Creating Horse Art – Reawakened Love!

"Brave", a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my newest watercolor painting called “Brave” (for sale in my art store!) I got an idea of using a horse to symbolize bravery that comes with finding your passion(s). Isn’t it a romantic thought to see the passion as a horse inside us, rising from the depth and blowing strength!

Past Passion for Horses

Recently, I have found a lot to be passionate about. Many of those things have been inspiring to me as a child. but I have let them go for tens of years. One of these things is horses. I used to play a lot with toy horses, and I was also addicted to taking care of my hobby-horse, an ugly plastic blue thing! Sadly, I rarely saw real horses and I haven’t ever had a horse as a companion.

Hobby horse love

Once my parents took me to a field where a small horse farm offered horse-riding for children. They lifted me on a big Finnish Horse that had no saddle. Someone walked the horse, and I tried to keep myself sitting straight even if the back of the horse was really slippery. I made it to the center of the field and then fell off. The field offered a soft ground, and the horse didn’t step on me. They offered me a horse with a saddle, and it was much more comfortable! That’s most of the practical experience I have about horses. But of course, my theoretical knowledge was much more vast. As a child, I had borrowed all the possible horse books from the library and stayed busy building stables or crocheting rugs for the toy horses.

Finding the Creative Play with Horses Again

It must be early teenage years when I got alienated from the subject. Since then, I had never had a desire to own a horse, to ride a horse, or to do anything with horses. Until I participated in Inktober, the monthly drawing challenge. While making this drawing, my love for horses was reawakened.

"Double", horse art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

As adults, we easily ignore things that resonate with us but that don’t belong to our outer world. Even if we can draw and paint anything, we easily define ourselves with outer standards. If not having experience about real horses didn’t bother me as a child, it shouldn’t worry now either. I may not be a horsewoman in the outer world, but I can have a stable as big as I want in the inner world.

Creating Horse Art with Watercolors

I started the painting from the flowers and as usual, didn’t use any pencil sketch. It’s a bit risky way to create, but I love problem-solving and knowing exactly what to put and where is not always a practical solution for me. Here are some quick early stage pics! I used a reference loosely for the head of the horse.

I was painting happily but in the middle of the process, I was in trouble, not knowing how to finish the piece.  When working with watercolors, it’s especially tempting to just stop so that the painting doesn’t end up too dark.

Creating horse art - a watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

But here, I loved the idea and didn’t want to leave it looking unfinished and busy.

Planning in the Middle of the Project

I took a snapshot of the unfinished painting and made a plan in Photoshop. This is how I help my students all the time, and it’s a very handy skill to have!

Planning how to proceed with suggestions made in Photoshop. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The first image above is the starting point, and the next images are made in Photoshop. They demonstrate what changes should be made next. This time, I also followed the plan. But sometimes it happens, that I end up with a totally different solution but which would have never crossed my mind without the Photoshop play.

Late Night in the Studio

I like to paint so that I watch tv shows or video podcasts on my iPad at the same time. It can happen that I paint a romantic and profound piece and then watch a tv reality show that I can barely stand! Sometimes it feels like the worst the show, the better the painting becomes!

Creating horse art while watching Idols. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! What did you love as a child but that doesn’t show in your current creative life?

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet and her surreal horse art piece called "Brave"

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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!

Bad Ideas Make You a Better Artist!

Handdrawn Paper Doilies by Peony and Parakeet

About four years ago, I got a crazy idea to draw doilies on a watercolor paper and cut them out like they would be crocheted pieces.

Handpainted Paper Doilies – Not So Good Idea

Handpainted Paper Doilies, a phase photo, by Peony and Parakeet

The process of painting the background circles and then decorate them with doodles was so much fun that I got carried away and made plenty.

Handdrawn Paper Doilies by Peony and Parakeet

After I had finished a pile, I enthusiastically showed them to my husband: “Look what I have made!”
– “What are these?”, he said. “What are you going to make from these?”
– “Maybe I share the idea on my blog or make a big wall hanging by joining the circles together. Wouldn’t that be cool!?”

I saw it on his face. He didn’t get it. And furthermore, he didn’t want paper doilies on our walls either.

Mandala Madness

But to me, the doilies made perfect sense even if they weren’t crocheted. By painting them, I wanted to build a bridge from crafts to art. The paper doily was a raw idea, and as I, fortunately, learned later, raw ideas can look really bad at first.

Big Ideas Come from Bad Ideas

The idea of a doily translated into art didn’t leave me alone. Last year, three years after inventing it, I launched a workshop called Planet Color, where I teach people to paint abstract compositions.

Planet Color and Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

For the class, I needed a lot more ideas. I also needed to build a system and a structure that any beginner can follow. I needed to set it loosely so that everyone can use their imagination, but make it clear so that there would be no room for frustration. The idea of a paper doily was a seed, but it took some time to grow the flower.

