Painting My Mind’s Eye – Abstract Color Fun!

"My Mind's Eye" - Abstract Color Fun by Peony and Parakeet. See Paivi's class "Planet Color"

I call this art journal spread “My Minds Eye.” It has one central element that resembles both an eye and a compass. Isn’t that how things are for visual people: seeing interesting things evokes all kinds of thoughts and lead to all sorts of paths? Like this morning when I had to stop on a walk to admire fragile ice on water puddles. When I was standing there, I wished that nobody sees my weirdness. I was staring at the ground, holding a phone to get photos, with two beagles that were very impatient, eager to move forward.

Ice is melting in Finland

Maybe the beginning of the spring made me paint with hot tones, and the ice most probably inspired me to include a similar translucent element in the painting.

A detail of "My Mind's Eye" by Peony and Parakeet. See Paivi's class Planet Color for painting fun abstracts!

7-step Method of Planet Color Used for Abstract Color Fun

I created the spread by following the 7-step method that I developed for the class Planet Color. I have repeated this process many times because it’s a fun and worry-free way to paint unique abstracts. For example, see the blog posts What’s in a Good Composition?, Using Color Schemes for Home Decor, and How to Transform Ideas into Paintings. I know I am not the only one who worries about the composition while painting and the 7-step method makes everything fall into place effortlessly.

Art journal spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This is called "My Mind's Eye" and it's made with a method that she has developed for the class Planet Color.

Masking tape was used to frame the piece. I haven’t done that a lot in my journals, but I like the result.

Paivi's studio. By Peony and Parakeet.

My husband made me a new easel from an upright support of a shelving unit. It’s so handy and adjustable that I have started to use it a lot. I can use it even for art journal pages, not only for canvas art.

Planet Color – Sign up Now!

Planet Color, an online workshop for abstract color fun. By Peony and Parakeet.

I ran Planet Color for the first time last fall, but it’s coming back now! Whether you want to paint art journal pages, thick paper or canvases, this is a fun online workshop. It’s suitable for beginner painters and all who struggle with color compositions. >> Sign up here!

Video: How to Move from Figurative to Abstract Art?

A small watercolor abstract and it's details, by Peony and Parakeet. See the video about creating abstract art!

I made a video blog post again. This time I answered to a reader’s question about how to open up to create unique and abstract art. This video is especially for you who wants to move from figurative to abstract art.

In the end of the video, I paint an abstract-themed postcard with watercolors. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it!

How to Move from Figurative to Abstract Art?

Paul Klee and the Art of Learning

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and a new painting in progress.

This blog post is a personal story about being a student of Paul Klee. I will also share my thoughts about art classes and about their effect.

Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook

It was a late evening in the beginning of July – one of those white nights that take place in the middle of summer in Finland. When the sun is up, it’s more tempting to stay awake than to go to sleep. It also felt better to pick a brush and paint than to slow down with knitting or watching tv. My brain activity was high. I didn’t want just paint, I wanted to learn something new.

While pondering about learning, I remembered a thin book that had been on my shelf for a while. It was borrowed from a library few weeks ago and I hadn’t opened it since. The title was called “Pedagoginen luonnoskirja” – Pedagogical Sketchbook, written by a famous abstract artist Paul Klee in 1925. The original version was written in German. In 1953, it was translated into English and finally into Finnish in 1997.  The long time span proves that the book has some ever-lasting content. But when I began to examine the first chapters with the brush in my hand, it seemed very uninspiring. The pages were black and white, no color, but the worst thing was: it looked like a math book! It had formulas, diagrams, references to geometry, anatomy, physics … What was I thinking about when I borrowed this book!

Abstract Art Theory for the Left Brain

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet learning from Paul Klee's Pedagogigal Sketchbook.

But then, I remembered that my artistic side wasn’t playing along when I found the book at the library. Being so thin, it could hardly be seen on the shelves filled with thick art books. Seeing its cover, my engineering side that got interested: can there be formulas for art? Is this the book that teaches the left brain to understand the right brain?

So even if I had my art journal open on the table and paints ready on the palette, I decided to switch gears and start reading the book – slowly and carefully like engineers do. After a couple of minutes, I was hooked. I was mesmerized by the world the book presented. Phenomenoms familiar from my physics studies were tied into modern abstract art. The book was broken into three parts. Each part contained short chapters. like tiny lessons. I decided to begin studying each chapter so that the engineer in me would read the it first. Then she would explain it to my artistic side who in turn, would fill an art journal page by playing with the concepts.

Side note: Interested in the book? Here’s a link to Amazon.com. There’s also a free PDF of the book available if you google it but I don’t link it here, as it may be an illegal copy.

