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Peony and Parakeet

Tribute to Finnish Art Rugs

"Ryijyneilikat" - "Rug Carnations", a mixed media painting with watercolors and colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

I made this painting just before Christmas but as it has a special story, I wanted to blog about it later when I had more time to write. Actually, I didn’t even plan for creating anything in the middle of holiday cleaning and cooking. But I just had to.

Finnish Art Rugs

Namely, my husband bought a wall art rug (“ryijy” in Finnish) from an online auction and it happened to arrive just before Christmas eve. We had been searching for one for some time. It had to suit with the colors and style of our living room and not be enormous (as many of them often are). We had a designer in mind too – Ritva Puotila, a Finnish woman who has recently designed carpets for her own company Woodnotes. In 1950-60s, she used to design beautiful, painterly Finnish art rugs. The rug that my husband found was her design called  “Fireside Evening” and I think it looks wonderful in our mid-century modern living room (which has a fireplace in the opposite wall).

Finnish wall art rug, ryijy, Fireside Evening, designed by Ritva Puotila

As you can see from the close-up photo, the rug is not only black and red but has many colors to create the painterly effect. At those times, in 1950-60s, wall rugs were fashionable in Finland and especially these kind of rugs that are as much modern art as home textiles. Many women bought the patterns and sewed or weaved their rugs by themselves. My mother was one of them. She chose a rug design called “Ruutrikki” (a made-up word that resembles “broken squares”) and the designer might have been Päikki Briha, if I remember correctly. Here’s an old photo of me and my father showing the rug in the background. That rug also has a lots of colors. It was difficult to zoom in, but hopefully you get the idea.

Ruutrikki, a Finnish art rug, ryijy

While touching and admiring our new red rug, I got very emotional. My mind was filled with mixed emotions. I was happy about the new art textile that would bring a warm atmosphere to our living room. On the other hand, while browsing the old photos, I saw people that have passed a way, photographed in front of my mother’s rug. When I remembered that many of those art rugs were sketched with watercolors and then transformed to a grid pattern, I just couldn’t help it. I had to take out my watercolor set and start a new painting even if it was getting late and I felt pretty tired.

Creating a Mixed Media Painting

While painting, I didn’t think about anything particular, but of course, the rugs found their way to the end result …

Creating of "Ryijyneilikat" - "Rug Carnations", a mixed media painting with watercolors and colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

The painting turned out to be some kind of still life with a dark vase and few sad-looking carnations. Carnations were my mother’s favorite flowers and my father used to buy them for her every year, at their wedding anniversary.

A detail of "Ryijyneilikat" - "Rug Carnations", a mixed media painting with watercolors and colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

If you look at Finnish art rugs at my Pinterest board, many of them have some kind of melancholy in them. Maybe it’s caused by a combination of muted colors, high contrasts and simplified, abstract approach. These were the elements that used in my painting too.

I finished the painting with colored pencils and named it as “Ryijyneilikat” – “Rug Carnations”. They are imaginary flowers that grow downwards, that are not used to be centerpieces, that blend in the background. They enforce other elements of the still life to step up and go forward. Just like my modest mother did for her children.

"Ryijyneilikat" - "Rug Carnations", a mixed media painting with watercolors and colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

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Art Quilts in a Modern Way

Folk Music, digital art from handmade elements, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s something that I have wanted to show you for a long time! I have been working with a custom order which made me think of a new idea: to create fabric prints and make quilted wall hangings from them. This idea is very versatile as you don’t have to be a quilter, you can print your art on fabric and use it for bags, purses, clothes – anything!

The artwork above has been composed digitally of various art pieces that I have made. The person who ordered the wall hanging is a fan of modern folk music and the color red. (If you have not listened to modern folk songs, try Hanneke Cassel for example!)

A leaf motif by Peony and Parakeet

I created one new collage piece for the artwork. All the other details are picked from my archives.

It was pretty exciting to send the artwork to Spoonflower. When I received the fabric, the print quality was really sharp and detailed! I already knew from the previous experiences that big areas of black don’t print well, so I avoided those.

