Freedom and Fear of Drawing – with Students of Peony and Parakeet

Asian Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I dedicate this blog post for drawing, but I want to talk about cross stitching first. It’s one of my long-time hobbies, and I find it relaxing. I don’t have to make any decisions, use any imagination, just follow the chart, and the result will be just like I wanted it to be. Cross stitching is like a simple house plant. If you give a little bit of time for it fairly regularly, it will grow even if it doesn’t feel like so at first.

Paivi likes cross stitching

I can choose complicated charts or simple ones, and easily adjust the attention required for stitching. But there’s one problem that always remains: pixelation. Each image is made from single square-shaped stitches. No matter how complicated the design is or thick the fabric is, the pixelation is there.

Christmas at Gingerbread Lane, a cross stitching project in progess

Working with single stitches is not only a visual problem. It’s also a problem if we want to create more freely. Then we need a medium that allows faster and more flexible thinking. Like drawing. There are many kinds of drawing styles. When I want to experience creative freedom, I don’t do sketching using a pre-made model. (The photo shows a recent Renaissance-style painting in progress. I have designed it first in Photoshop.)

A sketch for a Renessaince style painting, by Peony and Parakeet

A Fear for Freedom – A Fear of Drawing

When I want to feel free, I don’t want models. Then it’s just a blank paper and a pen and a wish for a glimpse of imagination.

But freedom and fear are strangely connected. About three years ago, when I planned to leave my day job and start an art business, I warned myself. I told how I would no longer be anyone noticeable. I would have no office, no place to go every day, no colleagues to discuss with, no job title, no respect from others, no self-esteem. I would live in the darkest edge of the society and completely against the way of life I was taught. With these stories, I tried to prevent myself making the life change, and at the same time, I knew I had to try it. I had to turn the page and start a completely blank one.

Drawing on a blank page, by Peony and Parakeet.

I often connect with the same fear when I start drawing. That I am no one, that I have no power, that it is overwhelming and I don’t know what to do. But then, it’s the same gate that leads to the most wonderful feeling: the feeling of freedom.

Before I left my day job, I started to follow other self-employed women online. I listened to podcasts where they told their stories, and they all had one thing in common. They had put what they already know into use and then learned more. It made me list all the skills that I had and be more content about the decision I had made.

Paivi just before her life change

Drawing Factory Teaches You to Draw from Stick Figures

Still, on this day, I find it both assuring and inspiring to acknowledge what is already there before starting something new. So last year, I wanted to create a mini-course about line drawing, using the same philosophy. That was how Drawing Factory was born. It teaches you to start from stick figures and then move on to flowing lines and more imaginative illustrations.

Drawing Factory, a line drawing mini-course that helps you to lose your fear of drawing. By Peony and Parakeet.

Student Artwork

I offered Drawing Factory as a part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016, the series of monthly mini-courses. See some of the gorgeous pieces that my students have made from the course! Another central theme in the course is Japan, the land of pretty details and high productivity and that has inspired Denise Dineen, Linda Robson, Christie Juhasz, Stepanie Carney, Marie Jerred, and Kathy Gallant, too.

Denise Dineen, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Linda Robson, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Christie Juhasz, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Stephanie Carney, USA. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Marie Jerred, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Kathy Gallant, Canada. Student Artwork from the mini-course Drawing Factory.

Overcome Your Fears for Line Drawing – Buy Drawing Factory!

Drawing Factory is now available as a single self-study class. >> Click here to buy!
You can also buy the whole bundle of five art journaling classes, published last year as Imagine Monthly Fall 2016.

Thank you for supporting my journey now and during the last three years!

Start Drawing from Stick Figures!

Drawing Factory, a mini-course about drawing with the help of stick figures. As part of Imagine Monthly Fall 2016. By Peony and Parakeet.

If you browse my blog posts this fall, you would think that I have been painting only. But no, I have drawn too! I’m really happy about my recent mini-course that is available as a part of Imagine Monthly! It’s called Drawing Factory as it’s about drawing efficiently no matter what your current drawing skills are. Plus it’s inspired by Japan, the land of high-production factories and fascinating culture.

Drawing ATC Cards

I got the idea for the mini-course in summer when I got the urge to draw a series of ATC cards.
Hand-drawn ATC cards by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I had so much fun drawing these! While drawing, I thought about how much people use stamping instead of drawing in ATC cards. I felt liberated without them, drawing freely. How could I make hand-drawing more attractive and enjoyable?

Drawing with the Help of Stick Figures

Along drawing this big bunny art journal spread, I developed a series of tips and tricks about how you can create imaginative line drawings without tedious sketching.

Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

My method is based on stiff lines as people often say: ” I can only draw a stick figure!” But sticks can be an answer, not a problem!

From a stick figure to an illustration. By Peony and Parakeet. Japanese Bunny, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Paivi's class Drawing Factory teaches creating elaborate illustrations with the help of stick figures.

The panda is the project that I am creating in the class video. The video also includes a drawing lesson where I show how to build drawings, or should I say rich illustrations, based on simple lines.

Asian Panda in Japan, an illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her class Drawing Factory teaches creating illustrations with the help of stick figures.

Buy Drawing Factory!
Drawing Factory is now available as an individual self-study class: Buy Now!


8 Style Tips from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Flowing Greenery. Like in the previous blog post, I want to share some of them with you.

Various Styles with Style Tips

This time I show pieces that are very different in style. I also include style tips and analysis. This kind of comparison can be positive and beneficial. By creating similar work and then comparing it with other artists’ pieces can make you understand more about your own signature style.

1) Warm and Dominant

The first piece is by Terttu Laitinen. Her way to use visually heavy elements feels like a weighted, warm blanket that you want to snuggle into! This piece makes you stop and calm down and still feel inspired! It’s so loaded with energy that the fruits could drop down at any moment.

Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

2) Detailed and Holistic

Gina Meadows takes a step away and makes you think about your life as a whole. It feels like every element in her work has a designated mission, connected to the cycle of living. Her strokes are clearly defined, but living and expanding as she uses very few straight lines.

Gina Meadows, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

3) Playful and Social

Michelle Rydell combines round with angular strokes very playfully. It looks like every little leaf and cloud has a personality of its’ own. She is also a master of combining imagination with visual clarity. A clear focus looks always appealing.

Michelle Rydell, USA, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

4) Intimate and Symbolic

Terry Whyte‘s work is more intimate. It’s like the tree protects the like-minded couple. A lot of care and thought has been put into shapes of each element to make them look both aesthetic and meaningful.

Terry Whyte, Canada, Terttu Laitinen, Finland, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

5) Primitive and Mysterious

Ulla M. Holm combined William Morris with Henri Rousseau. Her own unique style goes perfectly with Henri Rousseau’s naive masterpieces. This is an insight that’s worth pondering: how could you combine your favorite artists so that they enrich your own unique style?

Ulla M. Holm, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

6) Decorative and Sophisticated

Patricia Bush has an eye for details. But she also knows how to make them differ in size and color so that the result doesn’t overwhelm you. You might stare the gorgeous pegasus first, but take a look at the trunk of the tree too. It’s wonderfully ornamental and has a very wooden feel. Sophistication in every detail, including the castle and the moon is her magic!

Patricia Bush, Canada, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

7) Relaxed and Emotional

Meri Andriesse’s style goes to other direction. Her relaxed piece is more than all the careless elements together. Her strength is to create an atmosphere that any creative aspires to have. It’s loose and sunny, just perfect to get inspired and go creating!

Meri Andriesse, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

8) Connecting and Thoughtful

Sherry Pollack has whimsical style with lively lines but it’s also extremely thoughtful. It’s like every little creature has its’ own thoughts even if the creatures share the same experience. This makes it so easy to imagine being among them. It feels like I could listen to the same sounds, observe the same things and join the conversation that is more spiritual than outspoken.

Sherry Pollack, USA, mixed media art created at the art journaling class Flowing Greenery

Flowing Greenery

When using the same mixed media techniques, how would your scene look like? This mini-course, Flowing Greenery, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!

You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the  classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Art journaling class Flowing Greenery by Peony and Parakeet

Create your own fruit trees and whimsical animals, right now!

Create Flowing Greenery!

Flowing Greenery, an art journaling mini-course as a part of Imagine Monthly, taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Flowing Greenery has just been published as a part of Imagine Monthly, the on-going art journaling class. The two mini-courses are inspired by great artists. January’s mini-course Doodled Luxury was inspired by Alphonse Mucha. Flowing Greenery is inspired by another great artist from the beginning of 20th century: William Morris!

Combining acrylic paints with colored pencils in art journaling, by Peony and Parakeet

Like the previous one, Flowing Greenery is a technique-heavy course. It has great ideas especially for those who want to combine acrylics and colored pencils on the same page. You can still purchase Imagine Monthly and get immediate access to the two mini-courses already published. Sign up here!

Fun in February

Finland is definitely not full of greenery at the moment. The winter has been cold, occasionally so cold that Stella has had to wear a hand-knit sweater!

winter in Finland

But even if I am not very fond of winter season with cold weather, lots of snow and early darkness, I quite like February. Maybe it’s because February always seem to be full of events. My birthday is in February. I also like Valentine’s day and this year we will also have an old friend from UK visiting us. (If you hear me pronounce some of the words more with British than Finnish accent, that’s her influence!)

