Simple Shape, Plenty of Expression

Circle #1, by Peony and Parakeet

I began to create these circles a while ago. They have been created in Photoshop but they use scanned elements of my hand drawn art. The message here is: don’t wait for a major inspiration or grand idea! Your starting point can be one simple shape. Self-expression does not require complex sketching.

Simple Exercise

Creating an art journal page is easy:
1) Draw a circle.
2) Doodle inside it.
3) Color the page. You can add more details while coloring.

Simple instructions for an art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

When creating this page, I was thinking about spring. It is amazing how the sun and rain take turns and make everything flourish.

Sun and Rain, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

More Inspiration

Circle #2, by Peony and Parakeet

Circle #3, by Peony and Parakeet

Circle #4, by Peony and Parakeet

Inspirational Drawing

Do you want to learn free expression more in detail?
Join me on Inspirational Drawing, an online workshop that starts on 1st June!

Inspirational Drawing contains:
– in-depth exercises that can be repeated numerous times with different end-results
– guidance of how your inner critic starts to work with you, not against you
– a little bit of drama and fun that tickles your imagination!

Registration ends on Friday May 29th (at midnight PST)!
>> Read more and register now!

Organizing Art Supplies with Konmari Method

Flying with Balloons, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

This art journal page is about how less stuff can uplift us. I feel like a bird with balloons after I sorted out my art and papercrafting supplies.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It all started from a book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is written by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo and she calls her method “Konmari”, which is an abbreviation of her name.

Marie Kondo, Konmari, decluttering book, sweaters on a shelf

The Konmari method is fairly simple. First you get rid of all the stuff you don’t use or enjoy, and then you store them by type. The process is explained more in detail in the book. The book recommends starting with clothes so I organized my sweaters first. Most of them are my own handknits. Marie Kondo explains how to fold each type of clothing and recommends storing things so that you can see them in a row. I have always believed in little joys in life. However I had never thought of how much joy seeing those sweaters can bring.  Each time I open the closet, it joyfully reminds me how much I enjoy both knitting and colors!

Art Supplies that Spark Joy

Marie Kondo believes in handling each object separately and considering if it sparks joy. These spark most joy to me: colored pencils and watercolors! These most simple art supplies delight me more than any new product on the market.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with an art journal spread colored with colored pencils

If you have followed this blog for a longer time, you might have noticed that the variety of mediums that I use in my art has been reduced gradually, especially during the last year. I noticed that I had bought many of the products believing they would solve my creative problems. I thought they would make me create better art faster and make creating more fun. But when experimenting with new products I forgot how little ingredients are actually needed for creating meaningful art. Nowadays I feel sad when I see beginners reading instructions that involve huge variety of art supplies. The long lists of supplies are overwhelming and prevent many from start creating.

I believe we should focus less on things and more in our inner world. And Marie Kondo thinks exactly the same! She believes that when we are surrounded by less things, we can treat them better and start thinking what we really want to do in life. I believe that when you use less supplies, a lot of energy is saved from picking and choosing for the actual creating. You will also grow attached to the supplies and start displaying them and taking care of them more often.

Working Area Before and After

Even if I organize my creative space regularly, I felt it was the time for a bigger change. I had already started re-organizing my creative space before reading Marie Kondo’s book, so it felt natural to continue that process.

Creative Space before and after, Konmari method, Marie Kondo

The photo on the left has been taken some time ago. After that I had already cleared the view to the window. But I had not actually got rid of anything, I had just removed some of the stuff to the nearest shelf unit. This time I picked out every single object and decided to give away or throw away those that I had not used for a long time. The photo on the right shows how the table looks like now!

Konmari Method Applied to Art Supplies

Marie Kondo suggests not to put items on the top of each other. That is quite difficult to achieve with art supplies. I managed pretty well though. Jars and boxes help with that.

Art supplies organized with Konmari method

My creative space also includes shelves. Here organising was a bit more challenging and the end result might not be how Marie Kondo had done it. She would probably grouped all the paper booklets, albums and magazines together. However I quite like it as there’s enough logic in how everything is located. As one of my hobbies is scrapbooking I have a large collection of stamps. I was able to put them all to one place on the upmost shelf.

Art supplies organized with Konmari method

Marie Kondo believes that we should take time to consider which is the best way for storing each item. I found that odd bottles of ink are much happier in spray bottles with other liquid inks. Paints are now in boxes on the right side of the middle shelf. I love how easily accessible all the supplies are and how my art journals and inspiring magazines fitted there too.

How to Prevent Decluttering?

