Art Journaling with Jenny & Aaron : Getting Started

After a lot of requests I've been promising to provide a list of materials that I use for Art Journaling. But then I said...why stop there?...why not get right down to it? So here goes:

 This is the formal introduction to our: Art Journaling with Jenny & Aaron series! 

This is something that we're both very passionate about. We know how much Art Journaling means to the both of much it has enhanced our lives, and how much it will enhance yours. And we can't wait to share every bit of our knowledge and experience with you. Each week we'll bring you a comprehensive "class" right here on the blog for FREE! These classes will be for everyone: The beginner who has never even touched an Art Journal...The scrapbooker who's looking to up the ante a bit, get their hands dirty, play with paint, expand their palette...The seasoned Art Journal pro who's forever interested in exploring new styles and methods for getting creative between the pages.  

    We've been Art Journaling in some form or another for as long as we can remember. My first Art Journals were full of fashion inspiration...doodles of outfits I wished I owned, skirts I wish I could sew, and random happy bits like glitter, sequins, and paint swatches. Later on, in our furniture making days, we filled notebooks and albums with furniture ideas, sketches, and tear sheets from Vogue, Elle, Country Living, Elle Decor, etc...For nearly 18 years we've been professional artists, and Art Journals have always been an integral part of our creative process.

And now we're going to share that process with you!

Art Journaling is hugely popular. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel with any of these classes. We're more into shining some light of a brighter tint upon your pages.  If you like our paintings...if you tune into my Friday Favorites...whatever it is that brings you here...we'll be carrying over those inspirations...those esthetics...into our Art Journaling classes and challenges. Yes challenges, each week there will be a link-up here on the blog so you can share some of what you did from the week before...your homework so to speak. So with each new class there will also be a recap of some of things you did in the week leading up.

Ok, enough talk...this will be a weekly thing...there'll be plenty of time for talk later. Lets get to some starter details...some fave supplies of ours...some recommendations...that kind of thing:   

(Note: since me and Aaron have different Art Journaling styles I'll sometimes show you his way and my way. Or supplies he likes and supplies I like. So when I'm saying "Jenny uses..." I don't want you to think I'm a creep speaking in third person for the heck of it. I just wanna keep things clear.)

Jenny uses a Strathmore Visual (mixed media) Journal. Meant for mixed media. Thick pages, perfect for adding layers, playing with paint, ink, stamping, etc.

Aaron has been in LOVE with "Marble Notebooks" forever. He has dozens filled with sketches, short stories, song lyrics, ideas, and more than anything else...LISTS. He is a chronic list maker. Lists of things he likes...things he wants to do...books he wants to ten lists...they go on and on. He just started using marble notebooks for mixed media Art Journaling. The pages are very thin so he reinforces them in fun and unexpected ways!

Both Jenny & Aaron also use Moleskin sketchbooks. The pages can be a bit thin, so adding gesso and scrapbooking papers to "thicken them up" is a great idea if you plan on using paints. If you are more of a doodler...or plan on sketching and keeping things more on the "clean side" ...not a messy/painty hands person...these are perfect!  


We use acrylic paints. Golden is our fave brand. It's a premium paint, which means it can be pricey...but the colors are fantastic and the consistency can't be beat. Golden's "fluid acrylics" are thinner but still just as potent with color. The fluid acrylics are great for washes, drips, and flecking. We find White to be the most important color in our palette, and Golden's Heavy Bodied Titanium White goes a long way. It's thick and bright and makes pretty pastels out of your vibrant tones.

We love to have a lot of paint on we also use craft grade acrylics. These are way more affordable and you can get great results. There are so many straight from the bottle colors to choose from. This is great for backgrounds and larger areas of color. You won't have to worry about your palette drying up and having to try to mix that same color all over again to match it. 


We very often base coat our pages with Gesso. It creates a nice even surface to work on, and it bolsters the page. Gesso is also great for muting backgrounds by dry brushing it over work that you already can then wipe it off etc... Or you can take a detail that was meant to be in the foreground...mute it with some Gesso and push it to the background...there are lots and lots of uses. There are many brands of Gesso and all of them are different. Golden is great...medium thick and the white factor is fairly potent. We also like Bob's thinner and very easy to work with. The Gesso from DecoArt is super thick...almost glue-like in can add a lot of texture with this brand. Aaron likes to add it to the paint colors in his palette to thicken them up and make them paler at the same time.


We use a handful of different brushes for Art Journaling, and it just 
so happens that you can find convenient sets that contain the variety 
you need. You'll see two similar sets pictured here. What both have in 
common is that they're soft nylon...or taklon, which is basically the 
same. Either white nylon/taklon or gold nylon/ doesn't 
really make a difference. We just don't like the rough bristle 
brushes...which are better for oil painting. You'll see in both of the 
sets that there is a 3/4 inch brush. You'll use this one a whole 
lot...for base coating entire pages, mod podging etc. And aside from 
that you'll use the smaller round brushes for detailing, and the 
smaller flat brushes for little wash areas, stripes, etc.  Don't go 
crazy buying brushes right now. Once you've got a handle on what you 
really like then you can upgrade. They've got discount sets like these 
at Michaels and AC Moore...they're about 12.00 or sometimes even 7.00. 
Always remember to print off a coupon before making the trip to either 
of these stores. 