Birthday Cake by Peony and Parakeet

With snow, there’s a lot of white in Finland at the moment. Whether it’s strawberries picked from the freezer or fresh oranges in my art journal, I crave for those colors!

Flowing Greenery, an art journaling page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Another February event – and also full of colors: Inspirational Drawing, my “the drawing class”. Whether you want to approach drawing from an artistic angle, or learn more about the designer’s mindset, this class will make you enjoy drawing.

Inspirational Drawing, online art class by Peony and Parakeet

New Video Series: 14 Answers about Creating Art

To celebrate Inspirational Drawing, I am publishing a new video every day for the first two weeks of February! These short videos give focused answers to the questions that people usually ask from me. You can follow them via Facebookvia YouTube or by visiting this blog (already published: Question 1, Question 2). Feel free to share the videos and spread the word!

Processing Visual Inspiration

November Still Life by Peony and Parakeet

Last week, I visited Natural History Museum of Helsinki. My idea was to take a sketchbook with me and make few sketches – if I happened to see something inspiring. My skeptic attitude changed once I entered the place. I remember visiting the museum over 20 years ago but only the front door of the old building seemed a bit familiar, everything else looked new to me. I wa mesmerized by the colors and details of stuffed animals, and only after a short while, almost overwhelmed by the amount of information and visual stimulation. It would have been impossible to put all the inspiration into sketches, so I took photos.

Natural History Museum of Helsinki

When I got back home, I knew I had to create an artwork inspired by the visit. But my mind seemed too full, not knowing where to start, what to express. I started a painting but against all my principles, I tossed it because I was totally clueless even if my mind was full of inspiration!

After a couple of days, I decided to make a sketchbook spread to help me process the subject. I loaded the photos to iPad and created several layers of watercolors while browsing the images.

Painting a sketchbook spread from photos taken from Natural History Museum of Helsinki

I wrote down some of my thoughts: how I admired lions and African animals in general when I was a child and how rich country Africa is, in terms of nature.

A sketchbook spread by Peony and Parakeet

After this spread, I asked myself: what inspiring did I see that than the animals. The answer was: glass cabinets and the concept of collections that were kind of surreal. With that in mind, I started a painting on a thick watercolor paper.

The first layers of an artwork, by Peony and Parakeet

Randomly creating new layers with ink mists, watercolors, alcohol inks and gouache paints, I focused on the color first. Greens, turquoises and ochras were the ones that made the strongest impact on me when looking inside the glass vitrines.

Phases to the end result, November Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

With gold paint and white ink, I created more details to embark my imagination. Then I thought about slavic melancholy, fall, piano concertos and let all of that get mixed with glass and nature. When I looked at the end result, I kind of like the idea of mixing a landscape with a still life. The idea is surprisingly similar than what I saw in the museum: still lives that are also landscapes! I would have not thought it this way though without processing the subject so much. By taking photos, painting without a clue, working with the sketchbook and then creating a lot of layers made me somehow understand what inspired me in the first place. When I let go and followed the pencils and brushes, it was ready to come out.

November Still Life, by Peony and Parakeet

What I learned was: sometimes creative process takes a lot of time, a lot of phases, don’t stop too soon!

Challenge yourself in mixed media art! Buy a bundle of 6 art journaling classes!

Painting with iPad

Painting with iPad, ArtRage painting, by Peony and Parakeet

My latest toy: ArtRage app for iPad. Only 5 dollars which is nothing considering the fun you will be having with finger painting! You can create mixed media in electric form: tubes of paint, pastels, markers … most of the supplies you can imagine are there.

Painting with iPad, ArtRage painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

It’s surprisingly easy to change the supply and its’ properties as well as picking color palette. ArtRage has also layers so that you can keep the flowers separate from your butterflies and work with each layer without messing up the other. Love it!

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Collage Birds

Hope, collage bird, Birds of Happiness, by Peony and Parakeet

My new year’s resolution: in 2014 I am going to make an e-book showing my techniques and sources of inspiration. I have begun to create collage birds that I am going to include in the book.

Piece of My Heart, collage bird, Birds of Happiness, by Peony and Parakeet

I have always admired birds. I have four budgies as pets, and they have proved me that birds can be smart, skillful and full of compassion. I want to add positive feelings to my collage birds too.

Bird's nest, collage by Peony and Parakeet

Update in 2017

The e-book about collage birds never came true, but it was a seed for my most popular class Inspirational Drawing.
>> Sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0 here!