Peony and Parakeet

Painted Paper Collage – 6 Tips for Intricate and Fun Art

A painted paper collage. A sketchbook cover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s an 8-by-8-inch sketchbook that I decorated with painted paper collage. Even if all my art is not collage art, I love it. Painted collage art often replaces traditional sketching so that I paint and cut papers to grow the ideas that don’t feel mature enough for bigger work.

In this blog post, I share some tips that are handy for this kind of creative play.

Tip #1 – Organize Painted Papers by Size

I have a box for small paper pieces and another for bigger ones. I keep the papers rectangular in shape so that they are easy to browse.

Handpainted papers by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Tip #2 – Add a Lined Adhesive to the Tiniest Pieces

I like to make intricate collage art so I have tiny collage pieces. Small hand-cut pieces are difficult to handle and get lost easily. Thermoweb has clear adhesive dots called Zots (affiliate), that come with two liners, and they are perfect for both storing and attaching small paper pieces.

Attaching small collage elements with Thermoweb Zots glue dots. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Zots are very flat compared to many glue dots, and they have two liners. Just remove the first one, attach the piece, and then remove the second liner when gluing the piece on a collage! Here you can see a close-up picture. This is the smallest size of Zots.

Attaching small collage elements with Thermoweb Zots glue dots. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Tip #3 – Make Clusters

Attach small pieces on the bigger elements and treat each piece as a small artwork!

A collection of painted papers cut to collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I also like to decorate clusters by painting and drawing.

Painted papers cut to collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

However, I sometimes have elements that are so beautiful that they don’t need anything on them.

Painted papers cut to collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Tip #4 – Group and Layer!

When composing the painted paper collage, use connecting lines and intersecting shapes. They make a more elegant and coherent composition than if the elements don’t touch each other.

Composing a painted paper collage. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Tip #5 – Add Shadows

For the sketchbook cover, I used grey Faber-Castell PITT Artist Brush Pens (affiliate) to color shadows on both the elements and the background.

Adding shadows to a painted paper collage. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Shadows add depth and make the elements look less separate from the background.

Tip #6 – Sealing

I like to attach the collage elements first with glue dots, double-sided tape, or some paper glue and then use gel medium for sealing. This way, my fingers stay fairly clean when I am building the composition. At that stage, I attach the elements only partly, and they get glued when I am sealing the work.

Sealing a painted paper collage. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

For sealing, I use several layers of gel medium (Golden Soft Gel Gloss (affiliate) is my favorite), especially for the items that will be touched regularly.

A painted paper collage. A sketchbook cover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Painted Paper Collage – More Ideas

  1. For those who want to start by making some papers:
    Choose Kiwi, Arboretum or Romantic Doodles
  2. For those who like to play:
    Dolls in a Gallery – Paper Collage Step by Step!
  3. For those who need to dig deeper as artists:
    Draw Your Innocent Little Secrets!
  4. Class recommendations:
    Collageland
    Inspirational Drawing
    Modern Mid-Century

I hope you found these tips both practical and inspirational!

Hand-Drawn Collage Samplers

Squirrel Sampler by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read how to create hand-drawn collage samplers!

I have been browsing my art archives lately, and it has been surprisingly inspiring. I have lots of art journals and a big box of paintings and drawings from my teenage years. Even if I have experimented with many techniques and themes, it all looks very similar now. Everything fits together and gets my approval. Painting “Icebreaker” gave me a new kind of confidence, and with that confidence, I am now blogging about a playful idea that I got from cross-stitching – hand-drawn collage samplers!

These samplers are composed of hand-drawn paper pieces so that they look like cross-stitch samplers. They have ribbons, many identical ornaments, tiny floating elements, and some symmetry. There’s also stiffness and order so that it looks like the elements are on a grid.

Paivi Eerola and a cross stitch project in progress

Cross-stitching is one of my hobbies, and even if I try not to think about art when stitching, I just couldn’t resist this idea! Here’s how I applied cross-stitching to collage art.

Print Tiny Scans of Hand-Drawn Collage Pieces!

It’s essential to have tiny decorations to make the collage look ornamental. I solved the problem by making collage sheets of scanned hand-drawn pieces. These collage elements were drawn for the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom, and there are some jeweled flowers from the free mini-course for subscribers too.

Sheets of scanned hand-drawn collage pieces. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The original size of these pieces is much bigger than in the printed sheets.

A hand-drawn collage piece and printables. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Use All Kinds of Hand-Decorated Papers!

