Pointillism – A Quick Way, Step by Step!

ATCs that are like pointillistic paintings but made using colored pencils and felt-tipped pens. See the step-by-step instructions! By Peony and Parakeet.

I am honored to be one of the guest artists in Documented Life Project this month. I was given a theme (pointillism) and a project type (artist trading card, ATC). As long as I followed those, I could do anything with any supplies. These kind of challenges are fun because you get such enough restrictions to get started but can still create freely. However, I have one fixation with artistic trading cards. I like them to be portraits, either humans or animals.(See ATCs in this post, for example!) So I chose a very traditional subject, women from the past.

Pointillism Can Be Tedious!

Like most of us, I have always admired Georges Seurat‘s paintings. In the 1980s, a Finnish illustrator made images that were composed of small points. It might have been an artist called Osmo Omenamäki. As a teenager, inspired by him and Seurat, I decided to be a pointillist artist too. I picked my felt-tipped pens and started to draw dots. Oh my! I was barely able to finish a postcard size drawing. I couldn’t believe how many small dots are needed to fill even a small blank area! I was almost traumatized by that experience!

So now, over 30 years later, I didn’t even think about creating the project with felt-tipped pens only. ATCs are small, but not that small! However, with felt-tipped pens, it is easy to make intentional tiny dots in a variety of colors. But I also needed something else to make the coloring faster. Colored pencils leave the spots visible, and they are easy to control. So I chose them to fill the blanks between the dots.

Practicing – Spots with Many Colors

Before the actual project, I practiced my ideas. I made the dots using a variety of colors and then added more colors with colored pencils.

Pointillism in an artist trading card. See the step by step instructions. By Peony and Parakeet.

Because the colors in dots weren’t as important as coloring with colored pencils, I got an idea of using brown shades only. It would be like an underpainting, a technique that old masters often used in portraits. They painted shadows with umber and then applied the rest of the colors so that the shadows showed through. So I will show you how you can do a similar kind of “under-dotting” and then apply the actual colors with colored pencils!

1) Under-Dotting with Felt-Tipped Pens

You will need four shades of felt-tipped pens for this step. I use Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens in colors “Light Flesh”, “Green Gold”, “Raw Umber” and “Caput Mortuum”.  I didn’t use any model like a photo but just created intuitively, making the features more accurate color by color.

Pointillism, step by step. Step 1 by Peony and Parakeet.

With the palest of color, sketch an oval using small dots. The liberating thing here is that when you start with a pale color and make little dots, you can make many “mistakes” and correct them as you go. One spot in a wrong place can be easily changed! Fill the oval with dots so that you leave blank space where you plan mouth, eyes, and nose to be. When they seem to be in place, add some dots for details. Don’t worry if your woman looks pretty ugly. This is just the first layer!

Change to darker shades and add shadows to the face. Then sketch the hair and clothes using little dots only.

Pointillism, step by step. Step 1, under-dotting. By Peony and Parakeet.

Every shade adds a little bit more to the image.

2) Basic Coloring with Black and Colored Pencils

Now add black spots to the darkest of details. Old portraits often had a dark background, so I added black spots there too.

Pointillism, step by step. Step 2 by Peony and Parakeet.

Using colored pencils, color the card so that white shows only where you want to have it in the end. I used Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils in blue, red and yellow. Remember that you can mix colors by layering. You can get many beautiful tones from the primary colors.

3) More Liveliness with Colored Pencils

Finally, add shadows so that the details look 3-dimensional. If you only have primary colors like I had, you can get a dark background by adding blue, red and yellow layers there. If your portrait looks too dark, use an eraser to lighten and soften the colors.

Pointillism, step by step. Step 3 by Peony and Parakeet.

In the end, check the facial features of your woman. Add small lines where you want to turn the attention. Don’t draw the lines near the nose but on the lips and the eyes.

Pointillism, step by step. Step 3 and facial features. By Peony and Parakeet.

Celebrating Blurriness

Here are my finished cards again. I think they look delightfully blurry!

Pointillism-themed artist trading cards. See the step-by-step instructions. By Peony and Parakeet.

