Masking Tape Magic

While reading the morning paper I saw this painting from Paivi Takala. It is made using masking tapes. Masking tapes! Surely I can do something for my art journal with them …

I made a page about Japan and wrote how I love all the tiny stuff they produce from bonsai trees to small boxes. Instead of layering with paint I used masking tape.

Here are some snapshots from the process.

Here you can see the masking tapes and how I have doodled over them. I started with black marker and color pencils.

Then I added some glitter paint.

Now I have removed the tape.

Here’s the final page again. I have filled some of the areas with handdrawn patterns but used most for journaling. Will definitely used this technique again!

Pretty Art Journaling

I have started to wonder: is there only one style in art journaling? Is it only for those who are ready to explore with paint and who are not afraid of getting messy. And scrapbooking: is it about using commercial products and aiming for pretty pages?

Can’t there be pretty art journaling?

Pretty art journaling, including lace, scrapbook papers, doodling by Peony and Parakeet.

I bought this pink Smash book some time ago. The pages were so pretty I could not put any mess over them. And my style of making scrapbooks was not suitable for them either. But after getting fed up with messy mixed media, I dared to open it and just make it pretty!

Pretty art journaling by Peony and Parakeet

So why not glue all the pretty stuff to your art journal? Add lace and frills and anything you find beautiful!

A detail of a pretty art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

I added both commercial products and my own hand decorated papers to the page. Even my handwriting is a bit more controlled than how I usually write.

Finished Journal

>> See the flip-through video of this art journal!

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5 Tips to Choosing Colors

People often comment the colors on my work. No wonder as my design process is very color driven! Here are some guidelines that I have developed for choosing colors.

1) Start with the color

Whether I am about to dye, paint, knit or make a new design, I often start with the feeling that I want to express. I see the feeling in color; there’s often the exact hue that comes to my mind. Sometimes it’s a combination of two or three colors.

I have learned to interpret abstract things to colors by observing color in everything I see. Try to omit the functions, shapes, and patterns of the objects and concentrate on colors. Do not worry about what you are going to make, choose the materials by their hue and start creating!

My paper designs often start with color. This lime yellow represents the warmth of summer for me!

2) Mix the colors you hate with the colors you love

The one mistake you can make is that you only give attention to the colors that cause positive reactions. I often go deep into hues that I hate. I have noticed that by combining them with the colors I love creating great impressions that are more real than if I use only my positive colors. And within the time I learn to see the beauty in every color.

Like I used to hate pink. Nowadays one of my favorite color combinations is muted orange red and pink. I get emotional when I see these colors together. They represent something about my childhood that I cannot put into words.

Alku yarn in Eleanor colorway, the hated pink and the loved orange-red!

3) Control the quantity of each color

I like to control the quantity of each color. I often have a few colors that cover the most of the surface and then some that I use in small amounts. When making a color palette for your design, keep in mind that you don’t need large quantities of the color you want to turn the attention to. Small colored areas that locate in the main focal points can create great impact. The colors interact with the composition of your work.

You can practice this by taking photos and analyzing them. Analyze why the certain colors in a photo draw your attention.

This photo looks black and white to me. The focal point is the place where the light hits the road. It emphasizes the darkness of the shadow.

4) Make your own colors

I try to avoid colors that come straight from the jar. Even if they look beautiful. At the end of the creative process, they look artificial anyway. Probably because it’s so easy to use them in too large quantities!

If you mix your own colors, you will get exciting variations of the same color. This makes your work look more natural. You can also use the same components in many different colors. This makes them go better together. When you start with the blues, yellows, and reds, you can create a huge amount of colors and hues with less cost and with better controllability. And if you end up creating ugly colors, see step two!

I often add a hint of black to create a muted tone, but you might prefer pastels and use white instead.

Mixing black with yellow to achieve the right hue for the hall (the result is shown in the first photo of this post). / Using white to create soft pastels in knitted fabric.

5) Put the color theory into practice

With this blog post, I do not want to underestimate the value of color theory. I have learned Josef Albers color theory during the designer studies. For Josef Albers, the color was everything, see this inspiring video of him and his works! Whether you learn the basic color theory or dwell deeper into Josef Albers experiments, it’s always good to experiment too. Get your safe color combos and then move to the more dangerous ones! You can never know too much about colors!

Here’s a snapshot of the library room where I like to create most of the color combinations. I am surrounded here by colors, textures, and patterns, and I find it so inspiring! One of my newest fabrics is on the chair, and I think it suits the room perfectly!

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Original painting on canvas, see more photos at Etsy

Here’s my my newest artwork “Enigma”. The making of it started with the thoughts about the atmosphere in old, high public buildings. Like old libraries and churches. The decorated ceilings and the feel of space create almost spiritual experience. It is a mystery how the beauty can uplift the mind so powerfully.

I used acrylic paints here and added the details with pens and markers.

Frugal Crafter’s Guide To Hand Decorated Papers

Sometimes I just want to overlook all the expensive materials and make art frugally. When watching a video about embossing powders I got the idea of using color pencils as a resist for watercolor. So, if you are filled with ideas but hate to see instructions that require special supplies or a wide range of supplies, this frugal version is just for you!

You only need

  • paper
  • at least one colored pencil (basic one, not water soluble)
  • watercolors

Frugal Version – Here’s What You Do

1) Grab a paper! I prefer quite thin (90 g/m2, 43 lbs) and smooth papers, but you can choose whatever you like or have.