Samplers have a variety of designs, so every little doodle is a potential sampler piece. I have a box of hand-decorated and painted papers (mostly leftovers from Collageland) and two boxes of hand-drawn collage elements. I have also cut some old art created in the 1980s. All these are a good addition to small printed pieces.

Boxes of hand-decorated papers by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Of course, you can also use store-bought die-cuts, pictures from magazines, etc. but if all the elements are handmade, they will all fit together much better because they are all YOU!

Perfect Project for Hand-Painted Background Pages

If you are an art journaler, I bet your journal has a lot of pages that are more like backgrounds rather than finished pages. You can use them for collage samplers!

The background of this sampler was busy and bright, but I just added brown over some of the areas and let the colors speak, or should I say shout!

Rabbit Feeders by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read how to create hand-drawn collage samplers!

I attached the pieces with paper glue and some larger elements with double-sided tape. I usually use gel medium, but it’s messier, and it’s too difficult to cut all those tiny pieces with sticky fingers.

Self-Expression with Hand-drawn Collage Samplers

Sticking paper pieces can be just a relaxing hobby, like cross-stitching. But samplers can also tell stories!

My first page is called Squirrel Sampler, and it has all kinds of little treasures that Paivi the Squirrel has collected.

Art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read how to create hand-drawn collage samplers!

The second page is called Rabbit Feeders. It refers to women’s status and importance in Virginia Woolf’s novel The Voyage Out. An isolated woman looks at herself from the mirror and questions her importance for the world. I read Voyage Out as a teenager, and this allegory, even if it’s just a few rows in the book, touched me deeply.

Art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read how to create hand-drawn collage samplers!

It often happens that creative play evokes feelings and stories that are too big to express in any other way. I hope you’ll enjoy making these samplers!

Start drawing your sampler pieces – Subscribe to my weekly emails and get a free mini-course!

Dolls in a Gallery – Paper Collage Step by Step!

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

Last week, I published a video about drawing a paper doll. Now when you have the dolls, what’s next? Let’s take them to an art gallery, and show them all the other art that you have created! Follow me step by step to create a fun paper collage!

1) Draw Lines to Define the Space

Take a ruler and divide the paper so that it has two walls and the floor.

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

Start with the horizontal line and make sure that there’s enough room for the dolls to wander around the space. Then draw a vertical line approximately one third from the edge, and finally a diagonal that completes the side wall.

2) Paint The Floor and The Walls

I used watercolors to paint the background, but you can use any medium. Because you will add art on the walls and carpets on the floor, the interior can look quite plain at this point. Empty galleries usually are pretty sad-looking but that’s going to change in the next step!

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

To make the gallery look more 3-dimensional, I used cooler colors on the back wall.

3) Decorate by Making a Paper Collage

Now the fun can begin. Turn your painting into a paper collage! Start by picking collage pieces to decorate the gallery. Hang art on the walls and make carpets on the floor. Go to your box of hand-decorated papers and use those! If you don’t have any, you can print some or cut images from magazines. But I think this project is the best if you can hang your art on the walls, and be the star of the gallery!

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

I also have a class called Collageland where I show how to make and use hand-decorated papers.

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

The back wall is the easiest to decorate because the papers can be rectangular there. But when cutting the pieces for the side wall, and the floor, make them inclined so that they follow the perspective.

To Glue or not to Glue?

I glued all the decorations with gel medium. If you make a pile of paintings and carpets, maybe some other furniture too, you may not want to attach them permanently so that you can change them. I didn’t glue my dolls in Step 5, but you can glue everything to complete the image.

4) Add Details with Pens

You can add fringes on the carpets, shadows near the paintings and panels, and adjust colors.

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

I use a black thin-tipped drawing pen (Copic Multiliner) and colored pencils in this step.

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for both the doll and the background!

Here’s how my gallery looks when it’s finished. Because I love to take a step away from reality, I made a magic mirror on the wall. I made this paper collage on one of my A3-sized sketchbooks that has watercolor paper.

5) Let the Dolls in and Play!

Now invite the dolls to the opening! My dolls got so excited that the magic mirror became activated. It opened a door for the whole wild world!

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions for a doll and the background! Animals are from her class Animal Inkdom.

And after the opening was over, a couple of the guests decided to take an adventure through the mirror with zebras!

Paper dolls in a art gallery. Handmade paper collage by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. The zebras and the riders are from her class Animal Inkdom.

