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Peony and Parakeet

Three Design Styles, a Gelli Plate, and a Brush

One of my goals for this year is to learn surface pattern design. I want to move back and forth between art and design, and add more design to this blog as well. This week, I picked three of my favorite designers and played with Gelli Plate to imitate their style. These don’t replicate any of their work, just their style.

Three different design styles, monoprinting with a Gelli plate. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Designers from Three Centuries

My three favorite designers are Tricia Guild, William Morris, and Wassily Kandinsky.

Tricia Guild a designer from the UK, and she has a company Designer’s Guild, and I have been her fan since the 1990s when I discovered her book Design and Detail. It’s been my interior design guide for 30 years, and all my homes have got ideas from that book.

William Morris is also English, but he lived earlier, in the 19th century. Two rooms of our home have curtains designed by his company, and I regularly admire their clever repeats and ornamental shapes.

Wassily Kandinsky was more of an artist than a designer, but he taught designers in a famous Bauhaus art school in the early 20th century. For me, he is the father of modern design. I see his paintings in the works of most midcentury modern designers. Lately, he has felt even closer, when I have been built a class Floral Freedom that is based on his and Paul Klee’s teachings.

Who are your favorite designers?

Three Designers – Three Color Palettes

I have always liked making hand-decorated papers. Actually, my most popular blog post is this ancient one: How to Make Your Own Patterned Paper from 2010. So let’s get back to basics and make some!

First, I painted the backgrounds with acrylic paints and a flat brush. This set a color palette for each paper.

Three painted backgrounds. The backgrounds set a color palette for the papers.

Muted pastels and rich darker tones remind me of Tricia Guild. She often uses stripes or checks too. William Morris has greyish colors and many of his designs have dark backgrounds. Wassily Kandinsky often had a very light background in his paintings.

Three Design Styles – Three Kinds of Shapes

I continued each of the papers by mono-printing motifs with a Gelli Plate. For Tricia Guild’s style, I used a small plate and painted the motifs with a brush on a plate, then pressed the plate on the paper. Because Tricia’s style is often quite relaxed, there was less pressure for perfect outlines.

Monoprinting with a small Gelli plate. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

William Morris’s designs are very sharp and ornamental. I cut out ornaments freehand from paper and used both negative and positive shapes. I used both a big Gelli Plate and a small one.

Monoprinting with Gelli plates. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s how the paper looked after mono-printing.

Monoprinting with Gelli plates. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wassily Kandinsky’s shapes are mostly geometric, so I cut templates that had circles, lines, squares and triangles.

Making a template for monoprinting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s how the paper looked after mono-printing.

Monoprinting geometric shapes.

Three Design Styles – Three Levels of Detail

After mono-printing, I finished the papers by painting. I used a narrow brush and made small tweaks only.

Adding details to a monoprint with a brush. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like Tricia Guild’s designs because there modern meets classic and historical. They feel luxurious, but still comfortable. They don’t require similar perfection from the space than William Morris’s designs. So I didn’t perfect every shape or line, just added a bit more realism to the floral motifs. Here’s the finished paper.

A patterned paper inspired by Tricia Guild's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

William Morris’s designs are full of outlined motifs, and I connect them with books. “For people who have a library,” I wrote in a notebook that I keep for studying. But I quite liked my mono-print, and didn’t want to stiffen everything. So I only outlined a part of the motifs, and added some small dots and thin lines inside the shapes.

Finishing a monoprint by painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished paper. I really like the big yellow motif! Maybe that could be a part of my future designs.

A patterned paper inspired by William Morris's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wassily Kandinsky’s work didn’t lack details either. But if William Morris is for bookworms, then maybe Wassily is for systematic thinkers – for more scientific than humanistic introverts, and for those who love mathematics.

Adding details to a monoprint with a brush. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I used the monoprint as a foundation for the composition of shapes and followed Wassily’s advice and ideas from his book Point and Line to Plane, the book that I teach in the class Floral Freedom as well. Here’s the finished paper.

A patterned paper inspired by Wassily Kandinsky's design style. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Wallpapers

I wanted to see how these papers could work as repeats. I didn’t have time to play with the repeats properly, but here are some quickly made images to demonstrate how the motifs would look in a smaller scale, for example, as a wallpaper.

A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A sketch for a surface design by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It was a full day, but I had fun making these! Tell me, which three designers would you pick?

21 thoughts on “Three Design Styles, a Gelli Plate, and a Brush

  1. Hi Paivi, what a great tutorial. I love Kandinsky too and that was my favourite result. I love the Macdonald sisters Margaret and Frances from the Glasgow school and Friedensreich Hundertwasser although I dońt think his designs and palette would make for calming wallpaper.

  2. This is a fantastic idea!! I love how you finished each of the papers, and the repeat designs are gorgeous. I’ve just discovered J. D. Cornuaud in the Victoria & Albert museum (London) and I’m enchanted by his easy, yet precise ways with watercolor and the engineering of his designs. I’m going to have to look up your Tricia Guild! =)

  3. Wow, these are fabulous. At first I was drawn to Patricia Guild, loving the colors and the stripes and then Kandinsky but when I saw the repeated designs I was really excited by the William Morris. You’ve really captured his style but it still looks so Paivi!

  4. these are beautiful…………definitely will try this……………always learn something new……………….thanks for sharing

  5. These are all lovely! Something about using a gelli plate just makes me happy. The design inspired by William Morris is stunning, especially with the repeats! It is my favorite, and your finishing touches are perfect.

  6. Päivi, Thank you for sharing your blog post! It is very enlightening, you show in a wonderful way these different styles of pattern printing. My favorite is William Morris, I love his nature-based patterns. For me they are simply beautiful.

  7. Patricia Guild is new to me. I like her whimsical style, her wallpaper example is lush and feminine.
    William Morris has been of interest to me for a long time. His wallpaper turned out very dramatic and rich looking.
    I think Kandinsky’s designs have so much energy they are hard to look at as multiples.
    Such interesting ideas you always have Paivi. I must learn how to make duplicates of designs, they intrigue me. I took a floral workshop with you awhile ago and you duplicated my imagery. It took on a fascinating look when you multiplied it.

  8. Hi Paivi!
    These are excellent ideas!
    I’ve finally found time to experiment with my gelli plate and am certainly going to give these a go.
    William Morris & Tricia Guild inspired wall papers are my favorites.
    I’m going to try out some designs inspired by Gustav Klimt and Robert Kushner,
    also Umberto Boccioni.
    Funny how one can become majorly inspired by getting your notification of getting unsubscribed, now finally catching up with all these wonderful ideas!
    Thanks so much.

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