Create Fantastic Art!

Fly to your imagination and paint the emotion.

Peony and Parakeet

Three Design Styles, a Gelli Plate, and a Brush

One of my goals for this year is to learn surface pattern design. I want to move back and forth between art and design, and add more design to this blog as well. This week, I picked three of my favorite designers and played with Gelli Plate to imitate their style. These don’t replicate any of their work, just their style.

Three different design styles, monoprinting with a Gelli plate. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Designers from Three Centuries

My three favorite designers are Tricia Guild, William Morris, and Wassily Kandinsky.

Tricia Guild a designer from the UK, and she has a company Designer’s Guild, and I have been her fan since the 1990s when I discovered her book Design and Detail. It’s been my interior design guide for 30 years, and all my homes have got ideas from that book.

William Morris is also English, but he lived earlier, in the 19th century. Two rooms of our home have curtains designed by his company, and I regularly admire their clever repeats and ornamental shapes.

Wassily Kandinsky was more of an artist than a designer, but he taught designers in a famous Bauhaus art school in the early 20th century. For me, he is the father of modern design. I see his paintings in the works of most midcentury modern designers. Lately, he has felt even closer, when I have been built a class Floral Freedom that is based on his and Paul Klee’s teachings.

Who are your favorite designers?

Three Designers – Three Color Palettes

I have always liked making hand-decorated papers. Actually, my most popular blog post is this ancient one: How to Make Your Own Patterned Paper from 2010. So let’s get back to basics and make some!

First, I painted the backgrounds with acrylic paints and a flat brush. This set a color palette for each paper.

Three painted backgrounds. The backgrounds set a color palette for the papers.

Muted pastels and rich darker tones remind me of Tricia Guild. She often uses stripes or checks too. William Morris has greyish colors and many of his designs have dark backgrounds. Wassily Kandinsky often had a very light background in his paintings.

Three Design Styles – Three Kinds of Shapes

I continued each of the papers by mono-printing motifs with a Gelli Plate. For Tricia Guild’s style, I used a small plate and painted the motifs with a brush on a plate, then pressed the plate on the paper. Because Tricia’s style is often quite relaxed, there was less pressure for perfect outlines.

Monoprinting with a small Gelli plate. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

William Morris’s designs are very sharp and ornamental. I cut out ornaments freehand from paper and used both negative and positive shapes. I used both a big Gelli Plate and a small one.

Monoprinting with Gelli plates. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s how the paper looked after mono-printing.

Monoprinting with Gelli plates. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wassily Kandinsky’s shapes are mostly geometric, so I cut templates that had circles, lines, squares and triangles.

Making a template for monoprinting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s how the paper looked after mono-printing.

Monoprinting geometric shapes.

Three Design Styles – Three Levels of Detail

After mono-printing, I finished the papers by painting. I used a narrow brush and made small tweaks only.

Adding details to a monoprint with a brush. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like Tricia Guild’s designs because there modern meets classic and historical. They feel luxurious, but still comfortable. They don’t require similar perfection from the space than William Morris’s designs. So I didn’t perfect every shape or line, just added a bit more realism to the floral motifs. Here’s the finished paper.

A patterned paper inspired by Tricia Guild's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

William Morris’s designs are full of outlined motifs, and I connect them with books. “For people who have a library,” I wrote in a notebook that I keep for studying. But I quite liked my mono-print, and didn’t want to stiffen everything. So I only outlined a part of the motifs, and added some small dots and thin lines inside the shapes.

Finishing a monoprint by painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished paper. I really like the big yellow motif! Maybe that could be a part of my future designs.

A patterned paper inspired by William Morris's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wassily Kandinsky’s work didn’t lack details either. But if William Morris is for bookworms, then maybe Wassily is for systematic thinkers – for more scientific than humanistic introverts, and for those who love mathematics.

Adding details to a monoprint with a brush. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I used the monoprint as a foundation for the composition of shapes and followed Wassily’s advice and ideas from his book Point and Line to Plane, the book that I teach in the class Floral Freedom as well. Here’s the finished paper.

A patterned paper inspired by Wassily Kandinsky's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Wallpapers

I wanted to see how these papers could work as repeats. I didn’t have time to play with the repeats properly, but here are some quickly made images to demonstrate how the motifs would look in a smaller scale, for example, as a wallpaper.

A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It was a full day, but I had fun making these! Tell me, which three designers would you pick?

Strawberries and Inspiration – Watch the Video!

Strawberries - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Watch her video about painting this!

This week, I have a new free video for you. In the video, I create this small watercolor painting and inspire you to create art as well, even if all you can come up with would be just a few strawberries!

With this video, I invite you to join my new class Decodashery where we paint beautiful art with delicious colors.

Decodashery will begin on June 29, 2020. >> Sign up now!

Rainbow Journal – Fill a Small Notebook with Happy Art!

Rainbow Journal, an art project by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week, I get back to the project that I started earlier this spring. It’s a small notebook that I have filled with happy art. I call it Rainbow Journal because it has brought me both joy and hope. Here’s a quote from the video below:

“When working on this journal, I have been able to live inside a happy bubble momentarily. It’s been refreshing, and my inner critic has got gentler. I have gained new inspiration for my paintings and classes.”

Watch the video to get inspiration for yours!

Creative Prompts for Your Rainbow Journal

Use the following prompts to make yours!

