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Peony and Parakeet

Find Your Art Journaling Inspiration!

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

After stretching my limits at the last blog post, I felt the need to go back to basics. I picked my Moleskine Watercolor Notebook and made three spreads by just answering the question: what does continually inspire me?

The short answer is: I am constantly inspired by the history of decorative art. I believe that it’s important to respond to the question on a general level like this. If you only list specific artworks and other artists, there may be less room for personal interpretation. If you define yourself too tightly through others, you can find it hard to figure out what to create next and how to find your personal style.

My Art Journaling Inspiration Sources

I am constantly inspired by embroidered fabrics and wool rugs from the first half of the 20th century.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

I am constantly inspired by art glass, fabric prints, and the way these characteristics are seen in today’s street fashion, especially Japanese street fashion.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

I am constantly inspired by Russian decorative plates, European Art Nouveau and the way they combine drama with natural colors and shapes.

Art journaling inspiration by Peony and ParakeetArt journaling inspiration by Peony and Parakeet

Even if I don’t have the ability to paint decorative plates or the looks to wear Japanese street fashion, I can use them as a constant source of inspiration. I can let them show in art journals and other artworks, often in a way that is less literal but still obvious for myself.

The history of decorative art fills my mind with values that I can resonate with. They are understanding nuances, focusing on details, telling stories that last time, uplifting people with beauty and spirituality and integrating production with technology. It may not be the whole big picture of the subject, but it is how I look at it. That in turn, inspires me to create art, to blog and to deliver new techniques and workshops.

Let art journaling make you happy – fill your pages with subjects that truly inspire you!

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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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The Essence of Your Art

Collage Art by Peony and Parakeet

I found this old collage piece when I organized my archives. It is a design that I have used as a part of the fabric called Flow. As art journaling cute little girls with lovely little animals, is so popular nowadays, this made me think: what’s the essence of art is for me. And also, I would love to hear what it is for you!

For me, it’s not the play, even if I love playing. It’s not the colors even if I am totally for them. It’s not even the circles, my favorite shapes. I might aim for the certain styles, I love art nouveau and expressionism, for sure. But the essence of everything is that I want to create “everyday icons”, the images that make me stop, drop everything mundane and get in touch with my the inner thoughts.

Technically compositions, colors, shapes, styles, etc. create that. But when I am happy with the result, I do not think about those anymore. I think about what I feel and think right now and where it can take me.

The best thing is that everybody can create their personal icons, sacred images, mandalas, whatever you want to call them. They don’t need to be connected to any religion. They can just be connected to experiences, moments or beauty which uplift your spirit.

This is what I thought when I saw this old artwork. And now I wonder, what can I do better. How can I make this blog be the place for anyone to stop, then start creating – the essence of their art!

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From Movie Posters to Art Journal Pages

The Discerning Diva - an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. See how to get ideas from movie posters!

“The Discerning Diva – She could be hired as the art director of this journal.”
This page is my version of the poster for the movie “The Big Lebowski”. I have borrowed the concept of weird glasses and the composition from the poster, but it is still a separate artwork, not an exact copy.

The Discovery of Movie Posters

After learning that I like to use alphabet stamps in the art journal pages, I had been thinking about the next step in journaling. Last week I watched the poster artist James Victore‘s course  Bold & Fearless Poster Design on Creative Live. His style has very little to do with mine, but I became fascinated by the visual concept of posters.

Last weekend I found a book about 1990’s movie posters at the local library. I became fascinated by the compositions used in the posters. Then it hit me: maybe I could replace the main elements with my own and apply the visual concept of the poster to my personal stories!

How to pick ideas from movie posters?

I will show you how to make your own “Discerning Diva” (very easy) but before that, I want to show you another poster-inspired page.

An art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet. See how to get ideas from movie posters!

The page on the left is inspired by the poster for the movie “The Matrix”. I picked few main elements and the general atmosphere from the poster. The page on the right is made a long time ago, but I like how the two pages tell the story about being inside someone’s brain.

Four tips for picking ideas from the movie posters:
1) Composition: Examine the placement of the title, the grouping of the main elements and the most noticeable color contrasts.
2) Subject: Think about how your life could be applied to the movie.
3) Process: Examine the poster carefully but when you start creating, focus on your page and make it your own.
4) Imagine: Remember that you can replace the elements of the poster with whatever you like. For example, a person can be replaced with a vase of flowers.

Create Your Discerning Diva!

1) Paint the background of the page.
I used acrylic paints to make the background strong and heavy-looking. Leave an unpainted area for the face. Add water to the paint and gently brush the area around the face. Wet strokes create the impression of a thin scarf and add dimension.

The Discerning Diva - instructions for an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

2) Color the face.
I used colored pencils to maintain the big contrast between the background and the face. Add some color to the skin. Draw a mouth and a nose.

The Discerning Diva - instructions for an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

3) Add glasses.
Go to your box of hand drawn papers. Cut two lenses. Attach with glue or gel medium. Add frames with pens. Make the glasses as decorative as you like!

The Discerning Diva - instructions for an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

4) Add text.
Pick a color that has a high contrast with the background and journal on the bottom of the page. I have used a correction pen for the title and a white gel pen (Uni-Ball Signo) for the text below the title.

The Discerning Diva - an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. See instructions on how to make your own diva!

5) Add finishing strokes.
With colored pencils, add some strokes below the face to represent a scarf.
Add few strokes to outline the scarf near the forehead.

More Ideas for Compositions

Surround Yourself with Inspiration - an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Inspired by movie posters.

Believe or not, this page is inspired by Austin Powers movie poster and hand embroidery! I think that hand embroidery has a lot in common with hand drawing.

Learn to draw from imagination and inspiration!
>> Buy Inspirational Drawing 2.0

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