Freedom and Fear of Drawing – with Students of Peony and Parakeet

Asian Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I dedicate this blog post for drawing, but I want to talk about cross stitching first. It’s one of my long-time hobbies, and I find it relaxing. I don’t have to make any decisions, use any imagination, just follow the chart, and the result will be just like I wanted it to be. Cross stitching is like a simple house plant. If you give a little bit of time for it fairly regularly, it will grow even if it doesn’t feel like so at first.

Paivi likes cross stitching

I can choose complicated charts or simple ones, and easily adjust the attention required for stitching. But there’s one problem that always remains: pixelation. Each image is made from single square-shaped stitches. No matter how complicated the design is or thick the fabric is, the pixelation is there.

Christmas at Gingerbread Lane, a cross stitching project in progess

Working with single stitches is not only a visual problem. It’s also a problem if we want to create more freely. Then we need a medium that allows faster and more flexible thinking. Like drawing. There are many kinds of drawing styles. When I want to experience creative freedom, I don’t do sketching using a pre-made model. (The photo shows a recent Renaissance-style painting in progress. I have designed it first in Photoshop.)

A sketch for a Renessaince style painting, by Peony and Parakeet

A Fear for Freedom – A Fear of Drawing

When I want to feel free, I don’t want models. Then it’s just a blank paper and a pen and a wish for a glimpse of imagination.

But freedom and fear are strangely connected. About three years ago, when I planned to leave my day job and start an art business, I warned myself. I told how I would no longer be anyone noticeable. I would have no office, no place to go every day, no colleagues to discuss with, no job title, no respect from others, no self-esteem. I would live in the darkest edge of the society and completely against the way of life I was taught. With these stories, I tried to prevent myself making the life change, and at the same time, I knew I had to try it. I had to turn the page and start a completely blank one.

Drawing on a blank page, by Peony and Parakeet.

I often connect with the same fear when I start drawing. That I am no one, that I have no power, that it is overwhelming and I don’t know what to do. But then, it’s the same gate that leads to the most wonderful feeling: the feeling of freedom.

Before I left my day job, I started to follow other self-employed women online. I listened to podcasts where they told their stories, and they all had one thing in common. They had put what they already know into use and then learned more. It made me list all the skills that I had and be more content about the decision I had made.

Paivi just before her life change

Drawing Factory Teaches You to Draw from Stick Figures

Still, on this day, I find it both assuring and inspiring to acknowledge what is already there before starting something new. So last year, I wanted to create a mini-course about line drawing, using the same philosophy. That was how Drawing Factory was born. It teaches you to start from stick figures and then move on to flowing lines and more imaginative illustrations.

Drawing Factory, a line drawing mini-course that helps you to lose your fear of drawing. By Peony and Parakeet.

Student Artwork

I offered Drawing Factory as a part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016, the series of monthly mini-courses. See some of the gorgeous pieces that my students have made from the course! Another central theme in the course is Japan, the land of pretty details and high productivity and that has inspired Denise Dineen, Linda Robson, Christie Juhasz, Stepanie Carney, Marie Jerred, and Kathy Gallant, too.

Denise Dineen, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Linda Robson, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Christie Juhasz, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Stephanie Carney, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Marie Jerred, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Kathy Gallant, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Overcome Your Fears for Line Drawing – Buy Drawing Factory!

Drawing Factory is now available as a single self-study class. >> Click here to buy!
You can also buy the whole bundle of five art journaling classes, published last year as Imagine Monthly Fall 2016.

Thank you for supporting my journey now and during the last three years!

Year 2016 in Review – In Terms of Art Supplies

A handdrawn collage by Peony and Parakeet. Her course Inspirational Drawing 2.0 teaches how to create these + more!

I am not usually so keen on “year in reviews,” but I thought it would be interesting to look back regarding art supplies used in 2016. When people ask me what supplies do I use, my quick response is: “Acrylic paints, watercolors, and colored pencils.” If I get detailed questions, I often refer to these blog posts: What Art Supplies Do I need? and What Acrylic Colors to Buy?

But it hit me that I have used a more diverse selection of supplies in 2016. And then, there are all kinds of necessary stuff that we don’t often mention but still use all the time. So, I dedicate this blog post to supplies. It’s not so much about the single pieces created in 2016. If you want to have a look at those, go to 2016 Gallery!

