New Portrait Class: Innovative Portraits!

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Check out her new class about portraits!

Most of the art classes are about creating portraits. People want to paint and draw people because we can all read facial features. In a way, drawing a face is the easiest way to deliver a message, a personality, an impression. But that can also be tricky. Small changes make a big difference. My husband took over ten photos of me holding the sketchbook. I smiled in all of them, but only one showed what I wanted you to see: the enthusiasm that I have for art and for the classes that I will run this fall.

Why Is This My First Portrait Class?

Before now, I haven’t had a class that focuses on facial portraits. During the years, I have learned that being able to produce something, is not enough to teach the class. Classes have to have new ideas and solutions, and I want to be enthusiastic when running them. If I am excited both spiritually and practically, there’s a good chance that I can convert you to be so too. Because in the end, art is not about getting the composition perfect or shadowing to the right direction. It’s about the joy and passion that we can experience and deliver through it. That’s why I don’t want to build purely left brain or 100 % right brain classes. The left brain classes focus only on the technical aspects, and the right brain classes try to convince you that anything is brilliant even if you don’t feel so.

It has taken several years from me to figure out the balance between the left and the right brain in teaching portraits.

Because how many times have you wondered:
– Is this the only way to draw the eyes?
– Is the pretty face the only goal?
– What to put in the background?
– How to intensify this piece – truly put my heart into it?

In my new upcoming class Innovative Portraits, we will discover new paths to painting and drawing portraits. We will gather ideas, make sketches to process them and find solutions to the problems that have caused frustrations. This class also includes a 3-month membership in my art community Bloom and Fly so you will also get monthly live sessions and weekly feedback Tuesdays.

Innovative Portraits, a portrait class in mixed media by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Innovative Portraits – Reserve Your Spot Now!

Refresh the way you create faces! The early-bird price is available when you sign up before Sept 16, midnight PDT.  >> Watch the dramatic video and sign up NOW!

Sign Up for The Exploring Artist! – Few Spots Left!

Become a part of a special small group diving deeper into the purpose of being an artist. If you wonder where you should be heading as an artist, what media you should use, what themes to choose, and how to reach for people, this coaching is for you.

The Exploring Artist is a 12-week group coaching program between Sept 10 – Nov 30, 2018. Get clear about your artistic passion and become more open about your art, for example, share your art in social media, blog about art, sell your originals and prints, teach classes, etc.

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for artists searching for a direction by Paivi Eerola from Peony and P
In The Exploring Artist, you will get coaching as a part of a small and tight-knit group. I will personally help you to put your passion into words and visual insights. We will work together to discover what you want to change in your art, where you want to move forward and how to do it. >> Sign up now!

Oil Pastels and Spicing Up Your Art

Girl Power, mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This piece has Sennelier oil pastels, acrylic paints, and graphite pencils.

This week, I show you how to use oil pastels with other art supplies. I also talk about spicing up your art, especially by choosing subjects that are so personal that they make you tremble a bit!

Early Memories of Oil Pastels

Making art can be compared to cooking. Sometimes the food tastes good because the ingredients and the way are processed go well together. That was how my mother cooked. Her food was delicious because it was fresh and made with care. Even if our family wasn’t wealthy, the time that she put on cooking, made the meals worth remembering. I still don’t know how she was able to include the thick layer of blueberries into her pie. When there was a local art competition for children with the theme “home,” it’s no wonder that this is what I drew.

A childhood drawing with oil pastels by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I remember struggling with the oil pastels, definitely not artist’s quality, but the drawing won the first prize. It was a little unpleasant that the organizer has written the prize in the drawing, but now it just adds a nostalgic flair to it.

My mother wanted her children to step away from cooking and caring for the home. She wanted me to get a good education and declined to teach me how to cook. I grew to question what women and men are supposed to do and felt rebellious in that respect. As a result, I went to study engineering and worked in a field that had mostly men.

QUESTION: What memories do oil pastels or other early art supplies bring to your mind? 

Sennelier Oil Pastels – First Experiment

I bought a small set of Sennelier oil pastels for mixed media art. I didn’t want to spend money on a bigger set until seeing if I like them or not. My first experiment was to draw a portrait on a small sketchbook.

