New Online Painting Workshops – See the videos!

I have two new online painting workshops in October! See the videos and sign up!

Planet Color
 is suitable for beginners and focuses on color!

Nature in Your Mind is for those who have been painting for a while and who love nature themes!

I have got quite a lot of feedback about the intensity of my workshops: that people wish they could reflect more and have some time after the most intense part of the workshop with the opportunity to get more personal feedback. So I have taken this into account in this workshop, thank you all who have filled the feedback form after my workshops! I get back to them all the time and use them when planning new courses like this one!

Early-Bird Prices for loyal followers!
The discounts are valid just for August – only for few days! So be quick!
>> Sign up for Planet Color!
>> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!

Hopefully I will meet you in either of these – or in both!

Paul Klee and the Art of Learning

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and a new painting in progress.

This blog post is a personal story about being a student of Paul Klee. I will also share my thoughts about art classes and about their effect.

Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook

It was a late evening in the beginning of July – one of those white nights that take place in the middle of summer in Finland. When the sun is up, it’s more tempting to stay awake than to go to sleep. It also felt better to pick a brush and paint than to slow down with knitting or watching tv. My brain activity was high. I didn’t want just paint, I wanted to learn something new.

While pondering about learning, I remembered a thin book that had been on my shelf for a while. It was borrowed from a library few weeks ago and I hadn’t opened it since. The title was called “Pedagoginen luonnoskirja” – Pedagogical Sketchbook, written by a famous abstract artist Paul Klee in 1925. The original version was written in German. In 1953, it was translated into English and finally into Finnish in 1997.  The long time span proves that the book has some ever-lasting content. But when I began to examine the first chapters with the brush in my hand, it seemed very uninspiring. The pages were black and white, no color, but the worst thing was: it looked like a math book! It had formulas, diagrams, references to geometry, anatomy, physics … What was I thinking about when I borrowed this book!

Abstract Art Theory for the Left Brain

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet learning from Paul Klee's Pedagogigal Sketchbook.

But then, I remembered that my artistic side wasn’t playing along when I found the book at the library. Being so thin, it could hardly be seen on the shelves filled with thick art books. Seeing its cover, my engineering side that got interested: can there be formulas for art? Is this the book that teaches the left brain to understand the right brain?

So even if I had my art journal open on the table and paints ready on the palette, I decided to switch gears and start reading the book – slowly and carefully like engineers do. After a couple of minutes, I was hooked. I was mesmerized by the world the book presented. Phenomenoms familiar from my physics studies were tied into modern abstract art. The book was broken into three parts. Each part contained short chapters. like tiny lessons. I decided to begin studying each chapter so that the engineer in me would read the it first. Then she would explain it to my artistic side who in turn, would fill an art journal page by playing with the concepts.

Side note: Interested in the book? Here’s a link to Amazon.com. There’s also a free PDF of the book available if you google it but I don’t link it here, as it may be an illegal copy.

Paul Klee’s Ideas in Practise

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

When I eagerly studied the book, I felt I had a teacher, Paul Klee himself. It was exciting to listen to him talking about muscular movement, material structures, disturbed balance, how the perspective is experienced or how the blood circulates in a body. And most of all, how it’s all connected to visual communication and visual art. I imagined being one of his many students and even one of the most enthusiastic ones. I was constantly raising my hand, not only asking questions but also questioning: how did you come up with this idea, why have you omitted this fact?

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

Do These Ideas Suit My Style?

Even if I was painting and reading like a maniac from one chapter to another, I was also in doubt. Stiff figures that I painted looked very old-fashioned to me. I had a teacher who hadn’t experienced the digital age, who hadn’t seen or created any contemporary art. “Tell me, Paul Klee, do these rules apply to many styles, including mine?”, I kept asking.

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

But despite of the constant battle in my mind, I couldn’t put the book away. I went from one chapter to another and eagerly waited what my teacher would present in the next one. And when the last chapter was completed, I felt sad to leave the classroom and say good bye to my teacher. During the session, I had completed three big art journal spreads. They all looked like the middle of 20th century to me. The session seemed to be nothing else but a fun engagement when the sun finally set down.

The Aftermath of Learning

Abstract art by Peony and Parakeet

During the next weeks, I saw sudden climpses of Paul Klee. When I was taking photos, drawing, painting or just observing, Paul Klee’s theories began to merge with my own thinking and with my own style. The three spreads that I had made were exercises only. Once I left the classroom, I was free to apply those theories where suitable. This is what happens in every art class. You might think that the exercises are not fit for you. You might have doubts if the class fits your current style. And when you leave the class you might think: “Oh well, I don’t know if I ever do this again.”

