually really lazy and paint isn’t too bad, but I once forgot to clean my stencil after using modeling paste…. I got muscle ache from all the scrubbing I had to do)
  • Make your own spray. Use high flow acrylics undiluted or dilute your (fluid) acrylics. You can get spray bottles at the drug store / chemist
  • Spray 3D elements. Either to use in art or as home decoration (ornaments, vases etc)

How do you use acrylic paint sprays? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Brayers

Brayers

Watch the video below:

What is a brayer?

Let me introduce you to one of the most awesome art tools in existence!! A brayer is simply a paint roller, traditionally used in printmaking to transfer paint onto the printing plate. They can be made of a variety of materials but the ones you see most in the mixed media art journaling world are made of rubber.

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Why do I love them?

It is an instant texture and layering tool. Using a brayer to apply paint instead of a brush gives you a very interesting texture and look. It’s quite random what you get which is part of the fun. A layer of paint applied with a brayer provides a sort of push-pull effect, so you can usually see part of the previous layer through it.

I love using a brayer to create a quick background. A bit of gesso and one or two colours rolled out over a journal page and you have got rid of the blank page and created interesting texture within about 20 seconds.

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Another reason a brayer is invaluable is if you have a Gelli plate. You can apply the paint quickly and evenly. Alternatively you can use it to apply paint in a circular motion or use the edge of the brayer to etch designs into the paint.

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Things to try

  • Try using a brayer with gesso
  • Experiment with low to high viscosity paints (e.g. fluid and heavy body acrylics)
  • Brayer some colour into an area and then make a glaze with the same colour and brush over
  • If a layer of paint seems too thick and you want to see what’s underneath, either remove some with a baby wipe or keep on rolling the brayer to transfer the paint to different areas and pull bits off

How do you use a brayer in your artwork? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Gelli Plate

Gelli-Plate

Watch the video below:

What is a gelli plate / gel printing plate?

A gelli plate, also called gelatin printing plate, is an art supply used to create monoprints. Monoprinting is a form of printmaking where the print can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where the same image is reproduced identically many times.

The plate made by Gelli Arts is a very durable mineral gel plate (it does not contain animal products so it’s suitable if you’re vegetarian/vegan). You can also make your own plate easily and cheaply with gelatin (supermarket) and glycerin (drug store/chemist).

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Why do I love it?

Where to start??? There are SO many possibilities with a gelli plate. The results you can get are so diverse. No one print will be the same. The process is infinitely fun and diverse. You can simply roll paint with a brayer, you can stamp textures or images, you can scrape paint away with brushes or other tools, you can paint onto the plate.

The traditional way of using it is loading the plate up with paint using a brayer, putting a sheet of paper on top and pulling the paper off (this is why people talk about ‘pulling prints’). However, I love using my plate in my journals, stamping it directly onto the pages. You can do one layer or many layers to build up interest.

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Things to try

  • Make your own gelli plate
  • Brayer a layer of one or two colours. Stamp images or textures, put masks or stencils on the plate. Pull a print. Then gently remove your masks etc and pull a ‘ghost print’ from the leftover paint
  • Add a bit of water to the plate after pulling the ghost print and pull another print
  • Experiment with expensive paints and cheap paints. How do they react, what do you like?
  • You can clean your plate with a baby wipe to get all paint residue off. Water & gentle soap works too
  • Instead of cleaning the plate, ‘clean’ it with gel medium or white acrylics. Best done at the end of a printing session when there is paint residue left on your plate. Add a fairly thick layer of gel medium or white acrylics. Firmly press a page onto the gelli plate and let dry completely (12-24 hours), gently pull off and it will have pulled all the dried up paint residue too, giving you a very unique print

Do you have a gelli plate? How do you like to use yours? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Fluid Acrylics

Fluid-Acrylics

Watch the video below:

What are fluid acrylics?

Fluid acrylics, or flow, soft body acrylics, have a lower viscosity but generally have the same heavy pigmentation of the heavy body acrylics. – Wikipedia

What that means in everyday language is that the paint is more fluid than regular acrylics, but the colours are just as intense (i.e. it’s not just diluted paint the way you could achieve yourself by adding water).

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Why do I love them?

The importance to me of this is that the paint flows and spreads more easily, and it’s much easier to get control over the paint when using a brush.

There isn’t really anything super magical about fluid acrylics, but I love them because they really make the painting process pleasurable. The paint does what I want! I like the fact that it’s quick drying, because I hate waiting! It’s also very easy to dilute with water to add splatters to your work, or mix with a glaze to create translucent effects.

I recommend using the highest quality you can afford. I use Golden which is expensive, but it goes a long way, you only have to use a tiiiiiny bit. I have also used Deco Art fluid acrylics, which I definitely recommend as a more budget conscious option while still giving great quality (but not as amazing as Golden).

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Things to try

  • Add some water and create splatters (tap your paintbrush or use an old toothbrush and scrape your finger along it to create a fine spray)
  • Add some glazing liquid (about 50/50 paint/liquid), apply to your work, let it dry for 1-2 minutes and wipe away with a baby wipe
  • Fluid acrylics work great on a Gelli plate, especially if used in conjunction with heavier body acrylics (see here for a tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFuxvQQH4M)
  • Use a brayer and brayer fluid acrylics to create a background

How do you use your fluid acrylics? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Art Journals

Art-Journals

Watch the video below:

What is an art journal?

It’s a journal you make art in. It really is as simple as that. There are no rules for art journals. I know there seems to be a type of ‘art journal movement’ that makes it look like art journaling is associated with a certain style or creating a certain look, but it really isn’t. I also like to call it a ‘visual journal’, it sounds a bit less intimidating.

Anything goes with art journaling

 

To me something is an art journal as soon as you veer from using just the written word and start adding pictures, drawings, painting, collage, blobs of colour, you name it.

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Why do I love them?

You can express your thoughts and explore your feelings in a super safe place. You close the book when you’re done, you don’t have to show it to anyone, but it’s there for you to re-explore or turn to when you want.

I love the way a filled art journal looks, when you can hardly close it anymore and all the pages fan out and you see the colours on the fore edge (that’s the bookbinding term for the edge of a book opposite the spine edge).

My art journals are so dear to me and I get super excited about getting to work in them!

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What is the best art journal?

I used to have some silly self-imposed rule that I could only have one art journal and had to finish it before getting another. I don’t know where that came from, but I’ve since realized that it’s great to have more than one journal. Journals can be different sizes and dimensions and different types of paper which all adds to the fun and multitude of uses.

I don’t know if there is one ‘best art journal’ out there. Different people like different things and certain journals might be more suitable for a specific purpose. These are the journals I am currently working in, the ones with an * are my current favourites:

*Falkiner’s – A4 with 300gsm hot pressed watercolour paper

*Dylusions – large (approx. 11×8”) with manila and white cardstock

Daler Rowney – A5 with 150gsm sketching paper

Seawhite of Brighton –20x20cm with 160gsm cartridge paper wire bound

Moleskine – 9x14cm with sketchbook paper

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Things to try

  • When picking an art journal think of the following questions: Do you want to work small or big? Do you use a lot of wet media (go for heavy watercolour paper)? Do you use a lot of 3D elements (go for a spiral bound or a journal with fewer pages)? Do you like working portrait or landscape orientation?
  • Start a new journal and give it a specific theme (e.g. faces journal, experimentation journal, lettering journal, dream journal)
  • Try using the whole spread (the two open pages) or just one page
  • Turn your journal 90 degrees and work in a different orientation
  • Experiment with gessoing your pages first or not and see how different paints react

What art journals do you have? Leave a comment to let me know!