Creating a Floral Art Class

Art Nouveau Flowers, a hand-drawn paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Made for her art class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles.

This hand-drawn collage is one of the projects that I have made for the upcoming floral art class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles. It begins on Monday, 16th October and lasts for five weeks. Because developing a new class is a big thing and requires a lot of thoughts, I wanted to share some in this blog too. Now it’s also the best time to sign up because I close the registration once the class begins!

Do You Do Flowers?

Daisies and an ant

The idea for the class came to my mind last spring and honestly, I have been processing it almost every day ever since. I wanted to create an event where we learn from flowers and express our love for flowers.

Some artists declare: “I don’t do flowers!” But I think that in art, flowers are never just colorful plants. When you draw and paint florals, it’s your imagination that’s blooming there. It’s your emotion that grows and fills the blank space. Flowers are perfect ambassadors for the messages that you want to deliver through art.

Peony Love

Are You Still Moving Towards Your Kind of Art?

Yesterday, I read about a famous female composer Unsuk Chin from the local newspaper “Helsingin Sanomat.” She had just won the Wihuri Sibelius Prize of 150 000 EUR.

The journalist asked her:
“When did you find out what you want to express through art and how?”
She answered: “There’s no such moment. I am still moving towards my kind of music, and it’s a continuous struggle.”

I could relate with the reply so well. Aren’t we all there – continuously working towards something that feels more us, that’s more our kind of art!

Digital art from hand-drawn elements by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

That’s why when building classes, I aim for delivering methods that connect with the imagination. It’s challenging, but when succeeding, the results that I see in the participants, are heart-warming. I believe that we all want to learn new perspectives, but they also have to be designed so that everyone can make unique art out of them. In the end, you don’t create to copy but to express, and that’s always a personal thing.

Let Flowers Make You an Imaginative Artist!

So when developing Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, I wanted to find ways that connect us to the beauty and diversity of flowers. I wanted flowers to be food for the imagination, and I wanted you to feel and work as a floral artist in this art class.

Floral Illustrator
Some of you feel the Week 1 most inspiring as it’s about creating floral designs and illustrative work. If you love any of the 20th century’s styles or have been working with textiles or other crafts for some time, it will be inspiring.

Intuitive Watercolorist
Some of you make the most of Week 2 when we get looser and play with watercolors. If you see or feel stiffness in your art, this will be valuable.

Renaissance Painter
I think that for the most of you, the technique that I teach in Weeks 3 and 4 is a new one. It’s a really old painting technique, but I show how you can use it for today’s art. I have built the class so that the everything you learn from Weeks 1 and 2, set the foundation for the technique. We dive deeper into old art and learn to look at the paintings of the old masters in a new way. These two weeks will be especially enjoyable for you who want to find gentleness towards yourself and soft luxury to your expression.

Digital Art created from acrylic paintings by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Giving the Attention to Your Art

In Week 5, we will gather together for a live session and look at the art created during the first four weeks. We will share tips and encouragement, and enjoy your beautiful floral art. For all the five weeks, we will also have a Facebook group dedicated to sharing and discussions. This connecting part is one of the main reasons why I love teaching art so much. I love to see your work and also, dig a bit deeper – see the potential for moving to new directions or fine-tuning what’s already there.

So, I hope to see you in Floral Fantasies – Reserve your spot before the class begins!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles – Reserve Your Spot Now!

Three Artist Types and Why You Should Become All of Them!

Blooming Centuries, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my latest acrylic painting “Blooming Centuries”. With this piece, I show you how stepping into roles of three different types of artists can grow your skills.

Tight Focus – Don’t Believe it!

The conventional way to grow artistic skills is to choose your media, mindset, and style and stick with the choice. To me, this kind of tight focus has never worked. It feels boring and too straight-forward to work in practice. It forgets the fact that creativity comes with limited persistence but with unlimited imagination.

For example, when I have a heavy heart and want to get quickly into the core of it, I don’t want to stick with the technique that is more labor-oriented. On the other hand, when I want to think and adjust, quick and simple is not what makes the most of the contemplation. Sometimes my imagination wants to be playful, other times it wants to be timeless and deep. When the moment and the mood can define the supplies and techniques, I not only enjoy more but also surprisingly, learn more!

3 Moods – 3 Artist Types

In my upcoming workshop, I will expand your toolbox for creating art in various moods, rather than trying to force everything under one media and one way of working. I have defined three types of artists and picked the techniques accordingly.