The more I want to reduce stiffness in my art, the more I feel the need to embrace blurriness. With blurriness, I also feel more self-acceptance, more ease with errors, more open to possibilities.

Reducing stiffness is one of the main themes in my newest class too. The class is called Inspirational Drawing 2.0 and it’s about drawing from imagination and inspiration. Watch the introductory video below!

Inspirational Drawing 2.0: Liberate your line and sign up now!

Painterly Collage in Rut Bryk’s style

Art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet, see instructions of how to make this!

Here’s my recent art journal spread, inspired by a Finnish ceramic artist Rut Bryk (1916-1999). Espoo Museum of Modern Art Emma is currently showing her work and as a big fan of her work, I had to see the exhibition!

Rut Bryk

Paivi Eerola from Peony and parakeet at Rut Bryk's art exhibition

Rut Bryk is very known in Finland but not so famous worldwide. However, you might know her husband, a skillful designer and sculptor Tapio Wirkkala. Rut Bryk was an illustrator who got a job at Finnish ceramic factory Arabia in 1940s. Her early work was fairly naiive and illustrative. But after working with ceramics for some time, she began adding textures to her work. Her 50s pieces were very mid-century modern.

Ceramic art by Rut Bryk

In 1960s her work grew more dimensional and abstract.

Ceramic art by Rut Bryk

The abstract pieces she made are stunning.

Ceramic art by Rut Bryk

This black city view is one of my favorites.

Ceramic art by Rut Bryk

Many of Rut Bryk’s artworks are composed of small ceramic pieces. They look like quilts or crocheted blankets to me.

Ceramic art by Rut Bryk and Maaria Wirkkala

Rut Bryk’s and Tapio Wirkkala’s daughter Maaria Wirkkala is also a well-known artist. She had made an installation of Rut Bryk’s excess tiles for the exhibition.

Collage in Rut Bryk’s Style!

Get inspired by Rut Bryk’s brilliancy and create a collage
with these step-by-step instructions!

You will need hand-decorated papers, acrylic paints, marker pens and gel medium or paper glue. See ideas for hand decorated papers: Basic Instructions, Frugal version, Kiwi, Arboretum, Spring Flowers (PDF download)

1) Paint the Background

Paint the background black.

2) Cut Collage Pieces

Cut collage pieces to simple shapes like rectangles, triangles, diamond shapes and circles. Cut big, small and medium-sized pieces. To make the pieces look like handcrafted ceramic plates, round the corners and soften the straight edges so that they are slightly wavy. Don’t worry about the colors too much as you will be painting over them.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

3) Glue the Pieces

Using gel medium or paper glue, begin glueing the pieces on the black background.

Pile up pieces so that some smaller pieces are glued on the bigger pieces. Before glueing, add black paint so that the piece on the top will have soft black borders. This will make your work look more dimensional.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

Don’t fill the whole background but leave some of it black.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

4) Paint Lightly Over the Pieces

To make the pieces look softer and to mute down their colors, add thin layers of acrylic paint over them.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

Paint blocks where the black background is visible. Use neutral, fairly dark colors that suit well with the black background.

5) Draw Spotted Grids and Frame Collage Pieces

With marker pens or felt tip pens, draw spots so that they form grids. These grids can continue over the blocks. Also the size of the spots can vary. I use Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens as they work well on acrylic paint.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

Frame the painted blocks and collage pieces with a black marker so that they look firmly attached to the background. I also used white chinese marker to add few white lines here and there.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

6) Paint Slightly Over Some Areas

To finish your work, add thin layers of paint for some areas. These painted areas represent light and shadows over the overall composition.

Create Rut Bryk inspired collage! Paivi from Peony and Parakeet shows how!

Here’s my finished spread again.

Art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet, see instructions of how to make this!

Extra Project – Decorating a Box

My husband has made a wooden box for my paint tubes. I have painted it golden but the bottom part of the lid needed some decoration. I had already painted the framed area red so I just added black paint under the collage pieces.