According to Konmari method the secret of staying organized is this: once you have dramatically reduced the amount of stuff  and organized by type, you will consider buying new things much more carefully. When you group items by type, you will remember what you already have. When I saw what I had bought during the years, I thought that many times I could have just left the store early and put the time in creating. Focusing on fewer art supplies has reduced my yearn for shopping, so I do believe what Marie writes about.

Make Your Colored Pencils Spark Joy!

Inspirational Drawing, online workshop with colored pencils

Love for colored pencils is contagious! Inspirational Drawing is a 4-week online workshop where I will help you to find more from your inner world, and focus less on the outside world! Less supplies, more easy methods to get connected with your creativity! >> Register now!

Find a Focus for Your Art

"I am listening", an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

This is my latest art journal page with colored pencils. It is called “I Am Listening”.

The Phases behind the Artwork

I knew that it would be a good moment to create art, when I heard about a live broadcast of an opera La Traviata. To enhance the atmosphere, I adjusted lighting and closed gliding doors in the room where I was creating.

Evening of opera and art, by Peony and Parakeet

When I started drawing, I had no idea what the final result would represent.

First phase in creating an art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

And even when I began coloring the page, I had no clue.

Creating a drawing on an art journal, by Peony and Parakeet

But once I had worked for a while, I saw the face appearing on the page. Soon I knew that the drawing would be about listening to music and how it activates the whole brain. I have experienced that personally, but Finnish researchers have proved it scientifically too.

"I am listening", a detail of an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

Focus Sets You Free!

I used to hate people who repeated: focus, focus, focus! I questioned back: “Isn’t experimenting an essential part of creating art? Shouldn’t art set us free, instead of steering us to a certain narrow path?”

But after finding my focus, I realized that I had had misconceptions. The focus should not be a single subject like “birds” or “faces”, certain supplies like “acrylics” or certain style like “cubism”. The focus should not come from outside, but inside. It should answer to the question: “When thinking of self-expression, where are you best at?” This kind of focus will lead you to see more possibilities. You will experiment more and you will broaden your perspective.

I did not mistakenly listened to dramatic music in the suitable surroundings. I used it as a tool to bring out where I am best at: visualizing experiences, systems and transformations. That’s my focus. Whatever I doodle, I can feel free as I do not have to worry about what will appear. My focus will feed my subconscious and my imagination.

For some of my students the focus has been “feelings in relationships”. For some it has been “fairy tales” or “mysteries”. Some have been skillful in seeing “the beauty of everyday life”, others thrive on “atmospheres of dimensional spaces.”

"I am listening", an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

Inspirational Drawing – Find Your Focus!

If you have followed me a bit longer, you might have noticed that my focus on experiences, systems and transformations is central in this blog too. I am always willing to write about how to change something for the better or how to develop creative processes. If you love to talk or write about something, start bringing it to your images too!

But even more than that, free intuitive drawing will help you find your focus. When you let your subconscious take control and develop new drawing routines, you will get to see bigger themes appearing naturally. This is a reason why I developed Inspirational Drawing, a 4-week online workshop that will teach you how to enjoy drawing without being confined by certain subjects or styles. >> Reserve your spot now!

See What You Think!

What I Think and How I Think, an art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s an art journal spread that I created from two little incidents: the intellectual and the emotional.

The Intellectual Incident

Last week I went to an art gallery to see Ola Kolehmainen‘s photography exhibition. I often get very emotional when I go to see art, but this time I was more intrigued by structures and concepts than having heartfelt experiences. Ola Kolehmainen’s photo collages had a cubistic touch which made me experiment with squares and archs too.

Starting an art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

The starting point of the page looked pretty stiff and formal to me. But also I felt excited about how it would direct my thoughts when continuing drawing and coloring.

Thoughts about Perfection and Order

Working intuitively means working without exact further knowledge, by Peony and Parakeet

Working intuitively means that I do not always know what ‘s going to appear next. I just focus on a small area at the time. While listening to some opera pieces, I remembered how close mathematics and music were in the 18th century. One of the great mathematicians Leonhard Euler was also extremely interested in music. I feel that similarly, drawing can be an experience where we use the intellectual side of us: find out new solutions, practice nuances and fine-tune shapes until everything seems to be in its place. Like Euler said: “… in any thing where there is perfection, there is necessarily also order.”

Finishing an art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

The Emotional Incident

But then, when we aim for perfection, we often miss the experience. Like the exhibition last week – I went out without noticing any particular change in my feelings. Then, this morning when walking the dogs, I saw the growing leaves and how they glowed against the sun. The sight was so beautiful, although ordinary at this time of the year. Nevertheless, I felt like opening a door to a great gallery – to a nature’s supreme art exhibition!

