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Peony and Parakeet

Starting a Colored Pencil Journal

This week, I started a project that I have been thinking about for quite a while: a colored pencil art journal! I hope this post inspires you to keep a visual journal too.

From Mundane to Fantastic

Moss horse, lemons and dandelions. Colored pencil journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The idea of this journal is to connect everyday events with the world of fantasy. I want it to be a visual diary that is inspired by the ordinary but still goes beyond it. I

Books and Pencils

I have kept small art journals before too, and they still feel inspiring many years later. The two old art journals below are Moleskine sketchbooks.

Small art journals - Moleskine sketchbooks and Archer & Olive notebook.

The new one is a blank notebook from Archer & Olive. I chose it because I really like Archer & Olive as a company, and I’ve grown to like their bright white paper for bullet journaling. The size of the new notebook is A5 (5,75 x 8,25 inches), so a little bigger than the old sketchbooks but still very manageable.

When ordering the notebook, I got a discount code, so click here to get 10% off if you haven’t purchased from Archer & Olive before.

Archer & Olive notebook and a mixed selection of colored pencils.
The yellow linen cover isn’t the most practical choice, it will probably be grey after the journal is full!

I have been purchasing new pencils too. Yesterday, I went to Helsinki to visit art supply stores and got some colored pencils – a mixed selection to expand my knowledge of different brands. So far, I have mostly used wax-based pencils like Prismacolor Soft Core and Caran d’Ache Luminance, but now I also got oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. I also bought some Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils and more Luminance that has been my favorite so far. I have always mixed all kinds of pencils in my drawings and continue to do so!

Starting a Colored Pencil Journal

I usually fill an art journal by choosing the pages randomly. But because this journal is about my everyday life, I wanted it to be chronological and start from the first spread. It’s exciting to see how it will change and what kind of secondary stories the images will tell.

What to Draw First?

I suggest you let your journal develop intuitively so that you move from one association to another and mix all kinds of ideas together. So often, the fantasy is in the mix, not in the single element.

My first ideas: a horse and moss greens. A horse because I love to draw them and moss because currently, our garden has plenty of it. We like it more than grass, so we are not complaining!

Starting a colored pencil journal. Using water with watercolor pencils.

I don’t use water often, but now with the thick 160gsm paper, I smoothened the strokes of the bottom layer with a water brush. After drawing the moss horse, dandelions and all kinds of weeds came to my mind. Namely, while watching the puppy, I have been weeding almost daily and thinking that weeds are quite pretty too.

Art journaling with colored pencils. Using many brands and many layers in the same spread.

Let the Ideas and Associations Flow!

Then, of course, there’s this puppy, Saima! She makes me look at the leaves, twigs, stones, everything that she can find on the ground. My favorite moments in creating are those when I focus on the details and forget the surrounding world. I think Saima does the same many times in a day. For her, reality feels like a fantasy. We, adults, need to find the fantasy in our minds.

Beagle puppy explores nature.

I tried Derwent’s burnishing pencil for the first time and quite liked it.

Using a Derwent burnishing pencil.

I was also inspired by rain, the wet tiles in the backyard, sunny mornings, and how I love old portrait paintings even if I can’t fully understand why. My favorite fruits are lemons, and it will be exciting to see how many times they reappear in the journal.

Using Archer & Olive's blank notebook as a colored pencil journal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
In a fantasy world, dandelion can be a size of a horse, and the horizon can be non-existent.

A spread with pencils is not a big project like a canvas painting, but can still feel satisfying, especially when the journal progresses.

What do you think?

P.S. For more colored pencil inspiration, remember to sign up for Intuitive Coloring!

14 thoughts on “Starting a Colored Pencil Journal

  1. Glorious. Just glorious. Thank you. I may very well use the discount code. Do you work in one journal at a time or do you have 2 or more going at ince.
    Regards Art

    1. Thank you! I usually work with one journal at a time, although I do have several journals that have empty pages. My journals often get a theme and/or a technique and I get back to them later when the theme calls me again. It can be after many years.

  2. Have wanted to draw horses for a long time and started today in my new journal with a simple horse’s head in browns and blacks. Your green horse got my imagination galloping. Thank you.

  3. I’ve got a homemade journal all ready to go, and my pencils are beckoning! Still enjoying all of your classes that I have. They never grow old.

  4. Animal or human, we learn so much when they attract our attention to something we have been ignoring. There is so much to see and to learn.
    Enjoy that puppy brain!

  5. Paivi,

    I love your website and just love looking at the way you create with paint and new with the color pencils how dimensional and deep your works look as if i could step into that world. Thank you for sharing your creative genius.

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