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Secret Language – Combining Two Ideas and Two Styles into One Image

The Secret Language of Peonies, an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she made this!

This is my latest art journal page called “The Secret Language of Peonies.” I had two inspiration sources for this page.

Mid-Century Modern Brooch

The first part of my inspiration was a brooch that I found at an antique fair. I think it could be a Danish design from the 1950s or 1960s. It only cost 5 EUR, and I liked the idea of having a brooch that is like a piece of abstract art.

Mid-century modern brooch, wood inlay, teak, shell, stone

Drawing Shapes – Pencil and Felt-Tipped Pens

When I began the journal page, I only had an idea of creating something more graphic than usual.

The first steps for an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she finishes this one and combines two styles to the same page.

I made a rough sketch with a pencil and then colored a part of it with Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens. Once the coloring progressed, I felt that I need another idea for the page. I also needed to get more clarity of what I want to say with the image. So I didn’t finish the page but left it to wait for another time and inspiration.

For the Love of Peonies –  If They Could Speak …

I have nine peony bushes in the garden, and eight of them are blooming this summer. It’s like a big celebration to me, and I have been taking photos a lot. I also belong to the Finnish Peony Society, and they have a lively discussion group. While browsing my photos and seeing other people’s snapshots of peonies, I began to wonder why we always take these close-up photos, like the ones below.

Blooming peonies. Hei Hao Bo Tao and Bartzella.

I took some steps further away from the flowers and tried to capture the atmosphere in my garden, instead of photographing just one flower.

Blooming peonies. Eden's Perfume in the front.

And then it hit me: I should also include the falling petals, the whole thing.

Blooming peonies. Coral Sunset and Bartzella.

I imagined how peonies are setting a big show, fireworks included, and how we people don’t always get it. Everything in this performance is beautiful in some way. We should let go of the idea of a single flower and embrace the whole experience instead.

It also made me think how it can be liberating for the peony bushes to let go of the flowers. Falling petals and the wind blowing through the bushes must make soft sounds that only spiders and ants can hear. This whispering sound, in turn, made me think about the imaginative language of peonies – what kind of language would that be? And while I photographed the bushes, it became apparent to me: if that language exists, if peonies can really talk, it would be something rich, with a lot of nuances, many kinds of words, complicated structures. Something that we people are perhaps too inadequate to understand.

Two Ideas and Two Styles – Combining Ideas to Deliver the Message

I felt the urge to express my thoughts about peonies visually. Then I remembered the art journal page that I hadn’t finished yet. The complicated and secret language of peonies fit perfectly with the abstract shapes. All I needed to do, was to add some reference to peonies to complete the visual message. Because the language was something that had a dimension of its own, I wanted to use different media for the flowers.

Making of an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how to combine two styles into one page!

So I painted the flowers with acrylic paint, just intuitively, without any fixated idea of how peonies should look.

Making of an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how to combine two styles into one page!

When peonies talk to each other, they see themselves in a different way than how we people see them. The flowers are just the frills. The heart of peonies is more intelligent than we think. It’s more like the brooch that I bought! Showing this controversy with two styles makes the page more interesting than sticking with one approach. What do you think?

An art journal page and two sources of inspiration. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she made this page step by step!

When there’s an imaginative story behind the image, I like to write down some thoughts on the opposite page of the journal. It makes the journal as an idea book for bigger paintings where I want to include more than one or two ideas.

Art journal page spread with inspiration from peonies. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also have something else to share …

Coming up: “Collageland”

Many of you who have been following me for some time, know that some years ago I made a lesson for 21 Secrets Spring 2015 art journaling class called “Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper.” This class is no longer available, and I have got back the rights to publish the lesson as an individual piece separate from the rest of the class. However, a lot has happened in the video quality since those times. When I watched my lesson, I wanted to re-record it. And not only re-record it but add more ideas and inspiration into it.

I got the idea of inviting you to my studio to get inspired by the many embroidered pieces, fabrics and quilts I have to show you. I also wanted to deliver the experience of spending a day in my studio and creating paper collages from that textile inspiration. So it would be like seeing my country Finland as “Collageland” and then rebuild it in your imagination.

