Won’t: Glue Together Large, Thin Novelty Papers from off a Roll to Make Larger Pages. Paintable wall paper — all those yards, at that width, and for that price but it creased, scrunched up, and dented too easy with handling as is. So, I’d thought I’d do what I saw art journal artists do — glue paper together with gloss medium, squeeze the air bubbles out and, viola, you have a thicker, sturdier page. I thought I’d glue pages 14.5″ wide and make an art journal. It curled up like a wild beastie, gloss medium got on the wrong side, it didn’t want to fold nicely at all, and the whole experience ended after two attempts. Poo. Also, it used up way too much gloss medium, making it financially prohibitive — a bad bargain. It’s better to get the right kind of paper in the first place!
Won’t: Search for Old Books that Were Stitched together to Turn Into Art Journals If you’ve used up an entire gallon of gesso on preparing the pages of only two larger art journals, it makes you think twice about having to doctor up old, thinner book paper pages by gluing them together with even more expensive acrylic gel mediums and then also apply a coat or two of gesso. You might as well buy high quality journals for the cost unless if you’re into upcycling and and want to use up some old gesso or house paint or something. Me, life is too short. To each their own.
Won’t: Buy That Gloss Medium at Walmart. It’s about 4 US dollars at the moment, but Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic Gloss Gel Medium is very inferior to Liquitex, Golden, and other artist grade acrylic mediums. Just no.
Favorite Papers for Art Journal Making/Prepping
- Canson XL Mix Media — I gesso it right across the perforations if I got it in wire-spiral pad already. The paper buckles a bit but after the pages are dry, I place the journal on a flat surface and then put heavy books and boards on top of it and it flattens satisfactorily. I give the journals cloth covers that make the covers sturdier and that cover up the wire binding. I’ve also gessoed and painted on single sheets of it, like this.
- Canson Canva-Paper — Ooo-la-la and oh my gosh! This is top notch stuff and has the best canvas texture of allllll the canvas art papers I’ve been feeling up testing for 5 years now. It’s bleedproof too! Now I just have to actually do completed works and art journal in earnest, but I’m familiar with the papers — I’ve read about them, watched hours of videos tested them.
- Bee Paper Company Professional Series Heavyweight Drawing Paper Super Deluxe — It takes wet media too and barely buckles (less than Canson XL Mixed Media Paper does). For 93 lb. paper, this is great stuff.
- Strathmore Acrylic Paper 400 Series — Very sturdy, doesn’t buckle, it’s great stuff and has a pleasing canvas texture
- Canson XL Acrylic — It’s not Canva-paper but it’s pretty good. I could lay down multiple layers and rework areas on this paper. Still, it’s not of the same quality as Canva-paper or Strathmore’s Acrylic Paper 400 Series.
- Strathmore Mixed Media 400 Series — Doesn’t tend to buckle, pill, etc. and can take a lot of layers and reworking
- Fabriano Artistico Soft Press Watercolor Paper 140 lb. — It’s inbetween cold press and hot press. Great for pen, ink, acrylics and pencils too.
I don’t like Canson’s Montval Acrylic Paper. If you try to work it at all, it pills right away. I suppose it might be okay if you geso it first, but the paper turns me off. I originally got it because it’s heavier paper. The worst watercolor paper I’ve run across, so far, is Hobby Lobby’s Master’s Touch Watercolor Paper. It’s their house brand, I think. The 140 lb. weight makes it sound like a good candidate for watercolor and mixed media, but no. It has linear ridges on one side and what do you think wet mediums do? Run down the channels of the paper. You might as well try to paint on finely ridged corrugated cardboard. The stuff is garbage and doesn’t take much treatment before its other issues come up. Yech. Maybe it’s okay for little kids or people who will deal with a very limited paper. I don’t want it.
Will: Make My Own Art Journals with Paper Signatures or Canvas boards
Will: Prepare Canson XL Mixed Media Journals with Two Coats of Gesso
Talking More About How I’ve Been Gessoing the Art Journal Pages
I got the gesso for something like $14 or $17 a gallon a while back (used a coupon) and luckily bought 4 gallons (they stopped carrying that gesso, it was Martin F. Weber Prima Gesso). It took about a gallon of gesso to prep just two art journals but the pages feel devine, they have an eggshell-like matte texture, and since they’re all ready to go, I can better art journal on the spot or in favorite spots inside or outside! That’s great because I live right by lack Michigan. It’s so close I could walk. Yes!