Sowing flower seeds

Often when we admire other people’s art, we see the flowers instead of seeds. Most artists don’t show the seeds because many times, like in my case, they are pretty pathetic. Still, it’s the seeds, the raw ideas, that make the published work possible.

Finland 200 – Not So Good Idea

Before I started making a new big painting, I saw some elegant yet simple still lifes in my mind. I had just seen a superb piece of art, a Finnish sculptor Laila Pullinen’s bronze sculpture Spring in Man. So I wanted to start a new painting with the intention to create something grand and dramatic to celebrate Finland’s 100th anniversary. “This would be called Finland 200”, I declared.

First layers of an imaginative painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how you can turn your bad ideas into good ones!

After painting for a couple of hours or so, I began to wonder what I wanted to say. Starting the painting with this much drama felt like a bad idea, and I wasn’t convinced about the centerpiece either. Would that be some kind of mushroom or what? Then my bad ideas just got worse – I decided to continue by writing an imaginary story about Finland after 100 years.

Writing a story in an journal, by Peony and Parakeet

While quickly pouring the words out in my journal, I didn’t realize that I was actually writing a dystopia. The idea of a catastrophe in nature seemed exciting at first, but while painting, I realized that my visuals became very gloomy and weird-looking. I tried to make something positive out of it. I wrote a happy end to my story and painted a pink bubble with rare flowers inside it. That would be a new treasure of Finland, something everyone would want to come and see.

An imaginative painting in progress by Peony and Parakeet. Read how you can turn your bad ideas into good ones!

Even if the painting wasn’t finished yet, I already hated it. My original idea was bad enough, and now I had some more. I felt the despair rising.

New Vision – Imagination Takes the Lead

Luckily, I have a secret weapon in these situations. I connect with my passion and use the imagination to go to my happy place. It sets the mood, reminds why I create art and loads the right atmosphere into my mind while I am creating. The side of me that wants to control steps back and the side of me that is good at persuading re-evaluates the work.

– “What about changing the orientation of the painting,” she said.
– “And lose all the hard work?”, my pessimistic side responded.
– “No, nothing would be lost, we would just add a little bit of color to it.”
– “Color? What color?”
– “Brown,” she said cheerfully.
– “Why on earth would I pick brown of all the colors?”

And then she reminded me gently of my passion, about what inspires me and how I can feel free.

Phase photos of an imaginative painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how you can turn your bad ideas into good ones!

And she was right. I loved the painting after adding layers with umber. It became clear to me what the painting would be. Not Finland 200, but expressing something that has been here for hundreds of years and most probably stays the same for the next hundred: nature’s wonders when exploring the garden. I continued the painting by adding flowers that I have had in the garden. I adjusted the elements in the first layers so that they became the building blocks of the new vision.

Garden-inspired painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My painting is not finished yet, but it’s already a good example of how the raw ideas can be translated to more inspiring ideas with the help of imagination.

Bad Art, Bad Ideas – Also Behind This Blog Post!

Before I wrote this blog post, I decorated my work planner to get ideas for it. I cut pretty ladies from a wedding magazine and put funny hats on them. While creating this, I thought how this kind of activity would be seen something that a “real artist” would not do, yet it’s essential to me to have a bit of play regularly. So that’s how I got the idea of revealing some bad ideas and how essential this kind of exploration is for producing work that you want to publish.

A planner spread using images from a wedding magazine. By Peony and Parakeet.

When Your Best Art Exists Only in Your Mind

Before I started making the paper doilies, I had wonderful daydreams inspired by my beautiful yarn stash. By seeing beautiful images in my mind, I came up with my bad idea, the ugly version of those daydreams.

Daydreaming is good, but it’s not successful when you try to translate something you see in your mind to paper. The creative process rarely works so literally. The images in our minds are often vague. Copying them detail by detail is practically impossible. The imagination is more like the leader who supports your art making, not a manager who controls it or the specialist who does the work. During the recent years, I have developed a method of using imagination to connect with the passion of creating art. I teach this method in the group coaching program called The Exploring Artist.

6 Steps to Making an Impact

6 steps to making an impact with your art. Sign up for the Exploring Artist, a group coaching program by Peony and Parakeet!

The Exploring Artist helps you to connect the play with your deeper passion and use that to move forward in all levels of art-making. During this program, you will:
– lead yourself by playing and imagining
– grow ideas from your personal feelings and experiences
– remove blind spots and build skills through the challenges
– get confident in publishing your art, whether it’s just friends or a bigger group of your people

The Exploring Artist is also about connecting and soul-searching within a friendly group. We will work through 6 steps and have live group coaching sessions, where your art and your art-making is in focus.

This is not a class where you create after me and try to get the similar result. It’s for you who wants to get support and guidance for creating freely from your personal standpoint. You can use any media you are comfortable with and apply the methods to your visual project(s). If you feel that you are “all over the place,” and want to find a creative direction, The Exploring Artist is the program for you!

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for new artists by Peony and Parakeet

The Exploring Artist will come back in 2018 – Subscribe to my emails to be the first to know!

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