Decorating a box with collage pieces by Peony and Parakeet

Then I continued the process like in the instructions. Finally, a layer of gel medium was added to protect the paper pieces.

Decorated box with collage pieces by Peony and Parakeet

I like the idea of opening the lid and seeing the collage.

Decorated a box with collage pieces by Peony and Parakeet

Thank you, Rut Bryk!

Rut Bryk inspired collage art by Peony and Parakeet. See instructions!

Expand Your Artistic Imagination!

This blog post is an example of how you can learn and get inspired by famous artists. This is how I see it:
– If want to find your own uniqueness, examine all kinds of artists and styles!
– If you have already found your style, keep on experimenting and expanding your skills!

It’s exactly what my art journaling master class Imagine Monthly is all about. Every month I will introduce new artist or style and you will get detailed instructions on how you can get most of it.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 ended in the end of June, but you can still purchase it!
Imagine Monthly Fall 2016 has begun in August, but you can still sign up!

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

At Imagine Monthly Fall, you will get 5 mini-courses, 1 per month, and a great community of like-minded people.

Make the decision to move forward in art journaling!
>> Become my student and sign up now!

Using Fabric on Art Journal Pages

So Much Gardening to Do, an art journal page that uses fabric pieces. A fabric collage by Peony and Parakeet
At this time of the year, at the beginning of summer, there’s a lot to do in the garden. I started early this year, but recently there has been so many activities that I feel I have neglected the garden. This guilty feeling also showed up on my latest art journal page!

This page is made on a spread of Moleskine Sketchbook, so the image is fairly small, about 10 inches in width. A special feature here is that I have added two small cotton fabric pieces to boost my imagination. Using the technique of fabric collage was just a sudden idea, but I love how the page feels when touched!

Creating fabric collage with fabric pieces and freehand drawing, by Peony and Parakeet

I attached the first fabric piece at the early stage. Golden Soft Gel Gloss Medium was used for attaching the fabric.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

After attaching the fabric, I doodled with a black drawing pen to get the creativity going.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

When I began coloring, I realized that I want to create a spread instead of a page. So I attached another fabric, purposefully a bit different from the first.

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

While coloring the page, I added more details. As my garden looks wild at the moment, I wanted to show the growth on the page too.

Tulips in the garden

Here’s one corner of our front garden. Tulips bloom beautifully, and peonies (my favorites, of course!) grow fast.  Lots of weeding to be done!

Using Fabric Pieces on Art Journal Pages, by Peony and Parakeet

Why not try some fabric collage in your journal?

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In the Spirit of Cassandra Tondro

The Rooster, mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet.

This painting is a monotype print where I have added only few collage pieces and a couple of little details with pens. In this artwork, the rooster is waking us up to notice that in art, whether we are makers or viewers, we are always in the middle of an experience. Thus, if you want to become a better artist, you should not focus on the final results only, but also on the experience.

Cassandra Tondro

There’s a particular artist that I want to introduce for this subject. She is someone that I greatly admire, Cassandra Tondro. I am most honored to have Cassandra Tondro herself answering to my questions! I also got her permission to publish her photo and my favorite artwork of hers called “Illusion” in this post.

Artist Cassandra Tondro

The Supplies

Cassandra Tondro has not only thought through about what kind of paintings she wants to create. She has dug deep into the whole creative process. The development of her current way of working has started steps back from what most of us would think. She wanted to find an environment-friendly solution and discovered a way to work with leftover house paint.

I did not have extra house paint but some odd jars of similar kind of fluid paint like Tim Holtz’s Distress Paint. I also diluted few old acrylic paints with water to get more fluid paint colors.

Fluid acrylic paints

Working with Colors

Cassandra Tondro has made videos of how she works with the paint. Instead of plastic sheet and canvas, I decided to use a glass plate with blank watercolor paper. My plate is about 12 by 12 inches.

Monotype pront with acrylics on a glass plate

While I poured colors on the plate, I thought about how suitable this process is when you want to forget the rest of the world and have a quality time with your favorite colors. Cassandra Tondro embraces quietness while working:

I like quiet when I work.  My experience is that we are surrounded with so much noise all the time — traffic, cell phones, airplanes overhead, radio, videos, Musak in stores.  My studio is my refuge from all of that.  I like to be alone in the studio — no phone, no computer, no Internet connection — and I like it quiet.