Three artist types by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

The most interesting column in the table above is “Emotion” because it brings up the benefit of the mood.  When you imagine being a designer, you aim for clarity. You get happiness out of clearing your thoughts and communicating the essence. When you step into the role of an intuitive watercolorist, your core desire is freedom of expression. What appears on paper, is exciting and your adventurous mind makes the most of it. As a Renaissance painter, you are searching for the peace of mind. By creating a layer after another, you gently caress your way away from busy life.

Now you might say: “But Paivi, I am nothing but an intuitive painter. I am all about quickly creating a beautiful mess.” But don’t let your successes take you on the wrong track. Think about your struggles and what you can learn from the other artists. For example, if your mess has become nothing but beautiful it’s often because the small portion of clarity that we all need has been missing. Or if your mess looks too flat, it’s because your work doesn’t follow the concepts of the three-dimensional world. Also, the time that it takes to create tens of pieces quickly could be used to creating one piece that rises to another level.

I believe that growing as an artist is about learning the best of the many approaches. It’s like getting ingredients for the soup and then making a personal recipe to fit the current mood and style.

3 Artist Types – 1 Painting!

With “Blooming Centuries,” I wanted to express how flowers may be fleeting things, but in general, they have a strong position in the history of art and design. Flowers have inspired artists and designers through past eras, and they still inspire us to create no matter what mood we have. This painting is based on playing with different artist types from a designer to a Renaissance painter.

Designer: Some elements of the painting are more related to crafts and design than to the fine art. They are built from geometric shapes and are quite minimalistic.

Blooming Centuries by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Geometric elements that have been created with designer's mindset.

Intuitive artist: There are also elements that have been born freely and intuitively.

Blooming Centuries by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. The intuitive elements of the painting.

Renaissance painter: Some of the elements have a lot of layers and are more 3-dimensional than others.

Blooming Centuries by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Layered elements created with old masters' painting techniques.

Another Example – Combining Intuitive with Art Nouveau

Let’s imagine that you love Art Nouveau. You adore Alphonse Mucha’s work and everything from the beginning of the 20th century. You want your style to include a lot of Art Nouveau but in a refreshing way. So you might think you need to focus on developing your drawing skills only. You draw and draw, and you get closer and closer to Alphonse but the new twist that you want to give to your drawings, “your personal style,” is missing.

But if you start learning from Intuitive Watercolorist and Renaissance Painter, your Art Nouveau designs will take a new turn. By adding more transparent layers, you can express liveliness so that it still looks graceful. By finding ways to manipulate water, you get free-flowing shapes more effortlessly. Your art no longer is a copy of what someone else has created, but it takes a direction of its own. You begin to appreciate all kinds of art because you want to add more spices to your recipe. Your passion for art gets stronger, and the joy you get from it grows bigger. When you struggle, you see a wider range of solutions than before.

Intuitive Nouveau, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

So, every Designer or Illustrator has something to learn from a Renaissance painter or an Intuitive Watercolorist. And the same applies to all artist types.

A detail of an intuitive watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Circles show three different mindsets that have been used for this painting.

Get into the Minds of the Three Artist Types!

In my online workshop Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, we will dive deeper into the three artist types. It will expand your impression of style and how to construct one.  It’s the class you don’t want to miss if you love flowers and want to become an imagination-driven artist! Reserve Your Spot Now!

A detail of Blooming Centuries, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles: Reserve Your Spot Now!

Mixed Media Painting Idea – Revisiting Your Old Style

Lost and Found, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Between 2010-2014 I was enthusiastic about decorative art. I called myself as a “decorative artist” and saw myself more as a designer than as an artist who focuses on expression. My upcoming class Collageland (thank you, everyone, for the feedback you gave in the last blog post!), is a retrospective to that period in my life. While editing the videos, I have been pondering about what inspired me back then and how it’s different from what motivates me now.

Some themes and styles often feel too familiar to me. They don’t seem to challenge me anymore, so I have moved on. But now it hit me how harsh it sounds and how unnecessarily harsh it sometimes also is. So when creating the pieces shown in this blog post, I gave myself permission to take it easy and get decorative. I also became curious about comparing my past decorative work with the pieces that I would produce today.

My comfort zone is getting inspired by design and translating that inspiration into art. So I made a mixed media painting that is inspired by the world of fashion, jewelry, lace, Renaissance murals, and botanical art. I call it “Lost and Found”. To embrace a designer’s approach to art, I also made two different color versions by processing the photo of the original artwork digitally in Photoshop.