Sennelier oil pastels and an example drawn by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My mother used two spices mostly: salt and pepper. When creating art, salt and pepper are the lightness and the darkness of colors. You need both, but not too much. As beginners, we often think that we don’t need any salt and pepper. That the fresh ingredients – bright colors – will do the trick. But you need some paler and darker colors, not too much, but enough to harmonize a busy painting.

For the first experiment, I thought that making a basic portrait with salt and pepper would be enough. But creating just a pretty face often lacks expression, so I added a hand because oil pastels and fingers go together. No matter how hard I tried to use a palette knife for blending, I ended up enjoying the waxy feel of oil pastels on the fingertips.

A sketchbook page with Sennelier oil pastels by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The first experiment made me remember why I had tossed away my old oil pastel set over 10 years ago. Oil pastels are messy! Later in the evening, I made a big mistake of not wiping the table carefully and then placing my cross-stitch projects on the very same tabletop. I had to wash oil pastel marks from the fabrics, and that was very upsetting!

Woman’s World – Oil Pastels with Graphite Pencils

I wasn’t ready to give up oil pastels but headed for the new experiment the next day. This time my idea was to use a sponge for blending and combine oil pastels with graphite pencils. They have called me more and more these days. Maybe it’s because my friend Eeva Nikunen uses graphite a lot and I have one of her drawings on the wall. I am not so much into using graphite alone, but I love using it with watercolors, so why not try it with oil pastels as well!

Making of a oil pastel drawing with Sennelier oil pastels. By a Finnish artist Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Making of this sketchbook page both excited and scared me. It went deeper than the first page and expressed thoughts that I don’t usually reveal to the public. I support women becoming equal with men, and often think even more strongly: it’s now the time of the history when we women can take power. I believe that it will liberate men too. Many young women say that they are equal already, but my experiences haven’t been quite like that. And when thinking back to the past, even when narrowing the focus only to the field of art, women have been neglected for centuries. So it can be woman’s world now if you ask me.

Woman's World, mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. A sketchbook page with Sennelier oil pastels and graphite pencils.

When creating this piece, I realized how much I had been used salt and pepper only: making images that are aesthetically pleasing, but that could be spiced up with the message.

QUESTION: What thoughts do you have that you haven’t expressed in your art?

When you think about “what to put in the background” next time, maybe perfect the face a little less and spend more time with a message no matter “what others think.”

Girl Power – Oil Pastels with Acrylic Paints

When I processed the theme – the power of women – further, I wanted to send encouragement to today’s young girls. Most girls that I have met are very smart but also polite and gentle. I wanted to express my appreciation for them.

This time, I wanted to try acrylic paints with oil pastels, and I also had a perfect reference image in mind. It was a miniature portrait of Europa Anguissola painted by her sister Lucia Anguissola. There were six sisters who all became painters in the Renessaince age, but only one of them, Sofonisba, continued her career. I saw the portrait of Europa a couple of years ago, and it’s sweet and amazingly detailed for a small painting.

This project was created in my Dylusions Creative Journal. Acrylics were my choice for the face, and I started very traditionally, making an underpainting with umber and white.

Painting a face. An underpainting with acrylics. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Again, I didn’t want this piece to be just about the face, so I added a hand too. Here you can see how far I worked with acrylic paint only.

Creating a portrait with mixed media. The first part: acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This project was created on a large Dylusions Creative Journal.

Now to the oil pastels. After experimenting blending with a palette knife and a sponge, I gave up and used my fingers only. But I had a new weapon: baby wipes! They are very handy for removing paint both from the fingers and from the table top. After getting used to having a baby wipe in hand, the messiness of the media doesn’t bother anymore!

Blending Sennelier oil pastels. Using a finger with oil pastels. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I love blending out the color when working with oil pastels. It feels enjoyable and natural. I am excited to try these techniques with oil paints as well.

A mixed media portrait in progress. Acrylic paint and Sennelier oil pastels. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s one technique that I discovered: First, lay several colors carelessly on paper. It’s like throwing the ingredients into the pot!

Working with oil pastels. Using oil pastels in mixed media. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Second, mix the colors with a finger – beautiful – not the finger but the art!

Working with oil pastels. Using oil pastels in mixed media. Blending of Sennelier oil pastels. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also wanted to add some pencil strokes too. Loud and bold oil pastels look very appealing when they meet the quiet power of graphite drawing.