But like the blood needs oxygen, creativity needs new theories, techniques and ideas. They are not threat to your style, they are essential to continue developing your style. That’s one main reason why I challenge you to learn new techniques at Imagine Monthly (you can still sign up!). That’s also a reason why I will be inviting you to join my newest online painting workshop, starting in October.

Coming Up: New Painting Workshop

I am really excited about this! Be assured that I will have something special for the beginners and a lot of new to focus on for the more advanced painters. The theme for the class is expressing nature. The registration for the new workshop will open next week with a short-time early bird pricing. I will give more details about the class then.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and her painting in progress.

While building the class I have practiced the techniques and ideas on a big canvas. This painting is still in progress, but I want to show it to you just to be able to compare the art journal pages above and how Paul Klee’s teachings has merged into my own style. That’s what’s my goal with you too: that you’ll have fun time with the classes and that you will be able to mix new things with what you already know and love.

Make sure you don’t miss the fun: Subscribe to my weekly emails!

What to Create from Simple Shapes? 6 ideas

When I catch myself building a visual image in my mind, I say to myself that my hands have to process the idea first. The idea can be a decorative design or a new painting or anything visual. When my mind is vigorously trying to create images that I would be happy with, my hands don’t understand my mind at all. My mind is a fool and my hands are ruthless.

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In my mind, I can easily miss the elements that are needed for building the beautiful image. If I imagine a scene, the details that make the scene look so wonderful, are not all there. My mind only has a glimpse. The connection from the mind to the hands feels easier if it’s the other way around. The hand draws a couple of circles and the mind gets creative with them. This way building the bridge from my mind to my hands seems to work much better. Big pictures, personal stories, attractive designs are not born in my mind first. They are born in a conversation that is led by my hand drawing with pen on paper.

But hands don’t decide when to get started, the mind does. This is why I will give you few ideas to start the conversation between your hands and your mind. Like this, this and this post, this blog post is illustrated by my students. The art journal pages that you see here have been made at Modern Mid-Century art journaling class.

1) Build ornaments by grouping simple shapes.

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

Nel Wisse has created colorul clusters and then grouped them to bigger ornaments.

Nel Wisse, Netherlands. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

2) Create a surface pattern and cut a shape from it.

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

For example, see Darci Hayden’s cat and the stairs! Shapes that include patterns look always fascinating. (More patterned paper ideas)

Darci Hayden, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

3) Play with Sizes and Layers

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

Cut some elements smaller and add dimension to your page by playing with layers.
Sue Jorgensen has a good variety of both large and small elements.

Sue Jorgensen, Australia. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

4) Build a map, a house or a room plan

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

A clear hierarchy between the elements pleases also your left brain.
Marie Jerred’s fox is in the middle of an adventure!

Marie Jerred, Canada. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Stephanie Carney’s Flamingo is just entering a house of dreams.

Stephanie Carney, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

5) Express Micro or Macro World

Both micro and macro biology deal with basic shapes. Explore either molecules or satellites!
Susan Prothero’s micro world is captivating.

Susan Prothero, UK. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Elise Tobler‘s space is full of life!

Elise Tobler, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

6) Find a connection to a story

Explain what you associate with the shapes and then move on to a more illustrational approach. Elaine Wirthlin’s spread is an awesome example!

Elaine Wirthlin, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Buy the class: Modern Mid-Century!

Modern Mid-Century, an art journaling class that teaches drawing and collage art based on simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet.

Designers in 1950s and 1960s (like Annikki Hovisaari from Finland and Lisa Larsson from Sweden) truly knew how to play with simple shapes. Modern Mid-Century is a self-study art journaling class where I am inviting you to my living room and showing inspiring examples from the middle of the 20th century. Then I will help you to design your own unique motifs and build a collage that is both decorative and expressive.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with the art journal spread playing with simple shapes.

Modern Mid-Century
Start playing with simple shapes!
 >> Buy Now!

Have Some Vincent van Gogh in Your Life!

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet has an art journaling class about painting like Vincent van Gogh.

When I opened Imagine Monthly Fall 2016 art journaling class for registration, my question to the first participants was: “What is your favorite artist?” The ultimate winner was Vincent van Gogh. So I went to the local library and picked up two huge books showcasing all his paintings. I wanted to create a class that inspires not only playing in his style, but which also makes people relate to him. I wanted to enable people to put their world next to his and see it in full color like he did.

Life in Full Color

Whether you are an actual engineer or not, I think that you too have an inner engineer. She likes the home to be organized and clean. She takes responsibilities seriously. She worries over the practical stuff.

I have some ironing to do again!