Here’s Marine:

Lost and Found, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. The colors have been changed digitally in this image. See her mixed media painting idea behind this one!

And here’s Botanical:

Lost and Found, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. The colors have been changed digitally in this image. See her mixed media painting idea behind this one!

I don’t have many phase photos because I wanted to relax with that too but this is what I drew on my planner the previous day:

Sketching a mixed media painting idea. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

These quick sketches are the core of my creative process.

Another Painting with the Same Idea

I also made another design-inspired painting. The idea came from the ceramic art of the 1960s.

The photo below shows how the piece looked like before adding the decorative layers. Glowing watercolors remind me of the glazing used in ceramics. When this happens, I feel like I am a ceramic artist, playing with colors.

Dr Ph. Martin's Hydrus watercolors

A student of mine kindly donated Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolors some time ago. First, I liked them, now I adore them. They are intensive and easy to use, and I especially love the coverage of white. I used Hydrus watercolors for “Lost and Found” too.

Retro Living, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished painting called “Retro Living”.  It is also a mixed media piece. I used colored pencils, PITT Artist Pens, and a correction pen for the last layers. I love these muted colors, so typical for the Finnish ceramics from the 60s. But then, I thought they might be too gloomy for many, so I made another version digitally that reminds me of furniture from that era:

Retro Living, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. She altered colors digitally for this version.

Comparison

See my new gallery showing decorative art and designs from 2011 to this day. When I look at the newly-created pieces as a part of that collection, it looks to me like I have traveled a long journey in art. And I have – I just never thought that it would show in this decorative style as well. It makes me want to explore more of this and also, see exciting challenges in this direction too.

My challenge to you: Pick an old piece and make a new one using the similar techniques and style! 

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A Decorative Pattern for Art Journals and Beyond

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

A couple of months ago, I made a flip-through video of a full art journal. Many noticed a spread that was made from decorative papers mostly. I remembered that I took some photos while making the papers and I will share step-by-step instructions here. This pattern is good practice for motoric skills and drawing, but it can also go beyond! I used it for a more expressive purpose, for a collage art piece.

1) Paint Stripes with Watercolors

Use a fairly thin paper and paint it with watercolors. Use a selection of colors to create stripes or curves.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

You can add drops of water if you want to make the background more interesting with bleeds.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Let the paper dry properly.

2) Decorate the Stripes by a Simple Loop Pattern

Using a thin-tipped black drawing pen, draw a simple loop and end it with a curve upwards. Without lifting the pen off the paper, add a bunch of loops on the top of the curve. Then continued by drawing a curved line downwards. Repeat and draw the whole row on the same go. Work fast and don’t worry too much about the symmetry or similarity of the loops.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

After drawing the rows, frame the loops to make them more distinct. I used simple shapes to create flowers and leaves.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

3) Color the Background and Add More Decoration

To make the watercolored layer look more lively, use felt-tipped pens (marker pens) and color the background around the doodled shapes. You can also add more color to doodled details and use white gel pen to add more decoration on colored areas.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Decorative Pattern in Many Colors

This pattern looks luxurious when you make many papers in many colors with slightly different decorations.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Here are some that I made!

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet. Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Decorative Pattern in Collage Art

I am fascinated by the interface between art, design, and crafts. The idea for the pattern came from knitting. I wanted to find a similar relaxing circular motion using a pen instead of a knitting needle. So that’s how a craft transformed into a design. But design can also be a part of a more expressive piece.

When Geese Fly Over, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

In this collage, I use decorative paper pieces with painting. My starting point was a watercolor background, acrylic paint, and a piece of decorative paper.

Creating a mixed media painting using hand-decorated paper. By Peony and Parakeet.

I cut a couple of decorative shapes and glued them on the background with gel medium.

Glueing collage pieces. By Peony and Parakeet.

Then I continued with painting using acrylic paints. In the finishing phase, I also used some more paper pieces and few colored pencils. A week or two ago, I heard the geese flying over our house. They were leaving Finland, going to a warmer place for a winter. Their sounds made me think how limited we people are, not being able to fly so freely, not always being able to stick so tightly together. The screams of the geese felt bright yellow and for a short moment, I wanted to join them and not stay in Finland, waiting for snow …

When Geese Fly Over, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Get step-by-step instructions for doodled collage art – Buy Doodled Luxury!

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!

