Yes! I am new to art journaling and this guide really helped me. Now I'm inspired to make some art journal love gifts for my friends for Christmas!

The Art Journaling Gift Guide

Whether you’re looking for ideas for a birthday, Christmas, or just a fun gift for yourself, you’ll find something you’ll love in this art journaling gift guide. Art journal and happy journal supplies are the best!

Keeping an art journal is a great way to express your creativity and de-stress. It’s also a great activity to enjoy with friends over a crafternoon. Since the “barrier to entry” is extremely low (can you glue, blop paint onto a page, write letters?) . . . pretty much anyone can start an art journal.

To make this gift guide easier to read, I’ve created two main sections: one for a more “traditional” art journal and one for a happy journal. Within those sections, I’ve created categories so if you’re looking for pens specifically, just scroll down to that category.

Quick side note: “Happy journaling” is my term for a glorified gratitude journal. Rather than writing a list of the things you’re grateful for, you draw them out. Stick figures are totally welcome—it is sooo much fun!

Yes! I am new to art journaling and this guide really helped me. Now I'm inspired to make some art journal love gifts for my friends for Christmas!

Art Journaling Gift Guide


Jane Davenport 5×7 art journalThis journal has watercolor paper, making it perfect for all sorts of mixed media explorations. I love making full spreads of color and image in this art journal. It lies flat so you can paint both pages for a continuous look. (Unlike other journals which are bound with rings.)

Jane Davenport 9×12 canvas art journal
I bought this journal because I wanted to work on creating images that are bigger than a postage stamp. 😉 It also has watercolor paper that is textured on one side and smooth on the other. (Cold and hot pressed paper for those who know the actual terms.) I have used ink, acrylics, collaged papers, etc. in this journal and LOVE it. The cover is plain canvas—ready for you to paint, collage, or whatever-you-like!

Canson Mixed Media journal (any size)—This has been my go-to art journal for many years. I like the smooth, heavy weight paper. It is not watercolor paper so it does buckle a little bit. I think this adds personality to my journal. I literally have shelves of these journals at home!


Sharpie Fine LineGreat for detail work and for writing over mixed media. One of the issues when working in various medias is that some pens will not write over them. And some medias (like pastels/oil crayons) clog pens up. Though the Sharpie does not glide over ALL things, it does a good job in getting over most of them! I love drawing in beautiful details with this pen. AND they’re waterproof, which is a must in mixed media.

White pen for highlights and eyesI have tried pretty much every white “paint” pen out there to get the beautiful highlights you need for eyes and lips. Most white pens fall way short of the mark. Even if they work great on dark paper, when they’re up against mixed media, they become dull and see-through. The only pen I use now is the Uni Posca Extra Fine Tip. Oh my goodness, I hope they don’t ever stop making these! I buy several at a time because I use them so much.

Paint pens—These paint pens are my everything. The pink and turquoise are bright and go on like paint. The white and cream are lighter, and you can build up the color. When I’m lazy, I use the cream color as a skin tone. It will lay down color right over acrylic, dried matte medium, you name it. They’re great for adding pops of color, quotes, and final details too.

Colored pencils

Prismacolor Pencils—These colored pencils are so smooth and lovely to use. You can use them for coloring, shading, and blending, but I use them most in my art journals for laying down the initial sketch of what I’m going to draw. The light purples and violets are great for shadows too!


Acrylics—In my experience with art journaling, any acrylic will do. This paint dries as a plastic surface—smooth enough to write on and add embellishments. I do like how Jane Davenport’s set of acrylics comes in specific colorways that you might need. The skin tone set is my favorite, AND it comes with a handy face stencil.


Golden Gesso—I’ve been using this gesso for many years, and it does it’s job well. For art journaling, I use gesso to block out areas that are white or lighter colored (you can blend gesso with other paint.) I also like drawing with the lipstick-like Faber Castell Gelatos and adding a drop of gesso to make them into a creamy paint. It makes for a creamy, delicious color!

Oh my goodness! Look at this ink swatches! They are so beautiful and perfect for my art journal. #artjournaling #janedavenport


INKredible Ink—My new favorite art supply is most definitely ink. This particular line of inks is also scented, so your art journal will smell delicious! I use ink in a variety of ways. They are more vibrant than watercolors, but move along the paper in similar ways.