I agree. This is a process where colors are the music players, and the painter is the maestro, fully focusing on how to make it all work together.


One general characteristic of art is an unpredictable creating process. While you have to accept more unpredictability than usually, there’s a lot what you can control. Choosing the colors and creating color mixtures is one thing. Composing color areas is another. But as Cassandra says, this is an experimental process. Experimenting is also very freeing. As I was unable to repeat the strokes that I usually do, this process tweaked my style to an unpredictable direction.


When I pressed the watercolor paper against the glass plate, feeling colors crushing between the plate and paper, I felt like running. This process involves physical movement, even if you are working on the table, instead of laying the paint on the floor like Cassandra does. The action, combined with colors, lifts your spirit, forces you to concentrate and makes you curiously excited.

Monotype printing

When the paper is turned over, and the artwork is revealed, there’s no quietness anymore! The colors have found their home. They have abandoned the hard glass, and now lie rearranged on the soft paper. A good 24 hours of dry air and they are there to stay!

Fresh acrylic paint

A warning: Once you have made one, you won’t be able to stop!

Monotype printing with acrylic paints

I got fascinated by everything, including the cleaning of the glass plate!

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet


I asked Cassandra where she gets her inspiration for painting:

My inspiration often comes from dreams or during meditation.  I like to meditate before I start to paint.  It sets the mood for creativity, and ideas often occur to me during meditation.  Another good source of inspiration for me is taking a walk.  Getting outside and walking frees up my mind, and I sometimes get ideas that way.

This kind of art thrives on the freedom. When I look at my pieces, I hear the colors thanking me: “You released us!” And as colors are so close to emotions, it feels like they have been released too.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This is the next print after The Rooster.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This piece was made on canvas textured paper instead of watercolor paper. It is not quite as sharp as those made on watercolor paper. If you create small pieces, as I did, I recommend using thick watercolor paper.

Peony and Parakeet experimenting with Cassandra Tondro's technique.

I composed the gallery-style image on a black background, but I think that Cassandra’s work would look beautiful on a brick wall. I like to imagine how the colors would have flown in the air and crashed against the hard blocks.

The more you experiment with this technique, the more you begin to appreciate Cassandra’s paintings. I see her art very powerful. Maybe because it is something totally different from my own, which often includes too much expression, too much explaining. Cassandra’s art is the art of listening. Watching her paintings makes me think: I am free to live, I am accepted, there’s no need for talking.

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Intarsia in Watercolor

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Last week I visited a fascinating exhibition. The gallery displayed Yoshinobu Nakamura’s wood intarsia art. Yoshinobu Nakamura is a Japanese artist living in Finland. He creates masterpieces by combining tiny wooden pieces. I was deeply impressed how the characteristics of various tree species and specimens showed in his work. I wanted to try the subtle color scheme and some kind of intarsia myself. And I did, only using watercolors and watercolor paper instead of natural wooden blocks!

Love for Tiny Pieces

Speaking of tiny pieces of paper, I have always loved them. When I was a teenager, I cut the pieces from magazines and made a mosaic type of work. Some of them never got finished as they were painfully slow to create!

Paper Mosaics by Peony and Parakeet

Years later, I made a pen holder for my husband using paper scraps cut from magazines. I carefully covered every surface that could be reached and finished the penholder with gel medium. It has survived at least ten years!

Carboard Penholder Covered with Paper Pieces, by Peony and Parakeet

Watercolor Paper Intarsia

But this intarsia project was going to be different from mosaic work. I would not only cut the paper into small pieces but also adjust each piece in line with others! I started the project by painting the papers. For some of the painted areas, I also added lines resembling wood grains with a black drawing pen.

Watercolor papers by Peony and Parakeet

Next, I tried cutting the pieces. I discovered that they have to be put on top of each other, right side up. The cut line will then fit perfectly.

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I used masking tape to attach the cut pieces together.

