Saturday, February 18, 2006

Scrapbooking with white space

*edited to add 2 more entries on same subject.*

I've long been a fan of white space, even when it wasn't "cool" in the scrapbooking world. A couple of years ago I wrote an article about white space that I will reprint here in this blog entry and link to in my sidebar.

Here are a few layouts I've done recently using white space:

Posted at 2Peas and Shabby Shoppe. Colorful Corners are a freebie from Shabby Princess. Paper is from Bluebell Road by Shabby Princess.

Posted at 2Peas

Just a simple layout but I was thrilled when my husband told me he would love to have this one framed for his office! No better compliment than that one!

The quote says "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." by ~George Santayana

paper & heart doodle are from the January 2Peas free digital kit by Anne. Font is Susie's Hand.

Here is my article I originally wrote in 2003 about an article I tried to get published in 2001. It is written from a paper scrapper's viewpoint, but many of the ideas apply equally well to digital pages. I've added a few links at the end to explore.

Seeing Things In A Whole New White by Katie Nelson originally published on in 2003

Two years ago, I sent out queries to several scrapbooking magazines for an article I had written about using white scrapbook pages. At the time, no magazine had really addressed the idea of using white pages and Memory Makers was the only magazine where I had ever seen pages published using a white background!

All of the magazines rejected my query citing reasons such as "no interest in the subject" and they "didn't see any fit for the topic in the near future." However, within the next year, all of them published either feature length articles or small pieces about using white pages. So it goes in the publishing business.

I thought I would share my original article ideas online since it looks like they will never make it to a magazine at this point. I hope they inspire you to try the simple and classic look of scrapbooking on white pages.

I have completed over 2500 scrapbook pages and more than 1800 of these have been on white backgrounds.

Many scrapbookers are scared of white: Just like some people don’t like white walls in their house, some may not like the idea of a “blank page.” Perhaps white pages are viewed as “beginner” level scrapbooking, which is reinforced by the fact that there are not as many white background pages published in idea books and magazines. Scrapbookers may feel like they are not as “creative” if they use a simple white backdrop.

There are many benefits to using white backgrounds on your scrapbook pages:

Classic: white is never out of style, it won’t be “in” or “out” like avocado green of the 1970's.

White has psychological meanings; white is purity, cleanliness, and innocence. Certain themes seem to naturally belong with white like weddings or winter scenes.

White goes with everything, it is the perfect backdrop for your creativity. White can work with any color scheme or idea. Ask an artist what their favorite thing is and they will probably say a blank canvas - that is what a white page is to a scrapbook artist! A white page is waiting for you to “dress” it.

Clean: does not detract from photos or other embellishments. The white background allows the material to present itself without competition. Magazines are a good example of this - their background pages are white because they want the pictures and text to “jump out” at the reader and get noticed. Many picture books are also published on pages with a white background. One of the more stunning examples of this approach comes from the Dorling Kindersly line of reference books with their clean white pages and vivid photographs.

Journaling is easier to read on a white background and is more prominent as part of the layout.

Many stickers designed for scrapbooking have clear backgrounds that actually look their best on a white based backdrop. In fact, these stickers will fade into a darker background and need that white behind them to stand out. Also, laser cut stickers (such as Mrs. Grossman’s colored laser designs) look much more intricate when paired with a white background.

Drama: One of the basic principles of design is contrast, and there is no better way to get contrast than to pair dark colors with white.

Some of the most successful color combinations are based on this idea including the American Flag (Red, White, & Blue - and many nation’s flags use this type of contrast). Bold and playful combinations use these opposites like the red and white of a candy cane, or sailors in navy blue and white, and most major league sports teams use white for their home game uniforms with contrasting team logos. Mother Nature herself knows how to put on a good show with the contrasting black and white stripes of a zebra.

Mosaic pages are most stunning on a white backdrop. White backgrounds allow you to bring together photos with many different colors without clashing. Landscape photos stand out brilliantly on a clean white page.

White is seen as a neutral backdrop and any color that is used with it, even in very small amounts, becomes the dominant element of the design.

Simple: Want to simplify your scrapbooking? Nothing makes a page easier than eliminating the guesswork of a background and letting the clean, classic look of white showcase your photos. Add a few touches of color or some quick embellishments to call attention to the subjects
themselves and your pages will come together quickly. Not only will you save time, but money also!

