AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal · Uncategorized

Art Journal Basics & Beyond – Pens


I recently realised that one of my AJBB posts never actually went live. Ah, isn’t technology grand? Anyway, here it is for you now, better late than never. Right?

I’m here today to share some of my favourite pens and pencils for use in my art journal. As always, this is not a comprehensive list of whats on the market, but purely my go to goodies.


Colour – I am a huge fan of the Gelly Roll pens by Sakura. They come in a range of styles – Souffle, Original, Metallic, Glaze etc – but my faves by far are the Moonlight pens. The vibrant, opaque colours are uh-mazing.

Black – Finding the right black pen for art journaling can be a nightmare. Some skip, smudge and fade. I have tried many and my top pick, hands down, is the Pilot Permaball. It writes on just about any surface and is permanent when dry. Sadly, it is rare as hens teeth, so I’ve been searching for others to replace it. The Fudeball is good if you’re after a thicker line, while the Uniball Insight are a great thinner alternative.

White – When it comes to white pens, you cannot go past the Uniball Signo, or white Gelly Roll. Both write beautifully if you simply slow down a little, and regularly clean the tip.


Aside from the obvious HB, there are a few other pencils that I love to use. I adore the Stabilo ALL pencil – or what Dina Wakley refers to as the magic pencil. It’s a very soft waxy pencils that can be blended with your fingers much like an oil pastel, but it really comes to life when activated with water. It is delicious! I love my trusty Prismacolour watercolour pencil too, in black. To me, it is much like the Stabilo, but not quite as blendable.I also love using charcoal, both black and white, and recommend the Generals brand.


Of course, I couldn’t do a pen post without including my favourites – paint pens! My favourites by far, are the Sharpie water based pens, but Posca & Montana are close behind. I was recently introduced to the Sakura Permapaque pens courtesy of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, and have fallen in love with them. They have dual tips and offer great opaque coverage, without the mess that sometimes comes with traditional paint pens.

So there you have it, a peek inside my pen stash. If you havent tried any of these, I suggest you do. Heck, I will even give you permission to run out now and splurge ;)  Have you got a favourite that I havent listed? I would love to hear about it!

Happy arting!





AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journal Basics & Beyond – More Colour!


After quite a hiatus, I am back with another Art Journal Basics & Beyond post, and it is all about colour! We have already covered, paints, and inks, but there are a couple more options that I love to work with.

Melita Bloomer - AJBB - Colour7

Oil Pastels – Faber Castell Gelatos – Necolour II Water-soluble Crayons

I love using all of these colour options!They are quick and simple ways of adding an extra pop of colour, as well as for entire backgrounds. However, I generally use them only as accents on my pages. All three offer blendable colour, which can be a bit tricky to write over, so I prefer them as my last layer, after my journaling is completed.

I’ve got a simple comparison pic for you, showing the difference between using these options as is, or blending them. These were done on hot press watercolour paper.

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Faber Castell Gelatos have a creamy consistency, and give a wonderful watercolour effect when blended. I particularly love the cute lip balm style dispenser! And just a tip – the Gel Sticks & Gelatos are the same product, just different packaging & pricing.

Caran Dache Necolour II are to die for. They can be used as fun crayons, but are also water soluble, so when blended, give a great watercolour effect.

I am a big fan of oil pastels, for great blended backgrounds or fun pops of colour. I have no real preference when it comes to brands, but the Portfolio series is particularly good.

I hope you have fun playing around with these goodies, and I look forward to seeing your creations.

Happy arting!

Melita xo


AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journaling Basics & Beyond: Inks


Now that the silly season is behind us, I am back with another Art Journaling Basics & Beyond post. I am excited to share my favourite inks with you this week, so grab a coffee and settle in.

There are many options out there, but the most common, & readily available, are ink pads. You can find ink pads in every colour imaginable, making it easy to pick out your favourite colours to start with..unless you want them all, which is totally acceptable in my book hehehe When choosing your inks, it is important to keep in mind what you intend to use them for. Are you after a crisp, permanent image, or a soft, blended background?

Melita Bloomer - Art Journaling Basics & Beyond

If you are wanting your image to stay as is, and be quite permanent, great choices are the Archival and StazOn ranges. They give quite crisp images that, once dry, will be permanent, allowing you to keep building layers atop. For a softer look, or blended colour, you cannot go past the Tim Holtz range of Distress Inks.They react with water, allowing a multitude of fun effects. Since they are water reactive, they clearly are not permanent, so any wet mediums will make the inks move and blend.