You can water them down and spray them out of a small spray bottle. You can draw with them directly out of the bottle using the eye dropper that is included. You seriously won’t believe the vibrance of these colors. I was floored the first time I used them and immediately had to make the swatch you see pictured above.


Watercolors in your art journal add a different look. Use them to spread a wash across the page or to color skin tones or hair. Experiment with doing an entire page with various watercolors.

I use a variety of watercolors but keep on coming back to my Pelikan set. They are so beautiful and economical too.

For on-the-go watercolors, I LOVE Peerless watercolors. They are small papers that you cut into squares and affix to a piece of card stock. These are gorgeous!!!

Brushes, Spray Bottles, Etc.

Small spray bottles—Add ink and water to a small spray bottle and carefully spray onto your journal surface. Let dry as is or stand your journal up to let the color drip down. Lovely!

Stencils—If you don’t want to spend time drawing, stencils or stamps are a great way to get a face shape or pattern down in seconds.

Napkins and tissue paper—Never underestimate the power of napkins! Peel off the back, and use gel medium to adhere it to your journal. The white part will disappear leaving only the design behind. Oohlala!

Brushes—Confession. When it comes to my art journal, I use whatever brush I have on hand. My general rule is use the nice brushes for watercolors and the cheap brushes for acrylics. This mega set of brushes will last you a while.

Free ideas—Use an old credit card to scrape paint or make marks, dab paint with a cotton swab, use your fingers, paint with found objects or use them to draw. I’ve been known to dip veggie ends in paint because they make great stamps!

Gel Medium

Liquitex—Go ahead and get the 8 oz jar of gel medium. You’re going to be using it for everything. Unlike glue and other sticky adhesives, gel medium dries matte and smooth. I lived in denial for a long time and used glue to my own detriment. Pages sticking together is the saddest thing ever.

Gift Ideas

Now it’s time to put everything together for the perfect gift! Bundle a blank journal, a waterproof pen, a white paint pen, and set of acrylics together, and you’re set. If the recipient for this gift is completely new to art journaling, I highly recommend Jane Davenport’s books, Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces and Fabulous Figures.

I know I’ve mentioned many of her products in this post, and it’s because I own and love them. I don’t have ALL the art supplies in the world, but the ones I do buy get a lot of love and use. 🙂


Happy Journaling Gift Guide

Happy Journal, Happy Life, the book (and journal)

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, a happy journal is a glorified gratitude journal. Instead of listing all the things you’re grateful for in your life, you draw them. You can read my book about how happy journaling started way back when for me. (The bonus in this book is a blank journal at the end so you can start your own happy journal right away!)

This sunshine journal is so cute!


I’ve also designed several blank journals that you can use for your happy journal.

Click here for the Happy Sun journal. (Be sure to choose “unlined.”)

And here for the My Favorite Things journal. (Be sure to choose “unlined.”)


I love using fine tip gel pens for my happy journals. Lately, I’ve been using the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica 0.3 MM pen and LOVE IT. If I know I’m going to paint the images later with watercolors or watercolor pencils, I use a Micron pen since they are completely waterproof.

Watercolor pencils

Often in my happy journals, I’ll add pops of color with watercolor pencils. I’ve used Staedtler watercolors since the beginning (::cough, cough:: 20 years ago.)

I go back later with my tiny portable watercolor brush and add a touch of water for those colors to come alive.

Take a retreat from the comfort of your own home! Learn how to make three happy journal (gratitude journal) pages with supplies you probably already have on hand! Includes workbook for pre-retreat prep, three tutorial videos, welcome video, and mini happy journal printable.

Happy Journal virtual retreat

The Happy Journal Virtual Retreat is now available year-round. It includes videos and materials that will allow you to retreat for the morning and make three different pages in your journal. You will have time to reflect, make art, and come away refreshed and encouraged!

Important note for frugalistas:

If you shop a lot online (like I do), then remember to use your Ebates account so you can get cash back on many of the products listed in this gift guide. Don’t have an Ebates account? Get $10 when you use my referral link.

More Art Journal articles:

How to Start an Art Journal

Fun Ways to Fill the Blank Page—Making Backgrounds

Facing the Blank Page—What to Do in a New Art Journal

How to Take an Art-Journaling Retreat

Have a lovely {and creative} day!





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