Using graphite pencils in mixed media art. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

So this one is for young girls: “I wish you all the luck and all the power. Europa Anguissola abandoned painting when she got married, but you don’t have to. You can be anything, and we support you!”

Girl Power, mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This piece has Sennelier oil pastels, acrylic paints, and graphite pencils.

Who do you want to send greetings through your art?

Free Like a Bird – Oil Pastels with Turpentine

The true test for the oil pastels: how do they work with abstract art and intuitive process. This time I used colored pencils and graphite as well.

Creating abstract art using mixed media. Oil pastels, colored pencils, graphite pencils. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

In the middle of making this abstract piece, a new problem came up. I wanted to spread a thin layer of paint, and tone down some areas. I got the idea of thinning the pastel with the medium that I use for oil painting. The painting liquid has poppy oil, Dammar varnish, and turpentine. After googling, it seemed that turpentine could thin oil pastels. So I rubbed some color on a palette, added few drops of the painting liquid and started painting.

Thinning oil pastels. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The liquid worked very well. Of course, the odor of turpentine can be unbearable for many. Working in small amounts, and keeping the lid closed reduces it a bit, though.

Thinnning oil pastels and using a brush for painting with them. Oil pastel technique tips by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my finished piece: “Free Like a Bird.” It’s what I hope for everyone, regardless of the gender.

Free Like a Bird", mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Created with Sennelier oil pastels, colored pencils, and graphite pencils.

If you compare the images of this blog post, the abstract piece leaves more room for interpretations. Recently, I have felt more and more drawn into creating abstracts, and letting go of delivering a pre-chewed message. Cooking without a recipe can be much harder than you would first think. Making a vast selection of foods, learning to use pepper and salt, helps. But first and foremost, art is not just a matter of learning how to cook a meal. It’s also the matter of choosing what you want to serve to the world. And no matter how clumsy the execution, the subject can be the most significant spice.

The Exploring Artist Begins on Sept 10 – Sign Up Now!

The Exploring Artist is a 12-week group coaching program for artists, between Sept 10 – Nov 30, 2018. This coaching is for you who wants to get clear about your artistic passion and become more open about your art, for example, share your art in social media, blog about art, sell your originals and prints, teach classes, etc.

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for you who wants to become more confident and get clear about your artistic passion. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

In The Exploring Artist, you will get coaching as a part of a small and tight-knit group. I will personally help you to put your passion into words and visual insights. We will work together to discover what you want to change in your art, where you want to move forward and how to do it. >> Sign up now!

 

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level

Paivi Eerola, a visual artist from Finland, talking about how to become more passionate in art.

What Does “Passionate” Mean to You?

This week, I had a free live webinar of how to conquer the excuses and become more passionate about art. I asked what does “passionate” mean to you and then divided it into four categories. After that, I re-phrased five excuses so that you see them from a new perspective. It may sound theoretical, but you also get ideas of how to apply these things in practice as well. I hope you will enjoy watching the recording below!

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level – The Recording of the Webinar

The Exploring Artist Begins on Sept 10 – Sign Up Now!

The Exploring Artist is a 12-week group coaching program for artists, between Sept 10 – Nov 30, 2018. This coaching is for you who wants to get clear about your artistic passion and become more open about your art, for example, share your art in social media, blog about art, sell your originals and prints, teach classes, etc.

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for you who wants to become more confident and get clear about your artistic passion. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

In The Exploring Artist, you will get coaching as a part of a small and tight-knit group. I will personally help you to put your passion into words and visual insights. We will work together to discover what you want to change in your art, where you want to move forward and how to do it.

The maximum number of the participants is 12,
and the early-bird sale ends on August 19 (midnight PST), so sign up now!

Daydreams about Art and Making Them Happen

A mini-sized painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

A gift to my sister: a small painting and a poem inspired by it

This week I want to blog about the impact that art can have on our dreams. It connects all of us who love art. No matter if you are a hobbyist or a professional or something in between, you can use art as a tool for connecting with yourself. When images evoke words or vice versa, it’s especially powerful. Often when I create, I feel the need to write my thoughts during the process, or after the session. Many of the images don’t have journaling on them, but I write my thoughts in notebooks. In art journals, I often have one page for journaling and another one for words.

Express Your Daydreams with Images and Words!

I have always loved knitting and how the steady flow of stitches makes me calm down. When I started creating art again over ten years ago, my mentality for it was pretty similar. I wanted to create with my hands, and my short art sessions were my playtime.