Leaves against the light

Combining The Two Incidents

When I got back home, I thought that it would be really interesting to interpret this controversy of the intellectual and the emotional on the same spread. I expressed my nature experience with carelessness but with clarity and then made it work with the page that had become very detailed but pretty complex.

A detail of an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

I wrote: “When I see what I think, I become whole” and “When I see HOW I think, I become happy”.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet browsing her art journal

This page spread is not only about going to art gallery last week and walking the dogs this week. This is what happened inside me and how these incidents were combined to continue my story as an artist.

What I Think and How I Think, an art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

See What and How You Think!

Inspirational Drawing is a 4-week online workshop where you will learn not only practical ways for processing inspirational material, but also how to let your subconscious take control. Let me guide you to see what you think and how you think! >> Reserve your spot now!

 

Stop to See Your Inner World!

From Innovation to Experience, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

If you watched my recent video interview, you know that I love technology and innovations. People often say that technology is a tool. I do understand that phrase and agree with that to a certain point. But if I had to define technology, I would say that like art, it’s an experience. Whether I read about a new innovation in technology, or see an interesting artwork, I like to stop and think how I feel about it.

A sketch with a black pen, intuitive drawing by Peony and Parakeet

Now you might ask: “Why would I take any abstract concept or inanimate object and add emotion to it?”
My answer is: “Because that’s how you boost your imagination!”
When we see technology as a crowded concert or a tea cup as a gentle old lady, we will open a door to our inner world.

Intuitive drawing with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

Often it requires that we stop. Stop taking in common generalizations, and start adding our own associations. This does not mean that you should do it all the time, but in small moments, every day. Because like Terry Pratchett has said: “Humans need fantasy to be human.”

Making of an art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

By drawing we can work our fantasies so that they become insights. Instead of  continuously searching inspiration from outside world, we can take time for processing information inside. When we integrate our past experiences with new ones, we can have an improved view to our life as a whole. As visual people we can produce images that have that unified vision. These kind of holistic visions are almost impossible to express with words, that’s why they are called “the big picture”.

From Innovation to Experience, artwork with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

“Inspirational Drawing” is a 4-week online workshop where you will learn not only practical ways for processing inspirational material, but also how to let your subconscious take control. Produce “the big pictures” of your experiences! Reserve your spot now!

Are You an Inspiration Seeker, Imitator, Mess Maker or Minimalist?

During the past years I have had the priviledge to get to know many beginning and more seasoned artists. Every person is unique, but there are also common nominators. Based on my experience of teaching art and being artist myself,  I created this presentation about four common problems and four common profiles.

When watching the presentation, you might have noticed that I let my minimalist part create it!

>> Inspirational Drawing – Reserve your spot!

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet

My Journey as an Artist

This week I also have a longer video for you. Connie Solera from Dirty Footprints Studio interviewed me on live video! You will get to know few life changing events that gave direction to my art and hear a great discussion between Connie and me about the process of creating art. Watch the interview!

>> 21 Secrets Spring 2015 online workshop, my class included – Buy now! 

Intuitive Start for Art Journaling

I Love Art Museums, an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet.

My latest art journal page is about one of my favorite places: art museums. On the page, I have used both organic and graphic shapes to express the interaction between art and architecture. That interaction is something I enjoy examining when visiting an art musem.

Inspiration

Last week I went to Konsthalle Helsinki to see an exhibition of Erling Neby Collection. Erling Neby is a norwegian businessman who collects concrete and geometric art.

Arne Malmedal, Untitled at Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland

Arne Malmedal, Untitled at Kunsthalle Helsinki

This kind of art makes me remember the time when I was in my 20s and very certain of what kind of art I like and what I don’t like. Simple-shaped abstract paintings were in my comfort zone back then – it was “good art” that I was excited to see and experience although I have never been able to strech my own style to that.

At the exhibiton, the reflection of the yellow painting was especially inspiring. It made me think how art is never disconnected from its surroundings, whether physical or mental. Thus, an illustration about art museum would not need to separate artworks from the architecture but express the holistic feeling of the experience.

Techniques

I used couple of black pens and colored pencils for creating the page.

1) Free doodling and coloring.
Making an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet.

2) Drawing sharp graphic shapes with the help of a ruler and a round object. Drawing graphic shapes with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet

Emotional Connection

When I draw, I always want to get an emotional connection with the subject. Without that I start to worry about the end result before the first stroke! When making this page, I did not think about art museums in general. Instead, I thought about tiny details that I saw and tiny moments that I remembered from my last visit in Kusthalle Helsinki. I focused on the feeling and let my imagination work with that.

A detail of an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet.

