Find Your Art Journaling Inspiration!

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

After stretching my limits at the last blog post, I felt the need to go back to basics. I picked my Moleskine Watercolor Notebook and made three spreads by just answering the question: what does continually inspire me?

The short answer is: I am constantly inspired by the history of decorative art. I believe that it’s important to respond to the question on a general level like this. If you only list specific artworks and other artists, there may be less room for personal interpretation. If you define yourself too tightly through others, you can find it hard to figure out what to create next and how to find your personal style.

My Art Journaling Inspiration Sources

I am constantly inspired by embroidered fabrics and wool rugs from the first half of the 20th century.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

I am constantly inspired by art glass, fabric prints, and the way these characteristics are seen in today’s street fashion, especially Japanese street fashion.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

I am constantly inspired by Russian decorative plates, European Art Nouveau and the way they combine drama with natural colors and shapes.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and ParakeetArt journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

Even if I don’t have the ability to paint decorative plates or the looks to wear Japanese street fashion, I can use them as a constant source of inspiration. I can let them show in art journals and other artworks, often in a way that is less literal but still obvious for myself.

The history of decorative art fills my mind with values that I can resonate with. They are understanding nuances, focusing on details, telling stories that last time, uplifting people with beauty and spirituality and integrating production with technology. It may not be the whole big picture of the subject, but it is how I look at it. That in turn, inspires me to create art, to blog and to deliver new techniques and workshops.

Let art journaling make you happy – fill your pages with subjects that truly inspire you!

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Processing Visual Inspiration

November Still Life by Peony and Parakeet

Last week, I visited Natural History Museum of Helsinki. My idea was to take a sketchbook with me and make few sketches – if I happened to see something inspiring. My skeptic attitude changed once I entered the place. I remember visiting the museum over 20 years ago but only the front door of the old building seemed a bit familiar, everything else looked new to me. I wa mesmerized by the colors and details of stuffed animals, and only after a short while, almost overwhelmed by the amount of information and visual stimulation. It would have been impossible to put all the inspiration into sketches, so I took photos.

Natural History Museum of Helsinki

When I got back home, I knew I had to create an artwork inspired by the visit. But my mind seemed too full, not knowing where to start, what to express. I started a painting but against all my principles, I tossed it because I was totally clueless even if my mind was full of inspiration!

After a couple of days, I decided to make a sketchbook spread to help me process the subject. I loaded the photos to iPad and created several layers of watercolors while browsing the images.

Painting a sketchbook spread from photos taken from Natural History Museum of Helsinki

I wrote down some of my thoughts: how I admired lions and African animals in general when I was a child and how rich country Africa is, in terms of nature.

A sketchbook spread by Peony and Parakeet

After this spread, I asked myself: what inspiring did I see that than the animals. The answer was: glass cabinets and the concept of collections that were kind of surreal. With that in mind, I started a painting on a thick watercolor paper.

The first layers of an artwork, by Peony and Parakeet

Randomly creating new layers with ink mists, watercolors, alcohol inks and gouache paints, I focused on the color first. Greens, turquoises and ochras were the ones that made the strongest impact on me when looking inside the glass vitrines.

Phases to the end result, November Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

With gold paint and white ink, I created more details to embark my imagination. Then I thought about slavic melancholy, fall, piano concertos and let all of that get mixed with glass and nature. When I looked at the end result, I kind of like the idea of mixing a landscape with a still life. The idea is surprisingly similar than what I saw in the museum: still lives that are also landscapes! I would have not thought it this way though without processing the subject so much. By taking photos, painting without a clue, working with the sketchbook and then creating a lot of layers made me somehow understand what inspired me in the first place. When I let go and followed the pencils and brushes, it was ready to come out.

November Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

What I learned was: sometimes creative process takes a lot of time, a lot of phases, don’t stop too soon!

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