Saturday I was with a private student and we talked about black gesso, the dark sister of the usual white gesso.
Most art journalers are familiar with gesso. If you aren't here is a post called What is Gesso and Why Should I Care?
Black gesso can be used like white gesso, as a base for paint. Like white gesso it changes the surface of the page and makes it easier to manipulate the following paint layers. Sometimes I use black gesso alone as a background.
Gel pens 'pop' nicely on black gesso. If you want to slightly change the colour of your background you can add a layer of another colour over the top. This can get you a very dark purple or blue-black. Gesso is naturally matt, so adding paint is also a way to make the surface a bit shinier.
On the left page I actually lightened it a bit with some purple paint with a bit of white added. It is still quite dark.
If you want a little respite from all the black darkness, you can use black gesso on only part of the page. I think I actually cheated on the pages above and added collage borders. But the one below was done using removable painters tape to make sharp lines.
If I remember correctly, I first painted the blue background. I didn't really like it so I used some tape to define the edges and painted a border in the black gesso. Later I added a 'frame' drawn with my gel pens.
Along the same lines, I also like to add shapes of black gesso on certain pages. Usually this is at a later stage when it seems to need 'something'. Mostly the shapes are rectangles but with the above pages I tried something a little different. You could use a stencil or just paint a shape freeform.
Finally these are the pages I was doing with my student -obviously they are not finished. The black gesso rectangle that I added makes me think of a chalkboard. Have you seen the chalkboard paint? Such a cool idea.