A Decorated Box Using Mixed Media

Decorated box filled with ink bottlesTrash can become a treasure

It was only a small cardboard box but I wanted to take it to the extreme. There’s something extremely satisfying in taking  trash and treating it like a treasure. Many times when I draw I miss working with 3-dimensional objects. This time I wanted to enjoy playing with the box and use all its’ sides. Mixed media was the driving factor here too.


First removed all the extra tapes from the box surface. Then I covered the box with white gesso. It would give colors better background than brown cardboard.


I painted the inside panels yellow. It is one of my favorite colors and I often use it when I want to add light but do not want to do that with white. As you may know, I am not a big fan of white!

Adding collage elements to the inside panels of the box

Plain yellow surface looked little bare so I added some collage elements. These were made by coloring pages from children’s books with color pencils and then  randomly cutting circles from the colored areas. I glued the circles with gel medium.

The bottom of the box needed something different. I decided to crochet a piece that would fit inside the box. I began with a small square and crocheted around it using a couple of colors. Finally I finished the pice by embroidering a flower.

At this phase the box reminded me about the sunflowers in the end of the summer. Then I began to decorate the outside of the box.

Crocheted bottom of the decorated box

Crocheted edge on the bottom of the decorated box


I continued with crochet. I made flowers and a long chain which I used in the outside bottom. It feels great to lay the box onto the table when there’s soft wool in the edges!

The I wondered how to attach the decorations like the crocheted flowers and various buttons to the outside edges. They were pretty heavy. Golden Fiber Paste was the perfect stuff! It created the textured surface and attached all the little pieces securely.

A decorated box using mixed media, a closeup

The end result is unusual looking but perfect for my indian ink bottles!

Designing a Tattoo

Tattoo, tree branch, by Peony and ParakeetLast spring my friend asked if I could design a tattoo for her.

A tattoo! An image that you can’t remove, at least not easily! And so personal one. That really is a challenge, I thought. I should not do it. No. Yes. I should try to!

It was my friend’s first tattoo. She had been wanting it for years. She told me she wanted a tree or a branch. That’s where the design process began.

I drew sketches and asked questions. Should it be strong, edgy, round, feminine? Full of leaves or bare? Ornamental or simple? And so on. I knew I had to trust on the design process and let each of the phase take me closer to the end result.

When the process went on, I began to draw sketches on computer. Adobe Illustrator is a great program for this kind of work.

Between computer work I printed the design and continued with handdrawn details. Finally every little detail had been finetuned with computer and the design was finished.

Tattoo, a design process

Tattoo, tree branch, by Peony and ParakeetThe finished design was presented to the tattoo artist. She changed the thinnest lines stronger so that they would last.

The tattoo is located on the arm. I am glad my friend loves it and I like it too. It represents a lot of her style but I can still recognize it to be my work of art too.

What an exciting project!

Folk Bag with Imagination

Folk Bag, Dancing With Imagination, by Peony and Parakeet

I finished this bag in the summer but have been saving this for blogging. Now when the autumn has come to Finland, showing this feels appropriate.

Folk Bag, Dancing With Imagination, by Peony and Parakeet

When making this my goal was to create something based on my own style so I created everything myself. All the patterns and ornaments are my own designs.

This bag is inspired by nature in the way many folk style objects were. It also represents the design process where wild plants change to stiff ornaments.

I named the bag after another of my work. This is called Dancing With Imagination because it is so much alike than the art journal page that I made a while ago.

Self-Sufficiency in Art Journaling

An art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

I love the word “self-sufficiency”. I don’t know if it sounds as wonderful to native English speakers but it reminds me that I am sufficient, I am enough, nothing more is needed.

I am often asked: what materials do you use, what should I shop first when beginning art journaling? In the beginning it is all about the equipment, I understand. But this has happened for me: the more I create, the more I begin to value self-sufficiency. It means that I use what I have. I only buy when I have run out of the material. When making a page I try to find creative ways to use even the tiniest pieces of papers. It makes me happy. I feel independent and powerful.

It is great to have supplies that work for you and shopping them can be a joy too. Still, it is also true that you can make your best adverts, the greatest shop. Only you can create images that you are naturally drawn to. By examining what you like and why, you will first find your own style, and then your own happiness. Self-suffieciency is not always the absolute but in art journaling you really are enough!

Dancing with Imagination – Mermaid Illustration

Dancing With Imagination, an art journaling page, illustration by Peony and Parakeet

The reason why I have been practising by drawing millions of circles, again and again, is this: I want to express myself through illustration. I want to put my imagination into work and make my toughts and dreams visible.

