Mixed Media Seascapes – 5 Tips for Expressive Art

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Sometimes I regret creating my art on the journals. When I created these mixed media seascapes for the mini-course Stormy Scenery, I wanted to keep the journals open and visible for days just to get back with the process and look at all the colors. And when I saw what my students had created, I secretly wished the same – that not so many weren’t in journals but frames. I want to share some art made from the mini-course and share some tips for expressive seascapes.

1) Play with Colors!

When creating the waves, show how the water reflects the colors from its surroundings. When there’s a storm, there will be a lot that’s moving, and it will affect the colors too. You can show your current state of mind as the sea and bring out the variety of thoughts and feelings. See how Claudia Watkins has made a row of waves with various colors.

Claudia Watkins, UK. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Claudia Watkins, UK

2) Create a Connection Between The Sky and The Sea!

If the sea represents you and the sky represents the outside world, how do they interact? Susan Rajkumar has expressed the connection in a brilliant way. It looks like the sea is willing to hug the sun and the overall feeling in the piece is warm and happy.

Susan Rajkumar, India. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Susan Rajkumar, India

Sheila McGruer’s sun has left the sea, and it has caused an explosion of energy.

Sheila McGruer, Australia. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Sheila McGruer, Australia

Sheila’s piece also has the softness which takes us to the next tip …

3) Express the Softness of Water

Cheryl Rayner shows the softness with both long strokes and splashes of water. With softness, you can practice gentleness towards yourself and others.

Cheryl Rayner, USA. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Cheryl Rayner, USA

4) Show The Movement of The Waves

Enjoy the transformation that happens when you focus on creating art! Strokes and lines express the movement. Lorraine Cline’s green sea is captivating because it’s wonderfully dynamic!

Lorraine Cline, USA. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Lorraine Cline, USA

Terttu Laitinen has the great eye of the storm.

Terttu Laitinen, Finland. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Terttu Laitinen, Finland

5) Make The Scene Look 3-Dimensional!

In any scene and any mind, some things are closer, and some things are further away. Add more 3-dimensional look to make some elements more blurry and some sharper than others. Satu Kontuvuori has a striking focal point where sharp white waves are on the top of the blurry black eye of the storm.

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland

Mackie d’Arge also has a clear focal point and lots of less defined splashes around it.

Mackie d'Arge, USA. One of the mixed media seascapes from Peony and Parakeet's class Stormy Scenery.

Mackie d’Arge, USA

Internal Seascapes – Connect with Your Internal Energy!

The mixed media seascapes shown in this blog posts are made from the mini-course Stormy Scenery which was part of my Imagine Monthly Spring series last year. You can now purchase it individually too. When creating Stormy Scenery, I was inspired by the long chain of seascape painters, especially by J.M.W. Turner and Ivan Aivazovski. I also have a Pinterest board called Internal Seascapes where I have collected inspirational sea paintings.

But in Stormy Scenery, more than just to paint the sea, I coach you through the process of opening up and bringing out your expression. With the mini-course, you are not so much mimicking the sea outside but expressing the power inside. I believe that every artist has a unique power as well as every day has a unique energy.

Create Mixed Media Seascapes!

Use colored pencils, watercolors, and acrylic paints to create expressive mixed media art!
>> Click here to buy Stormy Scenery!

Stormy Scenery, an art journaling mini-course by Peony and Parakeet

P.S. If you want more personal guidance and community support to get deeper in self-expression, you can still sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0!

Create Internal Seascapes!

Stormy Scenery by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her mini-course for creating internal seascapes!

This is my latest mini-course for Imagine Monthly. It’s last of the six mini-courses of the spring season. The theme, a stormy sea, is so expressive that I included a special mental coaching session for each step in the video.

Inspiration for Seascapes

My main inspiration for the course came from the two famous painters: Joseph Mallord William Turner and Ivan Aivazovsky, both masters of expressing storm and water. I also studied contemporary artists, one of which is from my home country, a Finnish painter Petri Ala-Maunus.

A painting by Petri Ala-Maunus at Kiasma, Finland

One of his masterpieces can be seen at Kiasma, which is a museum of contemporary art in Helsinki. Just went there a few weeks ago and will again, the main reason being just this gorgeous painting!

For me, Petri Ala-Maunus’s work is an internal landscape. It’s like a view to the inner world with valleys and mountains, seas and storms, ready to be explored and seen again and again. I would like to see a painting like this in the evening of a rough day and then again in the morning, to get my energy flowing.

So, aren’t powerful seascapes a perfect theme for creating art journal spreads? See my Pinterest board Internal Seascapes for more inspiration!

Art journals with stormy seascapes by Peony and Parakeet

My Versions of Internal Seascapes

I made the first version before recording the process in the video. I am also talking about the details of this one on the mini-course.

Stormy Scenery by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her mini-course for creating internal seascapes!