But then, truly, you also have an inner artist. She doesn’t care what time it is or whether she’s hungry or not. She doesn’t have a clue if somebody needs her to be somewhere else. Her world has no linear time. She has no other duties than to explore. She sees colors and textures when the engineer sees dirty laundry and a shopping list. No, she would not stay alive without the inner engineer. But the inner engineer could never live the life in full color without the inner artist.

Vincent van Gogh

Thinking about Van Gogh, an art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Me and Vincent van Gogh, merged into one person.

Here’s what every inner engineer knows about Vincent van Gogh: He was a poor artist from the 19th century, painting with thick medium. He had mental issues and he sold only one painting.

But the inner artist feels that he was her soul-mate. He saw yellow sky and blue ground when other people saw the perfect weather to sow the seed. He saw glorious sunset when other people saw withering flowers. For people of that time, his portraits and sketches looked clumsy even if he had caught the essence. Namely, in his world, the essential thing to do was not to engineer but to express. Instead of aiming for objectivity, he was the master of subjectivity.

Van Gogh Moments

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet has an art journaling class about painting like Vincent van Gogh.

I believe that most people create art because they need “Van Gogh Moments”. In those moments, you can pick any color for any object, not only green for the grass like the inner engineer would suggest. In those moments, you can not only play with colors but also experience the interaction between the hues and shades. Just like van Gogh did! If you look at any detail in his paintings, you will see the interaction of colors.

Selfie Fantasy is an art journaling class about painting like Vincent van Gogh.

So while the inner engineer waits for the important phone call, the inner artist hears her colors speaking. While the inner engineer worries if she will ever meet someone again, the inner artist paints him or her right there beside her.

Selfie Fantasy

Selfie Fantasy is an art journaling class about painting like Vincent van Gogh.

When I browsed through the two big books of van Gogh’s paintings, I realized that a big part of his production were portraits. They were either self-portraits or portraits of other people. So in Selfie Fantasy, you will not only learn easy ways for creating a colorful and swirly scene in Vincent van Gogh’s style. You will also get step-by-step instructions for adding some familiar faces onto your art journals. In the class video, I use those methods to paint my mother and me. My mother is there on the spread, glowing on her wedding day, much earlier than when I was born. This time she is in the foreground because in real life she was always the one in the background, supporting my creativity. She truly was my inner engineer till the day she passed away about 25 years ago.

Give some “Van Gogh Moments” for your inner artist!
Sign up for Imagine Monthly Fall 2016
and get an immediate access to Selfie Fantasy – Sign up now!

Limited Creative Time – A Personal Story

The Sense of Time, a watercolor painting created in limited creative time. By Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my latest watercolor painting “The Sense of Time”, made just a couple of days ago. I limited my creative time immensely when painting this. But this time I want to share the whole story, not just images of how I made the painting. At the same time, you will see some of my summer crafting projects and learn a couple of fun facts about Finnish summer.

Peonies Embrace the Midnight Sun

When people ask what would be the best time to come to Finland, I always suggest summer. Finnish summer begins in June and ends in August. In my opinion, the best month is July. Even in the south, where I live, you can experience the midnight sun, warmth and see the best in Finnish people. Like peonies, we are all introverts in the dark and cold winter, But when the sun comes up, it’s all smile.

Finnish peonies grown under the midnight sun. By Peony and Parakeet.

Colors Compete with Shapes

My husband always has his summer vacation in July. As dog owners, our possibilites to travel are limited to day trips unless we take them to kennels or arrange somebody to look after them. As both of us love old art and antique, we always go to Billnäs and Fiskars for an antique fair. If you have watched a British television series Lovejoy, these are the places where you could see him and his assistants if they traveled to Finland. There are two antique fairs at the same time. They last 4 days and are packed with people selling and buying antique items in the middle of Finnish countryside. The fairs are partly indoors, partly outdoors and truly a collector’s heaven whether it rains or shines.

At an antique fair. Art class designed by Kaj Franck. A photograph by Peony and Parakeet.

When looking at the sales tables, I always notice color first. My husband, a skillful woodworker, examines the shapes. Together we are unbeatable!

Art Rises from the Dollhouse

It was both unfortunate and fortunate that I found an old display cabinet from Billnäs. Fortunate, because it’s just what I had dreamed of for my doll collection. Unfortunate, because I didn’t have the space for the dollhouse anymore. I had to empty the tiny kitchen with miniature wine bottles and delicacies as well as all the other tiny rooms filled with similar items.

Dollhouse dining table. By Peony and Parakeet.