Dancing With Imagination, a detail of an art journaling page, illustration by Peony and ParakeetAnd I have more dreams. You might remember that I painted icons when I was a child. It led me to dream about painting new kind of icons: images that are not connected to any particular religion but which have the similar uplifting effect.

Now I have understood that I want to dance with the imagination, go beyond, not only religion, but also reality. I want to illustrate imaginitive stories, fairy tales, and use them to uplift myself and hopefully others too.

I have found this through art journaling. I have made many ugly pages before I have realized: I can take any direction I want with my art, with my thinking.

I want to cherish the power of imagination and welcome you to do so too!

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Finding Your Identity

Glass Gate, an art journal page

I am often unable to put my thoughts into words before I see them as a visual image. When creating this art journal page spread I had a strong feeling, a specific set of colors and a visual sketch in my mind. When I transfered the image to paper it became easier to catch the words that I was chasing: The Glass Gate.

Glass Gate, an art journal page, a detailFinding what you are and what makes you happy is like traveling in the fog. You see things that you are drawn to. Often they do not seem to make sense. Once you spend enough time for searching it becomes more and more clear that all those things do have a connection. There’s something what you’ve made for. You only have to find this glass gate, standing in the fog. You pass by it, you are so close, you just don’t know it. Once you see it, it’s all so obvious. The gate is huge and the pilars are shining. You can walk through and it’s not a big task at all.

I strongly believe in this. By listening yourself and analyzing things around you, you will find your own style, your own mission and your true identity. It might be a journey that takes the whole life but once you are on a right track it feels so good.

For me one mystery has been the watercolor paper. I have always loved it but never really cared for painting watercolor landscapes or still lives. Now, when I began to used it as the foundation of my art journaling, I feel more free than ever when creating images. A very small little detail, not even very philosophical, but it has made a big difference for me.

Realistic Composition from Photos

Rose Greeting Card, use realistic composition from photosI am fascinated by photographs. I take a lot of photos and examine composition in them. I find it interesting that some objects show only partly in the photos. This little detail gives realistic look for illustrations too.

Half Cut Elements, Fuzzy Background

As you can guess I have more peonies than roses in my garden but in greeting cards, I have to admit, roses look great. In this card I applied my photographic studies. It includes not only half cut elements but also fuzzy background to add dimension and depth. To create imaginary world that looks like it really exists – that’s my dream!

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Combining Acrylics with Watercolors in Art Journaling

Art journal page, house and garden

This summer has been sunny and warm in Finland. It has been great to spend time outdoors, gardening! Our garden is still work in progress. I think about it constantly. And it shows here in this art journal page, as well as the hot summer days!

Art journal page, house and garden, a detail

I love the combination of acrylics and watercolors. They make a great background. Start with the acrylics, leave some unpainted areas and the add watercolor to them.

I continued by adding some handdrawn papers and wrote: “For someone this would be only a house and a garden but for us it’s the whole world.

Coming up in Espoo, Finland: art journaling courses by Peony and Parakeet (in Finnish). The first evening (19th September) is about creating pages about landscapes and places!

Retro Greeting Card

Retro Greeting Card

I am a child of 70s. My mother had mustard yellow painted doors in her kitchen and bright turquoise walls. I spent my early childhood playing on the kitchen floor and looking at the wild patterns of the plastic carpet.

So one evening when remembering all that, I just had to make a very retro greeting card!


Art Journaling Doilies

Art journaling doilies

I haven’t ever been brilliant with watercolors but I have grown to like them very much. Recently I have used them more and more in art journaling. On this page I have used just watercolors, color pencils and markers.

Art journaling doilies

This page tells a story and that’s something I want to increase too: add more text and content to my pages. Here I write about how as a small child I wanted to learn how to crochet. I thought it is a part of good parenting to teach the child to crochet as young as possible! As soon as I learned it I was crocheting like crazy: doll clothes, doilies, clothes, valence curtains … I was the crocheting queen until I started dating and my boyfriend took me to see his family’s summer cottage.

All the textiles in that log cabin were crocheted! Full-sized curtains, bed covers, cushions, table cloths, you name it! His grandmother had done all that. I was speachless. When I met her she told me that a doctor had told her not to crochet anymore as her hands hurt. But as she wanted to do something she had started to learn printing fabric.

The relationship with the boy did not last and the grandmother must have been passed away already but now I know that you do not need to hold the hook to crochet. You can use your pen!