What Are the Cornerstones of Your Art?


I have always loved abstract paintings. It occured to me just recently that even if I rarely create realistic art, I rarely go to extremes in abstractism. But then, what would prevent me from doing that, putting those cornerstones of my style to a new order.

Namely, if you know what you love to create, why not play with that? Thick black color, sharp lines, dramatic color transitions, sense of movement and muted but standing-out colors – those are what I always seem to aim for.

This painting is called “Cornerstones” as I like this detail the most.


When you have your cornerstones set, you can feel free to experiment: use less of something, more of another thing, express deeper thoughts or become more playful.

My favorite supplies are watercolors, acrylic paints and colored pencils. They can be seen as cornerstones as well. If I create something a bit different, it doesn’t feel so scary when I use these old friends.

So I started the painting with watercolors. I had some leftover acrylic paints from other projects, so I stared at the watercolored surface and tried to figure out how to create something a little bit different with them.


One thing that I love in acrylic paints is to have many colors on a brush at the same time and get delicious color effects.



I worked with dairly thick brushes so no wonder when the artwork reached this point, I felt it needed some sharpness and movement.


Then I remembered the photos that I love to shoot. I adjust the shutterspeed low and move my camera to doodle with light. My photos are not brilliant but I absolutely love playing with the camera this way. These photos make me think of bit streams and all the wonderful technical innovations.


So I added a few sharp light details and it was finished!


Liberated Artist – A New Online Workshop!

Finding cornerstones can be a fun process if you use intutive approach for it! Sign up for my newest workshop Liberated Artist! This is the painting workshop many of you have wished for: combining watercolors, acrylic paints and colored pencils, working intuitively at first and then getting more intentional in the end. I will thoroughly introduce you to this liberated way of working and help you finish your work so that it is not only free-flowing but also focused and meaningful.
Reserve your spot now!


Farewell to Summer with Watercolors

Farewell to Summer, a watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet

September has been surprisingly warm in Finland this year. I took a photo a couple of days ago and even if it’s warm and the sun is shining there’s a certain melancholy in the air.

Last days of summer

I don’t usually mimick photos but this time I made an exception. I used the photo about a half of the process and then finished the painting more freely. As I was recording videos for the upcoming painting workshop (more info in the end of the post), I already had all the cameras and such in place. So I made a short video showing how I created the painting.

It was still warm today. Stella was more than happy! Needless to say, she loves the sun.

Stella the beagle enjoys the warmth of the sun in Finland, late September

Coming up! – New class starts in Oct 26th! 

The registration to my online painting workshop will open next week! If you want to start with carefree strokes and end with meaning, this is a great class for you! I will show you how to create happy accidents with watercolors and acrylic paints and then turn those to abstract flowers, landscapes, portraits and still lives. The paintings will be finished with colored pencils. You will not only feel liberated but also connected to your art while you learn how to create understandable and fascinating images. Hopefully I will see you there!

P.S. If you have not subscribed my weekly newsletter yet, click here to subscribe and stay tuned!

What Acrylic Colors to Buy?

Tosca, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

This is a very practical blog post but let’s start it with my recent artwork, called “Tosca”. It is inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera. I went to see the opera last week and it was an experience that I wanted to communicate visually. Drama has always appealed to me and the contrast between the most beautiful sounds and the big emotions, often agony, was unforgettable.

Before the evening at the opera I had just realized that I need to buy some more acrylic paints. Actually, I had run out of almost all the basic colors. I love Golden Heady Body Artist Acrylics, so I went to a local art supply store to get some. I know there are lists of what colors you should buy when buying the basics but as my selection is a bit different, I thought I might not only share it but also give some general guidelines of what colors to buy. These can be applied to colored pencils and watercolors as well.