Drawing and Playing in Animal Inkdom

Paper collage play by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class animal inkdom is about drawing wild animals in a fun way.

Take the paper doll with you, and come to draw and decorate animals with us in Animal Inkdom! You will get the published lessons immediately after the registration, and you can start drawing right away. Sign up for Animal Inkdom here!

Colored Pencil Collages – Playing with Color

Fall in love with colored pencils and make the most of your paper stash!  I also recommend these classes:
1) Collageland – save time and effort by creating textile-inspiration with pens and paper
2) Inspirational Drawing – for you who wants to say: “I can draw!”

The Fun Process of Colored Pencil Collages

"Poppy Love" - an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her instructions for colored pencil collages!

Here’s is an art journal page that started as a sad one. First, it only had some carelessly drawn lines. Months went by before it got some paint to accompany the doodles. After another long wait, it got some depth with colored pencils. It still looked unhappy, so I glued a piece of hand-decorated paper to cheer it up. Today, I found it again and was surprised how finished it looked.

Making of colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This is often the way I make art journal pages: little by little, random lines, using up extra paint on the palette, saving a piece of paper from my stash. It’s a very unintentional process but after those finishing touches are added, it’s all good.

Art journal spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she creates these from paper scraps and colored pencils!

My Hand-Decorated Paper Stash

I have been doing this for a long time: making my collage papers and also saving the tiniest pieces. No matter what my main art projects are, there seems to always have time some scrap paper fun even if it’s sometimes just picking a small piece and gluing it on an art journal without analyzing what and why.

Using hand-decorated paper scraps for collage art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Colored pencils are one of my favorite supplies and I also have papers decorated with them. When I go through my paper stash, I often add some colored pencils on painted ones just to make them more valuable in my eyes. Then I also have some true treasures – papers that only have colored pencils on them. They take more time to make, and to me, they are like silk and others are more like cotton, the basic stuff.

Using Imagination with Colored Pencil Collages

When I am playing, odd is good. Paper pieces sometimes have a mind of their own, and strange results may appear! Here’s an art journal page called “Three Sisters”. It started with paper scraps but really came to life when I added colors to the background with colored pencils. See how I used many colors for the background so that it completed the composition and made the piece more cheerful.

"Three Sisters" - an art journal page with colored pencils and paper scraps by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This collage started with a quite traditional idea. I wanted to make a doll. But when the doll got more heads, I followed the imagination instead of trying to stick with the original thought.

Start with the Expressive Background!

Create Step by Step!

Try this process if you often ponder these questions:
a) what to put in the background?
b) how to express with color?

In this process, you will start with the background so that it creates a structure for the rest of the work. A grey paper enables you to use color for expression rather than trying to tone down a screaming scene when using only “beautiful” tones.

Supplies: Grey Paper, Colored Pencils, Paper Scraps

You will also need gel medium or paper glue for attaching the collage pieces, and a black drawing pen for finishing touches.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 1 – Coloring Freely

With white and dark grey (or black) colored pencils doodle random shapes. Fill some shapes by drawing, add shading, and have fun by playing with color values. Change the orientation once in a while so that your imagination keeps on going.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions! Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 2 – Cut Tiny Collage Pieces

The pieces for this step can be really small ones, and you can cut them even smaller. Here’s one piece from my stash and I cut a smaller shape out of it!

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Don’t worry about the composition yet, just cut so many small pieces that you have a collection to choose from.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 3 – Add Some Light and Shadows to Collage Pieces

With the white and dark grey (or black) pencils, add some shadowing around the edges and some highlights with white. All the pieces don’t necessarily need this but it makes solid-colored pieces look much more interesting.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 4 – Glue the Collage Pieces

Use the background as a support structure and an inspiration source for your collage! If you have problems with composition, go through my free mini-course Loosen Up and follow the tips there!

Creating a scrap paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Step 5 – Add More Color with Colored Pencils

This step integrates your collage pieces with the background.

Creating a scrap paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Step 6 – Draw Final Details with a Drawing Pen

Add some loose lines and dark details with a black drawing pen.

Finishing a paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Here’s my finished piece, a fantasy creature!

Phoenix by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for creating art with colored pencils and paper scraps.

Some Papers Last Longer than Others

I intended to cut some motifs out of this paper but maybe next time. Too precious for now! It’s inspired by Collageland.

Hand-decorated Paper by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her class Collageland for more inspiration from textiles and embroidery!

Create Handmade Collage Art to Build Your Visual Dreamland – Buy Collageland!

 

 

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