The following is a list supplies I use for the sketchbook process / keeping visual journals.
This same supply list is like a base recipe that goes out to everyone in my workshops. We add or subtract supplies, our ingredients, depending on the specific workshop I’m leading.
One of my personal missions in life is to demystify art supplies—
to help make creativity and personal self-expression easier and less intimidating for everyone.
So the supply list here is made up of inexpensive and easy-to-find supplies, many that can be found in office supply and department stores. Stuff that you might buy for kids while shopping for school supplies.
We are all beginners every time we face the black page.
Size: Around 8 x 10 inches or 5 x 7 inches are ideal.
Binding: Either spiral or hardbound works. Choose what you like best. Bindings are a matter of personal preference.
You can find blank sketchbooks at artist supply shops, stationers and some drug and department stores. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The pages can be text weight paper, the kind for sketching. No need for heavy paper like the kind used for watercolor.
Blank, unlined paper, is ideal, but if you you absolutely love to work in books with lined paper, go for it. Again – it’s all a matter of preference and what feels best to you.
a couple of recommendations:
If you’re not sure which size or binding to get, and you can splurge on more than one sketchbook, then pick up several in different sizes and bindings to get a feel for what you like to work in best.
You might need to venture into a proper art supply store to find a sketchbook – but maybe not.
Sketchbooks are available online (here is my linked Amazon supply list) and in many bookstores, museum shops, gift stores and boutiques.
Once you start looking for a blank books, you’ll start noticing them in uncommon places.
You’ll find this in 2 oz bottles, get the stuff that’s a couple of dollars a bottle (sometimes on sale for less).
I like these:
In the USA: If you have Michael’s craft store, look for their store brand called CraftSmart. Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics carry other brands of craft paint. If you look for the 2oz bottles in the Craft Paint aisle (not the Art Supply aisle), that will get you to the craft paint. Some large drug stores carry craft paint as well.
Michael’s also has a line of Martha Stewart craft paint, they’re about $2 per bottle.
Another source for 2oz bottles of craft paint is Blick Art Supplies – check out their online store if you don’t have one locally. They also have a great selection of Sketchbooks.
Get white, off-white or cream, and light grey, plus a several of your favorite colors. If you are attracted to glitter or metallic colors, you can pick up those, too.
Pens - your favorite writing pens, plus a few ballpoint pens and pencils
Ruler (not for measuring, but for cutting paper)
Crayons, markers and/or colored pencils (whatever you like to doodle with, stuff from the drug store or office supply is fine)
Tissue or thin papers (think stuff you get for gift wrapping). It’s ok if they are wrinkled, torn.
8.5 x 11 paper - several sheets in your favorite colors, whatever you may have on hand
Decorative paper This adds a lot to the journal – scraps are OK.
Magazines and books to cut up. Go through your stash and gather image-intensive magazines. Ask friends for discards, try thrift shops and check your library. Many libraries give these away or sell them very inexpensively.
A bag of junk and scrap paper: Raid your recycling bin and or/office supply stash, or dump out the paper from your junk drawer.
Paper items that are good fodder collecting include:
old file folders
paper in colors you don’t like, don’t use
graph paper, ledger paper
pages from old notebooks, calendars
In addition to the above, you may choose to work with the following supplies. If you are on a budget, just add one item at a time, wait for sales, or even better: trade with others who like do keep sketchbooks.
Don’t let lack of the perfect supplies stop you. Use what you’ve got!
Photos of yourself, family, work, home (make copies of originals so you’re not afraid to “ruin” anything)
Favorite quotes or poems
Rubber stamps/ink pads
Alphabet stamps or stickers
Collage Ephemera – whatever you may already have
Needles, thread, buttons, fabric pieces, ribbons
The links on this page will take you to Amazon, where I have an affiliate account. You don’t have to shop there, it’s a convenient place to browse. If you do shop via my links, I do get a few cents to use toward my *ahem* long list of Kindle purchases. thanks.
That pretty picture of my tackle box is just a decoy – away from what my work table really looks like.
See what I mean here: Where women *don’t* create
What are your favorite supplies for sketchbooks and keeping visual journals?