Start Drawing from Stick Figures!

Drawing Factory, a mini-course about drawing with the help of stick figures. As part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016. By Peony and Parakeet.

If you browse my blog posts this fall, you would think that I have been painting only. But no, I have drawn too! I’m really happy about my recent mini-course that is available as a part of Imagine Monthly! It’s called Drawing Factory as it’s about drawing efficiently no matter what your current drawing skills are. Plus it’s inspired by Japan, the land of high-production factories and fascinating culture.

Drawing ATC Cards

I got the idea for the mini-course in summer when I got the urge to draw a series of ATC cards.Hand-drawn ATC cards by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I had so much fun drawing these! While drawing, I thought about how much people use stamping instead of drawing in ATC cards. I felt liberated without them, drawing freely. How could I make hand-drawing more attractive and enjoyable?

Drawing with the Help of Stick Figures

Along drawing this big bunny art journal spread, I developed a series of tips and tricks about how you can create imaginative line drawings without tedious sketching.

Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

My method is based on stiff lines as people often say: ” I can only draw a stick figure!” But sticks can be an answer, not a problem!

From a stick figure to an illustration. By Peony and Parakeet. Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Paivi's class Drawing Factory teaches creating elaborate illustrations with the help of stick figures.

The panda is the project that I am creating in the class video. The video also includes a drawing lesson where I show how to build drawings, or should I say rich illustrations, based on simple lines.

Asian Panda in Japan, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

How to Buy Drawing Factory?
You can get this drawing mini-course immediately by purchasing Imagine Monthly Fall!
The price includes two other art journal classes + two upcoming classes, a total of 5 classes with inspiring art journaling techniques. It’s really a bargain with an active community included! >> Buy here!

One more news, especially for Finnish followers:

Local Workshop – Työpaja Suomessa!

If you live in Finland or can travel to Finland, this is your chance to get hands-on guidance on the mini-course! I am running a local workshop “Innostu taiteestasi” with another artist, a ceramic artist Johanna Rytkola on Nov 19 in Finland. My portion of this 1-day workshop is based on the drawing mini-course. Johanna will then help you to create 3-dimensional ceramic art based on the insights from drawing. The class description is in Finnish but if you are interested in coming to the workshop and need help with translation, contact me via email

Get Intuitive Focus + Reader’s Comment!

Rising Butterfly by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about getting intuitive focus!

“I am all over the place. I need to focus”.
It’s what I often hear when people talk about their creativity.

I used to scold myself there too. After a quilting class, I swore I would use all my creative time to modern quilting only. But after finishing one quilt project, I was ready to knit again. I questioned myself when I drew because I had just made a promise to focus on painting. I found it impossible to stick to one style or one genre of creating, and I saw that as my worst weakness.

Handspun socks by Peony and Parakeet.

But the more I have been into intuitive art, the more I have realized that creative people often underestimate the connections between what they do. The more conscious I have become about how my creative process works, the less I need to criticize my natural behavior.

4 Ways of Creating

I classify creating as:
– reflecting by creating
– generating ideas by creating
– imagining by creating
– and finally, focusing on the insight you’ve got by creating

If I write about past events in my planner or knit, it’s reflecting. When I get ideas, I create art journal pages or quick craft projects. With a collection of ideas, I can gradually gear my imagination towards the bigger themes that I want to express.

When I create just to save my ideas, I don’t work for hours to get everything right. It’s a piece that had to be created so that I can move on. But when I am creating a bigger project, like my big canvas painting last week, I fine-tune every little detail and put a lot more time into the project.

What Does Intuitive Focus Mean?

Intuitive focus means that you treat your activities as part of creative process. You continuously collect and process theories, techniques, ideas, approaches so that you can create your best pieces now and then. You embrace diversity in techniques, themes, styles, etc. Diversity will not be distracting if you spend enough time for reflecting.

Build intuitive focus! Record your ideas in art journals! By Peony and Parakeet.

Once you do this, you will get in touch with your root problems:
Your lack of focus on one activity or idea turns into a lack of ways to combine it all together.
Your lack of focus on one technique turns into a lack of foundation that can be applied to many techniques.