Melita Bloomer - Art Journaling Basics & Beyond

My absolute favourite ink method is spray inks! If you haven’t yet tried them, stop what you’re doing right now and go shopping! They are incredibly versatile, and, well, just flat out fun. Use them with stencils, spray directly onto your page, use with a paint brush etc. As with ink pads, they are available in both permanent and water reactive versions, so be sure to choose what best suits your project. SEI Tumble Dye inks are permanent once dry, are available in many colours, and are my favourites. They are intended as fabric sprays, but I love them for all sorts of paper crafting also. Both the Adirondack and Dylusions sprays are water reactive, so they are wonderful for blending. Tim Holtz has recently released a set of sprays also, in the same colours as his ink pads, and while I’ve not yet had a chance to try them out, I hear nothing but good things.

Melita Bloomer - Art Journaling Basics & Beyond

These last beauties are also great additions to your stash of colour. Both the Liquitex and Bombay inks come with handy little droppers and are permanent when dry, making them incredibly versatile. They are great added to paints and gesso, and I love using the droppers as a pen of sorts, to write, draw, and add splashes of colour. The Tim Holtz Distress Stains come with a sponge top, allowing you to easily swipe colour across your page, creating backgrounds or even to use as a paintbrush of sorts. I have found that they are not as vibrant as the rest of the Distress range, but if you favour pastels and softer looks, then these would be a wonderful choice.

Before I go, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of all the 21 Secrets Spring Workshop coming up. i am delighted to have been asked to join this wonderful group of teachers, and it would make my day to have you join us! Click through the following link to learn all about it!

21 Secrets Spring Workshop 2015

21 SECRETS Spring

Until next time, happy arting!



AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journaling Basics & Beyond: Paint


Time for another Art Journaling Basics & Beyond post. This week I am excited to be talking about colour! There are so many options out there, but I am focusing on what I prefer for art journaling, so you wont see mention of oil paints and such today.

My go to for art journal colour is, without a doubt, acrylic paints. They are readily available, affordable, and fast drying, which helps reduce the chances of journal pages sticking together

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These Decoart Crafters Acrylics are my go to paints. There is a huge range of colours available, and at tiny prices, so I can be lazy and buy them all instead of having to mix my own lol They’re basic craft paints, nothing fancy, but for art journaling, they are great.

I also love the Studio Paints by Claudine Hellmuth – they are creamy little pots of fun. The line has been discontinued, but you will still find plenty around on Amazon, EBay etc..

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The top row here are Golden Fluid Acrylics. Most artists absolutely love these paints, especially for canvas work as opposed to journaling. To be honest, I haven’t used mine much, aside from the black lol I think I’m just a bit too precious about them since they are quite pricey. That said though, you definitely get what you pay for – they are so richly pigmented that a little goes a very long way. Well worth a splurge now and then!

Next we have Liquitex Basics. I bought a bunch of these on clearance at my local craft store, excited to play with them as I have seen many of my favourite artists use them. I have to say though, they’re not rocking my world. They’re fairly transparent, which I wasn’t expecting, and tend to avoid. You can work with that though, by adding a little gesso to the paint as you work. However, my biggest problem with these paints is the packaging design. The tubes leak and overflow all.the.time. It drives me absolutely batty!

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Ok, so here is where I contradict myself. In general, I would say to never ever EVER use heavy body paints in your journal. It is the fastest way to make your pages tacky and therefore stick to each other. I hate opening my journal and hearing that sticky sound of pages separating and ripping. The Dimension paints from Monte Marte above are a prime example of the paints to avoid. However, there is a fun new range available from Dina Wakley Mixed Media range that I love. Her paints provide lovely colour without that stickiness from traditional heavy body paints.

And of course, there are inks. Lots and lots of yummy inks to brighten up your art work….so come back next week & I will tell you all about my favourites! As with all of my AJBB posts, please keep in mind that this is all purely my opinions, my findings after playing with many many different options.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the 21 Secrets Spring 2015 Workshop. I am THRILLED to be part of the teaching team and would love for you to join us!


Until next time, happy arting!



AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journal Basics & Beyond–Mediums


I’m back with another Art Journaling Basics & Beyond post, and this week I’m focussing on mediums.

Now, I have to say, there is a plethora of mediums on the market to enhance your art journaling and mixed media projects, but this week we are focusing on the basics, and will go beyond that a little further down the line.  So, lets take a look at the products I use on a regular basis.


