Traveler’s Notebook as Art Journal

Midori Traveler's Notebook spread by Peony and Parakeet. See her ideas in a video too!

I ordered a Midori Traveler’s Notebook last year, in August. I couldn’t help myself because based on Instagram, it seemed to me that everybody had one! I was curious to know what’s so special about it. Midori Traveler’s Notebook is practically a piece of leather with a binding system for small notebooks, often referred as “inserts.” I also ordered a few blank inserts. When I received the set at the beginning of September, I wasn’t so impressed. I didn’t like the smell of the leather, and the paper in the small notebooks was so thin that writing showed through. But I knew many of those who make planner pages had changed to a Traveller’s Notebook, so had many scrapbookers and art journalers. I had to try it!

Traveler’s Notebook as a Visual Diary

I decided to start a notebook where I combine journaling and drawing. It would be a kind of visual diary where I would add random thoughts and illustrate them. I began with daily events, but once I got the hang of it, I wrote more openly about anything that came to my mind. Like in the spread below, I write about how Finnish Post is in trouble when people don’t send letters anymore and when the postbox is on the phone rather than anywhere else. I also speculate what would happen if people suddenly started writing letters again.

Midori Traveler's Notebook spread by Peony and Parakeet. See her ideas in a video too!

In the next spread, I show the current year and the next year walking side by side on the left page. The right page is inspired by a Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and her inspiring exhibition in Helsinki Art Museum.

Midori Traveler's Notebook spread by Peony and Parakeet. See her ideas in a video too!

Supplies for Traveler’s Notebook

I mostly use a thin-tipped black drawing pen and colored pencils. I sometimes add a little bit watercolor or water with watercolor pencils. Random collage pieces are also used, but I mainly use thin paper so that the bulkiness doesn’t affect my drawing in the next pages.

Midori Traveler's Notebook spread by Peony and Parakeet. See her ideas in a video too!

Alternating between Words and Images – Watch the Video!

I don’t sketch but just start by drawing a small motif or writing a couple of words. While creating a page, I like to maintain a dialog between drawing and writing. A written thought leads to a visual element and vice versa. To show this technique I have created a short video where you can see me writing and drawing, and at the same time, I show some ideas about what you can put in your notebooks.

Because the video is quite small in size, here’s a close-up of the page that I am creating in the video.

Midori Traveler's Notebook spread by Peony and Parakeet. See her ideas in a video too!

And here’s the video which shows a few more pages too.

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23 Responses to Traveler’s Notebook as Art Journal

  1. Peggy Solomon says:

    How did you deal with the thinnest of the paper. Especially since you mention using watercolor.

    • Päivi says:

      Hi Peggy, I use only very little water so that I just dip my finger lightly into the water. I don’t use any markers or stronger inks. Colored pencils work great. A thin-tipped drawing pen shows through a bit, but I try not to care!

  2. Gailie Running-Lynx says:

    WOW!! Thank you for such an inspiring video about IDEAS for IDEAS!! Some instruct us to make a list, but what you just showed us is such a fun way to make it all happen!! I can also see how a few words written down can lead to other words and design-pictures!! Thanks again for always inspiring us and pushing us farther!! xoxo

  3. Debbie says:

    Love, love, love what you have done with your smelly little book !!!! You always inspire me with your beautiful art!

  4. Sue O'Mullan says:

    Thank you for this video!!!!!

  5. Kathy says:

    That was so helpful and inspiring. THANK YOU!!!

  6. Jacquie says:

    It is fun to watch your ideas appear on the page and see your process in the works!

  7. Hi Paivi, Amazing work in your journal. Re the Midori Travellers Notebook. I too wanted one so badly but I was put off by the price and the fact that as I am a new vegan, I didn’t want to buy a leather one. I found a site on Etsy, who makes faux leather Covers with the same style inserts as Midori for a fraction of the cost if you are interested her shop is called Loved By Gaby. My Midori has quite a pleasant smell. I purchased a black outer cover with gold inside. It is very stylish. I now simply purchase the inserts for the Midori. The paper is thin as you say, but I am so inspired by what you have done. Thank you Paivi, you have inspired me once again. Barbara

  8. Diane says:

    Marvelous video. I loved the “stream of conscious” type of drawing. Write, draw, go back, add more color, make a note, add more color in a different spot. It looks effortless but I know that’s only because of the depth of your talent. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Loved seeing some of your pages and the video of your process. I have and use a Midori as well. I have made an insert with watercolor paper to put in mine. Not very many pages but it works great. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Barbara says:

    This was my favorite video you’ve done! I had some bad news so I was a little upset. Watching you draw with the relaxing music was so peaceful and soothing. It felt healing. Thank you

  11. Stephanie Carney says:

    I so appreciate the wonderful ways you promote creatively finding and making art whenever and wherever- calendars, journals, all sorts of materials, all kinds of ideas, and to show us, you have even created some journal pages in English- your non-native language. You’re wonderful Paivi!

  12. I especially liked the two figures page, very colorful. Thanks for your comments. I do not have a Midori, but many sketchbooks which lend themselves to journaling and artistic expressions to fill up.