When Pens Replace Needles

Leaves, a collage by Peony and Parakeet

I confess: I am constantly thinking about textiles. I often try to hide my love for fabrics, quilting, sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, yarn and wool. It is like I married paper but have a secret relationship with textiles. If you look at the collage, can you see it?

When attaching the pieces on paper, I feel that what ever glue or medium I use, the pieces still look like that they are floating. Then I pick a pen and add a stitch line here and another there. And soon I am lost in the details!

Leaves, making of a collage by Peony and Parakeet

When people try to find their own style, they often deny what they know best. It is probably too mundane, something they take for granted. Often, it is easier for other people to see where our strengths are. Anything genuine touches people.

I want to thank Denise who pinned the last week’s horse themed collage art to her Pinterest board called “Clever Stitch Artists”. I got curious about what she saw in the collage. She had wrote in the description: “Embroidery inspiration”. I tried to hide my love for embroidery but she saw it! So this week I decided to create a project that is a celebration for felted fabrics and hand stitching.

Leaves, a detail of the collage by Peony and Parakeet

The concept is very easy. Just add some shapes on the painted background paper and then: take your markers and stitch your heart out! Here pens really replace the needles!

Subconscious Goals

A Horse Tells a Story, the illustration by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s an illustration that came out without any pre-planning. I just added a layer after another and in the end was surprised about the animals, and the scene. What was I thinking about?

Background paper, by Peony and Parakeet

First I created the background paper in Photoshop. I duplicated my old designs for stickers there!

Decorating a background, by Peony and Parakeet

After printing the backgroud I made some random spots with alcohol inks and random lines with white correction pen. Then I added a lot of details with markers and gel pens.

Decorated background paper, by Peony and Parakeet

Yes, a lot of details.

A Horse Tells a Story, the illustration by Peony and Parakeet

Finally I constructed the main elements from decorated papers. Then it came: the horse on the pedestal and the dogs. The horse tells a story for the dogs, and the dogs are captivated by listening to it. When finished, I realized that I want to be that white horse! I want to develop skills to tell visual stories.  I want to learn how to create images which not only appeal to the eye, but the mind as well.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that with creativity we can reveal our subconsious goals!

Doodled Lace Patterns

Doodled lace cards, by Peony and Parakeet

I am constantly inspired by surface patterns and textures. From a pile of doodled papers I found lace like doodling on unbleached printing paper. I decided to decorate it by adding white on some of the details and empty areas. It was a quick card: just adding the white and cutting it to the proper size. I pretty liked it so I made another card using the same concept but with different background paper. So, here are instructions to create these fun lace cards!

Pick a paper and start doodling

Doodled lace card, instructions, by Peony and Parakeet

You can create an interesting effect of color changes in the background by painting the background paper with watercolors. Pick a thin black pen for doodles. I love making doilies that look like they are on the top of another. Draw the doily on the top first. Group your doodles and leave some empty areas around the groups.

Doodled lace card, instructions, by Peony and Parakeet

Add white

Doodled lace card, instructions, by Peony and Parakeet

I used Copic Opaque White in a jar for bigger areas and Uniball Signo pen for smaller areas. A white color pencil was used too. White acrylic paint does the job too.

Doodled lace, a detail, by Peony and Parakeet

You can easily make georgeus and unique projects with this technique!

A doodled lace card, by Peony and Parakeet

Art Journaling about Fashion

Fashions fade Style is Eternal, Yves Saint Lauren'ts quote on the cover of Smash art journal, by Peony and Parakeet

I bought a new Smash book and decided to create a fashion themed art journal. It would be my own house of fashion and create an imaginery world of top designers, bohemian fashion models and demanding customers who own more credit cards than what they can carry in their huge handbags!

Fashion art journaling page, by Peony and Parakeet

What I like about Smash books is that they are not too serious. I find art journaling fascinating because it gives an opportunity to play and dream by drawing.

Black mod Smash book, with fashion theme, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s where the customer steps in. And she’s heading to pick the fabrics for the summer dress. It will be designed by the famous Peony von Parakeet!

Fabric swatches, fashion art journal, by Peony and Parakeet

P.S. For Finnish readers: coming up in Finland, workshop about fashion themed art journaling! Tulossa toukokuussa: art journaling -kurssi Muotitalo, jossa tehdään kankaita, koruja, asusteita, vaatteita, mannekiineja … Liity suomenkielisen uutiskirjeen tilaajaksi, niin pysyt ajan tasalla tulevista kursseista!

A Formula for Composition

Ceramic Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

You can create wonders with composition. Many worry about balance but it’s also important to add interest. In this post I will show you how I created this still life. I will give you one formula for a balanced composition that is also appealing and interesting.

1) Create a background without color repeats.

Balanced composition, step 1, by Peony and Parakeet

The background was painted with watercolors. I avoided repeating the same color. It is good to create separate colored areas instead of  color repeats. That way our mind begins to associate colors with meanings. The areas seem to be individual elements and their relation to each other is more interesting than if we repeat the same color over and over.

(Did you notice that I have a new set of watercolors, White Nights! Love them!)

White Nights watercolor set

Few tips on watercolors: I never wet the background paper first but use wet brush instead. That way I can control the areas better even if I use a lot of water. I also prefer to mix colors on background paper. The way the colors mix is beautiful to watch and the result is more interesting than when the color is even. Let the background dry before the next step. If you use a lot of water as I did, drying might take a while. I often make backgrounds on the previous day.