Gesso: My favourite gesso is Liquitex, the one with the blue label. I buy it in huge bottles, and decant it to a smaller one to make life easier. Its available in many colours, but the most commonly used is white, and I love the black option too. For those not sure what gesso is, its a surface preparation medium. You coat your surface (paper, canvas etc.) before painting, and it gives a great base to work on. Your paint will not only go on smoother, it will also spread further, meaning you use less paint. Its also great paint substitute, and awesome for cover ups!

Matte Medium: Not gonna lie, this stuff rocks my world. Seriously. I use Liquitex Matte Medium as a glue, a paint extender, to mattify (is that a word??) glossy surfaces, to extend acrylic paints, as a fixative over chalks & pastels, and as a finish/sealer over my finished pieces, to reduce gloss. I absolutely love this stuff and even request it for birthday presents lol

Gel Medium: I use just about any gel medium, haven’t found much difference between brands, but I have the Liquitex Matte Gel Medium pictured here. Primarily, I use gel mediums as a glue when adhering thicker items, be it onto a journal spread or canvas, and also use it to extend my paints when needed. It is also great for image transfers!

Modelling Paste: Again, there are many brands & types, but I prefer the Flexible Modelling Paste by Liquitex. It is great for adding texture and dimension to your pages. You can go freestyle with it, scraping or painting it on randomly, or you can apply it through stencils for a fab result. It does need extra drying time, so be sure to allow for that.

Other handy adhesives:
Ranger Glossy Accents: A seriously cool product. It makes a fantastic glue, adhering paper layers in seconds! It is also really fun to add a little extra dimension – trace it over a stamped image, text etc. and it will dry glossy and slightly raised.
Helmar Quickdry 450: Like the name says, this stuff dries fast, and holds well. It has a strong odour, but open a window and you will be fine.
Sakura Quickie Glue Pen: These is the same size and weight as a regular ball point, but has glue instead of ink. Really handing for sticking down tricky die cuts and such, and a great tool for on the go crafting.
Americana decoupage: A common product, though I must admit I don’t use it as much now that I have discovered matte medium. It is an affordable option, and readily available. It does leave a bit of a sheen, even the matte version, but if a little gloss doesn’t other you, then this is a great option.
Last but not least: A simple glue stick and double sided tape. I have no brand preference at all, i just use whatever I can get my hands on lol  I use the glue stick for just about everything, but keep the tape for layers that won’t have wet layers on top, as it can effect the strength of the hold.

Lots of info for you again today, and I hope it can shed a little light for you. Join me next week as we get down to the fun stuff – colour!

Until then, happy arting!



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!

AJ Basics & Beyond · Art Journal

Art Journal Basics & Beyond: Choosing the Right Journal


Hello lovelies! I’m back with the next instalment of my newest blog feature – Art Journal Basics & Beyond. This week we are taking a look at just a few of the many types of journals on the market.

Melita Bloomer - AJBB - Journals

Choosing an art journal is purely a matter of personal preference,  but I’m going to walk you through the options I’ve tried, and share my thoughts.

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My absolute favourite journals, are handmade. These two here are my Junque Journal & a watercolour journal made for me by my bff. There are some fabulous classes & tutorials out there for creating your own, but I highly recommend Sea Lemon on YouTube for awesome DIY book binding videos and Julie Fei-Fan Balzers Junque Journal class (check out this vid for a peek inside my Junque Journal).

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Coming in a close second, these Dylusions journals are UH-mazing. They come with a plain kraft cover, an envelope inside, and an elastic closure. The pages are a mix of manila & white cardstock, and really hold up well to lots of layers of painty goodness.

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Moleskines are a popular choice of journal for artists of all types, and as long as you choose the right option for you, you cant really go wrong. For mixed media style journaling, be sure to choose the Sketchbook or Watercolour options as they have the strongest pages that can hold up to lots of layers and wet mediums.

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Spiral notebooks are another great option. They are incredibly cost effective, and very easy to find, making them a great starter journal. However, they’re not my favourites. They papers are often quite thin, though you can work around that by gluing two together. What deterred me is the spiral binding – it creates such a visual break down the centre of the pages that it makes it difficult, for me anyway, to unite a double page spread.

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Lastly, I’m quite fond of hard cover books. The top journal here is one I picked up from my local art store, and it has quite thick pages, which I love. The Jane Austen book is simply a hard cover book picked up from a thrift store. The pages are fairly thin, so it is necessary to adhere two pages together. Books like this are great fun as the images and text within create great interest in for an art journal background.

So there you have it, just a tiny slice of the journal options out there. As I said earlier, it is purely a personal preference, so you will need to take the time to consider your art style, your budget, and of course availability.

I would love to hear what type of journal you prefer, and why, so be sure to drop me a line.

Happy arting!