It's a conundrum, really, to work on these hearts because all sides of the heart need to be covered in paint and still work together as one piece of art. I had considered painting leaves, trees, and sky the sides, but the issue there was marrying both sides of the heart cohesively. Bringing leaves, trees, and sky to the side wouldn't work in this instance because of the extreme close up of the single peony on the other side of the heart, as seen here. So I made the stencils to tie both paintings together simply, without the whole heart getting bogged down in insignificant detail.
Here's what it looks like with the peony leaf stencils painted around the edge -- not too busy but not too plain, either. I quite like it. It's my first time using stencils in one of my paintings. In his later years, Henri Matisse used paper cut outs and stencils extensively in his work, so I'm in good company using this process. Plus, Matisse is one of the favorite artists of the lady who will eventually get this heart. So there's that.