Monday, July 25, 2016

What Do I Need to Begin an Art Journal?

This is part 2 of my series on Art Journals

So last week we talked about what an art journal is, today lets talk about what we need to start one.

Lets talk about the journal itself.
   There are lots of options out there so to begin you need to think about what it is you want to do in your journal. I love to paint, and I love water based mediums, so for me it is important that I have a journal with paper that is sturdy enough to hold up to the abuse I am going to put it through. I look for a journal with super sturdy (heavy weight) paper.

 My very favorite paper to work on is a good quality 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. Sadly I have never found this paper in a journal format, though it does sometimes come in a paper pad. But in the past I have bought the giant 20" X 30" sheets of Fabriano watercolor paper at the art supply store and cut them down and assembled them into a journal myself.
 I have made several of Teesha Moore's 16 page journal. Here is a link to her tutorial on Youtube:

Here are my Teesha Moore style journals:

    Next to that option I find that the Strathmore Mixed Media, and the Canson Mixed Media journals are pretty good. They are both spiral bound which you may not like if you are partial to 2 page layouts, because then the spiral in the center might get in your way. But they are made with 90 lb. watercolor paper which is hot press (smooth).
 I have a hard time with cold press paper myself, it just doesn't hold up to all of the water I tend to use and often starts pilling. These 2 brands are good, I probably work in these the most.
Here are my Strathmore Journals:
These are great because they have a tear off paper cover and underneath is a beautiful brown sturdy cover.
Here are my Canson Journals:
Sometimes I decorate the covers too!

Here is some of my work inside the Canson journals:

Some people really like the Moleskin journals. Personally I don't care for them because the paper is too thin and it buckles up too much. They are a little pricey as well. Here is a Moleskin Journal I have worked in:

 Another thing I do is work on loose pieces of watercolor paper and then bind them together after I have 10 or 20 pieces done. There are all kinds of ways to bind your own journals, from super simple ring binding to actually sewing them together. Here are some ringbound journals,the middle one is hand sewn. :

Here is my binding tool, the Zutter Bind-It-All:

Here are some hand sewn journals I have made for watercolor work:

 This is also a great option if you are going to do an art journal challenge,
 such as 30 Faces in 30 Days or an art journal prompt challenge. ( We will talk about art journal challenges in a future post.)

 I used this method to bind all of my pages from the Lifebook Course that I took in 2015. This was a year long course where you have weekly lessons from all different mixed media teachers. Each lesson project is done on an individual piece of paper and then you bind them all into a book at the end of the year.  In this case I punched each page with a hole punch and then used purchased rings to hold it all together.

I highly recommend Lifebook, as it is a wonderful way to learn loads of techniques, become part of the art journal community, and it provides a structure to keep you motivated and working all year. You will also develop mad artskills in a super fun way!
(if you are interested in Lifebook I have provided a link up in the left hand corner)

 For me, as time has gone by and I have tried many different types of journals, I have found that I really like being able to work larger. Especially if I am working out a composition for a future painting.
I found this awesome journal at a local Japanese Stationary store called Kinokinaya.  It is called Art spiral. It is a whopping 16 by 13 (a really odd size by western standards) and spiral bound in the center.
  The paper is some type of thirsty watercolor paper. I really love it.

Here is some of my work inside:

And if you do a double page spread it is 26 by 16!!

All of these are great options. I encourage you to just pick one to get started with and dive in! As time goes on and you gain more experience you will find the journal that is perfect for you. Or, like me, you will work in several all at once!

Next week we will talk about supplies! See you there!


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