Guidelines that I Follow when Choosing Acrylic Colors

1) Always buy basic white and black. They give contrasts and are great for color mixes.
2) Never underestimate the amount of yellows you need. I use yellows for everything. I love the color itself and I use it a lot for color mixes  as well. I often make a mistake of adding too much other color with yellow and then I need to add some more yellow to get the right tone. So I need a lot of yellows!
3) Warm and cold tones of each primary color is usually enough. I don’t buy browns and greens unless I find a specific tone that I fall in love with.
4) Always include some personal favorites. When I open the box where I store the tubes, I want to become happy. Cerulean blue reminds me of the time when I painted icons. I think of the sky when I see it and it makes me feel creative and happy. Whatever the current color trends are, cerulean blue feels always great. When I buy colors, I think about creating as an experience and don’t just focus on what is generally recommended.

Cerulean Blue acrylic paint tube

My Basic Collection of Acrylic Paint Colors

A basic collection of acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

Basic Colors:
1) Titanium White – because it’s basic white
2) Mars Black – because it’s basic black
3) Quinacridone Red – because it is great to for mixing pinks and purples
4) Pyrrole Red– because it’s fiery and pure warm red
5) C.P. Cadmium Yellow Primrose – because it’s ideal to get beautiful greens but it is still a strong pigment, not a mix
6) C.P. Cadmium Yellow Medium – beause it’s the most beautiful warm yellow I know
7) Primary Cyan – because it’s basic and more affordable than many other blues
8) Ultramarine Blue – beacause I have used to using it for decades

Extra Colors:
1) Medium Magenta – because I like pinks
2) Hansa Yellow Light – because it is an affordable extra yellow
3) Cerulean Blue Chromium – because it makes me happy
4) Manganese Blue Hue – because I like turquoises

I also have some special effect tubes, for example gold and silver and some odds and ends. The more I paint, the more I rely on basic pigments and don’t like to spend money buying color mixes in tubes or jars.

A Red Day

Sometimes one color seems to be more appealing than the others. This happened to me last week, it was “red red red” that I thought all morning.

Three red acrylic pigments: magenta, pyrrole and quinacridone

Even if I had the new tubes and all, I started with watercolors and 12 by 12 inch watercolor paper. Playing with water is so liberating!

Painting a background with watercolors

Then I changed watercolors to acrylic paints and turned the music on.

Adding acrylic paint over watercolors

Puccini’s Tosca was playing in the background but as I had not visited the real performance yet. So I put this away to wait for the more detailed insight.

Colored Pencils Make the Details

A couple of days after seeing the opera, I was ready. I continued with colored pencils. They are wonderful art supplies. They are brilliant with watercolors but they are ok with acrylics too of you create thin and even layers.

Tosca, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

P.S. My next online workshop will be about mixing acrylics, watercolors and colored pencils … Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to stay tuned!

Draw Your Own Coloring Page

2 art journal pages created with the same idea, by Peony and Parakeet

These two art journal pages have been made in the same way: drawing simple lines and shapes and then coloring them with colored pencils. This is a fun exercise especially for those who like abstract art and want to show it in their art journals, and for those who are into coloring but want to create more personal images.

A) With a drawing pen, create lines and shapes in 4 phases

Easy composition in 4 steps, by Peony and Parakeet

1. Draw a wavy line across the page.
2. Draw another wavy line in the opposite direction.
3. Add 1-2 angular lines on the top. The example above has only 1 long angular line.
4. Add some circles and squares in an area where you want to turn the focus.

B) Color Freely!

Choose your color scheme and add layers of color.

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

Add even more layers …

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

C) Add Journaling

With a drawing pen, add your thoughts on the page. You can erase lighter areas for the journaling.

Journaling on a colored art journal page, by Peony and Parakeet

My page is about my latest visit at an art museum. They are so inspiring places!

An easy art journal page, instructions 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 September 15th.

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 will tickle your imagination!

Registration ends on Friday Sep 11th (at midnight PST)!
>> Read more and register now!

Drama and Contrasts in Art

Counterforces, a painting by Peony and Parakeet

This is my latest painting called “Counterforces”. The idea for this came from the books that read recently. They are Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. I chose to read those books, not because I would be writing a novel, but because I want to understand more about drama and how to bring it to visual art. With self-expression I aim more about describing scenes and experiences than static figures. I want to experience the drama while I am creating, and show the drama in the end result as well.