But soon I realized that art has other dimensions than following a pattern has. Instead of calming down, art increased my restlessness. This restlessness was energy that opened up new perspectives. In 2012, I wrote (a loose translation from Finnish):

“Needles are my brushes.
A pen is my hook.
Moments are stitches.
Have you seen any ornaments?
– Yes, up in the sky!
The world is my canvas.
Colors are my heart.

An art journal page and knitting projects by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read how she has processed her daydreams about becoming an artist!

Simple doodles made me re-think my approach to crafts, revealing new possibilities:
– Could I bring more art into my knitting?
– Is there something in my knitting that I could bring into my art?
– And then, is there something in all that that I could share with the world?

What could You bring to your art to get new inspiration and possibilities?

Art is Never Just About Art

I started running local workshops on making art journal pages. I knitted and sold unique drawstring pouches that were like canvases to me (later, I wrote a pattern book of these folk bags). I also attended some craft shows selling fabrics and cards that I had my doodles.

Here’s what I learned: Art is never just about art. Art embraces fields that have nothing to do with art. Art is inclusive rather than exclusive. It ties together rather than separates. When you are painting a portrait but suddenly come up with new ideas, incorporate the ideas into your portrait. When you feel totally out of focus, the answer is not to add more control, but to add more connections between all the things and every person that inspire you.

Fabrics designed by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Art is never about someone else’s passion, but about digging deeper into your own. No matter how much you admire someone else’s work, it won’t ever be as satisfying than what you can discover by following your passion. That’s why my artist coaching program The Exploring Artist begins with finding your passion and then moves forward to growing your ideas and putting your dreams into action. >> Sign up here!

The Exploring Artist, a coaching program for you who wants to own the big word "artist". By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

There are a limited number of seats, and the early-bird sale ends on Aug 19 midnight PST, so sign up soon!

Dreams into Action by Discovering Your Passion

In 2014, I wrote a blog post titled “I Dream to Create…” There I revealed my dreams about creating big pieces for the big audiences. I remember how silly, even a bit awkward, it felt to write all that out and then make images with Photoshop to visualize it all. “Go for it,” said many but I had no idea how.

However, there’s wisdom in our daydreams that we don’t often quite comprehend. Here’s how I see it:
– When your dream is just in your mind, the thoughts give you a momentary pleasure and relief.
– When your dream is visualized, the images give you a testbed: “Is this what I want?”
– When you accompany your vision with words, the words make you ponder: “How could I make this dream true?”
– When you find the passion behind the words and images, it feeds you to put the dreams into action.

The progress may first seem slow and often non-existent, but when you start creating in-line with your passion, the results will come. They are often something else than what you first dreamed but often better than what you could imagine back then.

An oil painting drying under the window. Painting by Paivi Eerola by Peony and Parakeet.

Now when the summer has been warm, I dry my oil paintings under the windows.

My Story as a Passionate Artist

The carrying theme in my dreams was to have a big audience. Art had become something that I no longer wanted to create just for myself. Here’s what happened after the blog post:
a) I started working as a full-time artist creating art classes. In 2014, I visualized a room full of colors and patterns. Now I create and run online classes full of similar inspiration.
b) I started selling and licensing my art. I made the big quilt that I dreamed about just a year after, as a commission in 2015.
c) When the technology evolved, I started broadcasting live. I love running live broadcasts, and more feel closer to my dream than ever before because of it. I can spread the love for art to big audiences without leaving my home. I get the similar vibe than if my art would be presented in a big event. I could have never known that in 2014, and I had no other way to connect my art with an audience than to imagine the concert and seeing my art on a big screen.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet running a live webinar about art

Nowadays I run live sessions in my classes, and I also have free public webinars now and then. Sometimes the live sessions are for hundreds of people, and sometimes they are more private. My coaching program The Exploring Artist is geared for a small group, and the sessions are both personal and intimate. Then it’s about You as an artist and how You can make dreams come true. >> Sign up here!

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level – Free Webinar on August 16!

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level - Free Live Webinar by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Reserve your spot: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/passionate

My next free live webinar is on Thursday, Aug 16th, 6 PM BST / 10 AM PDT.
You will get ideas about how to become more passionate and impactful as an artist, and this webinar works as a self-exploration too.
>> Reserve your spot here!