Teaching Art – Reader’s Comment

In my last weekly email (do subscribe!) I wrote about whether teachers share openly or not and why would they not:

“Last week, I read a comment somewhere on the internet. It praised a teacher about sharing openly. The commenter also said that she often gets the feeling that teachers hide something. Even if this was not about any of my classes it made me think. Do I share openly? Why would a teacher not share openly? When building classes, I try to focus on the essentials and be understandable, clear and not all over the place. That’s good, right?”

“But when teaching intuitive art, I have to admit that almost anything can be meaningful to the process. A random thought can steer the painting to a new direction. So I decided to add more video to my next class Nature in Your Mind showing how I ramble while creating and how it affects my painting. I also show how I use music to help me let go. While recording, I felt vulnerable. Every time I became silent, I forced myself to ask: what did I just think? There’s also the pressure of time. I can’t create for 7 hours and then make an educational video out of that.”

“So I have to choose smaller projects for the exercises and recordings. But truly, I don’t intentionally hide anything. I don’t think many teachers do. For some, explaining is more difficult than for others. Some find it difficult to give honest feedback. When I started teaching, I made a promise always to give as useful and as personalized feedback as possible while the workshop is running. For many, understanding the slight changes they can make is a game changer. It’s a pity if the teacher never points out those. Probably that’s the situation when the teacher seems to be hiding something. What do you think?”

Meri Andriesse wrote to me as a response to the email:

“I sign up for a lot of workshops in painting and mixed media and I find they vary greatly in content. To be honest, I don’t think some teachers have enough substantive content in their classes and they rush through without explaining why they are doing or not going or un-doing something. So much of what we see and hear focuses on the intuitive part of creativity but I think in order to use intuition you really need some foundation in composition and color theory/experimentation. Your workshops offer that and more and that is why I continue to sign up for them even though I don’t have adequate free time for art making.”

Teaching art is often based on process videos only. Meri comments that too:

“Videos are great, but I also appreciate the pdf documents and diagrams and photos. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend your classes to anyone really interested in growing their art-making.”

Create intuitive art + set a foundation for your creating!
>> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!
This is the last chance to register! The registration will close on Oct 10th midnight PST.

5 Lessons Learned When Painting on a Big Canvas

Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

I have now finished my first big canvas painting. It is called “Human Nature.”

1) Smaller Paintings Can Take As Much Time

About two years ago, when I left my day job, I had a dream about creating a big painting. But my job is to teach art, and I don’t have much spare time, so it felt impossible to fit in the schedule. Now when I think about that, I kind of feel that the lack of time was an excuse. I think I was intimidated even by the thought of painting on a big canvas. The usual question raised: “What should I paint?” And then: “How could I maintain my focus for such a long time?” I exaggerated the time that painting would take. I thought it would take months and months. But when I started painting, I realized that I could use broader brushes and be less detailed. If you have ever tried to make small paintings as finished and polished as possible, it takes a long time. Adjusting the details on a big canvas is much easier.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

2) Use an Easel, at Least in the Beginning and Finishing Phases

My canvas was not huge. It’s 60 cm x 50 cm (appr. 23.5 x 19.5 inches) Still, it was hard to see the whole painting when it was laid down on the table. I painted parts of the canvas so that it was on the table but set the foundation and finished the final details with the help of the easel.

Creating a painting on a big canvas. Painting in progress. By Peony and Parakeet.

My easel also has sentimental value. My father who passed away a long time ago has made it. He was a skilled woodworker. We didn’t talk much, but I think that making the easel was his way to encourage me to paint.

3) Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time

I got the courage to start the painting when I realized that I could combine painting with building an art class. My upcoming workshop Nature in Your Mind (do sign up!) has instructions for the techniques that I used. I treated the canvas as my sketching board for the class.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

For example, the project for the first week of the class is “Rising Butterfly.” I practiced the techniques on a big canvas and then sought for the easiest and most enjoyable way to create a butterfly on a smaller canvas.

Rising Butterfly, a painting on canvas. By Peony and Parakeet. The project for week 1 of the workshop Nature in Your Mind.