While taking the little paintings off from the walls, I realized that one of them wasn’t just printed image. It was a cross-stitch project that I had made years ago! I remembered not being very happy with it. When I started it, I thought that I could make more than one and then sell some. I didn’t have any pattern and the end result didn’t look as painterly as I would have wanted. So I gave up the idea of making more and placed the piece above the dining table, in the spot where it wasn’t as visible as other pictures. No wonder I had forgotten it!

Miniature cross stitch sea painting. By Peony and Parakeet.

But now, it looks just perfect to me. Now I see more than just clumsy stitches. I see how my love to combine arts, crafts and design came out even when I was decorating a doll house.

William Morris Visits Ikea

One of my creative routines is organizing things. Even at antique fairs, I sometimes get the urge to rearrange items and I have to restrain myself. This spring, I was organizing a storage space of our house and found an old Ikea Moppe mini chest of drawers. Putting old stuff into use is a creative challenge that I am often willing to take. I went to Pinterest, saw boards like this and was ready to get started.

The first challenge was that I also wanted to use up old paints. The only paint with the suitable quality was baby blue. I wanted to place the mini chest in the library room near my doll collection and store fashion doll clothes in it. I had hard time seeing baby blue suit to the style and color scheme of the library room. We have decorated the library room in the styles of 1890-1930s. The curtains have William Morris’s pattern. How could the Ikea mini chest ever with with the style? Trusting that I could figure it out, I refused to buy new paint as I had another purchase in mind. I wanted to buy ceramic knobs for it.

Interior decoration and crafting. By Peony and Parakeet.

If I had to choose one material that I adore, it would be a difficult decision between ceramics and glass. But I think the winner would be ceramics. Even if I have never really dived deep into creating with clay, I love ceramic items. Especially if they are both decorative and expressive. I also like them to be a little rustic, have some handmade feel without being overly clumsy. The knobs I wanted to buy should also have some baby blue, some William Morris, look both old and modern and be traditional but somewhat innovative. Despite of the high expectations, I optimistically began to search handmade ceramic knobs. It took a couple of days but my optimism payed off and I found just the perfect ones! They are made by an english woman living in Israel. Her Etsy shop is called “Clay is My Art”, a heaven for anyone who loves rustic, but sophisticated ceramics.

Ikea Moppe mini chest of drawers. Hacked by Peony and Parakeet. Ceramic knobs by Clay Is My Art Etsy shop.

As you can see in the photo, I was able to find decorative papers that not only matched the knobs, they fit perfectly to the style of the library room. The papers with palm plants are leftover wallpapers. The other two are from my scrapbooking paper stash.

Ikea Moppe mini chest of drawers. Hacked by Peony and Parakeet. Ceramic knobs by Clay Is My Art Etsy shop.

But wait, this story continues …

Leftover Flosses Praise the Pattern

Have you ever had anything in your home that was ok before you changed everything in its surroundings? My number one thing was a small key storage cabinet, which was fine in our old home on a muted dark red wall. But when placed on a bright yellow wall of our current home, it really bothered me. With the experience in cross stitching for dollhouses, I got an idea of stitching a dollshouse carpet pattern from Janet Granger‘s book Miniature Dollshouse Carpets.

Key cabinet with a cross stiched design and its new cover. By Peony and Parakeet.

It took all spring when working slowly but in the beginning of summer I got it stitched. I also repainted the wooden parts. This time I did buy the dark green paint but this is still a project using leftovers. Namely, I didn’t just use the few colors set in the pattern. I used leftover skeins of embroidery floss creatively so that the carpet looks like an old antique one. I much prefer this look to using only few colors.

Key storage cabinet with a cross stitch cover using leftover flosses. By Peony and Parakeet.

The cabinet looks great on the yellow wall. I temporarily took it down for photographing it in a better lighting. There was also another reason, connected to the watercolor painting …

Limited Creative Time – Craft Projects Inspire the Painting

This time I had limited creative time. Before I started painting, I placed the three handcrafted items on the table in front of me. The key cabinet, the mini chest and the miniature cross-stitch work were all there to inspire me. Then I glanced my watch and gave myself 15 minutes to paint the first layer. Namely, I had another project in progress too. I was editing one of the videos for Imagine Monthly Fall, the art journaling class that begins in August 1st. Editing videos requires a lot of concentration and I wanted to keep the quality good by taking small breaks. So after 45 minutes of editing, I had 15 minutes for my painting, all day.

Craft projects inspire the painting throughout the limited creative time. By Peony and Parakeet.

If you work in short periods of time like this, inspiration items become essential. Seeing the same objects again and again, even if you are not actually recreating any of them, maintains the focus and direction.

After four 15 minute sessions I was at the point where I had painted this and that with five different brushes but had now clue of what I was trying to express. It was fun to paint like this but clearly I couldn’t finish the painting without setting up a longer session.