A digital fabric print designed by Peony and Parakeet

If you are a quilter, you know that the fabric will look so much better when quilted! I sandwiched cotton wadding, two layers of fusible interfacing and backing fabric and took out my sewing machine.

Quilting an art print by Peony and parakeet

I am not very experienced with free-motion quilting using the free-motion foot, so I used even-feed foot instead. But with patience, I was able to create quilting that enhanced my brush strokes.

Making art quilt by Peony and Parakeet

The finished quilt is about 45 x 39 inches.

Art Quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

I used various colors of shiny embroidery threads for quilting. Using black thread brings the real black that was not produced by digital printing.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Quilting on watercolor!

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Entering the flow state when playing modern folk was in the center of my inspiration.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

I added the label to the printing file too.

A detail of an art quilt using digitally printed design, by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s another project that I actually made earlier to test the idea. This one does not contain much digital processing, I only took a good photo of the original art and enhanced it a little bit.

Original paper artwork and a fabric quilt made from it, by Peony and Parakeet

I think this artwork looks really good on fabric! The actual idea when creating the original was to mimic hand embroidery! Read about creating the original artwork: When Pens Replace Needles

Folk Leaves, digitally printed fabric quilt by Peony and Parakeet

I added some embroidery before quilting but found out that quilting works well as decoration.

A detail of a digitally printed art quilt, by Peony and Parakeet

A printed fabric label can be found from here too.

A detail of a digitally printed art quilt, by Peony and Parakeet

I also have more fabric prints waiting to be transferred into art quilts!

Fabric prints from paper artworks, by Peony and Parakeet

Paper prints news: New card sets have arrived at my Etsy shop.

Art Postcards by Peony and Parakeet

Life can never be too colorful!

Art Postcards by Peony and Parakeet

Stella and Cosmo send their greetings to all artists and quilters: Have a relaxing weekend!

Beagles with quilts by Peony and Parakeet

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Scrap Wood Collage

Scrap Wood Collage by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her husband

After working day and night with Folk Bag Workbook, it was time to relax. But honestly, I am not very good at doing nothing, so I decided to put my mind in rest by finishing the scrap wood collage. It is a project I have been making with my husband. I talked about the project first time in one of the video blog posts.

Background of the Project

While renovating the studio, we ran out of the ceiling panels. (You can see the hole in the ceiling on the video.) My husband had a box of wooden pieces collected from the past woodworking projects. We decided to use them to create an artwork together.

We had been talking about a project like this for a long time. My husband is an avid woodworker and I love to draw and paint. We are both extremely interested in art and design, so we thought this would be the perfect project for combining our strengths.

Planning

When the project started I drew some sketches and we discussed about them. I focused on the concept of how the wooden pieces should be arranged. I knew I wanted to include paint too, but was not too concerned about it yet. We agreed to create a sort of log cabin quilt type design and organize the wooden pieces by color. My husband drew the size of the artwork on the big piece of paper so that we could understand the proportions more accurately.

Scrap Wood Collage by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her husband

Making the Blocks

When we began to make the blocks, it dawned on us that I was too impatient to glue and adjust the pieces. And my husband had not much ideas about how the pieces should be composed visually. So I designed each of the block by organizing the wooden pieces on the table and my husband glued and finished the blocks. As every block is unique and most of the small wooden pieces are different sizes, my husband had a lot of work!

When all the blocks were glued, I wanted to add paint on them. I did not want to cover the wooden surfaces but add some color to the edges. As the theme of the studio is 1960s, I mixed colors from that era and painted each of the edges in different color.

Attaching the Blocks

After the blocks were painted, the artwork was ready to be put in place. My husband had made a wooden panel where he glued each of the blocks.

Scrap Wood Collage by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her husband

A Special Feature

If you watched the video carefully, you might have noticed that there is a power plug on the ceiling. The artwork is designed so that there is a flap in one of the blocks that can be slided away!