The next one is the mixed media painting that I create in the course video. It has six steps, and it’s very easy to start! I also explain how to get connected with your emotions when creating the painting. The mindset changes, as the painting progresses. This way you will get the expressive and layered result in the end. The mini-course also gives a lot of guidance on how to finish your work.

Stormy Scenery by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her mini-course for creating internal seascapes!

Imagine Monthly – From Fine Arts to Art Journaling

The community of Imagine Monthly has meant a lot to me this spring. A few years ago, I really missed talking about fine arts and how to apply them to art journaling and mixed media. It feels amazing that I have now found so many like-minded people through my classes. So this last mini-course of Imagine Monthly is partly my gift for the participants. I have put my truly best effort to make the best class possible. It also has a longer video, 45 minutes instead of the regular 30 minutes.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with her seascape paintings

Create Internal Seascapes!
Imagine Monthly Spring is over, but you can buy it as a self-study class! >> Buy Imagine Monthly Spring Bundle
Stormy Scenery is also available as an individual mini-course! >> Buy Stormy Scenery

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, but I also talk about the emotions and the inspiration behind them. I will answer your questions and help you adjust the process so that it will work for you. You can start enjoying free drawing without wondering what to draw or how to draw. The process itself will take care of that!

>> Sign up now!

Force Yourself to Experiment!

Discus Fish, an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet. Combining realistic drawing and drawing from imagination.

One day at the local library, I browsed the latest issue of International Artist magazine. I must confess that I had to force myself to do that as the magazine showcases a lot of traditional and realistic art, landscapes, and portraits. Especially in the recent ten years, I have been more interested in examining what is seen inside my head, reflected from outside world, than to illustrate the exact images of the outside world. But now and then I like to force myself to examine things that I don’t feel drawn. It makes me more open and allows me to pick ideas that are hidden behind processes that I am unlikely to obey.

So I gave myself a task: pick any photo and draw one element from it! After drawing and coloring the element I was allowed to fill the rest of the art journal page freely. So if I followed the boring routine, I was able to treat myself in the end.

Choosing the Photo

My husband has an aquarium, and I love it. Just recently he bought five new discus fish. I happened to take a photo once they were released to the tank. I thought that this image would be just perfect for the purpose. The more I art journal, the more I think of it as a diary. It’s mainly a diary of my inner world, but this fish is so beautiful that I could happily let it swim to my imaginary world as well.

Blue Diamond discus fish

Realistic Drawing – Sketching the Fish

I don’t usually use a pencil as I like every stroke to be visible. However, this time, I followed the artists from International Artist magazine: they all seem to use pencil or charcoal for sketching. I drew a simple sketch of the fish taking care of proportions more than the details.

Sketching a discus fish by using a photo as a guideline, by Peony and Parakeet

Coloring the Fish

I followed the photo in color choices as well. I just made each of the color more vibrant. While coloring, I also added more details to the fish.

Discus Fish with colored pencils, by Peony and Parakeet. Combining realistic drawing with more free-form elements

After the fish had been finished, I gave myself the freedom to doodle my heart out.


Coloring the fish with colored pencils did not feel particularly inspirational. But when I began adding colors to the mess I had made around the fish, all the fun began! I was able to do anything – yes anything! I thought about water flowing and bubbling freely, and everything started to look more loose and alive, even the fish.

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

Lessons Learned

After finishing the page, I asked myself, could I create more pages this way: combine realistic drawing with more imaginary elements. Yes, I could. But I think that it would be more fun to create it all freely: drawing the central element first with extra care and then adding surrounding elements. Or pick elements from various photos and construct a scene that way or … All in all, I got few new ideas, and this was a good experiment!

However, I know now why I love drawing that is liberated from all the expectations. It is much more fun and exciting! I also believe that it is good for us to both see and process what we think and feel. It is so liberating to let it all come out on the paper.

Discus Fish, an art journal page with colored pencils by Peony and Parakeet. This started as a realistic drawing and then moved forward.

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Move Towards the Flow State!

Waterfall, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet, and instructions on how to get into the flow state

This mixed media painting is called Waterfall. It is inspired by the light in dark spaces.

Last week, I visited two places with old glass windows. The first was National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. The second was the Finnish painter Pekka Halonen’s summer cottage “Halosenniemi” in Tuusula. Both of them were built at the beginning of 20th century. Despite their windows, there’s fairly dark inside. While walking there, I saw how dark colors can be seen as soft and how daylight can look sharp.

Halosenniemi, Finland and bottles of spray ink for examining the light and the dark

Perhaps the especially hot summer weather had it’s role too. No wonder I thought so positively about shadows and … water! I was tempted to use color sprays for this artwork. That way I could work outside and move around while creating.

A Big Mess with Acrylic Paints

Before spraying, I used acrylic paints to create color areas. They would work as a resist so that I could reveal them again after spraying. But the most important thing with the acrylics was: I grabbed a wide brush and said goodbye to rational thinking.

When you start with big brushes and create intersecting layers, you will naturally get into the creative mood. You will also begin to move. It’s often necessary to even stand up to make those big strokes wide enough. Check the front page of Heikki Marila’s website. He is a Finnish painter who creates huge paintings inspired by art history. See how those paintings are created, lots of movement there!