Must-Haves for Collage Art

The image that is at the beginning of this post is a collage made for January’s lesson at Inspirational Drawing 2.0 while teaching how to create unique collage pieces and enjoy freehand drawing. I have been blown away by the beautiful art created by my students, and I am more certain than ever that introducing the ideas for drawing piece by piece makes freehand drawing and the use of imagination easier than trying to build a bigger illustration in one piece. (You can still sign up for the class and get the first lesson immediately after the purchase!)

I like to create collage art to my biggest art journals. I have two of large Dylusions Creative Journals. The first one is almost full, so I hope I can fill it in 2017 and make a flip-through video of it. I purchased the second one last year because I love the quality of the paper. It’s perfectly smooth for colored pencils and sturdy enough for collage art.

Making of a hand-drawn paper collage. By Peony and Parakeet. Her course Inspirational Drawing 2.0 teaches how to create these + enjoy hand drawing!

Like in the previous years, I have used “Golden Soft Gel Gloss” gel medium for attaching the collage pieces and Tim Holtz’s non-stick scissors for cutting the pieces.

A new discovery is to use a piece of cotton cloth to remove excess gel medium. First, I started using old t-shirts for finger painting. But when learning old masters painting techniques at a class, we used old linens for cleaning the brushes and realized that they work well for wiping off too. Since then, I have been a collector of old cotton fabric pieces. A fellow artist told me that she has several plastic bags filled with waste cotton fabric for art making!

Cutting collage pieces. By Peony and Parakeet.

Speaking of collecting, I am still a collector of the best handmade supplies: hand drawn and hand painted paper pieces! If you have never tried creating collage pieces, see Step by Step page for basic instructions! I also have a mini-course called Doodled Luxury, that shows how to combine doodling with collage techniques.

Colored Pencils – Not for Art-Making Only!

Because I create a lot with colored pencils, I often get questions about which colored pencils to buy. Many contemplate between regular and water-soluble pencils. I love regular colored pencils because they are easy to carry and easy to use when you only have a minute or two. I use regular colored pencils also outside my art-making. I love to use them to make written notes more visual and add visual ideas to my notebooks and planners.

Work Planner Spread. By Peony and Parakeet. She uses Happy Planner for her art business.

It’s why I always have colored pencils in my reach, and I think it’s also why I find it so easy to create with them. If I have to create something quickly that isn’t very big in size, it feels natural to choose them. I use Prismacolor Soft Core pencils when I create art pieces and a selection of old pencils for more mundane purposes. My e-book Coloring Freely focuses on regular colored pencils and shows easy techniques for creative coloring.

Using watercolor pencils by Peony and Parakeet. See her class Inspirational Drawing 2.0.

I also have a mixed selection of watercolor pencils, and I enjoy using them too, especially in the beginning of coloring. Using water makes it quicker to fill a paper with a soft mix of colors. It is the technique I use a lot at Inspirational Drawing 2.0: starting the coloring with watercolor pencils, inks or watercolors and then moving on to dry supplies like colored pencils and felt-tipped pens.

Using Watercolor Paper – and Not!

This is a supply that makes my heart sing – I only have to touch it: a good quality watercolor paper! My absolute favorite: St Cuthberts Mill’s Saunders Waterford HP watercolor paper. It’s smooth and thick (300 gm2/140 lbs), and it’s perfect for both watercolors and colored pencils. I especially enjoy creating intuitive still lifes on the thick paper. I often cut the paper to a square to enable easy changes in orientation. See this blog post to watch me creating the intuitive mixed media painting below on a watercolor paper!

March Still Life, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet.

March Still Life, 2016

Even if I love smooth watercolor paper, I don’t want to limit the use of watercolors. I use watercolors constantly and often with paper that is not designed for it. I like to carelessly splash watercolors on any paper because there are a lot more opportunities to use watercolors than to use watercolor paper. For example, watercolor paper is not good for collage pieces because it’s too thick. I like to use sketching paper instead.

Watercolor painting in Hundertwasser's style. By Peony and Parakeet.