Art Journal papers & elements:

Once you have your eyes'll be amazed at how many "found things" will find their way into your Art Journaling supply stash. Yardsales and flea markets are chock full of "instant relatives" (meaning- old photos of people you are not related to but you can pretend that you are!) The odd cast-aways like business cards, matchbooks, playing cards, bits of ribbon, know...all that good stuff. There are also tons of peeps on etsy doing the editing for you. You can find great shops full of ephemera there. And we have loads of scrapbook papers in our arsenal. You can never have enough patterns like polka dots, stripes, florals...and all the rest.

And don't forget magazines and catalogs. Due to lack of space we had to start thinning out our saved piles years ago. But tear out some of your fave images and keep them in a box or drawer. You'll glue these into your journals at some point and embellish them like crazy. Even the most basic pic of a living room can turn into magic.

Kraft Paper. We love this stuff. We do a lot of shipping so we actually use postal grade wrapping paper. You could even use brown paper bags. Aaron uses this a lot to reinforce the pages of his marble notebooks. He cuts pieces to fit and then mod podges them right onto the white college ruled pages. You can work directly on it, making the brown your background color. Or load it up with as much paint and scraps as you's a perfectly sturdy base.

Watercolor Paper:

We always have a pad of water color paper on hand. It's thicker than regular drawing or copy paper, we go with 90lb, and has a little texture to it. We'll paint things on the watercolor paper and then cut out those things and glue them into our Art Journals. It's a way to add layers, and painting is very easy on watercolor paper. It doesn't really curl or warp...and again, the texture gives it a good look. Sometimes we'll paint entire pages of watercolor paper and glue the entire sheet into the Art Journal, thus resurfacing the page. It's also great for decoupaging images color copies or pics from magazines. After decoupaging the image to the watercolor paper you can then cut it out and it's sorta like a diecut that you can put into your Art Journal.

Mediums & Glue:
 All of these can be used like glue and all of these can be used as a sealer, or clear coat. I'd say Aaron uses Decoupage by Americana the most...both as a glue and clear coat. It's similar to Mod Podge but has a less tacky feel when it's dry and a smoother consistency when you're brushing it on. Jenny is mainly a Gel Medium girl (Golden Regular Gel Matte). It's got a real matte finish and is way easier to work on top of with pencils, marker, paint, whatever...and washes take to it a little better...whereas with Mod Podge a wash will wipe right off of the glossier finish. We've taught so many classes and there isn't a clear consensus on what the best brand is. Everybody has their own favorite.

When it comes to doodling, writing, outlining etc. We love black Sharpie fine point pens. They come in a 4 pack! The black doesn't run. You can write very tiny if you want...or push harder and firmer for a bolder letter. The tip holds up pretty well even when doodling over paint.
When it comes to color...Copic markers. Use 'em...Love 'em. The colors are endless. Of course paint is our favorite medium but Copic markers are so so fab for coloring in your black and white imagery...colorizing old black and white photos. Lettering, doodling...fill in tiny areas or big spaces with ease. They blend great and the variety of colors opens up so many possibilities.We purchase ours here. The Copic Sketch marker has a brush nib and a broad nib. Fast-drying, permanent, and non-toxic.


Assorted washi tapes, which can be found on etsy by the thousands! They add pops of color and pattern to your pages! So many ways to use them! 

We also love plain ol' masking tape! Great for reinforcing journal pages along the binding... and lots of fun techniques! Great for writing on too.

Assorted Stamps:

As far as stamps go...we really don't think you can have too many! We never pass up a good deal on alphabet stamps. A great place to look is on etsy or ebay for lightly used sets! You can find great deals on groups of stamps that are pretty much brand new! We just scored a Jumbo foam alphabet set for under 5.00 on ebay last week!  We also carve our own stamps as well as using unconventional household items as stamps. One of Jenny's favorite things...bottle caps! 

Ink pads:

I  LOVE  StazOn inks, the black especially. They're serious about it "Staying on". This ink will stay on anything it touches, even your hands and clothes. 
The Tim Holtz Distress Ink is great for staining the edges of your pages, papers, and photos them an old worn, weathered, and distressed look. And there are lots of colors to work with.

Watercolor pencils:

Derwent Watercolor pencils. These professional-quality, water-soluble pencils work like paint but are way easier to use...way less scary for the beginner. Use them to shade on dry paper, then quickly wash over with brush and water to get a blending effect. Jenny LOVES these. You can get a dreamy glow around lettering...get very subtle color effects...or even bold pops of color if you use them with a heavier hand.

Again, this is just our basic starter list. You may already own all that and then some. If not, everything is fairly easy to find and you can do a whole lot of Art Journaling with it. So gather your supplies and join us next Thursday for the very first installment of Art Journaling with Jenny & Aaron. Grab our badge to put on your blog so you can link up with us and spread the word. Every Thursday we'll be asking you to link back to us with your work from the previous week's class.This is going to be so much fun and we expect that we'll be more inspired than ever once we get too see what all of you are up to! Thanks so much for getting creative with us!
xo, Jenny...& Aaron