Does creating suspense interest you too?

I recorded the process of creating the painting on the c. While creating, I tried to bring together as much contrasts as possible. The most memorable moments in our lives often include some drama – countering forces or feelings.

Go deeper in practices and techniques to get in touch with your imagination!
There are still some spots left for Inspirational Drawing! One of the students, Rosemary Bosse from Australia, described the class:

“I can now see that the image that eventuates is the one that is meant to be, because it has come from within me, in an unforced, more intuitive manner. It showed me that I can keep doing the exercises and obtain different results each time, so maybe there is no ‘perfect’ result! I don’t need a particular subject to get started now, I can let my intuition lead me and simply follow it through its course.”

Inspirational Drawing – Sign up now!

Art Journal Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

Everytime I buy a new blank sketchbook, I get the feeling that I should not make a mess on it. But then, my art journals are meant for maintaining artistic inspiration, and messy making is part of that too. I often create pages in many phases and my art journals are never perfect in a way that they would have high-quality art all over. But I think that the imperfections make the books more approachable and more inspiring.

On this video I show pages of my two Moleskine sketchbooks. If you are new to art journaling or would like to introduce this wonderful hobby to your friend or relative, share the video! If you need more support to begin art journaling, sign up for Inspirational Drawing!

Video: See What You Think

Are you searching for art inspiration? Are you wondering what to create to your art journal next? Let the pen move and see what you think!

Inspirational Drawing is built so that you can enjoy developing the three dimensions of creating:
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!

Thank You for Being There!

Two things happened yesterday. First, I sent my 100th email newsletter! I know there are people who have subscribed to it from 2010 when I sent out the first one. (If you are not a subscriber yet, click here!) Thank you!

Second, I saw sunflowers in full bloom and thought how they are like art: bringing joy and relaxation! I was working in my recording studio today, remembered the flowers and made this video for you. Thank you for being there, remember to nurture your creativity!

Watch more of my videos!

Explore by Drawing!

This blog post is illustrated by students of the 4-week online workshop Inspirational Drawing. All the illustrations shown here are created at the class by these wonderful artists: Dianne Guerin, Ellen Schulz, Terri Elverum, Joan Gaetz, Alison Schockner, Cheryl Rayner, Carol Dickson, Debbie Kreischer, Virginia Clinton, Rosemary Bosse, Mary Joyce Weening, Donna Peake, Joyce Brown, Nancy Kvorka, Judy Shea and Janet Joehlin.

I have often thought about the contradiction between maintaining who I am and being open to what I can become. My friend said that when you know somebody for a long time, you can look through life circumstances and see the person that’s behind all those. And still, while situations change, we change too.

Dianne Guerin, Toronto, Canada, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

By drawing we can find out where we are swimming and how deep we can go.

Terri Elverum and Joan Gaetz, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

We can take personality tests but sometimes the best way to find out what kind of fish we are, is to take a pen and start drawing.

Ellen Schulz, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

By drawing, we can explore how we see ourselves in our surroundings.

Alison Schockner and Cheryl Rayner, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

We can pick ideas from new places and cultures.

Carol Dickson and Debbie Kreischer, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

And we can explore what’s going on inside our minds.

Virginia Clinton and Rosemary Bosse, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

When we illustrate what we seem to be and how we see the world, new combinations start to grow and inspire us.

Mary Joyce Weening, Donna Peake and Joyce Brown, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

Our art journals become our inspiration books.

Nancy Kvorka, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

If we just use thinking, we can endlessly question our creativity and ability to find new solutions. But when we get into the habit of drawing, it will be evident that we are creative people regardless of circumstances.

Judy Shea and Janet Joehlin, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

When we draw out our new thoughts and ideas, we become more aware of who we are and what our style is.

So, do you want to start exploring? Join me for Inspirational Drawing!