Scrap Wood Collage by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her husband

Lessons Learned?

All in all, this was a great project! This is what I learned here:

1) Let the creativity correct the mistakes.
We could have just ordered few more ceiling panels but we did the exact opposite!
2) Make it meaningful.
Many of the scraps carry memories themselves. And we created more memories by working together.
3) Search for new territories.
My approach for wood was totally different from traditional woodworker’s. The artwork was designed like a modern quilt even if it has been made from wood. For me, various wood species represented various colors. The wood grains were combined so that they formed rhytmic lines and ornaments. I also wanted to create a texture, but not by carving like a woodworker had done, but by playing with the height differences of each piece.

Scrap Wood Collage by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her husband

The fourth lesson is:
4) It’s good when it looks like it’s alive.
The end result might look terrible if you look at it like a traditional woodworker. While we made the project, my husband had some problems to get over the fact that every wooden piece does not fit exactly and there will be so much variety on the artwork. But in the end it all looks alive. I love the uneven, colorful edge. Combined with the texture, it all looks very organic even if there are clear, graphic blocks.

While creating this, I began to think of wood as a new art supply. Then I realized that most of the things in the world can be seen as an art supply! Mind-blowing, isn’t it!

P.S. Soon after we finished our artwork, my husband saw a woodworking video about making a wall-decoration from scrap wood. Does it differ from ours? Leave a comment and tell what do you think!

How to Imitate Glass with Paint

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!
For this painting, I learned how to imitate glass. It is called “We Will Protect You,” and it’s about parents trying to protect their children. The parents have good intentions, and they do their best, but in the end, they have to let the child step into the world. I have painted two glass vases to represent the parents. The child sees the world through the parents, and even if they want to protect the child, they are fragile too.

Artistic Inspiration from Glassware

The idea for the painting began last Saturday when I went to the local library to get some ideas for the future blog posts. I saw the book called The Art of Glass. It was about Kaj Franck, a Finnish designer who was extremely skillful in designing glassware.

Goblet by Kaj FranckMost Finns have Kaj Franck’s glassware. He didn’t design unique pieces only, but everyday glass as well. My most precious glass item from him is this red “Goblet” which was originally owned by my aunt. She passed away ten years ago, and the color of this Goblet reminds me of her vivid character.

After browsing few pages of the book, I knew I had to make something glass-related. It’s not the first time the glass has inspired me: see the collage inspired by Nanny Still, and I have also knitted a folk bag inspired by Oiva Toikka. Both Nanny Still and Oiva Toikka are Finnish glass designers as well.

This time, I wanted not only to find out how to imitate glass but to explain it to you too. Before beginning the bigger painting, I painted few circles on a small paper and tried to make them look like glass.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I used acrylic paints to paint the circles and then watercolors to add more circles around the previous ones. The shapes were softened with colored pencils. Then I added white with acrylic paint and a gel pen, and black with a PITT Artist Pen.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I made each circle a bit different. I was not fully satisfied with them, though. The center circles were too solid in color. I decided to start the bigger painting with watercolors as they are easier for making transparent layers.

8 Tips on How to Imitate Glass

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

1) Paint several transparent layers which intersect each other. Use a lot of water to create thin layers.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

2) Use a lot of hues and shades of the same color. Mix colors to get new tones which have slight differences from each other. Use small spots of other colors too as glass reflects its surroundings.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

3) Paint geometric shapes like circles, squares, half-circles, and triangles.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

4) Add white with acrylic paint. When painting the white shapes, soften one side of them by adding water.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

5) Use a black colored pencil to add dark near the sharp edges of white areas. Make the dark areas soft too.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

6) With correction pen, add brilliant white to highlight parts of the white areas.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

7) Add jet black with a black marker (I used a brush tip PITT Artist Pen) to make dark areas pop as well.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

8) Finish with thin lines using a gel pen and a black marker. It will make your glass look a bit thinner and more elegant.

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!

What kind of glass do you like the most? Does mimicking materials interest you too?

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