Peony and Parakeet

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 thoughts on “Traveler’s Notebook as Art Journal

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

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

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

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