The best exploration with watercolors so far happened in 2016. I studied Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s way of using watercolors and created a mini-course about imaginative painting style. This painting style uses only a little water, and it’s easy to apply on almost any paper. See the mini-course Painter’s Ecstasy!

The Year of Canvas

If I had to name one supply that marks 2016, it would be canvas. I have created more canvas pieces than ever before. I have painted five small acrylic paintings and two medium-sized paintings. “Human Nature” was not a wall-sized, but so far the biggest that I have painted. See this blog post: 5 Lessons Learned When Painting on Big Canvas

"Human Nature" by Peony and Parakeet. This was her biggest painting in 2016.

I always take the canvas more seriously than if I create a painting on a watercolor paper or an art journal. A blank paper syndrome is nothing compared to a blank canvas syndrome! But I enjoy larger projects between smaller ones, and I have two blank canvases waiting for 2017 creations.

Experiments with New Supplies

Oil paints 
I would have never guessed that I would be 47 years old before trying out oil paints for the first time, but that was how it went. I started painting as a young teenager and my parents purchased acrylic paints to me. They explained that using oil paints would require all kinds of liquids that would not be safe and acrylic paints were better in that way. They were so right! Not to mention all the smells! I live in a house built in the 1960s, and the smell stays there for some time. It would be impossible to me to use oil paints daily just because of that.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet exploring old master painting techniques with oil paints.

But I have signed up for an art class and will start my second oil painting next week using the old masters’ techniques. (See this blog post to read what any artist can learn from old masters!) I love the pigment and gloss of good quality oil paints. We are using Schminke’s Mussini oil paints, and they are the best quality paints that I have ever experimented with.

Soft Pastels
During 2016, I saw quite a lot of art that was created with soft pastels. I almost bought Unison soft pastels to treat myself but then realized that I already had a small set of Rembrandt soft pastels. I had purchased them many years ago for industrial design studies, but we had been using them very differently than how people use them usually. We scraped them to get powder and used the powder to create soft shadows.

A detail of an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Made using soft pastels.

I created an art journal page (see the full image in the middle of this blog post) to try them out. Now I just grabbed the sticks and drew with them, but it felt like there was powder everywhere. And then, in the end, I had to use fixative, of course. It felt tedious even if it was not. I had no desire for new pastels anymore, but afterward, I have wondered if I gave up too easily. Maybe I should try the soft pastels again sometimes in 2017.

Liquid Watercolors and Watercolor Markers
In the late fall, I got a couple of surprise packages from one of my students! I got to use liquid watercolors and watercolor markers for the first time, and I liked both of them.

Art supplies. Liquid watercolor bottles.

I like the intensity of color in liquid watercolors. Mine are Dr. Ph. Martins’s Hydrus watercolors.

A detail of a painting made with gouache, watercolor markers and liquid watercolors. By Peony and Parakeet.

Watercolor markers seem to be very versatile because you can use them with or without water. I also received a set of gouache paints, and they encouraged me to dig out my old gouache tubes as well. To see what I created with the new supplies, watch this video blog post!

Going Digital?

Based on 2016, my answer is both yes and no. Yes, I have created digital art, see this blog post especially! I have used Adobe Photoshop CS5 for so many years that it feels very intuitive and I don’t have to think about the commands and such, I can just focus on the fun stuff.

Digital art by Peony and Parakeet.

But when I create digital art, I like to use my hand-drawn and hand-painted pieces as building blocks. I know that many buy stock photos, but it feels much more exciting to me to use my art as a starting point. Sometimes when I don’t work I buy a digital kit and have fun with it, but that’s just playing in my spare time (Sometimes I do wonder, how much do I have to create, to stop creating …)

I have a student at Inspirational Drawing 2.0 who is adapting the exercises to work with her iPad mostly. I look forward to seeing more of this happening because I see a potential of more people going into creating art. However, I don’t want to spend all of my time with devices, so I enjoy creating pieces by hand and as long as I can do it, I think I will, also in 2017!

What about you? What supplies were new to you in 2016, and what supplies are you going to continue using in 2017?

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!

Moleskine Sketchbook – Another Full Art Journal!

Rococo inspired page on a Moleskine Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

I just finished my red Moleskine Sketchbook. It always feels like an accomplishment when an art journal gets full.  So I’m happy to show a couple of photos and a flip-through video of all the pages!

