Peony and Parakeet

Using Black in Art Journaling

Scotland inspired art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Last week was great. I went to Scotland! I started with a small business conference in Glasgow and then had a couple of days sightseeing. My husband joined me in the end of the week and we really enjoyed our time. To celebrate the journey, I made an art journal spread which is based on the easy, yet effective technique, using black in art journaling.

Eating breakfast at Willow Tea Rooms and art journal page about the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, by Peony and Parakeet

Before I get into the process of creating the spread, I want to show a page of a smaller art journal which I had with me. I made the page while I was eating breakfast at Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow. It is a wonderful place for a Charles Rennie Mackintosh fanatic as I am.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a designer and architect in the early 20th century. I have admired his and his wife’s Margaret MacDonald’s work for ages, so I wanted to look around the tea room area really carefully. Because sketching not only makes me observe things in detail but also memorize better, I recorded most things that I saw.  The first tip of this post is to create sketches before making the actual pages. It is easy to keep a black pen and a small journal in the bag.

St Conan's Kirk, Scotland

When I saw this doorway of St Conan’s Kirk, I knew it would be inspirational after getting back home. When thinking of doorways and windows I remembered a page spread in my largest art journal which was started some time ago but was not finished. I often create jumpstarts for the future pages. This was just perfect for the theme!

Creating of a Scotland inspired art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

To get to this stage is really easy:

1) Paint a background with watercolors. Use various colors and brush sizes. Do not repeat colors or patterns too much but create areas that differ from each other. Create few layers and let each layer dry before adding the next.

2) With black watercolor, add a new layer on the top. Leave empty areas so that the previous layers show through.

Creating of a Scotland inspired art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

And after the black layer is dry, the real fun begins:

3) Doodle on the black areas with color pencils and gel pens. You can also add details in the other areas. Feel free to use decorative papers too.

Kelvingrove art museum, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Mackintosh house

I wrote to the art journal that my best experience of the journey was to visit Mackintosh house. Taking photographs was not allowed but I did manage to take a couple of photos of Charles Rennie Mackintosh work. The first photo is from Kelvingrove art museum which is located near the Mackintosh house. In the second photo I am standing on the front door of Mackintosh house. There were no stairs as the house was a replica of the real house and was built inside Hunterian art gallery.

When walking around the interiors designed by the creative couple, Charles and Margaret, I wondered what kind of discussions they had had in their beautiful home. Margaret’s remarkable collage art showed extreme talent but she was not valued as an artist back then. Charles also struggled at times. Still, what those two people shared with each other, must have been wonderful and deep. I just wish I could take a time machine and spend at least one evening with them, talking about the form, design and philosophy of art!

Inveraray castle, Scotland

These photos also worked as inspiration to the art journal spread. Here is Inveraray castle and its beautiful entrance with summer flowers.

Stalker castle and scottish highlands

The day we visited the highlands was sunny and the nature looked incredibly beautiful. The Stalker castle was not available for visitors but the view from it must be breath-taking.

Scotland inspired art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s the finished spread again. Hopefully you enjoyed the photos of the journey and fell in love with Mackintosh couple’s work. I also wish that you’ll try my technique of using black in your art journal!

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18 thoughts on “Using Black in Art Journaling

  1. Your art journal is beautiful. I have been playing with black backgrounds the last few weeks, but nothing like yours. Thank you for the entertaining instructions.
    I will have to give it a try.

  2. Thanks! Yesterday, feeling frustrated with a drawing I had been working on I painted two large sections black. At first I was kicking myself for being in a rush and then considered doodling with a white gel pen….hmmmm….put the drawing aside unfinished. Now you have encouraged me to do just that. I love what you have done and you photos.

    1. Thanks, Nea! I often create a page in phases. If I am feeling frustrated I just decide that its a “background day”!

  3. You’re work is always gorgeous!
    Just yesterday I finished a journal page that I ended up not liking very much. I kept working the page hoping that *this* or *that* would make it feel right to me, but nothing I did made me feel differently. Today I’m going to paint over certain areas of that page with black. Thank you for the idea!

    1. Thanks, Rosie! What a great idea to use this technique to impove the page! Have fun with the black!

  4. I always enjoy your posts. Thank you so much for sharing.I think the use of black makes everything pop.

  5. Fabulous! Cannot wait to try this! Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures. 🙂

  6. Paivi: I started following your work earlier this year and have to say that you are one of my favorite artists! Thanks for sharing all of your work with us. It really inspires me to create. …….. I love this work using black. I can see how you were inspired by the churches and castles you visited in Scotland. I had never heard of MacIntosh, but googled him and noted the Art Nouveau influence in his work and enjoyed looking at his watercolor paintings too. Apparently there is another famous Charles MacIntosh who invented the waterproof MacIntosh raincoat! …… Thanks again for discussing your inspiration!

    1. Claire, thanks so much! How great that the post inspired you to do more search for Mackintosh! You know, I love art nouveau (almost above all) and my love for Mackintosh’s designs began once I realized the excistence of art nouveau long long time ago. Did not know about the other Charles though! Thanks for the great comment!

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