This kind of experimenting transformed the big canvas to my playground. The size was no longer intimidating.

4) Big Brushes are Great for Details

Thin lines, little dots, all look so much better when working with a big brush! It has changed my attitude towards broader brushes. I have started to use them on smaller paintings too.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

It was surprising that sharp lines can be so easy with a big brush!

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

5) Big Canvas, Big Story

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that my style is detailed. I know now why I wanted so badly to create a big painting and why I was so intimidated by it. You can express a much greater story on a big canvas. It’s much easier to create images that are like events or scenes on a big canvas. When one detail connects with another, it’s like moving from one chapter of a book to the next one.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

A detail of Human Nature, by Peony and Parakeet. An acrylic painting on a big canvas.

My story is about human nature: how we are spiritual beings, have imagination and ideas and are conscious about the circle of life. I doubt if I could have expressed all this on a smaller canvas.

Join me painting nature themes with intuitive approach and fun techniques!
>> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!
Hurry, the registration closes on Monday, Oct 10!

What’s in a Good Composition + last chance to sign up for Planet Color!

Quick question:
When you create art, how much time do you spend for composition?
I mean: trying to make it work, trying to balance it, trying to make it look more eye-catching?

For me, finishing the composition can take as much as 50% of my creating time! Some years ago, it was easily 75 % … I don’t find adjusting the details particularly relaxing. I take photos, use a mirror, and change the orientation of the piece to see if I have missed something. Sometimes I sleep overnight and make the last adjustments in the morning.

Testing a good composition. By Peony and Parakeet.

But teaching art has had some benefits here. I get to help people to make better compositions and thus, I have become faster. Namely, the two top requests that I get in my classes are: 1) How can I make this look finished? 2) What more could I add here?

So when I created a new class, Planet Color, I wanted to build a step-by-step creative process so that when you add elements, you don’t have to worry about the composition so much. I wanted to find ways that support you so that you can release your mind and fully enjoy working with colors.

What’s in a good composition?

Here’s my conclusion. A good composition has elements that a great party has:
1) concierges who invite the viewer to the painting
2) a star singer who takes the viewer’s attention
3) clear routes and breathing space which make wondering around easy
4) good food and good company which makes the viewer stay in the party

Art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Elements of a good composition.

I have built all these elements in one 7-step process. It doesn’t mean that this process produces identical paintings. It means that when you enter the finishing phase, you have already done most of the work you should do anyway. But without all the agony and with all the creative enjoyment! That’s why my workshop Planet Color is as much about composing elements as about releasing your mind with colors.

And again, if you have problems in making the final adjustments, I am there to help for all the 10 days.

Registration for Planet Color closes on Friday midnight PST, so there’s not much time left! Reserve your spot now!

See you there!

Using Color Schemes from Home Decor

Green talks to Black, a painting by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

In the early 1990s, I bought an interior design book from the UK. It’s called “Design and Detail” and it’s written by a famous designer Tricia Guild. She was not as well-known as she currently is back then, and I hadn’t known her before I saw the book.

Creating Art using Color Schemes from Home Decor

I felt drawn to the interior color schemes and the decorating style presented in Tricia Guild’s book. Never before had I felt such a strong appeal to home decor. I knew I liked to be surrounded by strong colors, but I had never seen them used in such a powerful way. Since then, my every home has had elements and spaces inspired by the book. Whether I lived in a small single room as a student, in a flat or a house, I have always browsed the book when I’ve needed inspiration for interior color schemes.

Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail

Last week, I saw a picture that had one of the color selections that are presented in “Design and Detail.” It was the combination of green and black including a little bit off-white, yellow and muted orange-red. We already have that color scheme in our bedroom but at that moment, I wanted to play with those colors again. So I started a painting that has green and black and followed the instructions from my upcoming class Planet Color!

Green talks to Black, a painting by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Once it was finished, I painted more interior color schemes from the book. Again, I used the 7-step method from Planet Color. I had so much fun creating these!

