Gelli Plate Meets Fine Art – Monoprinting Ideas for Art Lovers

Nostalgia, an acrylic painting using a Gelli Plate on the background. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post for more Gelli printing ideas!

Old paintings are full of nuances and flow that we often don’t see when focusing on the subject only. This week, I am a rebel and use a Gelli plate for bringing up those elements. The Gelli Plate, like any mono-printing tool, is a bit clumsy for adding details.  But also full of potential because you can easily produce repeated motifs that are not exactly similar. It enables you to add diversity and uplifting rhythm to your art without extra efforts.

Gelli Plate Meets Fine Art – Watch the Video!

This video is a replay of a live broadcast where I am sharing my secrets about the process.

I also include the images and the summary here in this blog post so that you can more easily refer back to these instructions.

Project 1 – Expressive Portrait on White Background

Supplies: Gelli Plates (mine are 8 x 10 and 3 x 5 inches), watercolor paper, brayer, brushes, any blunt stick, acrylic paints, glazing liquid (or gel medium).

Gelli printing ideas by by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post for how to create fine art with a Gelli plate!

This project started by intuitively adding layers with a Gelli plate on a white watercolor paper.

Gelli printing techniques by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My only intention was to make a mess that has enough diversity so that I could see something appearing.

Gelli printing techniques by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she finished this project!

The big spot looked like woman’s face to me, so I made a stencil by quickly sketching one on paper.

Drawing a stencil for Gelli printing. See how she continued this project with a Gelli plate!

I added more elements and shadows, so that worked one area at the time.

Monoprinting ideas and techniques by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her blog for more ideas and the finished pieces!

When the big elements were in their places, I changed to a smaller plate and added more details.

Using a small Gelli plate as a stamp. See Paivi Eerola's blog post for more ideas and instructions!

Here’s the monoprint before I changed to painting with brushes.

A monoprint in progress. See how this project was finished!

Using Botticelli’s Madonna of the Book as a loose reference, I painted the face and some details with fine brushes and thin layers.

Painting on a Gelli print. See the blog post for more info! By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the close-up of the face. I realized that the eyes look to a bit different direction, but I didn’t want to change that because this piece is called Nostalgia. I think it’s a mixed feeling because then we are admiring the past, but at the same time, being sad that there’s no way to travel back in time.

A detail of Nostalgia, an acrylic painting using a Gelli Plate on the background. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post for more Gelli printing ideas!

Here’s the full painting again.

Nostalgia, an acrylic painting using a Gelli Plate on the background. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post for more Gelli printing ideas!

Do you like this one? The original piece is for sale in my shop!

Project 2 – Floral Still-Life on Black Background

This piece started by adding a layer of black gesso on a watercolor paper. I had a clear goal from the very beginning – to create a floral still-life honoring Dutch Golden Age paintings from the 17th century. I also wanted to use Gelli plates only and see if it’s possible to create a detailed piece by mono-printing only.

Monoprinting tools, techniques and ideas. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The first layers were very subtle and translucent. The idea is to build depth by slowly increasing the brightness of the mono printed layers.

The beginning of a monoprint. See how this piece progressed! By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Like in the previous project, many layers only had few elements. I like how detailed they look when adding lines with the stick on the plate.

Flowers and leaves on a Gelli Plate. See the blog post for more monoprinting ideas and how this piece was finished. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also made a paper stencil for this project. At this point, I changed to a smaller plate.

Using a hand-cut paper stencil with a small Gelli plate. See how this floral still-life came out! By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I used paler and darker tones of pink to make a flower. It’s also handy to stamp the same flower several times.

Monoprinting flowers with a small Gelli plate. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how this piece was finished!

Dots and splashes of paint all add up. I also like to use cotton cloth for making a sharp edge to a free-form shape.

Gelli printing ideas and techniques by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

When using a little too much paint, it forms “skins” that look like intricate leaves. It was also fun to add a surface pattern to a vase.

Paivi Eerola's still life in progress. She made this with Gelli Plate only!

I used dark browns and black to tone down some elements, and white to highlight others.

Adding finishing touches to a Gelli print. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s one of my favorite details:

A detail of a painting made with Gelli Plate only! By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the process pictures!

Another one, showing how the vase glows.

A detail of a painting made with a Gelli Plate only. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she made this from start to finish!

Here’s the finished piece in full size:

Old Holland by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Made with Gelli Plate only!! See the blog post for process pictures!

What next?

Continue to create with Paivi: Subscribe to my weekly emails
Learn the basics of mono-printing and create your visual wonderland: Buy Collageland
Stop the stiffness – let Paivi help you to move forward: Join Bloom and Fly

Subscribe to Paivi’s weekly emails – Get a free mini-course Loosen Up!

Coming Up: Fine Art Monoprinting!

I am running a free live broadcast Gelli Plate Meets Fine Art on Wednesday, May 23, 9 AM BST (London), 6 PM AEST (Sydney). This session is for you who loves old paintings from Renaissance to Impressionism but who also likes to play with Gelli plate or other mono-printing tools.

Inspiration from Historical Paintings

Details of monoprints made with Gelli Plate. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. She has a free live broadcast of making these on her art blog!

Old art is full of nuances and inspiration. I will show you how you can get more out of old masterpieces and apply the lessons to your art too. I will use two pieces as an example of how you can stretch Gelli plate’s limits. The first one has brushwork in addition to printed motifs. The second one is a still life that was made with a Gelli plate only. The pics of this post show some details of them.

Gelli Plate Meets Fine Art – Come Along!

Reserve your spot here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/gelli-plate

You can watch the replay via the link or here on my blog if you can’t make it.

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.

Enjoy creating more intuitively: Sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0!

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