Painting with Acrylic & Gouache in Your Bullet Journal 👩🎨
by Adorel Ng (@artbyadorel)
Painting in bullet journals has become increasingly popular over the years. It’s a way to bring your notebook to the next level and create stunning results. Besides being able to boast about your art piece to your family and friends, the actual process of painting in your bullet journal is rewarding. I believe that creating the layout and aesthetic of your spreads is equally as important and therapeutic as the process of filling them in!
If you’ve been wanting to paint in your bullet journal but want some advice on which medium to use or want to understand how they work, you’re in the right place! You can also check our watercolor brush pen guide, but for now, let's discuss acrylic and gouache paint.
What’s in this article?
Painting in Your Bullet Journal:
The Difference Between using Acrylic and Gouache
As bullet journal enthusiasts, I’m sure you love lists much as I do. So, to help you decide whether you want to have a go at acrylic or gouache paint (or perhaps both), here are a few key points covering their advantages and disadvantages based on my experience.
Tips for BuJo Painting with Acrylic
Let’s start with acrylic since it’s what I use most often and feel most comfortable with after years of practice. Although I initially started painting on canvas, I eventually decided to bring my love for this medium to my bullet journal spreads.
Advantages of Painting with Acrylic
- When acrylic dries, you can easily cover up mistakes by applying a new layer of paint. You have no idea how many times this has saved me from ruining an art piece! For my 2020 January Disney bullet journal cover page (above), I made a huge mistake when painting the shape of the water. However, I reckon you can’t notice it because I was able to paint over it like nothing happened. This helps you protect the beautiful acrylic aesthetic you’ve created. That is the power you wield when using acrylic over other paint mediums!
- It is basically waterproof! If you share my clumsiness, you’ll be happy to know that when acrylic paint dries, it isn’t fazed when you spill water on it. But be sure to soak it up quickly because if you leave it for too long, it will start to absorb it. I suppose acrylic paint isn’t that invincible after all.
Disadvantages of Painting with Acrylic
- Acrylic paint dries quickly! I suppose this is both a positive and a negative. If you’re impatient like me, the fact that it dries quickly could be favourable. It also helps avoid smudging paint onto the opposite page of your bullet journal when closing. However, if you make a mistake, you better hope you have a tissue handy or be ready to wipe that paint off with your bare fingers! Remember that once it dries, it’s down for good.
- It might be a challenge to create consistent thin lines. Since you will be painting in your bullet journal, the size of your paintings is going to be much smaller compared to the typical application of acrylic on a large canvas. If you’re using cheap paints from the dollar store like me, you might find it difficult to paint thin detailed strokes. An incredibly slim brush could be of some aid, but you might still find that the consistency of the line is hard to control. Instead of using acrylic for details, I use a fine liner or white pen instead. In one of my weekly spreads for my 2019 Christmas theme, I needed to use my white pen for the decorative icing. I would have struggled a lot if I had solely relied on acrylic paint!
Tips for Bullet Journal Painting with Gouache
So, now that we know what acrylic paint is, what about gouache? I find this medium fascinating. I like to define it as the bridge between acrylic and watercolour. While it can be opaque, you can also add water to create a watercolour effect.
Advantages of painting with Gouache
It’s got the best of both worlds! It can appear opaque when mixed with a tiny amount of water, but it can also be diluted so that it acts like watercolour. The more water you add to the paint, the less opaque it becomes. A scenario where this was integral when painting in my bullet journal was my 2019 September fairy tale cover page (below) where I painted on black paper. To achieve a glowing and mystical effect, I used this advantage of gouache to cater to my needs. I started painting with blue and white gouache with barely any water. This meant that it contrasted greatly with the black background, creating the illusion of brightness. I then wet my brush and painted outwards from the edges of the opaque area to create a glowing effect.
You don’t have to worry about your paint drying out. Unlike acrylic paint that becomes almost plastic once it dries, gouache paint can become loose again once water is added. If you suddenly have an urge to have a snack while you’re painting, you don't have to worry about your paint drying up! Just add a bit of water if it has solidified and it will bring it back to life.
Disadvantages of Painting with Gouache
It's not waterproof! Being able to rework gouache also means you can’t paint on top of previous layers without disrupting the colours underneath. However, the effects of dripping water on my painting has occasionally worked out for the better! Take the painting below as an example. I had just finished my masterpiece and my clumsy hands dripped water onto the page. When I dabbed it off with a tissue, it soaked up the paint; little did I know that I had just made a moon for the sky. Sometimes the disadvantages of a medium can result in some of the best bullet journal aesthetics.
A droplet of water on my gouache artwork worked out for the better.
Gouache is more costly. This is due to the need for the extra pigment in its recipe. However, because it can be used in many ways, it's worth its value.If you have the money or are willing to invest in some, I highly recommend purchasing a few colours and having a go!
Start creating your own bujo masterpieces!
Now that you know what to expect and have some basic knowledge about both acrylic and gouache paint, you can learn more through your own experience. All you need to arm yourself with is some paints from your local art store and your own bullet journal. Since you’ll be using paint, the thicker the gsm, the better! I recommend Notebook Therapy’s Tsuki Notebook series because the pages are 160 gsm, which is perfect for the purpose of painting in your bullet journal with minimum ghosting or buckling!
Both acrylic and gouache have their advantages and disadvantages. I would encourage you to experiment with both. Even if it means going to the dollar store to purchase some cheap paints; it’s always worth having a go! And who knows, you might discover over time that you’re the next Andy Warhol or František Kupka.
Want more? Find Top Tips For Bullet Journal Watercolour here!
About the author:
Adorel Ng is a 19 year old painter and bullet journal artist who started her Instagram account, @ArtByAdorel, in January of 2019. Though she has been creating from a young age, she has recently discovered the power of sharing her art to inspire others.