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Peony and Parakeet

Building and Breaking – Revealing Artistic Potential

This week, I talk about the hidden potential behind artworks and how we can reveal that by not only building but also breaking.

Modern Maximalist

Modern Maximalist, a surface pattern collection by Paivi Eerola.

I have just designed a collection of surface patterns called Modern Maximalist. It’s drawn digitally in Adobe Illustrator and more modern than my work usually is. However, I love modern, especially the 1960s and 1970s styles. I was born at the end of the 1960s, live in a house built in the same era, and my love for retro has been too hidden in my art. But still, I didn’t want to design the collection based only on the images of others, but to build a bridge from my art to design. So, most of the motifs were based on this watercolor painting that I made a couple of weeks ago!

Maximalist, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola
Maximalist, watercolor, 37 x 55 cm.

More Artistic Potential by Building and Breaking

Often when we create art, we build. We communicate the big picture and compose bits and pieces so that they work together. We get happy accidents (and sometimes some not-so-happy ones) and aim to make an image where the overall atmosphere takes over the details.

But to reveal more, we also need to break. Then the romantic flower that was painted to represent a dreamer, becomes a more stylish and symbolic figure.

Avant Garden, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

Yellow flowers and all the yellow washes can be more geometric when they are away from the big picture.

Floral Harlequin, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.
Pansy Power, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

The juicyness of the fruits and other decorative details can be reorganized.

Fruity Living, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.
Juicy Breakfast, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.
Spiritual Refresh, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

Picking Ideas from Other Images

We can also add more fuel, and break and pick from other images. This design called “List Maxima” uses motifs from the painting, but also the idea of a list that came from playing with the name of the collection, and fashion pictures that showed puffy and full dresses of the maximalist style.

List Maxima, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

By breaking and picking, we also develop our ability to curate – to see which inspiration suits what we have already done. It’s an essential part of a style-development and and growing artistic vision.

I saw a pleated skirt on Prince Charles’s wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, not a maximalist style at all, but wonderfully modern so I broke and picked the image and got creative from that.

Camilla Moe, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

Artists often say to me: “I need to focus!” But by focusing on narrowing, we non-creatively force ourselves to do one thing. By breaking and picking, we can curate all kinds of inspiration and be creative so that it grows our artistic vision.

Sweet Sensations, a surface pattern by Paivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist.

Revealing the Artistic Potential

No matter where you are in your artistic journey, your art benefits from the idea of building and breaking. Build to go deeper into the experience and break to reveal more ideas and potential! In practice, building often means painting, and breaking is often connected to drawing – even if, of course, you can use any techniques that suit you.

What was first a watercolor painting, could now be a quilt!

A quilt mockup from the fabrics designed by Päivi Eerola. From the collection Modern Maximalist. Read her blog post about revealing artistic potential.

Building and breaking can alternate endlessly when we combine new ideas and results with old ones.

Printed surface patterns. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here I am breaking and picking to create something new into my art journal.

A paper collage in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s what I built by cutting and glueing new prints and old hand-decorated papers.

A paper collage by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

And I couldn’t resist checking if this could work as a repeat too!

A surface pattern from collage art. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope you found this post about building and breaking inspiring!


Need help for finding your artistic potential and building artistic vision? Sign up for my coaching program called Artistic Vision!

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!

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