Instructions for Paper Intrasia, by Peony and Parakeet

The big piece that I made looked pretty interesting. But it looked even better when the geometric shapes were cut out of it!

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I painted one watercolor paper to look like pine wood. The spotty paper was found from the stash. After hours of cutting and adjusting, the artwork was finally finished. See, all the papers are on the same level, not on top of each other! With intarsia technique, you can use thick papers for collage art!

Watercolor Paper Intarsia, imitating wood with watercolors by Peony and Parakeet

My belief in watercolors continues to stay strong. I love how easy it was to imitate wood with them!

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Paper Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Once the artwork was put together, I attached the piece, with masking tape background and all, onto a white watercolor paper using gel medium. I think I call it “Rolling Stones.” Have fun with this technique!

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Quick Gelli Christmas Cards

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

This year I had two requirements for the Christmas cards: quick and handmade! The theme had also been selected: candles, suitable for all religions and all ages. All I had to do was to figure out how to make a lot of cards and fast. This first photo is a snapshot from my studio while I was making the cards.


Before I got my table full of cards and more under making, I had to discover the process of creating the cards. My artistic side wanted something that looked handmade but was still somewhat warm and painterly. The task was transferred to my engineering side who turned on the computer and made a sketch of a single card in Photoshop. The card would consist of two layers of paint. Needless to say, using the Gelli plate would be handy!

Planning a christmas card on Photoshop, by Peony and Parakeet

But this plan was not enough. I wanted to create not only one card, but several at the same go. While walking the dogs, I solved the problem. Here are the step-by-step instructions of how to make simple candle holliday cards. You can make them more complicated by adding doodles and such but the basic design is very simple. By following these steps, you can serially produce handmade cards!


Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

You will need: Paper, glue, cardboard, acrylic paint in few colors, brush, brayer, scissors, black pen and 8” x 10” size Gelli plate.
Optional: Paper trimmer for cutting the straight edges. Some kind of a stick, a pallette knife or a knitting needle for example, for drawing surface patterns.Double-sided tape if you prefer that to glue for attaching the printed image to the cardboard.

1) 1st Layer: Candles

Paint the center of the plate. The width of the painted area is 5 to 6 inches of the height of 10 inches. You can cut a paper of that width and use it as a guide by putting it beside or under the plate.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

You can draw patterns with a stick if you like. I like to use more than one color to make the candles look lively. You can use brayer for the paint but I prefer to use brush and work horizontally. That way the candles will have horizontal color slides.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Cut your papers to the size of the Gelli plate before printing them. You will get 2 to 3 prints from the one layer of paint. Let dry.

2) 2nd layer: Backgrounds

While waiting the paint to dry, cut the masks for the candles. You will make four candles from the one print. For the four candles, you will need four rectangles, 2-3 inches wide and 5 to 6 inches long. Furthermore, you will need four flames. Fold a paper twice in half and cut one flame at the same go or enjoy your time with the scissors and cut the shapes individually.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Paint the background with two colors. The center with a darker color (blue, black or green, for example) and the sides with orange yellow. I like to use color mixtures here too. Place the masks so that the distance between them is the twice longer than the distant from the edges. If you want, you can emphasize the flames by drawing lines around them. Make the prints. Let dry.

3) Cut the prints, save the flames

Save the masking papers for the flames. Cut the prints in four parts with scissors or with a paper trimmer.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

In the third photo beside the trimmer you can see one alteration of this pattern: use Gelli plate in the other way and create an image with a several candles! By cutting various sizes of masks you get variation for your candles.

4) Finishing

Cut a small part of the background away from the both sides of the print. Cut curvy lines to the bottom edge of the candle. These will make the candle look like it’s set on the snow.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Attach the print to the cardboard. Glue the mask on place or color the center of the flame with a colored pencil or a marker. Draw a wick with a black pen.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

5) Variations!

You can make all kinds of variations from the basic instructions. You can add the number of candles, cut them out and glue many candle on the same card, doodle on the candles etc.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate (make four from the same print!), by Peony and Parakeet

I still have few cards to finish and one more task to do: Write “Merry Christmas” or “Hyvää joulua” (same in Finnish) on each one!

