Tracy’s Tips – My Favorite Art Journals

I am asked all the time what are my basic supplies to get started in art journaling (or art in general) and I am going to answer those with Tracy’s Tips.  Here are my five basic supplies which I will break down (and remember you do not need expensive materials to get started!)  Here are my five main ingredients:

  1. Art Journals
  2. Pens
  3. Painter’s Tape
  4. Watercolors
  5. Paint Brushes

If you wish to get my FREE Art Journaling for Beginners Guide please sign up HERE!

My #1 saying is “It’s just a piece of paper” and your art journal is YOUR diary to create and let it all go! The first thing I will mention is that watercolor paper works the best with watercolors however it is more expensive.  As an alternative, I recommend a Mixed Media Journal if budget makes a difference. Mixed media paper is the best for beginners and advanced artists because it’s easy to test new materials and develop a daily art practice.

What is the difference between mixed media paper and watercolor paper? The main difference is in the paper sheet’s weight and paper surface texture.  You can paint on mixed media paper using both dry and wet mediums.  The weight of the paper makes it perfect for colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels, silky stix, paint pens, acrylic paints, acrylic paint pens, watercolors, watercolor brush pens, and more materials.

Traditional watercolor paper typically has more tooth, which does not allow for finer details or creating depth of tone when using dry mediums. The most common watercolor paper surface is cold press. Cold press paper has a good amount of texture or ‘peaks and valleys’ on the surface. The paper fibers are more loosely compressed than mixed media paper. This allows the watercolor to penetrate deeper into the paper. Watercolor papers are also available in hot press. This term refers to the end of the paper-making process when the paper passes through large rollers that are tightly compressed. The added pressure of the hot press process creates a smoother surface. A hot press paper will more resemble a mixed media surface than a cold press paper.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Grumbacher In ‘n Out pages

My favorites are made by Grumbacher for their patented In ‘n Out Pages.  This technology makes it easy to remove the pages while you are working on them and put them back into the binding.



Indigo Handmade watercolor and mixed media journals are another of my favorites.  I love the deckled edge and the quality of the paper.



Canson is another brand that I know use and love in both mixed media and watercolor:


Another favorite of mine is these great Hahnemuhle journals.  The quality of these are amazing!

Watercolor Pads

Watercolor Pads:  (we will cover different watercolor paper in another post)

Make your Own journals!  I love using loose watercolor paper and then binding up my artwork with my Cinch. I will do a post just on bookbinding for you soon!

Happy Painting!

NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links.  If you purchase, I could make a small commission at no charge to you.

Want more inspiration and artwork?

  • My website with resources, free art tutorials, and more!
  • My creative membership Your Artful Journey, where you can explore the world of art journaling with interactive art sessions full of tips and tricks, conversations, Q&As, and most of all, FUN!
  • My Facebook page where I go LIVE every Wednesday night at 5:30 PM PST. You’ll learn a quick and easy art lesson and laugh a lot!
  • My YouTube channel which has tons of free art lessons right at your fingertips.
  • My Instagram for a peek into my daily art life!

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