AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journaling Basics & Beyond: Tools



Welcome to another edition of Art Journaling Basics & Beyond. I apologise for the lack of post last week, I somehow managed to mess up the scheduling. Though late, this weeks post about art journaling tools has some great info, so lets get started.

The most obvious art journaling tools needed, aside from the journals, are paintbrushes. There are so many different brands and styles that it really can be overwhelming. But if you’re just starting out, you only need some basics, so let me tell you about my favourites.


The top cluster of brushes here, with the coloured ends, are the new Dina Wakley Media brushes. They are a synthetic, stiffer bristled brush, that are great with any medium you can throw at them. I especially love the 1inch flat wash as my multi purpose brush. Perfect for gesso, matte medium, paints. You name it, these brushes can handle it. They are a great starter option, affordable, and readily available.

The next group of three are Simply Simmons brushes, and they are awesome too. As you can see, mine are well used, beaten up, but still have plenty of life in them. Again, they are affordable, readily available, softer synthetic bristles, and are great all rounders.

The third cluster, with coloured handles, are by Royal Langknickel, and are another great option. With soft synthetic bristles and acrylic handles, they can really take a beating!

Next in line are three long handled brushes by Renoir, that cost me a whopping $1.50 each from my local hardware store. At that price, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but I have happily been proven wrong. They’re good all rounders, with softer synthetic bristles.

Then we come to two random brushes. The longer brush is a Catalyst brush. It has synthetic bristles, that are designed to hold a lot of paint, giving great results. To be honest, I’m not convinced as yet, but perhaps I need to just try a different size. The pink ended brush is another Royal & Langnickel, with a plastic handle and quite soft synthetic bristles. It is what’s known as a deer foot style, and while I’m sure there’s a specific use for it, I use mine as a stencilling brush. Its fantastic!

Last but not least, more Royal brushes, this time at a 2inch width! These came in a set of four, and were an impulse buy that I do not regret. They’re great for large background work, whether in your journal or on a canvas.

Phew, that was A LOT of info, I know. don’t get overwhelmed though – go with some basics until you really find your feet. I recommend starting with some flat wash brushes in both 1 and 1/2 inch widths, along with a round brush for more detailed work. A size 1 is a pretty good choice.

Now on to some other general tools that I go to almost on a daily basis. These make up my little tool kit lol


Scissors & a craft knife: You really do need these tools in your stash, but brands and style are entirely up to you. I love the little fingertip craft knife by Fiskars, as it gives me the maximum amount of control, but really, anything sharp will get the job done. As for scissors, I do like a pair with a finer point, for precision work, an something a little sturdier for thicker items. Those pictured here are just cheapies from my local variety store, nothing fancy, but I would recommend the EK Success Cutterbee scissors for good quality, long lasting scissors.

Tweezers: Not strictly necessary, they are handy none the less. I love these Tweezerbees for applying pesky little alpha stickers!

Palette knives: These are fantastic for just about every medium. Use them to apply paint, gesso, gel medium, modelling paste – everything! I have no specific brand recommendation for these. Plastic, metal, whatever you please, to me, all palette knives are created equal lol You can also use a craft scraper, such as the Ranger one pictured, in much the same way as a palette knife. Or better yet, use your old gift cards or room keys. Free, and just as effective!

Brayer: Great for applying paints & inks, and really handing for applying even pressure when stamping, smoothing out collage elements. Really handy, mine is a soft rubber Speedball, but a rolling pin or small can of hairspray can achieve similar results.

Sponges & Waterbrushes: I guess I could have added these to the brushes really. The waterbrush is by Pentel and is great for on the go arting, especially with watercolour mediums. I use cosmetic wedge sponges to apply paint & ink directly to my pages, through stencils, and when I want to apply mediums to only a portion of a stamp. Super handy, and easy to get hold of.

Colour Wheel: Last but not least, is my trusty colour wheel. I don’t use it all that often anymore, but its an invaluable tool when starting out,  helping with colour mixing, great combos, and colour theory.

Just bear in mind that there are no hard and fast rules. Try a few different products and you’ll soon find what best suits your needs. I know I’ve thrown a lot of info at you today, but be sure to drop me a line if you have any questions. I’ll do my best to answer them! I’ll see you next Monday for a look at some mediums often used in art journaling.

Happy arting!


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