Peony and Parakeet

The Job of a Studio Dog

This post is written by Cosmo, the best studio dog ever.

A studio dog is a position in an artistic family. In short, the job is to maintain the artist’s mental and physical health. This happens by interrupting the artist regularly, but not too often, to get exercise, process inspiration, and stay grounded.

Artists often criticize themselves too much, so it’s essential to love them unconditionally. Whatever they create, they are always worth to get noticed and appreciated. It’s not the job of a dog to decide whether the art is good or bad but to value their temperament and overall creative personality.

Encouraging the artist to take breaks is not always easy. A regular schedule for interruptions is recommended. Sometimes the artist can get annoyed, but it’s good to remember that art is like pig ears. It’s easy to develop an addiction to them. Dogs can’t live with pig ears only, and artists can’t survive by only making art.

When walking the artist, it’s helpful to understand that eyes are her nose. She needs to stop and take pictures once in a while, and these sights are not always what a dog would appreciate.

Creating art is lonely. The artist may want to be alone, but there’s also a limit. Just lying on the studio’s floor can keep her company.

The hardest part of the job is to understand how the internet works. The artist wants to share pictures and stories like this, so sometimes studio dogs also end up on the internet. No matter how old you are, it’s your job to look cute and approachable. It helps if you are not entirely black or white and if you have lop ears. And when the artist is browsing the internet, that’s some kind of a pig ear too.

The job of a studio dog is a job for life. You don’t leave the artist until you have to. At the age of 15 and a half, it’s now time to say goodbye and pass the position to my assistant Stella. She is much cuter than I am, and I’m pretty sure she will handle other things as well. I do have trained her for over eight years.

Lematja’s Heathcliff, “Cosmo”, 23.3.2005 – 18.9.2020. Our hearts are broken, it was so hard to let him go.

The Child and The Adult – Finding Clarity for Your Art

This week I show a new painting “Call of the Sun” and talk about finding clarity in art. This week’s post is especially for you who feels that your art is all over the place and you have no artistic direction.

Auringon kutsu - Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Auringon kutsu – Call of the Sun, acrylics, 50 x 70 cm. Click the image to see it bigger!

The Child and The Adult – Who Do You Serve?

I used to think there are two kinds of artists – those who like to play and dream, and those who are more ambitious and aim to express their deepest emotions. Just recently, when I started this new painting, I asked myself: “What do you want to paint, Paivi?” And the answer was: “Horses!”

– You can’t paint horses only!
– Why?
– Because there’s more that needs to come out.

Artist Paivi Eerola holding her abstract painting Call of the Sun.

There was. There is. My inner child wants me to paint horses, but I am an adult too. If all my art is playful illustrations, I am desperately missing the adult in me.

Magical Pets image sheet - Paivi Eerola's drawings

The Magical Pets image sheet is now available in my art shop. Or make your own in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom!

Concrete vs. Abstract

The adult in me wants to work in a way that does not appeal to the child. The expression is more intuitive and abstract and thoughts less concrete. I feel free when painting like this. It’s like life travels through me, and it heals my soul. It makes me feel that this is the best that art can offer.

Acrylic painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

But I also feel free when I grab a more childish painting. I imagine talking to the horse and how it responses with gentleness.

Ebony, a miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Ebony, a miniature oil painting

This, too, is the best that art can offer – the connection to childhood, to the person who didn’t want much more than a pet of her own.

The Child and the Adult – Don’t Lose Either One

Nowadays, my studio is both the playroom and the space for meditation. The inner adult needs to paint with the inner child and vice versa.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio. She writes about finding clarity for your art.

If the child gets neglected, other people’s expectations step in, and I lose myself. If the adult is away, I focus too much on the tangible things. Then the invisible side of the experience doesn’t come through. This realization has helped me in finding clarity for my art.

What are Invisible and Intangible Things?

Examples of intangible things that we can visualize in art:

  • communicating the atmosphere with nature’s elements like light, air, and wind
  • expressing emotions that contain mixed feelings, for example, the combination of love and melancholy
  • inventing creative concepts like seeing similarities in the structure of plants and bridges
  • focusing on experiences like flying instead of painting a bird

When we omit these kinds of intangible things, we are in danger of only creating shells rather than expressing a spirit.