Moleskine Sketchbook as an Art Journal

Moleskine Sketchbooks are one of my favorite books for art journaling. The paper is sturdy, and it can be used with a variety of supplies. I use mostly watercolors, acrylic paints, colored pencils and PITT artist pens. But I also use inks, gel pens, hand-decorated papers for collages, etc. The small size is handy for quick pages and easy to put in a bag. However, sometimes the size is a little bit too small, especially for acrylic paintings. So I also use other journals, especially large Dylusions Creative Journals. The paper is very smooth, so it’s not ideal for watercolors. But I don’t mind that too much, I use a little less water to make watercolors work with the paper. Some prefer coarser paper for colored pencils but I love how effortless it is to color the pages in Moleskine Sketchbook.

1960s inspired page on a Moleskine Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

The Purpose of an Art Journal

For me, art journals are little more than just sketchbooks. I like to call them “idea books” as I often process my ideas further when I am working on the page. I don’t always make one page on the same go, but work with it several times, adding more ideas as the page progresses. However, I have quite low expectations on how my pages will look. They are not pieces of art but more like collections of ideas to me.

As you can see from the flip-through video, my ideas are often connected to art history and different styles. The first photo of this blog post shows a spread inspired by Rococo. The second photo shows a spread that I made after browsing designs from the 1960s. Even if I sometimes write short stories or make notes about my current thoughts, I mostly write about beautiful things that I have seen and visualize the ideas I have gotten from it.

My art journals are not chronological diaries but random visual notes that I process to full images. I can make a quick sketch of a rose one day and then continue the page with painting on the other day. When I am working with a new art class, I use art journals to record my visual ideas and practice the techniques. I also see creating art journal pages a route to bigger paintings. When I paint on canvas, I use the ideas that I have come up with when making the pages. Every artist should also be an art journaler!

Flip-Through Video

Create Step by Step!

I have gathered all the most popular free step-by-step instructions and all my flip-through videos on a separate page. Go to Create Step by Step!

Creative Struggles in the Middle of Possibilities

An art journal spread made for the mini-course Patterned Topiary. By Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s an art journaling spread that I made for Imagine Monthly Fall. It’s a part of November’s mini-course called Patterned Topiary. For the mini-course, I chose three main themes for the inspiration:
1) Gustav Klimt, the famous artist, and especially his Golden Phase pieces
2) playing with patterns and repeats
3) topiary art, the art of cutting trees and shrubs into shapes. As Gustav Klimt has brilliant portraits, I also included a woman there.

Predictions and Creative Struggles

Some time after creating the mini-course, I started the renaissance painting technique class under Emmi Mustonen. Now when I look at my work (which is still in progress), I see the same woman appearing there. It’s like art could predict the future!

Paivi Eerola learning old painting techniques at Finnish National Museum.

The two projects are very different and still – it’s easy to see that the person who created the first image, the art journaling spread, is the same who’s painting the copy of the portrait. I think this is a brilliant example of why we shouldn’t put ourselves in one corner, but be always willing to learn new perspectives. I could have said that I love freedom and won’t go to the class that is “just copying.” Or the vice versa: that I value old masters so much that I won’t combine them with mixed media techniques or with less-valued art forms like cutting trees. I might have avoided some creative struggles, but I would also have missed the possibilities.

My second project for November’s mini-course is also like a prediction.

An art journaling spread inspired by Gustav Klimt. Made for the art journaling mini-course Patterned Topiary. By Peony and Parakeet.

Namely, last Saturday, I went to see Yayoi Kusama‘s exhibition at Helsinki Art Museum. Another celebration of dots and patterns!

Paivi Eerola at Yayoi Kusama's exhibition in Helsinki Art Museum, a pause from creative struggles

Diversity of Themes and Techniques

I have now released 4 of 5 mini-courses for my art journaling master-class Imagine Monthly Fall 2016. There’s a lot of diversity in the projects: painting, drawing, making collages and combining the techniques to create mixed media art. You can still sign up and get all the published mini-courses immediately. There’s also a great community that you don’t want to miss! Seeing many versions of monthly themes is part of the enjoyment! I also lead a discussion related to the theme every month.

