The Art Journal Starter Kit

The Art Journal Starter Kit, art journaling supplies, starter kit for art journaling

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Having a portable art kit is one of the keys to weaving more art into your life. When you have a tiny art studio you can take with you, the art process is always ongoing. All you need is a small journal, some paint, a few pens, and maybe one or two collage items and you are ready. I’d like to help you put together your art journal starter kit if you haven’t already.

Art journal starter kit, portable art kit supplies

I really treasure “stolen art moments.” On a day I’m feeling stressed, even 10 minutes of art and creative self-care makes my day more special and meaningful. Like this morning, I was “supposed to” start this blog post, but one of my journal spreads was staring back at me, begging me to add some details. As I drew, I could feel my shoulders drop, and my mind relax. Ten minutes later I was ready to write. Sometimes, though, I’ll go outside and get a real change of scenery, like in this picture. Sometimes I draw during my lunch break, or take my portable art kit along with me on a hike. When I’m outside I feel I can breathe again, and it really stimulates my creativity.

Sometimes people tell me that they feel too shy to draw in public, but I always think, what would my 90 year-old self tell me to do? Would she say my art is not “good enough” to make art in public? Or would she tell me to indulge all of my artistic whims while I can? Would she urge me to revel in every paint stroke? Every drawing? Would she instruct me to listen less to the critic and more to the muse? I listen to my old lady self, and create wherever the heck I want. What are we waiting for, anyway? Somebody might not like your art. So what? They also might not like your shirt, either. That’s their problem, not yours. This is more clever excuse-making by the critic. Let’s throw caution to the wind and be the wild, creative women our elder selves will wish we had been.

Places to Use Your Art Journal Starter Kit

Let’s think about some places where you can use your art journal starter kit. Here’s some of the ways I use mine:

  • Every time I go away – whether just for the day, a weekend, or a week
  • Long car rides when I’m the passenger
  • On the plane and in the airport
  • Doctor’s offices and any waiting room where I might be stuck for a while
  • Any time I have to wait more than 10 minutes in the car
  • At work – If I need a mental break, journaling helps me clear my mind
  • Outdoors: on hikes, at the beach, at the park
  • Friend’s houses for dinner – once in a while I’ll create together with a friend
  • The local coffee house – This is a wonderful artist’s date: A coffee, baked good, and my journal – heaven!
  • All day conferences – I listen better while I create sometimes
  • What am I missing? Where do you take yours?

What to Draw and Paint with Your Art Journal Starter Kit

Even with this more “minimalist” list of art journaling supplies, there is A LOT you can do. Check out the ideas in these posts:

Supplies I recommend for a Art Journal Starter Kit

Art Journal Starter Kit, art journaling supplies

  • Moleskine accordion fold journal – Moleskine journals are very high quality. These pages are tough and stand up to anything I’ve done to them – cutting, painting, sewing, you name it.
  • Micron pens – Microns don’t pool and they write smoothly. They are my favorite black pen.
  • Sakura Gelly Roll pens – If you haven’t realized my obsession with gel pens by now, you will! I love making dots and repetitive shapes on my paintings with these colorful pens.
  • Mini acrylic set – These tiny paint tubes are ideal for a portable art kit.
  • Koi water brush – Having the water in the brush is genius.
  • Glue – When I’m on the go, I like this craft glue, it dries fast and holds well.
  • Blue Q plastic zipper pouch – I use these pouches for my art kits and my makeup, and I buy them for others every chance I get.
  • Magazine clippings
  • Cut up bits of old art pieces – See how I’ve cut them in the center picture above? Isn’t that fun? You’ll be amazed at how much “good” work is hiding in the art you thought you did not care for.
  • Optional: Small gesso tube to create smoky look with the watercolors or help acrylic pages to not stick together by using it as white. This bottle is pretty heavy, so if you are toting it around, I’d suggest buying a small travel shampoo tube and putting some in there.

What’s in your portable art kit? Tell us about it. Also, would an Art Journal Starter Kit be the perfect gift for your mom, dad, or grad? What about a Mindful Art Studio gift certificate?

Creatively Yours,


[bctt tweet=” I listen to my old lady self, and create wherever the heck I want. #artjournals” username=”amymaricle”]

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, if you choose to click and purchase something, you’ll be supporting the work of Mindful Art Studio to empower the artist in everyone.


  1. Eileen Larsen

    Amy, a most inspiring post!
    But I honestly thought you were offering a beginning and/or travel kit!
    Have you thought about that??
    Seriously, if I could afford it, I would buy it. I would be tickled pink to receive a beginners kit, even as an “advanced beginner’!!
    Hmmmm…food for thought!
    Love ALL you do, and celebrate *your* journey even as you assist me and SO many others on ours♡♡♡

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Eileen:

      You are the sweetest! Have I told you how much I enjoy having you as a part of this community? It IS a great idea to sell a ready made kit with everything set to go – but that’s an entirely different business model than mine. I think for the moment I’ll be sticking to inspirational guide. 🙂

      I’m thrilled that this post hit the mark for you. Thanks for all YOU share.
      Creatively Yours,

  2. Shanta Devi

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for the great post! I take my art journal with me everywhere. To add to your great location suggestions: I also art journal at the beach, the park, and on public transportation (bus, train).

    I take along with me similar items that you suggested. I take a compact watercolor set (Prima Marketing “Classics” or Sakura Koi), paper towel or napkin, a few water brushes, masking tape (stickier and holds better than most of my washi tapes), small bottle of Elmer’s glue, a Ziplock baggy of collage ephemera, a small set of black Stadtler pigment liner pens, a small pencil pouch with a mix of colorful pens (Sharpies, felt-tip markers, ballpoint), and some watercolor pencils (Staedtler Ergosoft).


    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Shanta:

      I’m so glad you added to the list here! It’s so fun to hear what others have in their art pouches. And I love the idea of you creating on the way to work.

      All the best,


  3. Faigie

    I don’t go too many places 😜So haven’t had much of a chance to use a traveling kit, but I’m way too self conscious to draw in public. Expectations are too high & I don’t do well with high expectations.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Faigie:

      I think knowing what works for you and doesn’t is so important. It may be that you have no desire to create in public and if that’s the case, I think it’s important to honor that. If however, there’s a little part of you that would love to be able to sit down on a park bench, in a cafe, or on the train and create in your journal, I wonder what it would be like if you gave yourself permission to do something very short and simple one day, just to see what it would be like? Perhaps ask the critic to take a back seat for a few minutes?

      Either way, I wish you happy creating!

      • Faigie

        You know, I actually do wish I maybe I’ll challenge myself that way..not to be self conscious when creating in public.Thanks

  4. crystal

    This is all going to help me in a very difficult time of life, but this will make it better!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Crystal: I’m so sorry it’s been a hard time. I know in my life my art journal has been a real friend when things are hard, especially if I give myself permission to just let it all hang out there. Everything belongs. There is no right or wrong kind of page. The journal accepts it all. XO Amy


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