Paul Klee’s Ideas in Practise

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

When I eagerly studied the book, I felt I had a teacher, Paul Klee himself. It was exciting to listen to him talking about muscular movement, material structures, disturbed balance, how the perspective is experienced or how the blood circulates in a body. And most of all, how it’s all connected to visual communication and visual art. I imagined being one of his many students and even one of the most enthusiastic ones. I was constantly raising my hand, not only asking questions but also questioning: how did you come up with this idea, why have you omitted this fact?

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

Do These Ideas Suit My Style?

Even if I was painting and reading like a maniac from one chapter to another, I was also in doubt. Stiff figures that I painted looked very old-fashioned to me. I had a teacher who hadn’t experienced the digital age, who hadn’t seen or created any contemporary art. “Tell me, Paul Klee, do these rules apply to many styles, including mine?”, I kept asking.

Art journal page inspired by Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, by Peony and Parakeet.

But despite of the constant battle in my mind, I couldn’t put the book away. I went from one chapter to another and eagerly waited what my teacher would present in the next one. And when the last chapter was completed, I felt sad to leave the classroom and say good bye to my teacher. During the session, I had completed three big art journal spreads. They all looked like the middle of 20th century to me. The session seemed to be nothing else but a fun engagement when the sun finally set down.

The Aftermath of Learning

Abstract art by Peony and Parakeet

During the next weeks, I saw sudden climpses of Paul Klee. When I was taking photos, drawing, painting or just observing, Paul Klee’s theories began to merge with my own thinking and with my own style. The three spreads that I had made were exercises only. Once I left the classroom, I was free to apply those theories where suitable. This is what happens in every art class. You might think that the exercises are not fit for you. You might have doubts if the class fits your current style. And when you leave the class you might think: “Oh well, I don’t know if I ever do this again.”

But like the blood needs oxygen, creativity needs new theories, techniques and ideas. They are not threat to your style, they are essential to continue developing your style. That’s one main reason why I challenge you to learn new techniques at Imagine Monthly (you can still sign up!). That’s also a reason why I will be inviting you to join my newest online painting workshop, starting in October.

Coming Up: New Painting Workshop

I am really excited about this! Be assured that I will have something special for the beginners and a lot of new to focus on for the more advanced painters. The theme for the class is expressing nature. The registration for the new workshop will open next week with a short-time early bird pricing. I will give more details about the class then.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and her painting in progress.

While building the class I have practiced the techniques and ideas on a big canvas. This painting is still in progress, but I want to show it to you just to be able to compare the art journal pages above and how Paul Klee’s teachings has merged into my own style. That’s what’s my goal with you too: that you’ll have fun time with the classes and that you will be able to mix new things with what you already know and love.

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Coloring Abstract Art – Watch the Video!

Coloring abstract art on a blank art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet. See the video!

Coloring abstract art on a blank page is so much fun. Layering colors and discovering new shapes is like an adventure!

I created this freely colored abstract art piece onto my biggest art journal and recorded the process and some thoughts about coloring on a blank page. The video also introduces my newest e-book Coloring Freely.

Start your journey with colored pencils: Buy Coloring Freely!

Video: Abstract Painting

Wheel Mechanics, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet
I made this abstract mixed media painting last fall and it has been waiting in the queue ever since as I also recorded a video of the process and had no time editing it.

The painting is called “Wheel Mechanics”. It expresses my thoughts about how good engineering, design and art are connected together but maybe you see something else? With abstract art, it’s good to present a basic idea (in this case: “merging”) in such a general level that it leaves room for interpretations. That’s one of the main difficulties in creating abstract art, I think.

I was about to make a video introducing my online classes so I combined the two together. You can watch me painting + get info about the classes.

Inspirational Drawing is the next class!

Inspirational Drawing, an art class for those who want to draw without boundaries

It’s my “the drawing class” and especially good for you who wants to enjoy drawing without boundaries. See these blog posts for fabulous drawings created by the students of this class: Explore by Drawing!, Do You Have a Talent for Creating Art? and sign up now!

5 Steps to an Abstract Landscape

http://Soil, Sun and Rain, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

Let’s paint together! The idea for this painting came from nature. Have you noticed that when the sun shines after the rain, everything sparkles! It’s so beautiful!

Snowbells after the rain, in Finland

Soil, the sun and rain – even if they are different from one another, they all work together to make plants prosper. In the painting, the soil is made with colored pencils, the sun with acrylic paints and the rain with watercolors. These art supplies are so basic but they also work so well together! Watch the video and create your own abstract landscape – “Soil, Sun and Rain”!

More instructions for watercolors: Buy Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting

What Are the Cornerstones of Your Art?

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I have always loved abstract paintings. It occurred to me just recently that even if I rarely create realistic art, I rarely go to extremes in abstract. 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 distinct colors – those are what I always seem to aim.

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

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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 stopped to watch the watercolored surface and tried to figure out how to create something a little bit different with them.

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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.

