By Guest Writer Kirsti Johanson

Welcome to our second installment on Watercolor Journaling! You can read the first installment HERE.

Adding sketches to your journal really involves nothing special – all you really need is paper and something to write with.  However, as a girl who loves stationery, very little is as exciting as a fresh set of art supplies or a brand new pencil (except maybe some new swag for camping!)

All ready to paint!

Watercolors come in two main forms: tubes and pans/cakes.  I tend to prefer the pans, but mostly because I find them more portable.  I also have a set of tubes of paint, and I use these to fill a palette that fits in my pocket.  Regardless of which type you choose, water is what activates these paints, and the color will change based on the amount of water used.  We’ll talk more about that in the final installment, so let’s focus on watercolor journaling materials for now.


You’ll need a few key things:

  • Paints
  • Brush + water
  • Paper


For your basic setup, choose a set of paints that covers the main primary colors and a few complimentary colors. I use Schpirrer Farben or Cotman by Windsor and Newton, but another great option is this set (Sakura Koi field sketch kit).  The reason I like the Sakura kit is because it comes with a blotting sponge and water pen in the case! Less to carry, ready to go.

Brush + Water:

There are quite a few ways to handle this. I have a jar of brushes on my art table at home and use a large jar of water for rinsing and to activate the paint. But when I’m on the go, I like to use a smaller kit of watercolors and a water brush pen so I don’t need to fuss with a jar of water and several brushes.  My field sketching kit is pocket sized and lets me capture the moment in the moment.  Sometimes these watercolors look nothing like what I’m seeing, but they sure are fun to make!

Paper is important.

In addition to your brush and water, it is a good idea to keep a few tissues or paper towels or a rag handy for blotting and drying your paint brush.  This is sort of a “bonus supply.”


Watercolor paper can be affordable or wildly expensive, depending on where you get it.  The important thing to remember is that copy paper is not going to work well for you and may lead to frustration.  I generally use pretty inexpensive papers, but they are created in a way that allows the paper to soak up some of the water and the paint gets a good “grip” without warping the paper.  One of my favorite standards is this mixed media sketchbook (Small).

In our final watercolor journaling installment, we’ll get out the supplies and play!  Gather your goodies, and fill your water jars!

Connect with our chapter!

Theresa “Resa” Leppert

Guide Manager

Guide, Iowa & Wisconsin


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