h1

Be Bold And Decorate Your Journal Pages

03/03/2022

From time to time, the subject of decorating journal pages with washi tape, stamps and watercolor doodles has come up. There are tons of watercolor sets from which to choose, but frankly many come with weak colors and cheap brushes. You deserve better. So after much research, a few sets have emerged that are better than the inexpensive sets that are marketed for children. The cost is a little higher, but worth the investment.

In the world of watercolor, there are three tools: paper, brushes and paint. For those who have a serious interest in learning to use watercolors, professional level tools are the way to go even as a beginner. For those who only have interest in decorating journal pages, correspondence, and making small paintings that will never get hung, saturated colors and decent brushes will do. They will also cost less than professional level products.

Mixing colors to create new ones is a fascinating aspect of painting, but especially in the beginning, it is easier to use paint straight. To do that, a wide selection of colors is needed. After significant research, a few sets emerged as worthy of mention though brands like Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton, Schmincke, Sennelier, QoR, Mission Gold, DaVinci, and M. Graham always deliver high quality. Just like ink, the characteristics are different, but the paint is consistently excellent.

There are tons of cheap, student paint sets that I would not recommend. However, I discovered two sets that cost $20-25 and have enough color variety to keep anyone happy for quite some time. There is a video for an Artistro kit that applies to any set so start there. The company is a small, family owned enterprise that has put together an aesthetic kit containing all of the basic tools.

MeiLiang is the second set that offers good quality at the price point. It is the student grade set from Paul Rubens, a watercolor supplier that some artists recommend. I have no experience with the company, but there have been lots of good reviews. This kit only comes with a water brush so you might want to purchase a synthetic brush for more versatility.

Note that quality brushes can be purchased for less than $20 and I do recommend buying the best that you can manage even if it is only one brush. Especially for doodling in a journal, a single brush is all that is needed. More would be great, but one will do. A size #8 is the most commonly recommended, but a #6 will work well in a typical book-sized journal. A #2 is tiny and will produce thin lines and fine details.

Go for a short handle. Brushes come in a wide variety of synthetic and several natural hair bristles. Synthetics have improved so much in the last decade that recommending them is easy. Some are quite soft, but a firmer brush is a little easier to control. Be gentle with the tip of the brush and it will last a long time. Angle the brush to the side rather than loading paint from the tip and rinse well in lukewarm water before storing. Place a brush on its side to dry to prevent water seeping under the metal and loosening the glue that holds the bristles in place. Once dry a brush can be stored at any angle. Put a drop of water on each pan of paint or lightly spray with water to soften and to encourage the most saturated color. Well cared for brushes can last decades. Abused ones may only last months.

A travel brushs come with a cap that protects the bristles. It costs a little more, but can be just the thing for someone who likes to go out and about with a journal. This type of brush is by no means necessary but it is an option to consider.

Just as there is fountain pen friendly paper, there is paper that will work well for doodling with watercolors. Buckling is the biggest problem and can be minimized by limiting the amount of water on the brush. Tapping or holding the side of the bristles against a piece of scrap paper or a paper towel will remove some of the fluid. In my experience, paper that works well with ink will often work fine with small amounts of watercolor.

Below are some recommendations for watercolor sets and synthetic brushes with links to Amazon. The first two watercolor sets are hard to find elsewhere, but for journaling they have all the paint you will need. The recommended brushes might be available at your local art store. Just don’t buy into the idea that you have to “mix your own colors” rule. It isn’t a rule and isn’t necessary unless you are serious about becoming a watercolorist. Otherwise, just grab some paint, a brush, a cup of water, and have fun in your journal.

Being creative is a great defense against the turmoil of the outside world and unless you flash your journal for all to see, this activity can be just between us. And I promise to keep your secret.

Watercolor Sets

  1. Artistro
  2. MeiLiang
  3. Sennelier
  4. Paul Rubens
  5. White Nights

Brushes

  1. Princeton Aqua Elite, Series 4850, Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor Paint Brush,Travel Round, 8
  2. Princeton Artist Brush, Neptune Series 4750, Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Paint Brush, Travel Round, Size 6
  3. Princeton Aqua Elite, Series 4850, Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor Paint Brush,Round, 6
  4. Princeton Aqua Elite, Series 4850, Synthetic Kolinsky Watercolor Paint Brush,Round, 8
  5. Princeton Artist Brush, Neptune Series 4750, Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Paint Brush, Round, Size 8
  6. Princeton Artist Brush, Neptune Series 4750, Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Paint Brush, Round, Size 6
  7. Princeton Artist Brush, Neptune Series 4750, Synthetic Squirrel Watercolor Paint Brush, Round, Size 2

Lastly, I have watercolor sets from Schmincke, Rembrandt, and White Nights to sell. Send an email to inkophile@gmail.com if you are interested.

Washi tape

6 comments

  1. Great advice. I have only ever Journal written but have been thinking of expanding into other artistic forms. Started thinking of my themed journals and the ones for aromatherapy, gardening would be nice enhanced with small water colour inclusions. Just bought a charity/thrift shop find of W.M. Hawley’s ‘Chinese Folk Designs’ too which has a back pages supplement of Oriental Culture Art by Francess Hawley Seyssel which is great practice for simple art designs. I’m no artist and it would be great to give it a go. Thank you for pinpointing the decent choices. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person


    • My pleasure. I love to enable and to encourage others to explore different ways to be creative. There are many motifs in Chinese art that would lend themselves well to decorating a journal. Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. Just make it enjoyable. It’s an excellent antidote to trouble in life of all sorts.

      Liked by 1 person


      • I used to be a staff nurse until mid last year when I retired. Currently looking at Journal Writing for Mental Health and Well Being. Complementary therapy in various long term chronic health conditions has been my focus for a number of years. Very much in my interests now. Wrote a few blogs alluding to research into the benefits of journal writing as a worthwhile Complementary Therapy. It’s valuable in it’s calming and reflective qualities. I find it helps, especially after what we have all experienced over the last two years. So your advice here on expansions into other artistic choice is really great. Cheers. All the best.

        Liked by 1 person


        • In my opinion, we are all creatives. We just need to find the right medium or two or three. No limits.

          Liked by 1 person


  2. Yes. It’s been nice to now have more time to look at others’ creativities here on WordPress. Good fortune. 👍

    Liked by 1 person


  3. […] Be Bold And Decorate Your Journal Pages | An Inkophile’s Blog […]

    Like



Join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: