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Peony and Parakeet

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?

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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:

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!

In the Spirit of Cassandra Tondro

The Rooster, mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet.

This painting is a monotype print where I have added only few collage pieces and a couple of little details with pens. In this artwork, the rooster is waking us up to notice that in art, whether we are makers or viewers, we are always in the middle of an experience. Thus, if you want to become a better artist, you should not focus on the final results only, but also on the experience.

Cassandra Tondro

There’s a particular artist that I want to introduce for this subject. She is someone that I greatly admire, Cassandra Tondro. I am most honored to have Cassandra Tondro herself answering to my questions! I also got her permission to publish her photo and my favorite artwork of hers called “Illusion” in this post.

Artist Cassandra Tondro

The Supplies

Cassandra Tondro has not only thought through about what kind of paintings she wants to create. She has dug deep into the whole creative process. The development of her current way of working has started steps back from what most of us would think. She wanted to find an environment-friendly solution and discovered a way to work with leftover house paint.

I did not have extra house paint but some odd jars of similar kind of fluid paint like Tim Holtz’s Distress Paint. I also diluted few old acrylic paints with water to get more fluid paint colors.

Fluid acrylic paints

Working with Colors

Cassandra Tondro has made videos of how she works with the paint. Instead of plastic sheet and canvas, I decided to use a glass plate with blank watercolor paper. My plate is about 12 by 12 inches.

Monotype pront with acrylics on a glass plate

While I poured colors on the plate, I thought about how suitable this process is when you want to forget the rest of the world and have a quality time with your favorite colors. Cassandra Tondro embraces quietness while working:

I like quiet when I work.  My experience is that we are surrounded with so much noise all the time — traffic, cell phones, airplanes overhead, radio, videos, Musak in stores.  My studio is my refuge from all of that.  I like to be alone in the studio — no phone, no computer, no Internet connection — and I like it quiet.

I agree. This is a process where colors are the music players, and the painter is the maestro, fully focusing on how to make it all work together.


One general characteristic of art is an unpredictable creating process. While you have to accept more unpredictability than usually, there’s a lot what you can control. Choosing the colors and creating color mixtures is one thing. Composing color areas is another. But as Cassandra says, this is an experimental process. Experimenting is also very freeing. As I was unable to repeat the strokes that I usually do, this process tweaked my style to an unpredictable direction.


When I pressed the watercolor paper against the glass plate, feeling colors crushing between the plate and paper, I felt like running. This process involves physical movement, even if you are working on the table, instead of laying the paint on the floor like Cassandra does. The action, combined with colors, lifts your spirit, forces you to concentrate and makes you curiously excited.

Monotype printing

When the paper is turned over, and the artwork is revealed, there’s no quietness anymore! The colors have found their home. They have abandoned the hard glass, and now lie rearranged on the soft paper. A good 24 hours of dry air and they are there to stay!

Fresh acrylic paint

A warning: Once you have made one, you won’t be able to stop!

Monotype printing with acrylic paints

I got fascinated by everything, including the cleaning of the glass plate!

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet


I asked Cassandra where she gets her inspiration for painting:

My inspiration often comes from dreams or during meditation.  I like to meditate before I start to paint.  It sets the mood for creativity, and ideas often occur to me during meditation.  Another good source of inspiration for me is taking a walk.  Getting outside and walking frees up my mind, and I sometimes get ideas that way.

This kind of art thrives on the freedom. When I look at my pieces, I hear the colors thanking me: “You released us!” And as colors are so close to emotions, it feels like they have been released too.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This is the next print after The Rooster.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This piece was made on canvas textured paper instead of watercolor paper. It is not quite as sharp as those made on watercolor paper. If you create small pieces, as I did, I recommend using thick watercolor paper.

Peony and Parakeet experimenting with Cassandra Tondro's technique.

I composed the gallery-style image on a black background, but I think that Cassandra’s work would look beautiful on a brick wall. I like to imagine how the colors would have flown in the air and crashed against the hard blocks.

The more you experiment with this technique, the more you begin to appreciate Cassandra’s paintings. I see her art very powerful. Maybe because it is something totally different from my own, which often includes too much expression, too much explaining. Cassandra’s art is the art of listening. Watching her paintings makes me think: I am free to live, I am accepted, there’s no need for talking.

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