The Art Journaling Habit: First Steps

Once I’d stumbled upon the idea of keeping an art journal on the Trumpetvine Travels, I immediately began gathering the supplies I’d need to recreate the system that Martha had outlined as her favorite.  While I enjoy a bit of creativity, when I find an existing system that I like, that also seems to be perfect for someone else, I like to start there.  Trying to reinvent the wheel to start a habit that I’ve never even attempted just seems too overwhelming!

Just in case you are interested in starting up an art journal, and feel the same way about reinventing the wheel, here’s how I started up:

Journal Making

The easiest way to start an art journal is to go to your favorite craft store (think Michaels or Hobby Lobby), and buy a blank notebook filled with watercolor paper.  First step is done!

Ironically, that is not at all what I did…

I was taken in by Martha’s step by step tutorial on how to make your own custom sketchbook, and found myself learning to how to Coptic stitch a book block before ever putting pen to paper!  Over the years I’ve made several of these little black books, but I’ve also gone off the beaten path with bought books and smaller Coptic stitched books.  I’ve found that the original version is the best for me, and that my best journals (the ones I actually finished!) were always the original style.  It’s worth the work to me, but I could see it as being a stumbling block to others, so you’ve been warned!


Another “aha moment” that came as a result of reading the Trumpetvine Travels blog was my discovery of the waterbrush and a travel watercolor palette.  The waterbrush is simply a paint brush that stores water in its body, so there’s no need to find a cup of water when you want to stop and paint on the go!  You can just pull out your waterbrush and treat it like a pen…if you have watercolors with you of course…  Which brings me to the watercolor travel palette!

If you visit your local craft store, you will most likely be able to find a watercolor travel palette like this:

That’s the easiest way to get started, but if you tend to enjoy DIY projects (like this blogger), you might want to consider making your own travel palette.  The tutorial that inspired my personal palette can be found at:   Although, you can find many more options online these days.

I ended up using a Whitman’s Chocolate tin that I had on hand,  with some white enamel paint and plastic paint pots that I just cut apart and Velcro-ed into the tin.  The lovely thing about watercolors is that once they dry, they keep to themselves until re-activated by water, so perfect for mess-less travel.  Awesome.  I just tuck a piece of paper towel into the top of my tin, and I’m ready to go.

Other handy supplies would be a pencil, a good eraser, and a waterproof ink pen.  That’s it!  You are now ready to go out and start art journaling.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Art Journaling series!


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