Watercolor painting in progress. By Peony and Parakeet.

Finishing – Summing Up

I soon discovered that being so aware of the time had also affected the painting. I saw clocks and pointers which made me ponder about the concept of time. It flies so quickly in creative activities that it’s difficult to think about it as a simple measure. This in turn made me think about the antiques and how great designs last time. After me and my husband are gone, there will always be new enthusiastics who will drool over those Kaj Franck‘s bowls.

I often finish my watercolors with colored pencils to easily add new layers of details and decorative lines. But this time, I was reminded by my craft projects: “Make the most of what you currently have.” So I resisted the urge to go to another room and get the jars of colored pencils. It only took an hour to finish the painting.

The Sense of Time, a watercolor painting created in limited creative time. By Peony and Parakeet.

Some midnight sun, some glassware, mini horizons, small amounts of leftover colors, block shapes and last but not least: the description of how my inner artist sees the sense of time.

The Way I Process Ideas and Produce Classes

This blog post demonstrates how I work with ideas. It’s not only one idea that goes into one piece of work, it’s a collection of ideas that have different levels. Some are more abstract, others are more concrete. I believe that every good art class is filled with multi-level ideas that in turn, embark your own ideas. That’s why I never underestimate the importance of the background study that I do for my classes. I listen to audiobooks. I go to libraries to browse books. I collect Pinterest boards and inspirational items. I make sketches and paintings that I call pre-class paintings (yes, the one above is one of these). They prepare me to bring my best to the classes that I produce. They ensure that the class is not only about one whimsical thing that I fell in love with but about a holistic, yet clear and inspiring view to the subject. All in all, we all have limited creative time.

Sign Up for Imagine Monthly Fall!

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Take your art to a new level by practising drawing and painting with themes inspired by fine arts. Express prestigious nostalgia, impactful aesthetics and futuristic imagination through art journaling. Let’s make idea-full art journal pages your channel to move forward in art making!

Imagine Monthly Fall 5 challenges, great community >> Sign up now!

 

Build Imagination with the Students of Peony and Parakeet

During the last spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Painter’s Ecstasy. Like in the previous blog posts (this one and this), I want to share some of them with you.

Build Imagination with Watercolors!

The pieces of this post are made with watercolors mostly. To my experience, watercolors are the supplies to go if you just stare at the blank paper and have no ideas in mind. They are soft and not so exact than pens or acrylics. It’s also easy to see something interesting appearing and start building new details from that. Maintain an open mind and not try to figure the end result beforehand. Instead, start with a general idea in mind.

1) Start with Mixed Emotions

Because creating art should be enjoyable, we often want to express positive feelings. But to get more connected to your piece, analyze your emotion more in detail. It’s often mixed: joy can hold tears of affection, happiness can contain worry, love can include dependency of some kind. This doesn’t mean you have to dwell in negative emotions but pondering about the more complicated nature of emotions can also free up your imagination. When controversial issues are allowed, it’s a sign to your mind that anything is allowed. This, in turn, will build imagination!

Sheila McGruer, Australia - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Sheila McGruer’s art journal spread tells a visual story about a woman who has an origin. This would not be so expressive without the tear drops!

2) Get Surreal

People say: “I do only abstracts”, “I focus drawing faces”, “I like landscapes”. Break the rules and combine various approaches. Could abstract contain faces? Could faces include landscapes? Could geometry meet human parts? Could 3-dimensional meet 2-dimensional?

Terry Whyte, Canada - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Terry Whyte‘s piece is fascinating. It’s simple if you count the elements but mind-blowing if you examine their relations. A wonderful example of how the surreal can look like!

3) Play with Proportions, Colors and Abilities

Can houses be smaller than faces? Can trees be red and purple, then change their color and leave off the ground? Anything can be possible in your art journal!

Annemarie de Brujin, The Netherlands - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Annemarie de Brujin plays brilliantly with proportions, colors and dynamics. The painting feels like an experience, more than just an ordinary scene.

4) Envision Your Location

Mind-travel to a place where you would like to go! It can be a real location, an imaginary one or the mix of many! Nothing has to be exact. Get inspiration from the colors and the atmosphere. Make your art journal a mind-traveller’s notebook!

Gal Brule, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Gail Brule‘s art journal spread is a wonderful interpretation of the city Barcelona. Mountains, the beach, Gaudi, the colorful street life … it’s all there!

5) Treat Inanimate Object as Humans

One of the easiest way to get imagination going, is to treat anything inanimate as a living object. Can a house have an identity of its own? Can group of items look like a choir of brilliant singers? How do the trees look like when they are smiling?