The recording of Collageland, a paper collage class inspired by textiles. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Last week, I recorded videos for one whole day from morning to evening. My husband also helped me so that we got the best footage for each step.  I am currently in the process of editing the videos. Collageland is geared for beginners who like to doodle and see more possibilities in self-expression through it. My original thought was to publish a self-study, but I also want to ask you: are you interested and if so, how would you like this class to be delivered?






18 thoughts on “Secret Language – Combining Two Ideas and Two Styles into One Image

  1. Hi Paivi

    You know I have been waiting for this one!

    Not sure what your question is……self study vs. set time period?
    I would take either.

    Your peonies have been fantastic.

  2. Dear Päivi, oh how I would love to visit Finland and spend time with you!! Collageland sounds wonderful, please invite me to visit!

  3. Your fabulous ideas set my heart aflutter- looking forward to another class to open my eyes wider and revel in the details. All very inspiring Paivi, hope you decide very soon on a class format. Seems as though you have lots of material to share
    Big hugs
    Chris (Australia)

  4. I love hearing you and seeing you work! Anyway your class comes would be fine. How would you like to deliver it?

  5. I would love to see this in progress. I think you must decide what is the easiest way we will learn it.

  6. YES, I’m interested. I have always enjoyed your classes as you have previously presented them, but don’t share much anymore. Collage has always been a mystery to me so learning anything would be a good thing. Your painting above is an underwater scene to me. I see the sharp images as man made – divers, sunken ship parts, a tangle of wire/chords. The more cloudy images are the natural things like fish swimming by, glorious living corals, and sea snakes. The contrasts are between harsher man-made objects and the natural waving/flowing living things. There is one man-made detailed image that is certainly a sponge divers helmet. LOL We can all enjoy your art through different brains. Thanks for the in-depth thought process you used.

  7. I would be very interested… your work is inspiring on so many levels. A class that is delivered as self-paced, self-study works best for me. I have unreliable internet access that makes committing to a set time less attractive to me. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  8. HI Paivi, I would be interested too although I did take the first one, I think I got stalled. Maybe a painting for me for the Explorer class. I would rather have self study. Thank you!

  9. Your thoughts are as wonder-filled as your paintings…dearest Paivi
    , I’ve already flown in imagination to your nest in Finland….

  10. I missed your original class the first time around, so I would absolutely take it. I love the idea of a day in Finland at your studio. I like the idea of the class being live and then followed by a self-paced version. I like the idea of the content: using fabric and embroidery as inspiration for doodling. I think doodling is an important form of expression, because it is not intimidating and is an almost intuitive way to begin to let go and work more intuitively. Anything that opens a door to self expression, that gives people who might not otherwise attempt art, is good – and if that is one of the objectives, I think live gives more of that nudge…but would hate to see it not be avalable to those can’t participate at a specific time.

  11. Thank you, Paivi, for sharing all your thoughts and creative process about peonies! I also have a love of flowers and plants and feel I have relationships with them. It’s so fascinating to think about their language! And I like the way you joined 2 apparently different ideas and found a connection! Beautiful!
    Re. reviving your class on embroidery with pen and expanding it to include collage and your day in your studio, it sounds wonderful! I’d prefer self study, but I also enjoyed the Facebook group when I did a time-structured “live” class. Maybe combine those 2 ideas? ?

  12. Lovey peony photos. Too hot where I live now. I had a few in Oklahoma. I learned that ants love their necture. Your posts are special.

  13. Your journal page is amazing. I am very slow with your lessons in the class I am taking but feel like I am starting to understand what you are teaching. I would love another class and collage land sounds intreging. Looking forward to it.

  14. I love the idea of sewing and embroidering with pen. I missed your original class so your updated version sounds absolutely intriguing. Either format would suit me -although I quite enjoy access to a private Facebook community, to which I would hope you would visit occasionally. Thanks, Paivi
    Kathy (Canada)

  15. Yes, I would love to take the class-deliver it in the way that’s easiest for you (which means-I don’t know!). The first reason I want to take this is to visit your studio, for a whole day! The next reason is that I have facilitated a monthly collage workshop in may home for 10 years now. Sounds like ti would all tie in together.
    Will wait to hear more!

  16. Hi! I follow your blog regularly and I am always overwhelmed with your thoughts about a drawing. I also make quilts and have embroidered some cussions, so it is very interesting to combine these features in a painting class. A self paced class would be my option, because it´s difficult as a mother and working person to make my art at time.
    Thank you to involve us in your decisios!

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