Mid-Century Modern Style for Art Journals

Modern Mid-Century, a mini-course about making an art journal spread in mid-century modern style

This spring, I have published a new art journaling mini-course each month for Imagine Monthly. May’s mini-course is called Modern Mid-Century. This mini-course is all about mid-century modern style. You can use it to create decorative art journal pages that are not only flowers and hearts but show a wider range of designs.

Discovering a Magic Formula of Mid-Century Modern

The main inspiration for the Modern Mid-Century mini-course came from Annikki Hovisaari’s ceramic Peacock (“riikinkukko” in Finnish). Annikki Hovisaari was a designer in the Finnish ceramic factory Arabia in 1960s. We have the peacock on the living room wall. I look at it each day, admiring. So much can be expressed with simple shapes and thin lines! The mini-course includes plenty of samples.

Annikki Hovisaari, Riikinkukko/Peacock, Arabia

When I begin examining a new style, I try to see what’s essential there. What could be removed without changing the impression. And also: what could be added without loosing it. It’s like calculating a formula for a certain style. The secret is not trying to solve the whole big equation. It would be too difficult and highly argumentative. Even the experts of 20th century styles argue whether something is mid-century modern or not. I try to avoid that and just pick few of the central features. Then I focus on their relationship, forgetting the rest.

The best art classes give you ideas that you can expand and adjust to your liking. Whether you like mid-century modern or not, you can use the basic formula. With that, you can move forward towards your own ideas and aesthetics. This kind of conceptual approach will bring focus to more personal than to the style itself. Instead of trying to follow the style, you will be making new discoveries through it.

I made a couple of small pieces after finishing the mini-course. The first one, on the left below, is a birthday card made for my husband’s nephew. The second is a digital piece combining the idea of mid-century modern and the concept of a watch.

Mid-century modern inspired art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Create Your Own Mid-Century Modern Art

Sign up for Imagine Monthly!  You will not only get Modern Mid-Century, but all the mini-courses published so far, immediately after the purchase.

Imagine Monthly, a set of art journaling mini-courses

Imagine Monthly also has a private discussion group at Facebook. It’s fun to see what everyone has created from the mini-courses. In the middle of the month, I also lead a discussion topic related to the month’s theme.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet in her mid-century modern living room

I believe that every art journal needs pages that are handpainted and handdrawn. It is joyful to browse pages that are more like illustrations than just layers of paint. With Imagine Monthly you will get new formulas for stretching your skills and discovering new techniques. Sign up now!

From Decorative to Expressive Art

"Self-Portrait as a Knitter", a mixed media artwork by Peony and Parakeet

Last Friday, I traveled two hours by train to a yarn shop at Tampere. Not just to purchase new yarn, but to meet a famous knitting pattern designer Stephen West who had been invited to Finland. While I was attending his workshop, I was excited by the knits he showed and the stories he told. There were silent moments. We, Finnish women, counted stitches and pondered about what we heard. We Finnish can look very serious, quiet and occupied, even if we are about to burst with excitement. Stephen put it kindly: “Finnish carry themselves well.” That introvert attitude is also visible in this recent mixed media artwork, “Self-Portrait as a Knitter”. The person’s focus is so much on details that the inspiration, the yellow spot in the back of the head, doesn’t have room to show up.

From Over-Decorative to Expressive-Decorative

Sometimes similar kind of thing happens when we create art: the inspiration does not show in the result. There can be so much decoration going on, that not much room is left for the expression. We cover the background with little motifs and surface patterns, instead of enhancing what’s already there.

A watercolor background by Peony and Parakeet

I admit, it’s fun and fulfilling to work with thin brushes, pens, and pencils. Making a circle after a circle is like knitting a shawl, stitch by stitch.

Using Derwent Artbars, by Peony and Parakeet

However, it’s good to add a little more variety and contrasts so that the expression comes through. It’s like changing the yarn or needle size once in a while!

Using Faber-Castell Gelatos, by Peony and Parakeet

And like in handknits, just when you think your work is ruined, you need to calm down and do the finishing.

Unfinished artwork by Peony and Parakeet

When knitting, you sew the seams, iron everything carefully and add the final balancing details.

Decorative art. Folk bags by Peony and Parakeet.

When creating art, you bring up the most important details and connect the dots so that everything falls into its place.

You can create both expressive and decorative art.

Sometimes there are debates whether decorative art can be expressive as well.  But you can be both decorative and expressive. You can give meaning to your motifs. You can let motifs be pieces of a puzzle instead of covering everything evenly.

"Self-Portrait as a Knitter", a mixed media artwork by Peony and Parakeet. Creating both expressive and decorative art.