Imagine Monthly Fall, monthly art journaling mini-courses by Peony and Parakeet

Struggles in the Middle of Possibilities

When creating and teaching the mini-courses, I have experienced that art is full of possibilities but still, we fight with the fixations all the time. To me, the word “artist” has so much emotional overload that it feels difficult calling myself one.

But I got a wake-up call recently when someone said to me: “You’re already an artist and you should just embrace that. Doing otherwise is denying who you are.”

Selling My Art in Public!

After pondering that, I decided that I have to stop selling secretly based on occasional requests. I should make my art more accessible. So I set up a shop at Saatchi Art, which is a commercial site for artists. The great thing about Saatchi Art is that you can now also order fine art prints from my pieces, not only buy originals. Some of the paintings are sold already, but you can buy them as prints.

Paivi Eerola's paintings at Saatchi Art

Tell me, which struggles do you have with your creating right now? Are they due to a certain technique, certain conditions or a certain mindset?

Start Drawing from Stick Figures!

Drawing Factory, a mini-course about drawing with the help of stick figures. As part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016. By Peony and Parakeet.

If you browse my blog posts this fall, you would think that I have been painting only. But no, I have drawn too! I’m really happy about my recent mini-course that is available as a part of Imagine Monthly! It’s called Drawing Factory as it’s about drawing efficiently no matter what your current drawing skills are. Plus it’s inspired by Japan, the land of high-production factories and fascinating culture.

Drawing ATC Cards

I got the idea for the mini-course in summer when I got the urge to draw a series of ATC cards.
Hand-drawn ATC cards by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I had so much fun drawing these! While drawing, I thought about how much people use stamping instead of drawing in ATC cards. I felt liberated without them, drawing freely. How could I make hand-drawing more attractive and enjoyable?

Drawing with the Help of Stick Figures

Along drawing this big bunny art journal spread, I developed a series of tips and tricks about how you can create imaginative line drawings without tedious sketching.

Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

My method is based on stiff lines as people often say: ” I can only draw a stick figure!” But sticks can be an answer, not a problem!

From a stick figure to an illustration. By Peony and Parakeet. Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Paivi's class Drawing Factory teaches creating elaborate illustrations with the help of stick figures.

The panda is the project that I am creating in the class video. The video also includes a drawing lesson where I show how to build drawings, or should I say rich illustrations, based on simple lines.

Asian Panda in Japan, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

Buy Drawing Factory!
Drawing Factory is now available as an individual self-study class: Buy Now!

 

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.

160810g

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!

8 Style Tips from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Flowing Greenery. Like in the previous blog post, I want to share some of them with you.

Various Styles with Style Tips

This time I show pieces that are very different in style. I also include style tips and analysis. This kind of comparison can be positive and beneficial. By creating similar work and then comparing it with other artists’ pieces can make you understand more about your own signature style.

1) Warm and Dominant

The first piece is by Terttu Laitinen. Her way to use visually heavy elements feels like a weighted, warm blanket that you want to snuggle into! This piece makes you stop and calm down and still feel inspired! It’s so loaded with energy that the fruits could drop down at any moment.

Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

2) Detailed and Holistic

Gina Meadows takes a step away and makes you think about your life as a whole. It feels like every element in her work has a designated mission, connected to the cycle of living. Her strokes are clearly defined, but living and expanding as she uses very few straight lines.

Gina Meadows, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

3) Playful and Social

Michelle Rydell combines round with angular strokes very playfully. It looks like every little leaf and cloud has a personality of its’ own. She is also a master of combining imagination with visual clarity. A clear focus looks always appealing.

Michelle Rydell, USA, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

4) Intimate and Symbolic

Terry Whyte‘s work is more intimate. It’s like the tree protects the like-minded couple. A lot of care and thought has been put into shapes of each element to make them look both aesthetic and meaningful.

Terry Whyte, Canada, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

5) Primitive and Mysterious

Ulla M. Holm combined William Morris with Henri Rousseau. Her own unique style goes perfectly with Henri Rousseau’s naive masterpieces. This is an insight that’s worth pondering: how could you combine your favorite artists so that they enrich your own unique style?

