From Intuitive to Intentional Painting

The Phantom of the Opera, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

This is my latest mixed media painting called “The Phantom of the Opera.” Just saw the musical in The Finnish National Opera!  I don’t know about you, but when I go to see a performance like that, I know that it will appear in my art one way or another. With this blog post, I want to challenge you to think what is intuitive and what is intentional in art. And – can they be combined?

Day 1 – Watercolors

It was a sunny winter day when I started the painting. A friend from the UK was visiting me, and we were chatting while I painted the first layers. With watercolors, like many times before.

Watercolor set

I love how well watercolors support intuitive painting. You can just splash here and there and then get inspired by the result. In this phase, I tend to choose the colors quickly, based on what feels good. I would call this phase very intuitive also because I don’t usually have no idea about how the result would look.

Beginning a painting with watercolors, by Peony and Parakeet

After splashing watercolors on the paper, I tried to get something a bit more intentional out of it: distinct shapes, strokes and color areas.

Creating a mixed media painting, by Peony and Parakeet

The painting looked like it could be a still life with wine grapes and some fruits. But I did not have more time to continue with the painting, so I saved it in my album. I love to create 12 by 12 paintings as they fit on a regular scrapbooking album. I also love the square shape as it is easy to change the orientation of the picture in the middle of the process.

Day 2 – Acrylic Paints

About a week later I picked out the painting again. This time, I wanted to add some acrylic paint to it. I find the combination of transparent watercolor and non-transparent acrylic paint very attractive. When touching the acrylic paint tubes, I get ideas about color mixes that would work with the watercolor background. I would call this pretty intuitive step too.

Acrylic paint tubes

As I am a very detail-oriented person when painting, I try to be bold when painting with acrylics. Broad strokes add more interest to detailed paintings.

Creating a mixed media painting, by Peony and Parakeet

In the end, the painting still looked like a still life, but I wasn’t quite confident about the orientation of the painting.

Creating a mixed media painting, by Peony and Parakeet

Here you can see the difference between the end of day 1 (watercolors) and the end of day 2 (acrylics).

Day 3 – Colored Pencils

Because I love details, I also love to use colored pencils. With colored pencils, it’s easy to add little nuances here and there, and I also like the look of pencil strokes on the painting.

Colored Pencils

Day 3 was a day after day 2, but it was still before I had seen the musical. When I work with colored pencils, I am often very intentional. First, I had an idea to create wine glasses of the two round elements, but then I changed the orientation of the painting and saw lamps in the ceiling!

Creating an intuitive painting, by Peony and Parakeet

Which one do you like the best: the wine glasses or the lamps?

Day 4 – Acrylic Paints + Colored Pencils

Day 4 was after the musical. I got an idea from one of the scenes. The painting continued with acrylics expressing the famous chandelier crash!

Creating a mixed media painting, by Peony and Parakeet

So far I had been pretty intentional but then changed to intuitive. I played the music and tried to get into it as much as I could. I used both acrylic paints and colored pencils.

Here’s the result again:

The Phantom of the Opera, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

Intuitive Painting – Guess What!

The story doesn’t end here! While photographing the finished painting, I glanced at my feet and saw the same color scheme in my socks! I had just finished them before Day 1 and worn them ever since. So, this painting actually started when I was picked the yarn from my stash for the socks. No, wait – it began when I bought the wool that I spun to the yarn …!

Handmade socks and mixed media painting share the same color scheme, by Peony and Parakeet

Combining intuitive with intentional is a lot of fun! It’s the best cure for getting rid of stiffness in the result. The intuitive parts allow you to feel free when painting; the intentional parts bring more clarity to the painting.

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12 Responses to From Intuitive to Intentional Painting

  1. Jackie says:

    I probably would have stuck with the wine glasses…and look what I would have missed out on! 🙂 Lovely lovely painting, Paivi. I like to mix watercolor and acrylic also, but have not tried colored pencil yet. Something to look forward to.

  2. Valerie says:

    Great to see what changing the orientation of a page can surprisingly reveal. Love to read how your process moved over time and the occurrence of an event. The socks are a delightful addition.

  3. Dianne says:

    They are both lovely in their own right. But I prefer the lamps as they are more whimsical and interesting to my eye. The wine glasses are traditional. They would both look great in a restaurant setting or the dining room of one’s home. It would be cool to have both of them in the same restaurant on different walls and see how long it takes for someone to figure out they are the same piece of art. Very lovely Paivi!

  4. Mary W says:

    I chose the ceiling lamps since the foggy blue/grey pushed back the top into the background and instantly I started seeing more depth and was invited in. I’m afraid of loosing something pretty and the bold acrylic just is very uncomfortable so that is exactly what I need to do. Today’s post is giving me some specific ideas that I think will help me. Even though you began the acrylics with a sort of hint of an idea, you didn’t paint that idea – you just hinted at it with paint to form the edge of a glass, the hint of shadows pushing your shapes outward. It left it open for you to keep going. That is a help to me. Your shapes are bigger and can be transformed throughout your process. That is another help to me. I’ve heard your steps before but maybe I wasn’t ready yet. This seems very clear to me and easier if I just try again. Looks like you finally added the light music feeling over the top after you were more confident of the direction it was going. I have to admit the first thing I saw were the tiny bubbles in the glass in the front right corner. Instantly I was studying them and wondering how you did that. This post is so helpful. Thank you!

  5. Maryse says:

    They are both lovely but i will choose the Lamps for the meaning… Beautiful work Pavi

  6. Joan says:

    This is inspirational A real eye opener