Color the Emotion

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Let Unconventional Inspire You

"Leftright Wrongright", a watercolor collage using rubber stamps by Peony and Parakeet

You know I love beautiful and decorative things. But the more I create, the more I feel that creating art should be expression first, aesthetics second. This watercolor collage is called “Leftright Wrongright” and it is about how sometimes the old wrong and unconventional can be the new right.

Rubber Stamp Art

If you think of experimental and avant-garde, would you ever consider using rubber stamps? In that context, they are the most boring thing. They are the absolutely wrong choice when you want to create unique and advanced art. But as my mission was to express how wrong can be right, I just could not resist taking the risk and using them! I painted the background with watercolors and then started stamping.

Rubber stamping over watercolored surface. Stamp art by Peony and Parakeet

I only stamped once with each of the stamps. That way they were seen as individuals, not as a bunch of clones. I have used this principal before too, see Can Rubber Stamping be Art and Make Samplers to Save Bits and Pieces.


Watercolors are my trusted friend. They make the best backgrounds but also, they make rubber stamps look much more interesting. After the whole background was covered with stamped images, all different from each other, I added water and brushed the water-based ink to blend with watercolors.

Diluting the color of rubber stamps by Peony and Parakeet

With the big brush, I doodled this and that thinking fierce fully about destruction and bravery.

Painting with Watercolors by Peony and Parakeet.

With a smaller brush, I added details and enhanced them with colored pencils.

Adding colored pencils over watercolours by Peony and Parakeet

Imitating Rubber Stamps

To make the stamped images even more individual, I added hand drawing to make few of them bigger and more handmade. A thin drawing pen is great for imitating rubber stamps that have delicate details.

Doodling around rubber stamps by Peony and Parakeet


When I worked with this artwork, it became clear to me that the final touches are crucial here. I should not only do what I usually do but add something that is against the rules, disrespectful even. First, I doodled with a white gel pen and let the doodling look a bit dreadful. Then, I grabbed a piece of paper, painted red and yellow with heavy acrylic paint. The unsophisticated color and the clumsiness of the shapes when I cut it made it look so wrong.

"Leftright Wrongright", creating a watercolor collage using rubber stamps by Peony and Parakeet

But I finished this artwork with a new attitude. As I wanted to express that sometimes we need to do things that make us feel uncomfortable, I needed to break my ordinary rules. I added few rough elements without over-decorating them. They are the wrong that makes the right spin. They make me ask: do right and wrong exist at all when creating art? If we think that unconventional is wrong, are we denying the true power of art and where it can take us?

"Leftright Wrongright", a watercolor collage using rubber stamps by Peony and Parakeet

Hopefully, this inspires you to add something wrong to your art, and make it right!

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32 thoughts on “Let Unconventional Inspire You

  1. First I want to say that I love your artwork and what you did here. I had very strong reaction to your words though. I can totally get your not liking rubber stamps – we all have media we don’t prefer or feel comfortable with, but so much of what you said about rubber stamps I had not heard before and I had a strong reaction to…. “conventional?” “boring?” “absolutely wrong for creating advanced art?” Have you seen what some artists are doing, and have been doing with rubber stamps – to create gorgeous, “advanced” art? I felt very off-put by your judgement of the media that I have loved for so long. I am very glad you were motivated to give them a further try and found that it is not the medium that makes a tool “boring” but how we look at it. I am glad your mind was opened to the glorious possibilities that rubber stamps can provide.

    Your artwork at the top of your blog always catches my eye and I love how you work with color. Now you have me thinking about what mediums I don’t appreciate or feel comfortable with – what judgements I make – and what I should take a new look at! Thank you for unsettling me…. those are the stuff breakthroughs are made of!

    1. Pam, yes I used some strong words here. Sorry, if I offended you or anybody else! I thought about what words to choose before I wrote the post, but I kind of believe in the openness. I think that by writing what I thought, I revealed my prejudice on rubber stamps, which plays an important role in the process. I might have put it down better, the way which you did: Start with the medium you do not feel comfortable with, and give them a new possibility. Make your wrong right!

  2. I’m beyond thrilled reading your blog. I subscribed to your blog after seeing your beautiful art on Documented Life Project 2015. I’m so happy to see you’re teaching a class on 21 Secrets Spring 2015! I had already signed up and I’m so happy to see you’re one of the teachers. Thank you so much for sharing your outstanding art with us. You are truly an inspiration!

  3. You didn’t offend me. I got that you were trying to make a point and you did a magnificent artful job of it in word and that exquisite painting..

    1. Nea, thanks! I really appreciated Pam’s comment though! I think it was well said and it’s great to have conversation here!

      1. I was certainly not offended at all – although I was a bit surprised by some of the sentiments you expressed. I tried very hard to make it clear that I was not trying to blast you for your opinion in any way. But it did make me sit up and take notice for sure. I am glad you tried to work with the stamps and wound up having a positive result with them. It is making me take a look at mediums that I’m not comfortable with and to make an effort to reach out of my comfort zone.

  4. Your words always get me to think – dust off some old ideas and begin thinking instead of just reacting in the same old way. Your work always gets me to see the proof of your words – dust off some old unused media and have a new play with it. I am now happily using my colored pencils and watercolors together. Strange to my old ways, but so exciting to my new art fun. I have drawers full of stamps that have not been used since I really love to draw my own stuff but I will try some after seeing this post and the prior post you did. Who knows what lies behind that door when I open it?

  5. For a long time i believed that stamps were for cutesy stuff and stencils for folk art then my prejudices were released when I looked at some modern work. It is the trivialization of these techniques that produces negativity especially in original artists such as you paivi. It was wonderful to see how you made then uniques and integrated into your art style.

  6. I agree with the comments above. One thing I like about you Paivi is that you use a lot of the supplies I already have and am not using. Someone told me one of my paintings was not original since I used some rubber stamps in my mixed media painting. It really bothered me and I put them away in a box. Now, I’m thinking ‘fiddlestix’! I’m going to use them and have fun!

    1. Cathy,
      oh that’s such a shame that someone said that to you! It’s like saying a collage is not original – which we all know is poppycock! It’s a tool and a medium and any way you choose to use rubber stamps in your work will make it original and truly YOURS! Definitely get them back out!

  7. This is such a fascinating entry! I applaud your methods and courage to use new, different techniques and really love the idea of embellishing the stamps–very unique! I am often held back in my art work because exploring the unconventional for me, often ends up with simply a “mess” and discouragement. I think I understand your description regarding rubber stamps. Owing to the scrapbooking craze, they have become overused and ubiquitous. This is why am learning to carve my own stamps–it is challenging, though.
    The final result with your page is really delightful. I see primitive and “unconscious” images in it that are interesting, whether intended or not.

  8. Dear Päivi,
    Your prejudice towards rubber stamps is a very Finnish thing and even today it’s hard to find and artist who would be comfortable using them. We haven’t had them on the market for that long, maybe 15yrs and teachers who would know how to work different Inks (water based, oil based and alcohol based) are rare because most part it’s chemistry! Keep finding the truth! You have just touched the surface!

  9. Love the energy that you unleashed by veering off the path. Thank you for another inspiring lesson!

  10. What a gorgeous final picture! I too have been put off with rubber stamps, using them very seldom — now I want to try this! What size was your paper? Thanks for sharing your process

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