More holiday crafts from the previous years:
Wrapping Paper from Newspaper and Elegant Christmas cards

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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Self-Expression with Gelli Plate

Humanity - a monoprint by Peony and Parakeet. See my tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Printing with a Gelli plate was one of the things that popped up from the reader’s survey. As I happen to love mono printing techniques, it was quickly selected for the theme of the week!

Glass Plate

Almost 30 years ago, long before Gelli plates, I used glass plates for mono printing. I usually made a sketch first and then added each color as a separate layer.

Sisters by Peony and Parakeet. Printed with a glass plate. See my tips for creating monoprints!

This monoprint was made in 1988 and it represents my sisters.

Gelli Plate

A gelli plate is a great invention and it’s available in various sizes and shapes. My plate is 8 x 10 inches in size. Acquiring one is not a necessity. Glass plates work fine even today. You can also use any plastic transparent like overhead projector transparencies. The advantage of Gelli plate is that it has a flexible and sticky surface. That makes the using of masks easier. So if you fall in love for monoprinting, I would recommend purchasing the Gelli plate.

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

In addition to the plate I have Golden Open acrylic paints. These paints have extended drying time, so they are especially suitable for monoprinting. I only have six colors but by mixing them I can get a huge variety of colors.

To create monoprints that include self-expression, I have 6 tips for you.

Tip 1: Use brushes instead of a brayer

The most common tool with the Gelli plate is a brayer. I have a Speedball brayer but I often use brushes instead. They make the prints much more artistic, unique and expressive. With brushes you can easily create non-repeating details and large color areas – the elements that contain more communication than monotone repeats.

Tip 2: Use a variety of tools

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Your artwork is much more interesting if you use a variety of tools. For this post I have used two different brushes, a double ended embossing needle for doodling and a long pallette knife for wider strokes. Your imagination is the only limitation when tools are considered. Just remember to avoid sharp objects!

Tip 3: Use hand-cut shapes for masks

When combining a variety of colors and surface patterns with hand cut shapes, the result is much more organic than using one color and cutter-cut shapes. The temptation to create a repeated design is bigger than when using freely cut unique shapes.

Here are some patterned papers that I printed from machine-cut shapes.

I made these with Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate, and this might work as a fabric design too.

But with freely cut shapes, I avoided repeating the same motif.

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Tip 4: Let each layer bring something new to the artwork

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

When creating a new layer, I do not mix and match colors too much. Sometimes colors look even more amazing on a plate than on a print, so I had to take a close-up from the plate!

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

I also think that cutting new shapes for each layer can really pay off. Add new and different with each layer, still letting the lower layers show too!

Tip 5: Create at least two monoprints at the same go

If you use slowly drying acrylics, you can get at least two monoprints from the same layer of paint. You can also experiment with that by creating two different artworks by changing the printing direction. I have turned the last layer upside down in the second monoprint, thus the two prints differ slightly.

Monoprints by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Tip 6: Doodle and color over

A monoprint before and after decoration by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

I doodled over the other of the two monoprints created for this post. Besides a white gel pen and a black thin tip marker, I also used colored pencils to slightly fine-tune the colored areas.

Here’s the bigger picture of the decorated print:

Technology - a monoprint by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Finished Prints

Humanity and Technology - monoprints by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Here are the two finished pieces. Which one do you like more, the one that is not decorated or the one that is?

My husband asked after seeing these: What are you thinking while making these? – I try to think of nothing while creating, I said. Because I believe that you have to think before you create, not while you create. However, after a vivid discussion I named these: the one on the left is Humanity and the one on the right is Technology.

Gelli Printing Project in a Video – Apples and Tomatoes!

In this video I talk about how and why to add diversity to your art. At the same time I am creating a monoprint with a Gelli plate showing easy techniques to create an image.

A bonus tip: Remember that you can also monoprint fabric with a Gelli plate!
See how I used mono printed fabric for the background of an embroidered piece!

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Imitate Ceramic Art!

