What Pen or Journal should I use?
I often get this question about what’s best for nature journaling.
My answer is that its a personal decision, based on what feels good for you!
The Best supplies are the ones you WILL use!
You can start to nature journal with a pencil and paper. You do NOT need fancy materials.
When I have fancy watercolor paper, I’m less likely to use it! It can become intimidating and might have a fear of wasting the paper. I like a medium quality- so I can freely sketch on it without being precious.
Below, I’ll share what I personally use now, and recommend other supplies I have used that are not too expensive. If you are a teacher looking for class supplies., I share ideas for bulk packs at the end, here.
- You’ll want a bound journal with a hard cover– floppy covers are hard to write on outdoors, unless you have a clipboard.
- It can be book bound or spiral-bound so that the pages stay all together. Note: If you only use graphite pencil the pages may smear in the spiral bound.
- Mixed media paper is my personal preference (its thicker than drawing paper and lighter that watercolor)- I use watercolor for my journals.
- Pencil: You can use a regular yellow wooded #2 pencil or a mechanical pen.
- Nature Journal bag— to carry everything in! I use a shoulder messenger bag, but a bookbag or backpack works too.
Some of the items have Amazon links for your convenience, and I earn from qualifying purchases. I’d suggest trying to find them at your local art supply store to support small businesses.
What I currently use
- My handmade sketchbooks,
- Fountain pen with
- waterproof ink,
- watercolors in a travel tin
- water brush with rag or paper towel to clean brush between colors
You can make your own by learning from my self-paced online class here.
Fountain Pen: Lamy Al-star with medium nib, and converter ink cartridge.
This is a set with the pen, converter plus some ink cartridges. I like a medium nib for a thicker line (you can use the pen, holding it so the nib tip is upside down, to get a finer line)– Or you can order one with a different nib.
Nib Size: I like to use the Medium nib for a thicker line. When I use a fine tip, it gets me caught into putting too much detail in my sketches.
This kit comes with a fine nib pen
Carbon waterproof ink in glass bottle.
This bottle lasts a long time! I like that its glass and I can reuse it when its empty. No plastic waste! I draw the ink up with piston cartridge by dipping the pen into the ink bottle.
I draw the ink up with piston cartridge by dipping the pen into the ink bottle.
Waterbrush– Pentel brand
I like this Pentel Aquash brush— I use the Fine Point LARGE tip— this holds enough water to do a large wash of sky without having to load more paint. I find the water reservoir holds quite a bit of water. Be sure to have a cloth or paper towel with you to clean paint off in between colors.
Watercolor: I use Daniel Smith Extra Fine
I make my own watercolor kits by taking an empty tin with half-pans that I fill up with tube watercolor, let dry until solid. When I am painting, I just wet the paint pan with my brush.
You can order one of my kits here.
To make your own kit, you can order paint below.
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors: I love these vibrant pigments! Here is a starter pack:
And to this, I add: Permanent Orange, Hooker’s green, Perlyne Green, Serpentine Genuine, Manganese blue hue, Indanthrone blue, Buff Titanium, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna Light, Shadow Violet, white gouache.
An economical option: Koi watercolors, 12 colors
I found this was a nice assortment of colors for nature jouranling. You can also add extra half-pans with other paint if you want to have more pre-mixed colors. Add a piece of blue tack to the back to stick in down inside. I do not use the tiny brush that it comes in- I prefer my Pentel Aquash brush.
Mixed media paper is great for pencil, pen and ink, colored pencils, watercolor. Choose a size that is big enough that you have room without getting cramped when drawing, and small enough that you WILL reliable carry it with you!
Canson Mixed Media: 7in x 10in is a good size. I personally use this size paper.
Canson Mixed Media- 5.5in x 8.5 in
I used to use the following pens, but because there was much waste (you have to throw the entire pen out when the tip broke or ink ran out). I am now using a Fountain Pen with refillable waterproof ink.
Here is a nice assorted pack to try out the different tips. I loved using these until I found a more sustainable option in fountain pens.
Copic Mutliliner SP pens:
I liked these sustainable alternative to the Micron pens– They have a Metal barrel, replaceable ink cartridges and replaceable nibs! Black ink. The nib sizes I liked the most were 0.1 and 0.5.
For classroom bulk packs:
Canson Mixed media: Bulk 12 pack of 5.5x 8.5, cost $5.56 each
6 pack, 7×10, $6.47 each
Simple sketchbooks for students in bulk
12 pack -Cover:Brown kraft paper cover about cardstock weight, (USE WITH A CLIPBOARD) with paper that is 21# so it’s like thicker printer paper. (not super thin like other kinds)- you can use ball point pen or pencils.
Roaring Hills Marble Cover notebook–Bulk for student use
Nice, Hard cardboard cover, 50 sheet blank, papers are about like 20# copier paper thickness. You can get this bulk in a case comes to about $2.21 each!