Viewers Have Child and Adult Too

As viewers, we also have both sides: the child and the adult.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted a dragonfly for your inner child to play with while the adult can ponder about the more abstract strokes.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Sometimes simple lines and colors can express more than realistic objects.

Finding Clarity and Balance for Art-Making

For a long time, I haven’t been happy about my art. Especially this fall, it has changed. I have found what my child needs to be satisfied with the result, and what pleases the adult in me. Surprisingly, being able to satisfy the child has been crucial for me to getting forward in abstract painting. This one is in progress, and you will get more pics and stories about it when it’s finished.

Artist Paivi Eerola and an abstract acrylic painting in progress. She helps artists to find clarity for their art.

What do you think? Are you in the journey of finding clarity for your art? What would need to change in your art so that both the child and the adult are happy? Tell me, I am interested to know!

Expressive Abstract Style Tutorial – Paint a Beautiful Mess!

Expressive abstract style tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week I have a video about painting in an expressive abstract style. It’s a very contemporary style which many artists have nowadays. It’s based on loose strokes, and I guess it’s the style that many who are not so much into art say that even a child can do it, but it’s not quite like that! Watch the video!

Are you interested in creating abstract art? Do you wish to learn more about abstract art in my blog and in my classes? Leave a comment!

Making of a Miniature Painting

This week, I have a new miniature painting and share tips for making small-sized paintings in general.

Ebony, a miniature horse painting, 4 by 4 inches, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Let me introduce Ebony, my newest miniature painting! It’s only 10 cm x 10 cm (4 inches x 4 inches). The size shows better in the photo below.

Holding a miniature horse painting, made by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This is an oil painting, and it took over a month from start to finish, but just because I let each layer dry properly. There’s about a week drying time between each layer. If you use acrylic paints or watercolors, the process is much quicker!

The Beginning – Making Not So Beautiful Mess

As usual, I didn’t have any particular idea for the painting when I started. Here’s how the painting looked after a couple of layers.

The beginning of a miniature painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My surface here is Ampersand Gessoboard Panel. It’s very smooth and thus suitable for small details. I had bought a pack of four over a year ago. I finished the first one last year, see this blog post!

When making an abstract mess, I don’t usually settle for pretty little messes, but make the mess more layered. When the mess is as ugly as I can bare, it begins to talk to me. It came to my mind, that the random strokes could be mane, and there could be a horse coming up.

The middle and the end of a miniature painting. This is called Ebony, and it's made by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Using Negative Painting to Dig Out the Spirit

I like to use negative painting a lot. So here, I painted the background first so that it defined the head of the horse. When painting the surroundings, you slowly get closer to the actual spirit. It’s like taming a wild animal!

A small-sized horse painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Ebony is now a gentle soul, and she reminds me of Black Beauty, the television series in the 1970s. I watched every episode and it inspired me to play with plastic horses.

Working on small paintings on Ampersand Gessoboard Panels. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I still have two more panels to finish. I think I will dig out horses or other animals from their messes so that I get a small series of miniature paintings.

My Four Tips for Painting in Miniature

  • Start boldly and enjoy all kinds of mark-making and color play. If you are painting on paper, you can start with a bigger piece, and then cut it into smaller ones.
  • Make a few big shapes that contain smaller ones. In my painting, the horse is one big shape, the background another. Let smaller shapes break the borders of the bigger shapes so that the image doesn’t look stiff.
  • The negative painting technique where you paint the surroundings of the shape enables you to paint delicate shapes easily. Magical Forest is the class to take for mastering this technique!
  • We hold miniature pieces quite close when looking at them, so the quality of brushwork matters. Use thin paint, small brushes and even magnifiers if needed. Taking photos and zooming them helps to see the details too. Decodashery is the class to take for making the best out of every stroke!

Drawing Small

Small horse drawings by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Of course, your miniature artwork doesn’t have to be a painting, but a drawing! For me, drawing has been in a significant role in becoming a better painter. It can be just free drawing like in Inspirational Drawing, or more intentional practice like in Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom. I use both approaches in painting too.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s project. Do you like painting or drawing in small size?

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