Intuitive Still Life – Video with Gelli Plates and Golden Open Acrylics

Intuitive still life painting using both Gelli plate and brushes. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my latest painting, an intuitive still life with tulips. Last week, I had a short visit to an art supply store in Helsinki. I was surprised that they had a collection of Gelli plates for sale. When I got my first one several years ago, it wasn’t as accessible. I had to contact a shop in Italy which was the only retailer in Europe at that time. It’s great that Gelli plates have become more widely known. I have noticed that on my blog too. Month after month, the post “Self-Expression with Gelli Plate” is at top ten!

So I couldn’t help myself at the art supply store and bought another Gelli plate. My old one is 8 by 10 inches. The new one is a smaller, only 3 by 5 inches. It’s easier to handle and clean but mono printing with the big one is quicker.

Could Gelli Plates Be The Cure for Blank Paper Syndrome?

I wanted to have an experiment using both of the plates. Without any pre-planned idea about what my painting should represent, I would get over the blank paper syndrome using random monoprints. Then I would move on using brushes and working more intentionally. As always with mono printing, I used Golden Open Acrylics as paints because they don’t dry as quickly as regular ones.

Here’s my painting after I had some fun with Gelli plates.

Intuitive still life painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

And here’s the finished piece.

Intuitive still life painting using both Gelli plate and brushes. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Intuitive Equals Subconscious!

After I had finished painting, I realized that it’s a combination of recent events: I got a lot of tulips for my birthday, made a strawberry birthday cake and enjoyed the winter sun with Stella.

Photo collage from February: tulips, birthday cake, winter sun.

Intuitive Still Life – Watch the Video!

Here’s a video about creating the intuitive still life. There you can see how adventurous my process was.

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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.

Planning

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!

Supplies

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

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 monoprinting 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 monoprinting. 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

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 variation of colors and surface patterns with handcut shapes, the result is much more organic than using one color and cutter-cut shapes.

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 monoprinted fabric for the background of an embroidered piece!

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