Inspirational Drawing

Working from tiny details towards the big picture is something that is not easy to explain in a single blog post. To explain it shortly, it is starting with an intuition and then slowly bringing the page towards the intention. This way of working is in the main role in my new online workshop Inspirational Drawing, which takes place in June!

I Love Art Museums, an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet.

Inspirational Drawing is built so that you can enjoy developing the three dimensions of drawing:
1) increasing your imagination
2) improving your technical skills
3) using inspirational source material.

You will learn a creative process in detail through art journaling exercises. Course videos will not only show you how to do, I also talk about the emotions and the inspiration behind them. I will answer to your questions and help you adjust the process so that it will work for you. You can start enjoying free drawing without questioning what to draw or how, the process itself will take care of that!

>> Reserve your spot now! 

Video: Small Change, Big Results

Sometimes it seems that big life-changing thoughts do not happen. But when looking back, there can be little things that we have almost forgotten. That moment, when you did something differently, opened the door that you normally would not open – that can be the trigger for new kind of inspiration. Here’s my story about a small unselfish act that has given me a lot of artistic inspiration and an increase of my creativity:

Update in April 14th: You can read this story in a written form at Medium.com!

Coming up! “Inspirational Drawing”, an online workshop in June 2015, where I will teach you how to enjoy drawing and coloring art journal pages with colored pencils. This e-course will show you how to process your inspiration, grow your skills, and increase your imagination – all by drawing! Stay tuned!

Update in April 11th: Registration is for “Inspirational Drawing is now open!

Why History, Computers and Art Belong Together

Past, Present, Future - An art journaling page by Peony and Parakeet

This art journal page is about two things that are close to me: art nouveau and computer engineering. With my background in technology, many find it surprising that historical styles like Art Nouveau fascinate me so much. And vice versa: why someone so interested in history, has studied and worked with computers.

For me, these things have a natural connection. Think about the era of Art Nouveau: the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century. It was the era of industrial revolution when many technical inventions were born. Also, at the same time, new kind of art was emerging. For example, Virginia Woolf wrote books using stream of consciousness, Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night, and Charles Rennie Macintosh designed a grand building for Glasgow School of Art. After inventing computers, we are experiencing another great era with a lot of innovations, the internet and smartphones among others. I am certain that it will be seen as one of the most exciting time in the world history. We have new tools for art and design and we if any, can use art to look at what the future could hold.

Stream of Consciousness – Creating a Coloring Page

When I started to create the art journal page, I thought about the two eras and their similarities. With a black drawing pen, I began drawing art nouveu style shapes. It was exciting to think about modern things while drawing in the old style. It is very inspirational to stay focused on two things that have both similarities and differences.

Drawing in Art Nouveau style by Peony and Parakeet

It is relaxing to draw like imitating Virginia Woolf: using the stream of consciousness. Rotating the page makes it easier to keep the stream flowing.

Drawing from the stream of consciousness by Peony and Parakeet

Coloring books seem to be popular at the moment. We art journalers can make our own! Here’s my page before coloring.

Art Journal page ready for coloring by Peony and Parakeet

Past, Present, Future – Art Is an Equation

When I studied computer engineering, I had to understand a mathematical equation that was used widely to control technical systems. It was called Kalman filter and it was composed of three parts: past, present and future. I found the philosophy behind the equation most fascinating: to get better at what we do, we must understand the past, stay grounded to the present and be brave enough to predict the future.

Art can be our equation. We can use art to ponder on what has happened to us. We can use art to record the present. But most importantly: art can make us get off the ground. We can predict what the future will hold by taking old and current stuff and create new combinations. We can imagine what Virginia Woolf would do in the 22nd century and illustrate it. There are no limits and we already have most of the information.

That’s why I think that history, computers and art belong together. They are all parts of the same equation.

Adding New Dimensions by Coloring

To bring today’s graphic shapes to the work, I drew rectangular areas on the top of the drawing. Then I colored them with a different color scheme.

Coloring an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet

Finally, I expressed how past can bring us the future by erasing color with a light strokes. The light comes from the past. With the past, we can see the future.

Past, Present, Future - An art journaling page by Peony and Parakeet

Tell me, what have you picked (or would like to pick) from the past to your art?

P.S. 21 Secrets Art Journaling Workshop (my class included) has just been launched. You can still purchase it! See you there!

The Lucky Winners!

Embroidered fish blocks by Peony and Parakeet

Congratulations, Laura K and Beverly F! You two have won the free spots for 21 Secrets Spring 2015 Art Journaling Workshop! I have already sent you two an email, check your inbox!

Thank you all for the answers, it was so interesting to read about your favorite supplies! If the random number generator (which helped me choose the winners), did not favor you, purchase the workshop and meet me and 20 other teachers starting from April 1st!