Ulla M. Holm, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

6) Decorative and Sophisticated

Patricia Bush has an eye for details. But she also knows how to make them differ in size and color so that the result doesn’t overwhelm you. You might stare the gorgeous pegasus first, but take a look at the trunk of the tree too. It’s wonderfully ornamental and has a very wooden feel. Sophistication in every detail, including the castle and the moon is her magic!

Patricia Bush, Canada, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

7) Relaxed and Emotional

Meri Andriesse’s style goes to other direction. Her relaxed piece is more than all the careless elements together. Her strength is to create an atmosphere that any creative aspires to have. It’s loose and sunny, just perfect to get inspired and go creating!

Meri Andriesse, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

8) Connecting and Thoughtful

Sherry Pollack has whimsical style with lively lines but it’s also extremely thoughtful. It’s like every little creature has its’ own thoughts even if the creatures share the same experience. This makes it so easy to imagine being among them. It feels like I could listen to the same sounds, observe the same things and join the conversation that is more spiritual than outspoken.

Sherry Pollack, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

Flowing Greenery

When using the same mixed media techniques, how would your scene look like? This mini-course, Flowing Greenery, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!

You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the  classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Art journaling class Flowing Greenery by Peony and Parakeet

Create your own fruit trees and whimsical animals, right now!

9 Collage Ideas from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Doodled Luxury and I want to share some of them with you. There were so many great pieces that choosing was difficult but this time I thought to share pieces that are very idea-driven. You can never have too many collage ideas, especially if you process several at the same time!

1) Many Variations of One Shape

Gina Meadows shows beautifully how hand-drawn elements are all like from the same family when created by the same person. I also love how it’s full of feather-like shapes. They repeat the idea of a free, observing bird.

Gina Meadows, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

2) Solid Ground

The second art journal spread that I want to show you is by Debbie Loftus. Her work is a wonderful illustration of the quote she has picked. This piece also reminds me of how we can create very free flowing, beautiful mess that still speaks harmony. This can be done by simply making the bottom of the page strong and solid. This piece communicates how we as humans see nature. It’s full of weeds and still so beautiful!

Debbie Loftus, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

3) Mystery That Can Be Revealed

Mary Werner’s lady looks a bit mysterious here – but wait until you see the second picture!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

The lady has a secret, a dog who is her muse, making her to relax and take in much more than when walking outside alone. Mary has used velcro to attach the lady above the muse. Isn’t it a great idea to include a hidden mystery!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

4) Spiritual Softness

Speaking of true friends, Stephanie Carney has illustrated two sisters. I love the way they look at the flowers, sharing the same experience. Examine how softly the round frame has been decorated and compare it to others! These kinds of little nuances can communicate a lot visually!

Stephanie Carney, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

5) Real Person in a Fantasy

Terry Whyte made her grand daughter the central person. Isn’t this spread a treasure? Combine your hand drawing with the photos and start building your own fantasies!

Terry Whyte, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

6) Many Sides of One Personality

Satu Kontuvuori included her cat who is a very wild character. Even if she stays still in the image, it’s like the wildly flying bird is one of her many lives. If you are expressing a personality, or any subject that has many sides, you can scatter it into various elements of the same piece. That way you will focus on one theme but still express it in a free-flowing and rich manner.

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

7) Focal Point Balances Richness

Speaking of focus … Christie Juhasz has a trick for creating a clear focal point. See how her mermaid is sitting on a white frame! Even if the work has full of details, white circle makes sure that the main character gets noticed.

Christie Juhasz, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

8) Movement + Space to Breathe

Another great example of using circles: look at Betsy Eaton’s fish and how there’s a circular space around it. Brilliant! Another thing which makes this so appealing is the movement of elements. That dynamic feelhas been created by adding swirly shapes.

Betsy Eaton, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

9) Rainbow Softness

Kathy Lewis (a.k.a KjAllison) made a gorgeous spread full of multicolored elements, like mini-rainbows. This makes me think about macro photography and dew drops! Soft transitions of colors – why not use them in your next art journal page?

Kathy Lewis, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

Doodled Luxury

This mini-course, Doodled Luxury, was published as a part of Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the other 5 classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Paivi Eerola and a handdrawn collage created for the art journaling class Doodled Luxury, collage ideas for creatives!

Start doodling and collaging, right 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!