Some easy and unique ways that white pages can be used:

Sheer papers such as vellum work wonderfully on white backgrounds and give a soft opaque quality to the light color. Using vellum strips or squares over dark text on a white background is nice technique to use on your pages.

Print your text, titles, or clip art directly from your computer to a sheet of white cardstock. Trim and mount with contrasting cardstock for fast and inexpensive embellishments.

Is all white too “stark” for you? Define the edges and give your page a clean finish by framing it with border stickers or mounting the white backdrop on a contrasting color of cardstock. or chalk lightly around the edges for a unique finish.

White pages create a timeless look that provides easy yet striking pages. White works well for all types of themes, color combinations, and styles of scrapbooking. Look around you and notice how the “professionals” effectively use white as an important component of good design and you will start seeing things in a “whole new white!”

Here are a few of my past layouts that have some bright & white space in them:

Cheery Little Lady

Handmade Valentines

Lessons learned from my bulletin board
- which by the way, I got a little honorable mention for this one for Gina's contest! My layout was voted by Gina and her team to be The "Heyyyy... now THAT'S Clever AND the Team Loves Target But If We Go There On Account of Seeing This Receipt and Spend One Red Cent We Are Coming After You Missy!" award goes to (whew that was a long one!).... Katie! LOL!

Dare to Muse Me

Oregon Coast

Swim - a to do list

So hot - way cool!

Autism - the importance of early intervention

Want some more great white space inspiration? I've noticed Ju Bean's talent for scrapping with white space and here is a link to her 2Peas gallery.

Feel free to send me any other resources or links to layouts that demonstrate good design with white space. Comment here on the blog or send me an email at

Happy Scrapping!

Katie the Scrapbook Lady


Continuing on from my post yesterday, I started a thread at 2Peas about scrapping with white space. If you explore the many layouts posted in response there, you will find a TON of wonderful ideas! What talented scrappers!

Here is another layout I did today using white space. I also posted it on my quote blog even though I don't usually post the same thing in 2 places, but I wanted to talk about the quote also.

Posted on 2Peas
and Scrap Artist.

The frame is from Nancy Rowe Janitz at Scrapartist from the Shmootzy Frames II. The font is Beyond Wonderland.

While I was focusing on the use of white in design for the article I wrote, the true definition of white space is "empty" or "blank" space so the background could be a solid color also. I love the look of clean, white and bright though and I have been having a lot of fun with these layouts lately!

I challenge you to use some white (or a lot of it!) in your next layout.

Happy Scrapping!

Katie the Scrapbook Lady


A digi friend sent me this link to another great post about white space.

I did another white layout today:

Posted at 2Peas and Sweet Shoppe.

This is one of those photos that I've resisted scrapping because it is so special that I wanted to do something amazing with it. I finally decided that keeping it simple would be the best thing for this memory.

This is me and my hubby back when we were dating in 1990. I have to laugh because this picture really grosses my kids out! LOL!

Everything (even the quote) is from Mindy Terasawa's new kit called Courage & Strength at Sweet Shoppe Designs.

I will edit my original white space post to include the past 2 days entries in case you've bookmarked it or access it from my sidebar.

Happy Scrapping!

Katie the Scrapbook Lady



Michael, Michelle, and Ava said...

So, I know this post is almost 4 years old, but it really helped me today! I am trying to make a mini-album using supplies I already own, and one has only white pages. I was kind of discouraged and started typing into Google for ideas. This came up! Now I am inspired to use the white pages and let the color in the pictures really pop! Thanks!

Arlene said...

I came across this post many, many months ago and thought it was an absolutely fantastic idea. I, too, have used the inspiration to make some beautiful digital scrapbook/photobook pages. There are so many ways to incorporate colors within the page. Strips of color here, strokes there, pictures in frames, on solid colors or patterns, etc. When using a solid, print, or other complex background, it seems to limit what you can create. I'm all for focusing on the subject, not how creative my page is outside of the photos. It doesn't seem productive to cover a large scrapbook or photobook page with created art, only to have one or two small pictures hiding within it somewhere.

Great idea, the white background!