 

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

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Then I remembered the photos that I love to shoot. I adjust the shutter speed 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.

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

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Drama and Contrasts in Art

Counterforces, a painting by Peony and Parakeet. See the video of how to include drama in your painting!

This is my latest painting called “Counterforces”. The idea for this came from the books that I have read recently. They are Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. I picked 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 result as well.

Create Contrasts and Suspense – Watch the Video!

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

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More Time, Better Art?

Rococo, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

This artwork was inspired by Rococo, 18th-century-period style with curves, asymmetry, gold, and ornaments. When I think of Rococo, I think of time. Those elaborate women’s dresses: how long did it take to sew them? Or the porcelain table clocks, how many people, how many months did it took to get one finished and working?

The time we are living at the moment is totally different. Not that I want to spend half of my life to embroider one chair. But I cannot help thinking: sometimes we create quantity but not quality. We get frustrated of our lacking skills, lacking vision, but often, there’s a simple solution: time. Instead of creating three pages in a week to your art journal, make one.

Creativity needs time. The first thoughts are often the least innovative. When we take the time to dig deeper, we reach frustrations, but also new solutions.

Working in short periods of time

Creating of a mixed media painting by Peony and parakeet

I used to have a difficult time working in phases. I wanted my work to be finished at one go. Leonardo da Vinci certainly did not have problems with that. He spent over ten years painting Mona Lisa. He did not dedicate all of that time to one painting; he did other things too. But he let his subconscious work during the breaks.  So, while waiting for the watercolor to dry, I engaged myself in other activities.

Creating a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

I built the foundation for this work with several thin layers of watercolors. Then I worked with colored pencils and watercolors to add details. Thin, flat brush is my favorite when adding details with paint.

Creating a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

Some might call it finished, but I wanted to add tension and interest. As this was about rococo, some shimmer seemed appropriate!

Rococo glitter!

Creating a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet. Using Inka Gold.

I have few colors of Inka Gold, beeswax based metal paint. They seemed just right for this artwork. And speaking of Rococo, some gold would be appropriate too. I love Golden brand’s gold acrylic paint.

Golden acrylics gold paint. A photo by Peony and Parakeet.

Finishing

I added some hand decorated papers to add variation and continued completing the tiny details.

Rococo, a detail of a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

The size of the artwork is 12 inches by 12 inches. It took about three days from start to finish.

Rococo, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

The quality of one artwork cannot be measured by the time the artist spent with it. Great art can be born quickly when the skills and the creativity meet. But on the other hand, if you want to improve your art and increase your creativity, why not focus on one artwork for a bit longer time.

What do you think? Can you make time work for you?

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Intarsia in Watercolor

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Last week I visited a fascinating exhibition. The gallery displayed Yoshinobu Nakamura’s wood intarsia art. Yoshinobu Nakamura is a Japanese artist living in Finland. He creates masterpieces by combining tiny wooden pieces. I was deeply impressed how the characteristics of various tree species and specimens showed in his work. I wanted to try the subtle color scheme and some kind of intarsia myself. And I did, only using watercolors and watercolor paper instead of natural wooden blocks!

Love for Tiny Pieces

Speaking of tiny pieces of paper, I have always loved them. When I was a teenager, I cut the pieces from magazines and made a mosaic type of work. Some of them never got finished as they were painfully slow to create!

Paper Mosaics by Peony and Parakeet

Years later, I made a pen holder for my husband using paper scraps cut from magazines. I carefully covered every surface that could be reached and finished the penholder with gel medium. It has survived at least ten years!

Carboard Penholder Covered with Paper Pieces, by Peony and Parakeet

Watercolor Paper Intarsia

But this intarsia project was going to be different from mosaic work. I would not only cut the paper into small pieces but also adjust each piece in line with others! I started the project by painting the papers. For some of the painted areas, I also added lines resembling wood grains with a black drawing pen.

Watercolor papers by Peony and Parakeet

Next, I tried cutting the pieces. I discovered that they have to be put on top of each other, right side up. The cut line will then fit perfectly.

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I used masking tape to attach the cut pieces together.

Instructions for Paper Intrasia, by Peony and Parakeet

The big piece that I made looked pretty interesting. But it looked even better when the geometric shapes were cut out of it!

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I painted one watercolor paper to look like pine wood. The spotty paper was found from the stash. After hours of cutting and adjusting, the artwork was finally finished. See, all the papers are on the same level, not on top of each other! With intarsia technique, you can use thick papers for collage art!

Watercolor Paper Intarsia, imitating wood with watercolors by Peony and Parakeet

My belief in watercolors continues to stay strong. I love how easy it was to imitate wood with them!

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Paper Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Once the artwork was put together, I attached the piece, with masking tape background and all, onto a white watercolor paper using gel medium. I think I call it “Rolling Stones.” Have fun with this technique!

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