Warm and Inviting Colors

The dining area in Tricia Guild’s book looks very cozy. The striking combination of yellow and black is balanced with earthy colors and then brightened with a few warm, bright spots.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

My art journal spread is inspired by the flowers and vases. It also plays with angled and round shapes as seen in the dining room.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Whites and Neutrals

I am definitely out of my comfort zone when using pale colors in larger quantities whether it’s creating art or home decor. But I wanted to try to get inspired by Tricia’s master bathroom. It was surprisingly easy when I focused on expressing the textures shown in the photo. The narrow color scheme also made me focus on adjusting the colors only slightly.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

It is surprising how many tones can be created from a very restricted color palette. I also quite like the red/orange spot on the right and how it balances the upper left corner. When using neutral colors, even the smallest colorful detail can make a difference.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Many Shades of Yellow

I had a bedroom that had quite a lot of warm yellows when I was a child. But before “Design and Detail,” I never thought I could have bright yellow walls. But during the years, I fell in love with the warm yellow shade that I call “Tricia Guild’s yellow.”

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

In the art journal spread, I played with various shades but six years ago, when we moved to our current house, I wanted to have that particular “Tricia Guild’s yellow” on a wall.

Yellow wall inspired by Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail

Even if there were tens of yellows available as paint, “Tricia Guild’s yellow” wasn’t found in the color charts. I thought people must think I am mad being surrounded by all the yellows and shaking my head. Then I just picked one that was closest and we started painting. But it wasn’t the right shade and after one layer, it felt too warm. After carefully analyzing the yellow in the book and comparing it with the wall, I decided to add warm black to adjust the tone. And so we got “Tricia Guild’s yellow”, just the perfect tone on the wall!

Home decor - Mixing yellow paint to get just the right color

This story shows how many colors there are in the world and how little you experiment with if you are using only ready-made colors. Start mixing your colors! It is a reason why I built Planet Color, my color-oriented workshop!

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by home decor!

Colors from Potted Garden Using Leftover Paint

After creating so many paintings, I ended up having some leftover paint on the palette. I decided to use the paint by getting inspired by exteriors too.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home deocr book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Expressing a potted garden with circles is easy. Angular tiles are also easy to add to the picture.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Sign up for Planet Color – Registration Closes at Sept 30!

Take your favorite interior design book, or Pinterest board, or any source that inspires you with color and sign up for Planet Color! I’ll show you how to experiment with colors so that your painting is more than just a selection of color samples. I’ll show how you can make colors interact and how to enjoy adding more instead of just making a mess! And if you are more of a minimalist, you can omit some steps of the process and create a simple yet eye-catching painting! The registration for the workshop closes on Friday, so reserve your spot now!

Planet Color, sign up for a color-oriented painting workshop!

Registration closes at Sept 30: Sign up now!

Four Steps to Finding Your Passion in Art

Paintings made for the workshops Planet Color and Nature In Your Mind. Canvas art by Peony and Parakeet.

I have two painting workshops coming up in October. It’s terribly exciting. It has been an investment regarding both the time and the other bits and pieces to create the classes. I have tried to create as coherent, useful and fun classes as possible, taking all the comments and suggestions into account without losing the focus and the real benefits that these workshops can provide.

Planet Color celebrates color in a 7-step process.
Nature in Your Mind creates a natural connection between the mind and the brush.

Finding Your Passion in Art

This blog post is a pre-session for Nature in Your Mind. With this post, I want to show how much potential and passion you can have as an artist. I also hope that you will sign up for Nature in Your Mind, discover more possibilities and get personalized guidance while having a great time painting!

1) Discover through Experimenting!

Think about art as an exploration journey! Through experimenting, you can pick ways that feel most natural and enjoyable to you. Just like there are thousands of species of birds, there are many ways to paint. If you use only one technique and one approach to painting, it’s like sitting on a balcony and listening to the same bird every morning. But if you stand up and go walking in nature, you will hear a variety of melodies.