Claudia Kern, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Claudia Kern has created more than a landscape. The painting is like a big and inviting party!

6) Merge Everything into One Flow

Instead of adding single elements, build connections and flow to your piece. Connecting lines also connect the viewer to the painting and it all seems to make sense. This way, small elements can be used to build big pictures.

Debbie Kreischer, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Debbie Kreischer shows it so well: we are all part of the same flow!

7) Express a Conversation

If you always do faces, why not creating more than one and express a connection between them. Then take it even further: what are they talking about, where are they walking, why are they together? Show it all visually!

Patty Furey, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Patty Furey’s dreamy woman and dynamic man are the perfect couple to dive deeper into the story. They seem to live in a city. Maybe the man has brought the flowers for her. She seems to be the country girl in her heart, though! These kind of pages that evoke stories are the best ones. If you like creative writing as well, use your image as an starting point for a poem or for a short story!

8) Get Ideas from Treasured Items

Open your treasure box or shopping wish list and analyze how the single items are constructed. Does your favorite blouse have ruffles? Do you grave for jewelry that holds the beads elegantly? How are the details of your dream hand bag? Thinking like a designer can give ideas to an amazing art!

Vikki Hoppes, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Vikki Hoppes’ painting is a great example of how to build imagination by constructing elements creatively.

Painter’s Ecstasy

When planning Painter’s Ecstasy, I spent weeks examining the paintings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He had students but to my knowledge they didn’t get much guidance, only a green classroom:
– “I tell them nothing. I just put the plants there and leave them alone together.”

My first sketches were made with few bold strokes but they didn’t catch the essence. Sketch by sketch, I slowed down and toned down. Hunderwasser called his way of working “vegetative painting” as it develops slowly. It doesn’t start with drum rolls but with little bell sounds. The techniques that I discovered with trial and error
make starting easy but stopping almost impossible when you reach the spheres of painter’s ecstasy!

This mini-course, Painter’s Ecstasy, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!

You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the  classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Build Imagination with watercolors - Art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy by Peony and Parakeet

Build imagination, right now!

8 Style Tips from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Flowing Greenery. Like in the previous blog post, I want to share some of them with you.

Various Styles with Style Tips

This time I show pieces that are very different in style. I also include style tips and analysis. This kind of comparison can be positive and beneficial. By creating similar work and then comparing it with other artists’ pieces can make you understand more about your own signature style.

1) Warm and Dominant

The first piece is by Terttu Laitinen. Her way to use visually heavy elements feels like a weighted, warm blanket that you want to snuggle into! This piece makes you stop and calm down and still feel inspired! It’s so loaded with energy that the fruits could drop down at any moment.

Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

2) Detailed and Holistic

Gina Meadows takes a step away and makes you think about your life as a whole. It feels like every element in her work has a designated mission, connected to the cycle of living. Her strokes are clearly defined, but living and expanding as she uses very few straight lines.

Gina Meadows, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

3) Playful and Social

Michelle Rydell combines round with angular strokes very playfully. It looks like every little leaf and cloud has a personality of its’ own. She is also a master of combining imagination with visual clarity. A clear focus looks always appealing.

Michelle Rydell, USA, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

4) Intimate and Symbolic

Terry Whyte‘s work is more intimate. It’s like the tree protects the like-minded couple. A lot of care and thought has been put into shapes of each element to make them look both aesthetic and meaningful.

Terry Whyte, Canada, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

5) Primitive and Mysterious

Ulla M. Holm combined William Morris with Henri Rousseau. Her own unique style goes perfectly with Henri Rousseau’s naive masterpieces. This is an insight that’s worth pondering: how could you combine your favorite artists so that they enrich your own unique style?

Ulla M. Holm, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

6) Decorative and Sophisticated

Patricia Bush has an eye for details. But she also knows how to make them differ in size and color so that the result doesn’t overwhelm you. You might stare the gorgeous pegasus first, but take a look at the trunk of the tree too. It’s wonderfully ornamental and has a very wooden feel. Sophistication in every detail, including the castle and the moon is her magic!

Patricia Bush, Canada, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

7) Relaxed and Emotional

Meri Andriesse’s style goes to other direction. Her relaxed piece is more than all the careless elements together. Her strength is to create an atmosphere that any creative aspires to have. It’s loose and sunny, just perfect to get inspired and go creating!

Meri Andriesse, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

8) Connecting and Thoughtful

Sherry Pollack has whimsical style with lively lines but it’s also extremely thoughtful. It’s like every little creature has its’ own thoughts even if the creatures share the same experience. This makes it so easy to imagine being among them. It feels like I could listen to the same sounds, observe the same things and join the conversation that is more spiritual than outspoken.