More decorative-expressive art with watercolors: Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting
If you are a knitter, check this out too: Folk Bag Workbook

Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper

I am so excited!

Click to buy 21 Secrects Art Journaling workshop!

I will be teaching an online class as a part of 21 SECRETS Spring 2015! The class is called Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper.

An art journal page inspired by crazy quilting by Peony and Parakeet. A workshop about needlework inspired art journaling is available as a part of 21 Secrets Spring 2015 online course.

Class Description

Let the long history of textiles show up in your art journal! For hundreds of years people have created textile art to express themselves. In the workshop we will discover ways to imitate embroidery and quilting using paint, pen and paper! No actual sewing needed!

We will find inspiration from various stitches and techniques like crazy quilting, silk ribbon embroidery and modern patchwork. These art journal pages don’t only make you feel warm and welcomed, but also let you express the luxury only handmade can offer. After the workshop you will look at the family heirlooms in a new way!

Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper, an art journaling workshop by Peony and Parakeet, as a part of 21 Secrets spring 2015

21 SECRETS – 21 teachers!

By purchasing the class you will not only get that but also 20 other online classes from 20 other great artists!

21 SECRETS Spring 2015 on sale now!

Starts in April – Now available for preorder!

21 SECRETS Spring 2014 starts at 1st April and it is now available for preorder. Once the workshop starts in April, you will get a downloadable PDF including all 21 classes. It is packed with videos, full color photos, printouts and instructional content. You will get unlimited access to all 21 classes and a membership to the private Facebook community where you can discuss with me and the other teachers and participants. If you want to learn or boost your art journaling, this is the workshop to choose!

An embroidery inspired art journaling page. Join 21 SECRETS Spring 2015 to get a workshop from Peony and Parakeet!

Why preorder now?

I am a big believer of looking further ahead than to the next month. When you will see the spring light and start to wait for the summer, April is the perfect time to get something new for your journals and your skills.

And here’s another good reason to pre-order! The regular price for the 21 classes is 98 USD, if you preorder now it is only 69 USD! But be quick, the lowest price is available for the first 150 participants only!

21 SECRETS Spring 2015 PreOrder now!

I hope to see you at Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper! Click here to read more and preorder!

How to Imitate Glass with Paint

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!
For this painting, I learned how to imitate glass. It is called “We Will Protect You,” and it’s about parents trying to protect their children. The parents have good intentions, and they do their best, but in the end, they have to let the child step into the world. I have painted two glass vases to represent the parents. The child sees the world through the parents and even if they want to protect the child, they are fragile too.

Artistic Inspiration from Glassware

The idea for the painting began last Saturday when I went to the local library to get some ideas for the future blog posts. I saw the book called The Art of Glass. It was about Kaj Franck, a Finnish designer who was extremely skillful in designing glassware.

Goblet by Kaj FranckMost Finns have Kaj Franck’s glassware. He didn’t design unique pieces only, but everyday glass as well. My most precious glass item from him is this red “Goblet” which was originally owned by my aunt. She passed away ten years ago, and the color of this Goblet reminds me of her vivid character.

After browsing few pages of the book, I knew I had to make something glass-related. It’s not the first time the glass has inspired me: see the collage inspired by Nanny Still, and I have also knitted a folk bag inspired by Oiva Toikka. Both Nanny Still and Oiva Toikka are Finnish glass designers as well.

This time, I wanted not only to find out how to imitate glass but to explain it to you too. Before beginning the bigger painting, I painted few circles on a small paper and tried to make them look like glass.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I used acrylic paints to paint the circles and then watercolors to add more circles around the previous ones. The shapes were softened with colored pencils. Then I added white with acrylic paint and a gel pen, and black with a PITT Artist Pen.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I made each circle a bit different. I was not fully satisfied with them, though. The center circles were too solid in color. I decided to start the bigger painting with watercolors as they are easier for making transparent layers.

Here are my 8 tips on how to imitate glass!

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

1) Paint several transparent layers which intersect each other. Use a lot of water to create thin layers.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

2) Use a lots of hues and shades of the same color. Mix colors to get new tones which have slight differences from each other. Use small spots of other colors too as glass reflects its surroundings.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

3) Paint geometric shapes like circles, squares, half-circles, and triangles.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

4) Add white with acrylic paint. When painting the white shapes, soften one side of them by adding water.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

5) Use a black colored pencil to add dark near the sharp edges of white areas. Make the dark areas soft too.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

6) With correction pen, add brilliant white to highlight parts of the white areas.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

7) Add jet black with a black marker (I used a brush tip PITT Artist Pen) to make dark areas pop as well.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

8) Finish with thin lines using a gel pen and a black marker. It will make your glass look a bit thinner and more elegant.