Discoveries happen through experimenting. Try painting with a dry brush, a wet brush, a brush that has thin paint, a brush that has multiple of colors, etc. Start painting with one thought and then change your focus to another one. Learn to see the possibilities of an unfinished painting instead of judging it like it’s already finished. Start with safe and easy and then be open to small mistakes that can show you a new direction. If you weren’t able to mix an even color, embrace the variety of colors, the painterly look and go to a new path from there.

Experimenting with brush, finding a passion in art. By Peony and Parakeet

Experimenting in Three Levels

The way you paint most naturally isn’t what feels most comfortable at first. Staying on the balcony is easy. You can tell everybody that you have this friend, the bird that sings to you every morning. But you don’t know what you miss out if you only stay friends with one technique or one theme or one way to plan your painting.

My painting workshop Nature in Your Mind contains experimenting with paint in three levels.

Painting workshop Nature In Your Mind by Peony and Parakeet

First, playing with the way you look at things by changing the perspective in the middle of the painting.
Second, playing with a theme by building abstracts from realistic images.
Third, playing with control by taking turns with controlled and loose strokes.

While experimenting with these, you can pick ideas and techniques that suit the best for you and then start applying them to your art. You can set new goals and see how your art can bring more enjoyment not only to you but other people as well.

2) Listen What Other People Say about Your Art!

Let’s get back on the balcony. I remember the time when I felt totally lost in art making. It was like I had opened the door but didn’t see any birds singing. I felt alone. But then, I got tips on how to attract birds. I drew and painted what I saw other people do too. I felt like I had company but still, I felt limited. I was one of the many who had the same bird singing on the balcony. Sometimes it even felt like we were competing with whom the bird would sing the loudest.

A detail from digital art by Peony and Parakeet from 2011.

The situation changed when I started listening what other people say about me. I expanded my attention to how my art affects others. I found many comments extremely useful, even if the person was a family member, a blog reader, an art teacher or anyone who saw my art. First, there was just a word or two that I could grab. When I felt like I was following a path that was hardly visible, I found asking follow-up questions beneficial. I asked: “Why did you like this picture?” or even “Why didn’t you comment anything?”. The comments led me to strange places. But as I continued, my images changed, the voices got louder, and I heard more birds singing.

A detail of a mixed media piece by Peony and Parakeet. From 2011

But I wasn’t quite there yet. I hadn’t found what would personally resonate with me. After trying to see the big picture from people’s comments, I understood why we read horoscopes, click through personality tests, search for our personal style. We try to see our originality – where our talents truly are.

3) Accept That Your Flaws Can Be the Best in You!

I used to beat up myself for being too demanding, a perfectionist. I blamed myself not being good with routines either. To get through the mundane work, I have reinvented the wheel too many times. My husband has found the perfect way to make a bed and fill the dishwasher. I have found many different ways, and I am in search for more.

But a couple of years ago, I made a test that described how other people see me. The test said that my ability to invent unconventional ideas, make new interpretations of the old things and always aim for the highest standard attract people the most! That’s probably the reason you are reading this blog. I have become more open with the worst in me which, in turn, has inspired me to blog more and create more.  Sometimes the best things in us seem ugly to ourselves. However, authenticity attracts people. Our black can be pure gold to others. Our black can be like soil for the flowers that we can grow from there.

Nature's Spirit, a canvas painting by Peony and Parakeet.

4) Find Your Real Reason for Creating and Put It Into Words

When people ask me why I create, my first answer is: “Because I need to.” I need to have time for balancing my life, be able to reflect what has happened, and get energy from creative activities. But the answer doesn’t help me when I am staring at the blank canvas. I need a higher reason to create images that feel meaningful to me. I need more than some inspiring Pinterest boards to connect emotionally with my work. I need a direction, a statement that defines when I have succeeded and what I am passionate about.

I used to have a hard time in evaluating my pieces. Some looked ok, but there was something missing. Others were clumsy and awkward, but I felt connected with them. I wanted to create unique pieces and still, be as good as anyone creating with the same style. I wanted to make my personal version but yet didn’t have a clue what to include and what to exclude. I wanted to express myself but still, play to be someone else. I wanted to escape, yet seek for the truth. I felt I have to focus and limit myself but at the same time, I wanted to be free when creating. It all felt controversial.