Sherry Pollack, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

Flowing Greenery

When using the same mixed media techniques, how would your scene look like? This mini-course, Flowing Greenery, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!

You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the  classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Art journaling class Flowing Greenery by Peony and Parakeet

Create your own fruit trees and whimsical animals, right now!

9 Collage Ideas from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Doodled Luxury and I want to share some of them with you. There were so many great pieces that choosing was difficult but this time I thought to share pieces that are very idea-driven. You can never have too many collage ideas, especially if you process several at the same time!

1) Many Variations of One Shape

Gina Meadows shows beautifully how hand-drawn elements are all like from the same family when created by the same person. I also love how it’s full of feather-like shapes. They repeat the idea of a free, observing bird.

Gina Meadows, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

2) Solid Ground

The second art journal spread that I want to show you is by Debbie Loftus. Her work is a wonderful illustration of the quote she has picked. This piece also reminds me of how we can create very free flowing, beautiful mess that still speaks harmony. This can be done by simply making the bottom of the page strong and solid. This piece communicates how we as humans see nature. It’s full of weeds and still so beautiful!

Debbie Loftus, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

3) Mystery That Can Be Revealed

Mary Werner’s lady looks a bit mysterious here – but wait until you see the second picture!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

The lady has a secret, a dog who is her muse, making her to relax and take in much more than when walking outside alone. Mary has used velcro to attach the lady above the muse. Isn’t it a great idea to include a hidden mystery!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

4) Spiritual Softness

Speaking of true friends, Stephanie Carney has illustrated two sisters. I love the way they look at the flowers, sharing the same experience. Examine how softly the round frame has been decorated and compare it to others! These kinds of little nuances can communicate a lot visually!

Stephanie Carney, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

5) Real Person in a Fantasy

Terry Whyte made her grand daughter the central person. Isn’t this spread a treasure? Combine your hand drawing with the photos and start building your own fantasies!

Terry Whyte, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

6) Many Sides of One Personality

Satu Kontuvuori included her cat who is a very wild character. Even if she stays still in the image, it’s like the wildly flying bird is one of her many lives. If you are expressing a personality, or any subject that has many sides, you can scatter it into various elements of the same piece. That way you will focus on one theme but still express it in a free-flowing and rich manner.

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

7) Focal Point Balances Richness

Speaking of focus … Christie Juhasz has a trick for creating a clear focal point. See how her mermaid is sitting on a white frame! Even if the work has full of details, white circle makes sure that the main character gets noticed.

Christie Juhasz, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

8) Movement + Space to Breathe

Another great example of using circles: look at Betsy Eaton’s fish and how there’s a circular space around it. Brilliant! Another thing which makes this so appealing is the movement of elements. That dynamic feelhas been created by adding swirly shapes.

Betsy Eaton, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

9) Rainbow Softness

Kathy Lewis (a.k.a KjAllison) made a gorgeous spread full of multicolored elements, like mini-rainbows. This makes me think about macro photography and dew drops! Soft transitions of colors – why not use them in your next art journal page?

Kathy Lewis, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

Doodled Luxury

This mini-course, Doodled Luxury, was published as a part of Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the other 5 classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Paivi Eerola and a handdrawn collage created for the art journaling class Doodled Luxury, collage ideas for creatives!

Start doodling and collaging, right now!

Video: Full Art Journal Flip Through!

Peony and Parakeet's full art journal. See the art journal flip through video!

There are two special moments in art journaler’s life: starting a new art journal and finishing one. As the latter is much rarer, I am happy to announce that I have just finished this journal! I truly feels a small victory!

From Decorative to Expressive

A spread in Peony and Parakeet's full art journal. See the art journal flip through video!

I purchased this Smash book in 2014 and intended to make it fashion and textile oriented. It has a lot of those, but also other stuff like little paintings, few cards that I have wanted to save and some collages that include photos. When I started this journal, I was very much into decorative style and the book has a lot of hand-decorated papers in it. Now, when I look back, I no longer see decorations as a self-purpose but a channel to move forward. Once I have got my imagination going, I have been able to move to creating more expressive art.

A spread in Peony and Parakeet's full art journal. See the art journal flip through video!

Art Journal Flip Through

Many pages of this art journal are a bit clumsy but I still wanted to celebrate the finished journal. I also think that this kind of “collage book” contains quite a lot of ideas that you can use in your art journal too.  So I created a flip-through video for you to watch. Hopefully it will inspire you to art journal every week, even if it’s just one little circle on the corner of a page.

Go deeper into art journaling …

Imagine Monthly – Sign Up Now!