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!

What kind of glass do you like the most? Does the imitation of materials interest you too?

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Gobelin Tapestry in Mixed Media

New Winds, a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

I like the sources of inspiration be quite distant. They should not instantly make my mind figure out the result. While packing craft supplies to empty a sewing room for renovation, I found some pieces of woven upholstery fabric. Those reminded me of a Gobelin tapestry, the woven wall hangings.

Upholstery fabrics. Read more about imitating fabric with fiber paste and watercolors.

You could think there’s nothing more conservative and static than those, but I was immediately inspired by two things: 1) to show how beautiful muted colors can be 2) to create a dynamic composition that still reminded of textiles.

Fiber Paste in Mixed Media Art

To get into the spirit of heavy woven tapestry, I chose to use a lot of fiber paste to create a texture on a fairly smooth watercolor paper.Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Now, the rational thing would be to spread the paste evenly. Or to spread the splotches evenly. But as I wanted to create a dynamic composition, I chose to add fiber paste mostly to the left side of the work.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

With fiber paste, you can create interesting, uneven surfaces by using tissue paper or various tools to spread the paste. You can also use fiber paste for creating layers and attaching collage pieces (more about those later in this post).

One more good thing in fiber paste is that once it’s dried, you can paint with watercolors over it. I find the change in the surface texture somehow good for my creativity. It is impossible to paint accurately when working on fiber pasted area. That makes me accept the imperfections right at the beginning. Too much self-control can be destructive to the creativity. So, fiber paste is one of my medicines to let go!

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Watercolors

Here I chose to work with watercolors instead of acrylic paints because they are much faster when creating delicate color variations. I usually mix watercolors by dipping the brush to many color pans on the same go and letting them mix naturally on paper.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

With watercolors, you can easily change the intensity of color. I often start with a fairly dry brush and intensive color. After a stroke or two, I then add plain water to dilute the color. This technique is shown well in the video where I paint watercolor postcards. On the fiber paste surface, you can use a lot of water for lighter shades.

Mixing Colors

I still remember my moment of mixing black with other colors. I was a teenager, and it was a warm summer day. Acrylic paints were quite new to me, and I wondered how they should be mixed to express the hot weather.

A Hot Day, a painting made by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet as teenager

The dark shadows made me think of black. I remember the surprise of getting beautiful purples and browns. That was a moment when I  realized that the power of colors is not just what I admire in other people’s work, I can learn it too. By mixing colors, I could express anything!

Just this year when I bought my newest watercolor set, I discovered browns. I wondered why there are so many brown shades in the set, but now I know: mixing colors with browns create beautiful hues! In this piece, I have mixed the colors from both browns and blacks.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and watercolors.

Collage

I was pretty happy with most of the painting – except the lower center area. The composition of the center elements did not work.  To create something totally new, I used my most common method: to make it ugly and then try to save it. I took the jar of fiber paste and began to cover the bad areas with the paste.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

“You have ruined it now,” said a bitter voice in my head.

Have you ever experienced the same? It is the moment where you can truly stop pleasing others and begin creating art.

I took the pile of hand decorated papers and started cutting. Fast!

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Some time ago, when I made those decorated papers, they were so ugly I almost threw them away. But now they looked like they were made for this muted color palette! And the fiber paste works as glue so it was easy to attach the pieces.

While cutting the pieces, I watched the fabric of the two chairs in the library room where most of the creating happen. I found the chairs at a recycling center a few years ago. I took them for renovation, so I was able to choose the fabric.

Floral upholstery fabric. Read more about creating a fabric inspired collage art.

I love the fabric’s silky texture, romantic pattern and how well it goes with the wallpaper and William Morris’s curtains! Looking at that chair made me realize what I needed to add the feel of fabric to the artwork. To cut several similar flowers to represent a repeating pattern!

Finishing

New Winds, a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

After drawing some detailed lines with colored pencils and markers, the collage seemed to be finished. But then I remembered the original idea: Gobelin wallhangings. Don’t they often have deer in them? A small deer was added in the lower left corner to wonder about the blowing winds!

New Winds, a detail of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

I have noticed that many mixed media pieces are made from commercial products. I want to encourage you to create your own elements and textures. Your art will be much more original and complete. No factory-made flower can express your emotions as accurately as the ones you make yourself!

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