My solution has been to find the words that describe the real reason why I am creating. It’s surprising that the words have been the answer because the problem seemed to be visual only. I think that our left brain has to understand what our right brain wants to express. It’s like after naming the birds you would hear them better. Whatever I create I have the same focus. It’s not a theme, it’s not a style, it’s the emotional connection that I want to make through whatever I create.

My Artist Statement

In my art, I want to console people. I want to express grief and sorrow, blacks and browns. But I also want to show the power that is more joyful and that comes in with brighter colors. I want my paintings to have the atmosphere of places that make you connect with your spirituality. I am inspired by churches, libraries, museums and special places in nature. I see spirituality as an uplifting timeless force that has no specific religion. I hope that even for a short moment, my art can be your icon, the image that connects you with your spiritual self. I wish that my art brings you hope no matter what your source of melancholy is. I wish that the images inspire you to overcome darkness, and even more: to go and create yourself.

Free Spirit, a painting by Peony and Parakeet.

When you have your inspiration in words, nature in your mind is a happy place. When you hear the birds singing, you can pick the melodies that resonate with your mission. You can choose techniques, compositions, and colors that you feel most naturally aligned. You may not always succeed, but your mission makes you continue creating. Instead of looking for the perfect technique, the perfect style, the perfect theme, search for what is behind in all that! Search for the mission that makes creating art most meaningful and inspiring to you! That is the real reason why you paint, and that’s also the key to finding more passion for creating art.

I want to help you not only with painting techniques but also with your passion. This is why Nature In Your Mind also has time and assistance for self-reflection and discussion; it’s not only hurrying from one painting to another.

Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!
Join me in painting nature themes, experimenting with techniques and ideas, and then discovering what’s behind in all that.
>> Reserve Your Spot Now!

How to Transform Ideas into Paintings

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Heartful Ideas by Peony and Parakeet.

I am an idea person. When I get exposed to new things, my mind fills up with new ideas. Most of the ideas that pop into my mind are not that good. They are either too conventional or too radical. Some ideas are impossible to implement, and some have nothing to take on.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Color ideas by Peony and Parakeet.

When I was a child, I happily filled the days playing with what came to my mind. But when I was studying computer engineering at a university, I became a master in shooting down my ideas. It may sound depressing, but it has led to a brilliant realization for me: the number of ideas doesn’t equal to the number of projects. When you have limited creative time, you don’t have to divide it with all your creative ideas.

Raw Ideas – Bad that Produce Good

When a new idea comes to your mind, call it “a raw idea.” If you get visual ideas, quickly sketch them on your journal. If they are more words than images, write them down. Don’t over-analyze your sketches, treat this just a routine that makes you move on and continue producing new ideas.

A simple hand-drawn sketch by Peony and Parakeet. Recording ideas by sketching.

Raw ideas are often not so great, and you have to be careful not to spend too much time in implementing them. Raw ideas are like raw potatoes. Add some rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, carrots, onions, and zucchini and put them all in the oven for 30 minutes, and you will have a brilliant idea.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Ideas by Peony and Parakeet.

Many believe that getting new ideas is the thing. They fall in love with their raw ideas and then get disappointed with how they look on paper. But the essence of creating is in the processing. It’s about combining tens of ideas into one focused idea.

Record Everything!

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Musical ideas by Peony and Parakeet.

We humans are very similar to computers in one aspect. We have a limited capacity of processing unsaved ideas. If you never draw or paint or write down your ideas, the processing of them becomes difficult, almost impossible.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Browsing an art journal. By Peony and Parakeet.

I often have an illusion that if I just think a little bit longer before I begin painting, l can start with better ideas. But then I remember that it’s just the opposite: when you see your raw ideas on paper, you can make them better. When you use the raw ideas to create the new painting, you can then visualize stories instead of creating single conventional elements.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Two conventional ideas meet more ideas. By Peony and Parakeet.

From a Disappointment to a Happy Art Journal Page

Here’s an example of how a conventional raw idea can turn into an expressive story.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Using up left-over paint by Peony and Parakeet.