Also remember to change and mix colors as often as possible! Think that you are climbing towards the flow state where the creativity meets the happiness! Each interruption, the change in the movement and color, is one step closer to the flow.

Waterfall, the phase photo by Peony and Parakeet

The mess that I created with acrylics made my rational side cry and emotional side warm up. I was ready to get some fresh air and start even the bigger mess with sprays.

Entering the Flow State using Spray Mists and Handcut Stencils

Waterfall, a phase photo by Peony and Parakeet

Here’s the first sprayed layer. Moving around the lawn and shaking the spray bottles were like a jump towards the flow state. I shook away the last rational thoughts and entered the happy state. I was flying.

Now, this is important: Be prepared to work quickly! When you get creative, you will get faster. There should be no need to rationalize what to do next or where to get the materials. They all have to be there. I had taken the scissors and a piece of paper with me. That allowed me to create stencils while waiting the layers to dry. I had also set up the blow dryer near the back door.

Spraying with ink, entering the flow state, by Peony and Parakeet

Running around the back garden with spray bottles, then inside to dry layers, then back again, I sprayed about five layers in total. As a result, I got the ugly mess shown in the photo right below. But I was not worried. I thought it looked amazing! One good thing when moving towards the flow: the inner critic leaves far behind!

I ended the day with spraying some areas with water. When wiping some of the spray ink away the acrylic paint areas were revealed.

Waterfall, the phase photo by Peony and Parakeet

Next morning I had a problem to solve. How to finish the painting? I decided to create small geometric shapes with colored pencils to resemble the sharpness that light creates to the dark space.

Finishing with Colored Pencils

When using big brushes and big movements, creating details with small strokes adds interest and balance.

Using colored pencils over inks and acrylic paint

Colored pencils are wonderful to highlight the best and reshape the worst areas. When working with small details, I try to focus on one small area at the time.


In the “big” phase, my focus was in the big picture. Now, when working small, my focus is in the details.


Balanced Composition

When I had gone through all the areas, I began to look at the big picture again. Then I made the final tweaks. So here it is:

Waterfall, upside down, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

Hmm … wait a minute! Now it is upside down! Well, while coloring the work, I thought the direction would be this. But then, I noticed that it could be any of these three:

Waterfall, which side up? By Peony and Parakeet

If the composition is balanced, the work will look balanced in any directions. By changing the direction, you can test if your composition is successful. Still, I rarely come to the result where changing the direction not only works but also tells the same story. I think that moving around the lawn had an impact here!

Experiment this in your art: Try to include physical movement into your creative process!

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Wait till the Painting is Finished

Intuitive art in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

What’s the definition of art? For me, art happens when something unexpected is allowed to step in to the creative process. Today’s story begins with the watercolor background that I painted without further thinking. Just had some fun with my favorite media. Water colors are so easy, light and forgiving!

After the background had dried, I decided to increase the color intensity in some spots with color pencils. I did not mean to start doodling but those pencils spoke to me: “Come on, let us dance a little”. How could I say no!

Painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

At some point I got deeper in my thoughts. I saw something happening in the painting.

Painting in progress, a detail, by Peony and Parakeet

The strokes of acrylic paint shortened. Some collage papers were added. The smaller the area I worked, the clearer the big picture looked. That phase was so exciting! Like opening the door and getting ready for the view.

Painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

Style Change

Once the painting was finished, I heard my own comment: “You’ve been there before. The colors, the atmosphere – nothing new here! Get your greys and paint it over!” And then, louder: “Jump, JUMP!” And while my left brain cried and right brain celebrated, I mixed the greys and painted how I felt and what I longed for.

The Unexpected, mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet. This went through a style change!

I could have stopped at any phase and declare the painting finished. But after jumping from cliff to cliff I found something new: the beauty of blacks, the simplicity behind my decorative style! So, my advice is: when you think about tossing that art journal page or craft project, don’t do that. Step towards the unexpected and let art reveal what you have escaped from!

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Dancing with Imagination – Mermaid Illustration

Dancing With Imagination, an art journaling page, illustration by Peony and Parakeet

The reason why I have been practising by drawing millions of circles, again and again, is this: I want to express myself through illustration. I want to put my imagination into work and make my toughts and dreams visible.

Dancing With Imagination, a detail of an art journaling page, illustration by Peony and ParakeetAnd I have more dreams. You might remember that I painted icons when I was a child. It led me to dream about painting new kind of icons: images that are not connected to any particular religion but which have the similar uplifting effect.

Now I have understood that I want to dance with the imagination, go beyond, not only religion, but also reality. I want to illustrate imaginitive stories, fairy tales, and use them to uplift myself and hopefully others too.

I have found this through art journaling. I have made many ugly pages before I have realized: I can take any direction I want with my art, with my thinking.

I want to cherish the power of imagination and welcome you to do so too!

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