How to Find Art Journal Supplies for Cheap

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Move over scrapbooking, there's a hot new craft in town, and her name is Art Journaling! An art journal can be just about anything, but it most often combines art  with some kind of writing inside the confines of a notebook. You just need something to make marks with, and something to make marks into, and you are well on your way to starting your first art journal.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to have an art journal, but many art journalers end up collecting various supplies to help them make their art journals interesting. I went shopping at the dollar store to see what kinds of tools I could find for art journaling. Less than $10 later, I have a pretty good collection of art journaling goodies.
Watch the video below to see my "shopping haul" of the items I bought at the dollar store for starting my art journal. After the video, I have also listed all the items I found, along with a description of how you would use them in your art journal.


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1. A Book to Use As Your Journal

To get started with an art journal, one of the truly necessary supplies you need is a journal! The good news is, just about any book will work.
If you can't find a good sketchbook that fits your budget (I recommend the ones with high quality, fairly sturdy paper), choose a composition book, a coloring book, or even an old paperback book. All of these items can be found at the dollar store (or on your bookshelf).
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2. Masking Tape

Masking tape is a standard supply that many art journalers keep in their kit. It can be used for many things, but it is especially handy for protecting areas of the pages that might need it.
Some art journalers swear by taping off the inside binding of every page, to keep their colorful (and messy) paints and inks from leaking through the art journal in places where they don't belong.
You can also use masking tape in many other ways, including to mask areas of the journal you don't want to paint (just remove the tape after you're done painting.)
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3. Gesso

Gesso is an opaque and matte paint that is used to cover canvases or prepare surfaces for being painted. Think of it as primer for your art journal.
If you use the masking tape technique described above to prepare the inner spine of your journal, you will want to paint gesso over the masking tape.
Gesso is the only item for art journaling that I did NOT pick up at the dollar store. I used a 40% off coupon at my local craft store to pick up this small bottle of gesso. It's not terribly cheap, but the good news is that a bottle of gesso should last you quite awhile, and you will use the same bottle for many art journals to come.
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4. Paint

Several types of paint are ideal for art journaling, but I picked up this small box of acrylic paint pots at the dollar store. Watercolor paints also work well in an art journal. Skip the oil paints, as they are harder to work with, have a longer drying time, and don't work as well with mixed media.
You can use paint to do all kinds of techniques, from stenciling, to smearing, to finger painting, to uh, regular painting.
Make sure you also have some paint brushes. I use a foam brush, a fine liner, a square edge, and a round tip paint brush.
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5. Watercolor pencils

I found these nifty watercolor pencils at the dollar store. How do they work? You color on the art journal page just like you would with regular colored pencils, but afterward, you can use a paintbrush and water to create watercolor effects with your drawing.
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6. Fine Tip Correction Pen

These are one of my favorite art journaling finds from the dollar store - and you get two for a buck! They are correction pens (like Wite-Out) that are shaped like a marker and have a fine tip.
Instead of using them to correct errors, I use them as a white paint marker, to create doodles, lines, or add any white accents to the art journal page.
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7. Black Roller Pen

For an art journal, you need some kind of pen to use for journaling, so I chose this black roller pen at the dollar store.
Many art journalers use micro tip pens for journaling. You will have to experiment with different pens to see which one is your favorite.
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8. Gel Pens

Obviously, I have a thing for pens! These gel pens work well on dark surfaces, so keep a few on hand in case you make some dark-colored art journal pages.
You can use gel pens to make doodles, drawings, write journal entries, add accents to photos or collages, or whatever else you can dream up.
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As you can see, there are many art journal supplies available at the dollar store to help you express yourself in your art journal! There are many other supplies that weren't made to be art or craft supplies that you can use to journal as well, but you'll just have to experiment to figure that out.
The most important step in art journaling is to just get started, no matter what supplies you have. Get a book, and start journaling!
In my next article, I explain how to turn a regular book from the dollar store into an art journal that is ready to receive your work, and then I'll show you how to get started with your first art journal page.

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