When I am finishing a painting session, there’s always the same problem: I still have paint on my palette. Have you confronted this too?

It doesn’t feel good just to wash it away, so I take one of my art journals, and use it up. I often feel tired already, and painting isn’t particularly inspiring, especially when there’s a limited amount of colors left on the palette. I made this gloomy landscape on one of those moments. The painting looked sad and empty. It felt like I had wasted my time for a lousy raw idea. But then, another day came, and I got the idea to add pastel elements in the dark painting.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Inspired by The X-Files, made by Peony and Parakeet.

While painting, I remembered a television series, The X-files, that we used to watch with my boyfriend, now a husband, a long time ago. When an episode began, I always whistled the tune then grabbed my knitting. Although the episodes were terribly exciting, we always laughed at the whistling. The same mixture of suspense and happiness entered my spread after adding the pastel elements. The painting that had no real emotional connection became a reminder of a happy memory.

Ideas that Keep Coming Back

When you sketch ideas, you will also notice that most of them are very not different from each other.

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Pastels with brights by Peony and Parakeet.

This similarity of ideas is fascinating. When I come up with the same idea again and again, I have to find out what’s behind it. Why does my mind repeatedly travel to the same place?

An art journal spread in a Moleskine Sketchbook. Expressing electricity by Peony and Parakeet.

When preparing for the fall, I was about to release only one new painting workshop: Nature in Your Mind. It’s an online class where I have processed a lot of technique ideas to give you the very best experiences and results in painting. But while working with Nature in Your Mind, I had one more idea that I kept shooting down again and again. No matter how much I did that, it always came back. I saw color. I saw circles. And yes, I sketched them hundreds of times just to get rid of them! But then one day I said to myself: “Ok let’s find out what behind this idea.” So I discovered a compelling formula for creating abstract paintings so that you can fully enjoy painting with colors.

Planet Color – Get the 7-step Formula!

With the 7-step formula, you can release your mind and focus on color. You can create unique paintings while experimenting with unique color combinations. You can work with your raw ideas and combine them to a bigger picture. The workshop is called Planet Color, reserve your spot now! 

Planet Color - a color-oriented painting workshop by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Enjoy colors and release your mind!
>> Sign up for Planet Color!

Tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe

Oak Leaf by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Tribute to Georgia O'Keeffe. Watch the video of painting this!

When walking the dogs, I wondered what could I take with me for the next painting. I saw a fallen oak leaf and felt a bit melancholic; it’s time to say goodbye to summer. Then I did exactly what Georgia O’Keeffe, an American artist (1887-1986), would have done: I picked up the leaf and once got home I painted it! Here’s how I got to know more about her and her painting style.

Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe

When so many of the participants of Imagine Monthly, my monthly art journaling class, named Georgia O’Keeffe as a favorite artist, my project during the summer was to get to know her better. I only knew that she had painted large flower paintings and some abstracts. But I didn’t know anything specific about her background and about her way of working. So I purchased a book about her life. It’s written by Laurie Lisle, and it’s called “Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe.” I bought an audio version so I could listen to it while I paint. I don’t recommend the book to anyone who wants to read an entertaining novel. I think it’s more like a historical study. But for anyone, who wants to learn the facts, it’s excellent.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Mindset

There are two things that I have thought a lot after reading the book. First is Georgia O’Keeffe’s personality. Apparently, she was not a very social person and quite straightforward in her sayings. Second is how her photographer husband supported her both by being her manager and her muse. I don’t think Georgia would have discovered her painting style without the discussions with her husband related to photography. These two facts make me believe that her mindset was very analytical. Even if she was a visual artist, she also was a scientist in her closed personal world. She examined plants like they were scientific specimens. It was like she could measure beauty and then create a new version of it. The more I listened to her life story, the more fascinated I became about her.

Those who live in the UK or are visiting the UK: There’s a big exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern until October 30!

Botanical Discovery – Create Unique Collage Art!

As a part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016, I have published a class where you can create botanical art inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. It has directions on how to cut organic shapes from watercolored papers and build a painted collage out of them. Sign up for Imagine Monthly and get this class immediately after registration!

