Journals: What’s Your Poison?
You might be wondering: What kind of journal do you need for this class?
That, my friend, is entirely up to you! Some people like sewn journals so that the pages stay secure no matter what; others prefer wire-bound journals so that they can easily ditch a page they don’t like. Some people even prefer to work on unbound pages and bind them all together into book form after they’ve amassed a pile. Some people like to alter old books; some people love composition notebooks. Some people even save up their junk mail to create their own books.
So the short answer is that there’s no answer! You should work in whatever journal you feel comfortable using!
Maybe you are new and have no idea what journal you’ll like? In that case, I recommend going for a cheap option. Not because I think you’ll be making low-quality art, because that is not the case at all, but because I find that working in a cheap journal can help you get past the “oh crap I don’t want to mess this up!” feeling pretty quickly! Imagine having a beautiful leather-bound journal that cost a small fortune. The pages are luxe to the touch, the leather smells divine, and you haven’t put pen to paper because you are terrified of ruining it. Now imagine having a journal that you picked up for a couple of bucks at the local five-and-dime. Who cares if you mess up a page? You can always go get another journal later; but you might as well keep working in this one for now. Get what I’m saying?
You can literally use any thing you want, paper-wise, for art journaling, but… depending on what techniques you use, you’ll want to prepare the pages in different ways. Wet stuff will wrinkle light-weight pages like the lined notebook pages in an el cheap-o composition book. Does this mean you can’t use wet stuff? Absolutely not! Gesso will be your friend. Slap a coat of gesso over the page, let it dry, and it will be better prepared to handle lightly wet treatments. Want to really soak the page? Well, you can tape a few pages together to build up a thicker layer before applying the gesso. Another trick that totally works, though might ruin your iron, is to iron the pages flat after you paint them. So… let the pages get wrinkly with paint or whatever wet treatment you apply, then iron the pages flat again. This works best with watercolor paint, but will work with anything as long as you a) use something over the page to prevent it from sticking to the iron & b) work quickly to prevent burning. I use a teflon craft sheet between my iron and my page whenever I do this. It works great. You can also put something heavy, like a giant 1950s dictionary, on the journal to press the pages flat before doing other techniques.
Dry media will work on just about everything, though some markers aren’t going to work over glossy surfaces like magazine pages. Experiment wilding to figure out what does work, or apply a coat of clear gesso to transform that glossy surface that resists everything into a new workable surface. (You can also sand glossy surfaces to help them hold paint markers or whatever else you are using.)
Still, I do have some preferences. One journal that I really like using is the Canson Mixed Media journal. It has 98 lb paper and the one I’m using is 7 x 10 inches. I think these come in other sizes. My journal cost about $7.50.
I also like the Strathmore Visual Journal with Mixed Media paper. These come in smaller sizes, which is nice if you want to keep it little. I think mine is 5 x 7 inches, but don’t quote me on that.
For my all purpose everyday journal, I make a hardbound journal using Fabriano Hot Press watercolor paper. I love this paper. It holds up to everything I do to it and it has a lovely smooth surface. Bumpy watercolor paper sometimes bugs me for writing purposes, so the smooth surface is a great plus. My preferred working size is 8 x 10, though I’ve been pushing my boundaries in that regard lately! Each journal costs about $20 to make, but usually lasts me for 3 – 6 months.
My newest journal is a moleksine journal with watercolor paper, and I love it. I’ve been making watercolor paintings every night while I’m sitting in the bedroom watching television. At first, I was worried I’d mess up the pages (as I described above!) but then I decided that I didn’t care, I’d just work in it and if I messed up, oh well. It’s a new size for me as well, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.
So what journals do you prefer?