Basic Tools for Watercolor Journaling

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Want to try your hand at watercolor journaling? It’s about time you do! Making sketches in your own journal and writing down your thoughts and observations are a great way to unwind and to induce relaxation. Many art enthusiasts claim that keeping a visual diary, like a watercolor sketchbook, has helped them deal with stress and open their lives to happy possibilities (perhaps your own Etsy shop? Why not!).

It’s helpful to know that the most basic art supplies for watercolor sketching are now available at many stores and come with a wide variety of brands. There’s always one suited to your needs and budget, so you don’t have to feel guilty about spending so much. The good news is, watercolor sketching does not need a lot of supplies. Once you’ve made the right purchases, you should be ready to sketch your heart away.

Here are the tools you need to have to start your own watercolor journal:

1) Watercolor Sketchbook – A good sketchbook with acid-free watercolor paper makes a perfect journal. Do not disappoint yourself with sketchbooks that warp easily after you do your initial wash. A journal with at least 200 GSM of watercolor paper is suitable for your watercolor sketches. My personal favorite is the Moleskine Watercolor Album. It lays flat, absorbs watercolor really well, and has an elastic band. I just love it! Other popular brands are Strathmore, Stillman & Birn, and Pentalic. It would help to read online reviews before making a purchase.

2) Drawing Pencils – You can make do with the good old school pencil for sketching. I use a No. 2, a B or an HB pencil for many of my initial sketches. Nevertheless, the known brands of drawing pencils are not without merit. They usually have sturdier graphite and glide more smoothly on paper. My personal favorites are Staedtler and Palomino Blackwing. I also turn to my ever reliable mechanical pencils when I know I won’t have time to sharpen my pencils every so often. I adore my PaperMate Tikky (by Rotring) mechanical pencils in 1.0 and 0.7 lead points for sketching.

3) Drawing Pens – I recommend disposable or refillable drawing pens that are permanent, lightfast and archival. This ensures that your drawings and writings will not fade too soon. (Oh, no! You wouldn’t want that!) Drawing pens come in different points, from .005 to .08. I normally use 0.1 and 0.2 for sketching or lining. I use the bigger points for hand-lettering. My preferred brands are Uni Pin and Sakura Pigma Micron.

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4) Watercolor Paints – Watercolors come in tubes and pan sets. I recommend any quality studio-grade brand with good saturation and vibrant pigments. I started with Prang watercolors back in high school. I later discovered the yumminess of Sakura Koi Field Sketchbox and other good student-grade brands like Van Gogh and Winsor & Newton Cotman. I have my artist-grade paints as well, but I use them mostly for commissioned artworks.

There you have it – just 4 basic tools! If you have any questions or would like to make additional recommendations or pop-up reviews, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

© Connie Vivero-Luayon

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