An art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions on how to imitate ceramic art and ceramic tiles with correction pen and watercolors

A strange cat in the shadows.
Too many apples for the tree to bear.
A blackbird complains: Dry mouth!
Still, it’s a paradise: my garden.

This is an art journal page where I wanted to achieve two things:
1) imitate Scandinavian ceramic artists of 1940-1960s
2) write a poem and illustrate it

Scandinavian Ceramic Artists

Annikki Hovisaari, a Finnish ceramic artistLet’s start with the artists: Annikki Hovisaari from Finland and Lisa Larson from Sweden. They are women who made beautiful ceramic art in 40s-60s. Annikki Hovisaari died in 2004 but Lisa Larson is still alive and she has a website too.

Me and my husband own a couple of Annikki Hovisaari’s work. We have bought those from antique fairs.

I found out about Lisa Larson in Scandinavian Retro magazine nr 1/2014. You can also see the best work of hers by searching from Google with the search term “Lisa Larson tile”

When I examined the work of these two artists, it was clear that a white correction pen would be perfect to imitate the lines. I made a couple of small pages by combining the correction pen with acrylic paints and PITT Artist Pens. However I was not fully satisfied with the outcome. These did not have the liveliness in color that I wanted to achieve.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet

But after making these I realized how I would use the correction pen and what I would combine it with: watercolors! Here’s how you can create your own ceramic tile look!

1) Doodle with correction pen

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

2) Use watercolors for coloring

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

The correction pen works as a resist. You can watercolor over the white doodles. After painting add some water and wipe the paint off from the doodles.

3)  Add contrast and draw thin black lines

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

When you are done with watercolors, don’t stop yet. Add color variation and contrasts to doodled shapes. You can also work with colored pencils when finishing if it feels easier. Finally take a thin black marker and add thin lines in the center of white doodles or both sides of the doodles. These lines will make your work look sharper and more dimensional.

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

Here you can see the difference that finishing makes. At this stage I have also added the poem. But actually my process began by writing the poem. I have discovered that if I want more depth in journaling, it’s better to write it first.

Have fun with this simple technique!

Instructions on how to imitate the look of ceramic tiles, by Peony and Parakeet

More ceramic art inspiration and playing with simple shapes
>> Modern Mid-Century art journaling mini-course

Express Yourself with Colored Pencils

An art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils.

Simple art supplies fascinate me. Colored pencils have been my favorites recently. They are so easy! There are no worries about making the pages too thick even if there’s a lot of layers.

Colored pencils seem to be used for traditional artwork mostly. I think they are as suitable for improvising as any other media, like watercolors. In this post, I will show you few easy techniques for expressing yourself with colored pencils.

1) Color by Doodling

Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

Starting with a blank page or paper, draw circulating and continuous lines to color a small area. Then change the color and continue. Create layers and let the colors intersect. You can get a wide range of colors with layering. Think your pencils as doodling tools!

2) Rotate the Page while Coloring

Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet : Rotating the page.

You will get more variety and interest to the page if you rotate it while working. Work one area at a time, changing the orientation once in a while. The areas can be fairly large as in my page, or smaller.

Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet: work in progress

Here’s the page before I used the eraser …

3) Use Eraser to Create Lighter Areas

Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

Erased areas bring light to the work. In an art journal page, use the eraser for the areas where you want to write the journaling.

4) Add More Clarity

Four easy techniques to express yourself with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet : before and after final touches

I am a big believer of finishing. When you improvise, the result may be self-explanatory for you without the finishing touches. But if you want to communicate with others too, then sharpening some areas and adding some layers here and there for more intensive color is a minimum. I realized that my page had some animals in it so I made them easier to see. Like the photos include sharp and unsharp areas, you do not need to work through the page. Picking the focal points and working with them is often enough.

Coloring with Pencils is Like Painting by Drawing

By discovering these easy techniques, I have learned to love colored pencils. It is like mixing painting with drawing. With colored pencils, you can have a gorgeous art journal or a unique greeting card collection! Show your free expression with colored pencils!

Express yourself with colored pencils! >> Buy Coloring Freely!