Imagine Monthly Fall 2016, an art journaling master class by Peony and Parakeet

Create stunning art journal pages with techniques that expand your possibilities!
>> Sign up for Imagine Monthly Fall 2016

Libraries, Trees, Skies and Seas – This Year so Far

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and her library room

While building new classes and updating the web site (see the new Create page!), I realized that I have over 450 blog posts in this blog. I have been blogging for a long time, but still, it’s a big number! While going through those posts, I realized that more than a diary, this blog is like a manual, lot’s of instructions and tips on how to start creating and keep on creating. I have no intentions to change it. However, I feel I have left out many things that have happened during the spring, so this post is a bit different.

Libraries

As I work from home, most days during this spring have been spent in the library room of our house. While creating new mini-courses for Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, I have also visited public libraries examining art history where I get most of my ideas from. This “library time” is one of the best things in my job as an art teacher. I love the feeling of control that I get from seeing all the books around me. It’s very different from browsing information on the internet. Internet is like a tube or a bunch of tubes, while libraries are like arenas, bringing more information visible at the same time.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, January's mini-course, Doodled Luxury, inspired by Alphonse Mucha

I have not only visited the usual local libraries, located near my home, but “the library”, National Library of Finland.

The National Library of Finland, one of the most beautiful libraries

I tried to capture its’ beauty to one panorama photo but it doesn’t quite show all the wonderful details the building has.

Trees

When working from home, garden views become important. Our back garden has old trees that had grown too big and they had to be cut. We hired arborists to do that and the trees looked like sculptures first, now there’s lot’s of green already.

Trees in spring, Finland

Another tree-related event was when our apple and cherry trees blossomed. It was more beautiful than ever before, the spring had been so warm. Like creating this William Morris inspired spread for one of the mini-courses, would predict a warm weather to Finland!

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, February's mini-course, Flowing Greenery, inspired by William Morris

Speaking of trees, I visited the center of Helsinki to see a famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama‘s instalaltion. Again, I tried to get a panorama photo of it!

Yayoi Kusama in Helsinki, Finland

Small and Surreal

Spots came to my mind already earlier in the spring when I spent a lot of time examining Hundertwasser’s surrealistic way to build big pictures from small structures.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, March's mini-course, Painter's Ecstasy, inspired by Hundertwasser

No wonder I have not only taken panoramas, but used macro lense too. When we took care of our long spruce fence, I saw small dew drops that looked like mini worlds! Who wouldn’t want to go there and see what treasures they carry!

Dewdrop, spruce, nature photography, Finland

Taking photos is really important part of my creative process. The camera challenges me to see further than the obvious.

What a Movie!

In May, after publishing the mini-course on Claude Monet’s style, I went to a movie theatre to see a special documentary. It was called Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. Anybody who likes flowers, gardening and painting should see it!

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, April's mini-course, Strokes of Energt, inspired by Claude Monet

Mid-Century Magic Box

June’s highlight was Rut Bryk’s exhibition Magic Box and the inspiration I got from it.

Rut Bryk, Finland

Earlier in the spring, I had already examined mid-century modern designs. My mini-course for Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 was about how to make your own mid-century modern art journal page.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, May's mini-course, Modern Mid-Centiury, inspired by mid-century modern style

From Expressive Skies to Seas

After examining Claude Monet’s style, I became more and more aware of how beautiful skies can be. There were some beautiful sunsets this spring.

Sunset in Vantaa, Finland

These glowing sunsets made me think about landscapes and how expressive they can be – how we can create fantasy landscapes and use them as a tool of self-expression! Then I saw a couple of art exhibitions that had seascapes and felt drawn to them more than ever before. So the last mini-course of the spring is about seascapes.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, June's mini-course, Stormy Scenery, inspired by seascape painters Ivan Aivazovsky and J.M.W. Turner

When I make recordings for my classes, I must confess that it’s terribly exciting. It requires extreme concentration to produce the artwork in front of the camera and take care of all the little things that make a good video. Every brush stroke has to be educational as well as exact. I intend to get better and better at this, showing how you can create with less fuss and more expression!

Cosmo – My Dog

My beagle Cosmo has had health issues for the whole spring. It has been stressful and I have worried about him a lot. He is already 11 years old so I have feared for the worst. But luckily the cure was found finally and he is now happy and healthy again, enjoying the beginning of summer.

Happy beagles, Finland

Imagine Monthly Continues

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 closes in the end of June. Before that you can still sign up and receive all the 6 mini-courses immediately after the purchase + get access to the discussion group to see what other students have been creating! These courses will become for sale individually sometimes in July-August, but as self-study classes, without the access to the discussion group.

Imagine Monthly Fall 2016 will start in August 1st! Get 5 new mini-courses, 1 per month from August to December, sign up now!