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Paint Your Planner with Watercolor!

Are you ready to paint your planner? I want to encourage you to try it too! I’ll share a few easy-to-find and inexpensive materials to get you started. Plus a few videos to inspire you!

Paint your planner with watercolor! Tools and ideas plus a few plan with me videos to get your started!

Paint Your Planner with Watercolor

Be bold! You won’t mess up, I promise. And if you do – just use your other planner this week!


In the past, I’ve used watercolors in sketch books, composition notebooks, and journals. If you don’t mind a little wrinkling or you have a spare journal to test out, give this a shot!

Watercolor and decorative bullet journaling are a match made in heaven. The great thing about using a journal, too, is that you can skip pages if the paper gets too wet to use the back.




I started by using very inexpensive paints – just my kids’ old Crayolas! I’ve since invested in a slightly more expensive and colorful palette by Sargent Art after a recommendation from a friend who shared a beautiful spread with me. These colors are much more vibrant!

If you prefer watercolor or gouache tubes of paint – which is great for mixing colors or for a very rich and dense application – I would highly recommend Windsor & Newton watercolors and gouache. I’ve bought this set (or a variation) several times over the last twenty years or so. They are my favorite!


If you’re not familar with the difference between watercolor and gouache, see this link from Felt Magnet.


The brushes I use are from this Artist’s Loft set. I prefer a synthetic brush, but there are many brushes to choose from if you’d rather paint with a camel, for example.

If you’re just starting out, one tip I always use: take the watercolor brush that comes with the set and chuck it directly in the trash. I usually choose an all purpose brush set with a variety of shapes and sizes – but not too large because we’re planning in a reasonably small area.

Gesso (optional)

If you are worried about bleed-through and shadowing from the paint, you could try a clear artist’s gesso. Gesso is a thin layer of primer that will protect your paper from absorbing any of the water from your paint.

Gesso generally comes in white, but I would recommend using clear gesso to paint your planner. A clear primer will make a smooth, impermeable surface, but you will still be able to see your planner lines and boxes.

Tips for using gesso on paper

If you can’t remove the pages from your planner, place another piece of paper or paper towel behind the pages you’re gessoing to prevent the gesso from gluing pages together along the side.

Brush it on, back and forth in one direction with a medium to large brush. Finish with a light touch so that you don’t have any lumps or bumps from brushstrokes. Make sure your page is COMPLETELY dry before starting to paint.

If you do not want to use gesso, you can paint directly on your planner pages.

The Happy Planner pages are very thick and take the watercolor well with very little bleed through. You might a few little speckled dark spots on the backs of the pages, but these don’t phase me. I’m not too delicate with my planners.

I also tested this using the Recollections planner. This did not take the water as well. The pages wrinkled easily, and the fibers became loose and flaky as I painted. If you are painting in a Recollections. Get the gesso.

Paint Your Planner

Be brave. Be bold. Open that planner and go to town!



Tips for applying watercolor

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Practice on plain paper first if you are nervous. That way, you’ll get a feel for how much water to use to get the look you like. The more water, the more transparent your color will be. However, be careful not to add so much that you’re soaking through the paper.

Wet on wet: For a beautiful washed look apply water to the paper and paint your color on with a wet brush. Colors will blend and bleed together. This can create some really beautiful effects.

Wet on dry: I prefer to just apply the watercolor directly to the paper. I like the vibrancy of color and a more opaque look. With this type of application, you’ll see the brush strokes even after the watercolor has dried, giving your planner a textured and interesting appearance.

Layering color: Try layering washes of different colors or draw over your paint with a liner brush. Let your page dry and layer on more color or fine lined lettering or decoration.


Washi, Stickers, and Doodling

Don’t leave all your favorite planning supplies behind! Watercolor planners still look fantastic with all of your favorite supplies. I use a lot of stickers and washi to keep my planner functional. After all, it still is a planner and not just a sketch book!

Creative Planning with
Watercolor Playlist

Watch the playlist on YouTube.


You may also enjoy

Create your own bullet journal notebook with simple and affordable supplies.

6 thoughts on “Paint Your Planner with Watercolor!

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