10 Must-Haves for your Creativity Toolbox

Tapping into your creative energy doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars on arts + crafts supplies. I’m a big believer in being resourceful and economical, and finding creative uses for everyday things.

Here’s a list of my ten favourite must-haves for my creativity toolkit—things I would take with me for a weekend away, or have within reach at home. If you have any questions about these goodies, I invite you to leave a comment below or contact me!

[Disclaimer: While the products I mention here really are my faves, some are affiliate links, which means I may receive a few bucks from your purchase to invest back into my business or feed my kids.]

  1. A fine-tip, waterproof black technical pen | I don’t go anywhere without at least one Uniball Signo DX pen. I buy them in boxes of 12 and have one in every room, every handbag, every desk drawer, every pencil case… you catch my drift. They are super fine (0.38), super smooth, and you can safely use watercolour or other wet media over the ink without smearage. Yes, smearage is a word. Well, it is now.
  2. A mixed-media art journal/sketchbook | I’m a big fan of the Canson Mix Media XL sketchbooks for my art journaling, and they are always included in my workshop + retreat guests’ kits. The pages can take any kind of media—pencil, charcoal, pen, ink, watercolour, acrylic, and probably oil, though I don’t use them. Even with a fully loaded page, the other side is typically still usable.
  3. Watercolour paints | You really can’t go wrong here—anything from a dollar store set for kids, to top of the line tube paints. Try a few different kinds, formats, brands, and you will quickly discover which ones you like best. My current faves are Ecoline + Daniel Smith. Hot tip for the Daniel Smith paints: start with one of their 238-Color sample cards—an amazing way to try aaaaaall the colours before buying full tubes! If you don’t have watercolours on hand, and you want to dabble with adding watery colour to your pen drawings, you can use food colouring, or cheap coloured markers will bleed when you run a wet brush over their marks! Experiment with things like coffee, tea, wine, and the juices from cooking colourful foods, like beets!
  4. A few brushes | Again, starting with a mixed pack from the dollar store is a fine option for beginners. Make sure they are for watercolour paints, or multi-use. Once you decide you enjoy painting, you can invest in artist quality brushes like Winsor + Newton, or Princeton.
  5. Graphite pencils | The softer the pencil, the darker + smudgier the marks; the harder the pencil the lighter + more crisp the marks. Pick up a little set that contains a range of hard/soft pencils, and play with their different effects, like this Tombow set which also includes a fine pen eraser.
  6. Old books | Evvvvveryone has old books collecting dust in a box somewhere. If not, hit up your friends and family, or visit a thrift shop. Look for old hardcovers with uncoated pages. I flip through the story to make sure the energy isn’t dark and heavy, then bring them home to tear up and use either as backgrounds for ink drawings or paint patterns, or as layers in my mixed media pieces. They add whimsical texture, interest + intrigue to your journal pages, too!
  7. Collage paste | Mod Podge or artist quality soft gel work well to adhere those old book pages to your journal pages or canvases. I prefer a matte finish to reduce the sheen on the page and increase legibility.
  8. A spatula | To shmear (another new word for ya!) the collage paste and smooth out those book pages, and also a fun tool to push paint around once you start using acrylics. Any pliable silicon kitchen spatula will do, but my fave right now is the Princeton Catalyst Mini-Blade.
  9. Chalk | Yup. Plain ol’ white + coloured chalk from the kids’ stuff. I use it to sketch out illustrations + marks on my canvases (wipes right off with a damp cloth once your paint is completely dry), and transfer designs (like carbon paper) from my printer onto other surfaces (walls, windows, canvases, fabric, etc.)
  10. A light grey marker | Wanna make your journal doodles pop? Use any ol’ pale grey marker to add shading to the outside edge of your marks—they will appear to be floating off the page!

Now, what are you going to create with all of these fun tools? Come to CAMP, where you can enjoy online art classes, live events + community. Think of it as your online happy place for Creative Awakenings, Mindfulness + Play!

  1. BONUS! An open mind + heart | Your first attempts at art journaling + creative play might feel intimidating and scary. Remember, there are no mistakes. Go with the flow. Find your groove, and simply… play.

As always, I am right here (not here, there, but here, here) if you have any questions, want to show me your creative play efforts, or if you could use a guiding hand or cheerleader.

Have fun!

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