Botanical Discovery, a collage art class by Peony and Parakeet. Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe.

Painting an Oak Leaf – Watch the video!

The oak leaf shown at the beginning of the page is an acrylic painting on an art journal. I made it as a tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe and recorded a short video of the process. In the video you see me painting with a broad brush and flowing strokes. This is one of the techniques that I’ll show more in depth in my upcoming workshop Nature in Your Mind. I hope to see you there too!

Create collage art inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe: >> Sign up for Imagine Monthly
Paint nature themes with your left and right brain: >> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind

A Decorative Pattern for Art Journals and Beyond

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

A couple of months ago, I made a flip-through video of a full art journal. Many noticed a spread that was made from decorative papers mostly. I remembered that I took some photos while making the papers and I will share step-by-step instructions here. This pattern is good practice for motoric skills and drawing, but it can also go beyond! I used it for a more expressive purpose, for a collage art piece.

1) Paint Stripes with Watercolors

Use a fairly thin paper and paint it with watercolors. Use a selection of colors to create stripes or curves.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

You can add drops of water if you want to make the background more interesting with bleeds.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Let the paper dry properly.

2) Decorate the Stripes by a Simple Loop Pattern

Using a thin-tipped black drawing pen, draw a simple loop and end it with a curve upwards. Without lifting the pen off the paper, add a bunch of loops on the top of the curve. Then continued by drawing a curved line downwards. Repeat and draw the whole row on the same go. Work fast and don’t worry too much about the symmetry or similarity of the loops.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

After drawing the rows, frame the loops to make them more distinct. I used simple shapes to create flowers and leaves.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

3) Color the Background and Add More Decoration

To make the watercolored layer look more lively, use felt-tipped pens (marker pens) and color the background around the doodled shapes. You can also add more color to doodled details and use white gel pen to add more decoration on colored areas.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Decorative Pattern in Many Colors

This pattern looks luxurious when you make many papers in many colors with slightly different decorations.

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Here are some that I made!

Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet. Step-by-step instructions for a decorative pattern that can be used as it is or for creating collage art. By Peony and Parakeet.

Decorative Pattern in Collage Art

I am fascinated by the interface between art, design, and crafts. The idea for the pattern came from knitting. I wanted to find a similar relaxing circular motion using a pen instead of a knitting needle. So that’s how a craft transformed into a design. But design can also be a part of a more expressive piece.

When Geese Fly Over, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

In this collage, I use decorative paper pieces with painting. My starting point was a watercolor background, acrylic paint, and a piece of decorative paper.

Creating a mixed media painting using hand-decorated paper. By Peony and Parakeet.

I cut a couple of decorative shapes and glued them on the background with gel medium.

Glueing collage pieces. By Peony and Parakeet.

Then I continued with painting using acrylic paints. In the finishing phase, I also used some more paper pieces and few colored pencils. A week or two ago, I heard the geese flying over our house. They were leaving Finland, going to a warmer place for a winter. Their sounds made me think how limited we people are, not being able to fly so freely, not always being able to stick so tightly together. The screams of the geese felt bright yellow and for a short moment, I wanted to join them and not stay in Finland, waiting for snow …

When Geese Fly Over, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Make sense of creating more freely! – Sign up for my online painting workshops!
Enjoy colors to release your mind: Sign up for Planet Color!
Express nature experiences, as naturally as possible: Sign up for Nature in Your Mind! 

New Online Painting Workshops – See the videos!

I have two new online painting workshops in October! See the videos and sign up!

Planet Color
 is suitable for beginners and focuses on color!

Nature in Your Mind is for those who have been painting for a while and who love nature themes!

I have got quite a lot of feedback about the intensity of my workshops: that people wish they could reflect more and have some time after the most intense part of the workshop with the opportunity to get more personal feedback. So I have taken this into account in this workshop, thank you all who have filled the feedback form after my workshops! I get back to them all the time and use them when planning new courses like this one!

Come along and free up your painting!

>> Sign up for Planet Color!
>> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!

Hopefully I will meet you in either of these – or in both!