2) Start doodling with the color pencil. You can use any color(s) you like but using white makes the result especially interesting, I think.

Frugal version of hand-decorated papers

3) When you have filled the paper with your doodling, paint the paper with watercolors. Paint over the doodling! Use a lot of paint as we will wash some away in the next phase.

Frugal version of hand-decorated papers

4) Let dry. Seriously. This is the only step where the patience is required.

5) Wash the paper with water. The idea is to get the color pencil strokes appear again. You may have to use the fingers to remove the color if you want a nice pastel background.

5) Let dry!

6) Here’s my example. You can use papers for collages, cardmaking, bookcovers, all kinds of papercrafting!

Frugal version of hand-decorated papers

Here are some of my experiments showing various colors of pens and paints.

Frugal version of hand-decorated papers

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Wild Doodling Inspired by Art Nouveau

Sometimes it’s just not possible to stay controlled. I was thinking about art nouveau and Alphonse Mucha‘s work, but instead of trying to focus on beautiful shapes and accurate lines, I wanted to give my pens a relaxed speed.

Mucha Girl by Peony and Parakeet. Combining wild doodling with art nouveau.

Here are some close-up details. The line is wild and fast.

A detail of a Mucha Girl by Peony and Parakeet. Combining wild doodling with art nouveau.

The watercolor background is as arbitrary as the illustration.

A detail of a Mucha Girl by Peony and Parakeet. Combining wild doodling with art nouveau.

The most difficult thing in illustrating is to get relaxed lines. That’s why it’s important to get wild once in a while!

Start doodling in a relaxed way – Buy Doodled Luxury!

How to Make Paper Flowers

Once you have made your own patterned paper, why not turn them into adorable paper flowers!

I just love the way they go along with the papers. Once you have developed your own style, anything you do can be combined together. As I have said, the best shop for papers and embellishments is the one you can set up for yourself!

So take out your hand decorated papers (I have quite a pile of them) and start making flowers! In addition to papers, you will only need correction pen, black marker (I love PITT artist pens), some embroidery floss, glue (Tombow is my favorite) and scissors.

Pick three papers that work well together. Remember to ensure there’s enough contrast between them.

Cut three circles, a small one, a medium one and a large one. My largest one is about 3 inches (7,5 cm) but you can make them in various sizes. Just be sure the smallest circle is big enough to add details like button holes.


If you have made your papers drawing layered circles, you have your circles ready to be cut. I cut the circles free hand as I am not so fussy about making them accurate.


After cutting the circles, take the biggest one and draw the shape of the flower with the black marker. I like my flowers to be asymmetrical. I think they look more artsy that way!

Cut by following the marker line so that the black marker line remains visible. The line frames your flower and make it look more dimensional.

You can also change the shape of the second circle if it feels right. I often find myself adjusting the shapes of the circles during the process.

Make the smallest circle to look like a button by drawing circles with the marker and the correction pen. Then add holes with the marker. Big holes look better than small ones.

Now you have the three parts of the flower ready to be attached. Glue the parts together. Then take your needle and sew the buttonhole. After this phase I often add details with the marker. Here I have added little dots around the button and circled the second circle. As I love adding layers to my work, I finally glued the flower to another paper (blue one in the picture) and cut it out.

Here’s the finished piece. Have fun with your papers!

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How To Make Your Own Patterned Paper

While preparing to move to a new house I have tried to avoid big projects. So I have done quite a lot of paper crafting recently. One of the easiest and quickest things to do is to make patterned papers. I use Canson sketch paper (90 g in thickness) and whatever paints and pens I possibly have.

Handmade patterned papers by Peony and Parakeet

I think that sometimes more really is more, so I call these “More Is More” papers! I am going to use these for my art journal pages. Before cutting them, I scan them so that I can use the same paper digitally or print a copy of it. That way I always have some papers available.

Now I am going to show you one of the easiest way I know to make really rich and colorful paper. Besides the paper, you will need watercolors, marker pens, gel pens and colored pencils, correction pen and relaxed mind. Don’t worry about the mess you make; it will look lovely in the end!

1) Paint the background with watercolors.

Use circular strokes. Don’t think.
Dry the excess water with tissue paper here and there to create some lighter areas.
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

2) Doodle with markers.

I love to use PITT artist pens here. Any medium marker will do. I like circles and swirls, but you can doodle whatever comes to your mind. Relax your hand and keep the pressure light.
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

3) Continue doodling with gel pens.

Now change to gel pens and make detailed doodles. I use Sakura gel pens.
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

Some might think that this is the last step but no way! More is more, remember!

4) Color small areas with colored pencils.

If you look closely there might be areas where colors are grayish or not so perfect. Take your colored pencils and work the problem areas. Do not worry overlapping the doodling. The layered look is just what we aim here.How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

It looks like this now. Finished? Oh no!
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

5) Doodle with correction pen.

One of the best pens you can buy is a fine point correction pen. After you have colored all the white areas, you can make the white to come back with the correction pen! Now doodle over the paper, here and there…
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

6) Add contrast and shine.

Take your black marker and make pretty dots near the white areas.
Optional: If you have a gold metallic pen you can doodle mindlessly over everything to add some extra shine.
How to make your own patterned paper by Peony and Parakeet.

Isn’t more really more? You can stop in any step, of course, I couldn’t!

Bonus: More Patterned Papers

FrugalKiwiArboretum, Spring Flowers, Romantic Doodles

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