2) Change colors and brushes when adding elements.

Balanced Composition, step 2, by Peony and Parakeet

I continued with watercolors. Much drier brush was used than when painting the background. And more importantly, I changed the brush! Use at least three different brush sizes in the same artwork. In my still life you can see the difference of brush strokes between the red splashes (flowers) to the other elements.

Also, change and mix colors as often as you can. Especially subtle changes in color look very appealing. (More tips to choosing colors)

3) Create focus with fine lines.

Ceramic Still Life, step 3, by Peony and Parakeet

I love fine lines. They make the picture sharp and focused. I used Uniball Signo white gel pen for details. I love the way the watercolors get new shine when the white is added. And if the watercolor is slightly damp, it will also color the white, which I think is adorable!

4) Include a variety of elements.

Ceramic Still Life, step 4, by Peony and Parakeet

Even if that white gel pen is enjoyable to use on the watercolor background, do not decorate everything in the same way. I added some details with color pens to add variety in colors but also to create new elements like leaves.

I often purposefully create a composition that is not in balance and only finally add the balancing elements. Here you can see how I left the blue area empty for a new kind of element.

Next I chose a new colour, yellow, and picked a paper that was painted with acrylic paints. I also added few other elements like some details on the bowl and a leaf, by cutting them from my big stash of hand decorated papers. When you create your own papers, they always fit seamlessly with your other art! Also notice that I used various papers to avoid too many color repeats.

5) Maintain a slight off balance.

Ceramic Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

I used to create very balanced compositions until it hit me: a slight off balance is more interesting! The difficult thing is that it must be so slight that it’s almost controversial if the composition is balanced or not. Bringing that white tulip a little bit to the left would create a perfect balance. But with this still life I wanted to tell you that we are all human, we make mistakes, nobody is perfect or pure. When you notice your mistakes and allow them anyway, that’s when you stop copying and start creating unique art.

How does  your bowl look like? Upload it to our wonderful Flickr group Inspired by Peony and Parakeet. I will pick one image each week and give helpful feedback. It would be lovely to see your creations in the group!

Painting with iPad

Painting with iPad, ArtRage painting, by Peony and Parakeet

My latest toy: ArtRage app for iPad. Only 5 dollars which is nothing considering the fun you will be having with finger painting! You can create mixed media in electric form: tubes of paint, pastels, markers … most of the supplies you can imagine are there.

Painting with iPad, ArtRage painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

It’s surprisingly easy to change the supply and its’ properties as well as picking color pallette. ArtRage has also layers so that you can keep the flowers separate from your butterflies and work with each layer without messing up the other. Love it!

Wait till the Painting is Finished

Painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

What’s the definition of art? For me, art happens when something unexpected is allowed to step in to the creative process. Today’s story begins with the watercolor background that I painted without further thinking. Just had some fun with my favorite media. Water colors are so easy, light and forgiving!

After the background had dried, I decided to increase the color intensity in some spots with color pencils. I did not mean to start doodling but those pencils spoke to me: “Come on, let us dance a little”. How could I say no!

Painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

At some point I got deeper in my thoughts. I saw something happening in the painting.

Painting in progress, a detail, by Peony and Parakeet

The strokes of acrylic paint shortened. Some collage papers were added. The smaller the area I worked, the clearer the big picture looked. That phase was so exciting! Like opening the door and getting ready for the view.

Painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

Once the painting was finished, I heard my own comment: “You’ve been there before. The colors, the atmosphere – nothing new here! Get your greys and paint it over!” And then, louder: “Jump, JUMP!” And while my left brain cried and right brain celebrated, I mixed the greys and painted how I felt and what I longed for.

The Unexpected, mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

I could have stopped at any phase and declare the painting finished. But after jumping from cliff to cliff I found something new: the beauty of blacks, the simplicity behind my decorative style! So, my advice is: when you think about tossing that art journal page or craft project, don’t do that. Step towards the unexpected and let art reveal what you have escaped from!

Prototyping Creative Ideas

Decorative Block, mixed media art, Peony and Parakeet

I often get these ideas that cost a million. Like the big painting that shines in gold and silver. It would look like a reproduction of the beautiful doors I saw last year when visiting the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Someday I will make it!

So I made a small prototype. It is a wooden block that is covered with all kinds of stuff found in my crafting space.

Decorative Block, mixed media art, Peony and Parakeet

Namely, have you ever thought what happens those brilliant ideas that come to your mind, even middle of the night? I often forget them. To fix that I have fine-tuned my creative process. I try to save every idea by creating sketches, art journal pages or prototypes. I also use Twitter, post ideas to Facebook, or blog about them. Pinterest is a great tool too. As a visual person I need a visual reminder.

So, if you follow me, then you know what I will do if I win in a lottery! Real gold, jewels … wow, it will look astonishing.

Decorative Block, mixed media art, Peony and Parakeet

For the Love of Spring

Variation of Spring Flowers design, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s another variation of my Spring Flowers design. Creating variations and studying various color combos is so fun! I always decide to make just a simple paper and finally I am adding smaller and smaller details!

When decorating these papers I never know beforehand whether I will cut them to pieces for the collages or frame them as they are. But I always scan them once they are finished so that I can use them again if I want to.

I have uploaded a bigger picture of this artwork to the Inspired by Peony and Parakeet Flickr group. I love how the group has begun to look like, join the color lovers’ parade and upload your own version of spring flowers!