Cover – Make It as Decorative as You Can!

Use a limited color palette and let the colors and shapes flow.

The covers of a small traveler's notebook insert. Raibow Journal by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #1 – Get Inspired by Happy Interiors!

Think about textiles, wallpapers, and painted motifs on wooden furnitures and dishes.

Decorative paintings on a small notebook. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #2 – Embrace the Good and the Innocence!

Once you have set the style of the world you are building, who could be wandering there, full of happy thoughts with an innocent mind?

A small art journal spread inspired by Jane Austen's book Emma, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #3 – Paint Something Juicy!

Show how it feels when the glass is full, even overflowing.

Rainbow journal. An art journal spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Gouache paints and watercolors.

Spread #4 – Grow the Flowers of Imagination!

The dark soil makes flowers grow and shine.

Floral notebook page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Spread #5 – Show the Bright Future!

Get creative with rainbows, how many can you fit in?

A spread of Paivi's Rainbow Journal. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this lifted your spirit and inspired you to keep creating!

Get a free mini-course when you subscribe to my inspirational weekly emails!

Vintage Style Flowers Step by Step

Lemonietta. A floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My latest watercolor painting has lots of vintage style flowers. I call it “Lemonietta,” and it’s inspired by home decor, afternoon tea, cream cakes, piano music, and of course, my favorite fruit – lemons!

Vintage Style Flowers in Three Colors

I have always liked old art and not just masterpieces, but decorative die cuts, vintage postcards, and all the more kitschy stuff too. So this post is dedicated to vintage style flowers, and I show how to make a cluster of vintage style flowers to your box of joy – any box that you fill with handpainted and hand-drawn collage pieces!

Watercolor flowers in vintage style. A watercolor tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The tutorial is for watercolors, but you can use any paint for it. Just make sure to keep the color layers transparent. I use a piece of smooth watercolor paper, but almost any paper will do. And you only need three colors: yellow, pink, and green!

Step 1 – Three Yellow Circles

Start with yellow and paint three circles.

Step 1 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted the circles in three sizes: large, medium, and small. They form a curve rather than a straight line. This way, the composition will become more elegant than if you have similar sized flowers in a straight row.

Step 2 – Pink Petals

Add pink circles or ovals around the flowers.

Step 2 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Some petals can be smaller than others, so that the orientation of the flowers varies a bit. Compare my biggest flower to the medium-sized one!

Step 3 – Darken the Centers

Continue with pink, but use a little less water so that it’s darker. Make the centers and petals clearer by painting around the center and the top parts of the petals.

Step 3 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I use a thinner brush to get sharper points near the petals.

Then mix some more water to pink paint, and add small circles to the centers.

Step 3 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I use a bigger round brush for round shapes.

Step 4 – Green Leaves

Paint green ovals around the flowers.

Step 4 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Again, my ovals have a variety of sizes so that the composition looks more lively.

Continue with green, but now use a thicker color. Make the leaves sharper and a bit more elegant. Only paint a part of a leaf with a darker green.

Step 4 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

See how pointy my darker shapes are, and how they don’t cover the whole leaf!

Step 5 – More Details to Flowers

Start with thick green paint and a thin brush. First, add green triangles between the petals to make the flower look more three-dimensional.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Second, paint around the petals so that they look more frilly.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then change to a bigger brush and add more water to make the paint transparent. Paint pale green spots on petals and on the centers.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With a thinner brush, add green lines to the petals and centers. Finally, change to pink, and paint centers and petals so that they are partly darker.

Step 5 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The nostalgic look comes from the contrast colors and the color variation.

Step 6 – More Details to Leaves

Add pink shadows to the leaves.

Step 6 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With thicker green and the smaller brush, paint think lines on the leaves.

Step 6 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Step 7 – Dark Background

Mix thick paint from green and pink, and paint the background areas between the flowers.

Step 7 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also check all the edges around the cluster so that it’s easy to cut.

Step 8 – More Color Variation

To make the flowers glow, add more color variation. Use thin paint, and add yellow to the leaves. Only paint each leaf partly.

Step 8 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Similarly, add green to the centers.

Step 8 of a vintage style flower tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my finished cluster before cutting.

Watercolor flowers step by step, a tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Step 9 – Cut It Out!

You can still change the shape of your cluster when cutting around it.

Decorative floral art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her step by step instructions for making this floral cluster!

It’s so much fun to make and find backgrounds that come alive with these little flowers.

And of course, they bring more joy to the box of joy too!

Flowers in a box of joy. The box of joy is any box that you fill with handpainted and hand-drawn collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Vintage Style Flowers – Starting More Intuitively

Painting small pieces is fun, but my bigger paintings are born more intuitively and they take a longer time.

A watercolor painting in progress. By artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I love to dig out flowers of random blooms and spatters, and then move on to paint them more intentionally.

Finnish artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet paints flowers in watercolor.
Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

When the paper is full of details, it’s sometimes hard to decide which ones can take the central role and remain bright, and which ones get more background color so that they don’t stand out so much.

A floral watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished piece again. It took about two days to complete.

Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

Even the smallest single flowers are still part of the same world.

Watercolor flowers by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this post inspired you to create, whether it’s a project of two hours or two days!

Inspiring projects for flower lovers: Buy my class Floral Fantasies!

Scroll to top