Peony and Parakeet

Joyful Art Taught by Drawing Paper Dolls

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This one is called "Living Paper Doll"

Here’s my latest illustration called “Living Paper Doll.” It expresses the world of fantasy that I have been able to find after changing some of my artistic dreams.

Trade-Offs to Create Joyful Art

For a long time, one part of me has admired old master paintings, yearned for more visits to famous art museums, and desperately wanted to master more and more skills. Another part has been less serious, playing with the idea of getting back to childhood, drawing animals and paper dolls, re-reading books like Emily of the New Moon, and watching Bride and Prejudice for the 12th time …

After October, or should we say Inktober, these two parts have started to shake hands and discuss what to save and what to throw out. A lot of that inner conversation has been about changing technical skills to using more imagination. Another trade-off has been between abstract and representational art. I no longer aspire to create fully abstract paintings. More than a fine artist, I am an illustrator of the mind.

If you look at this piece from January 2018, its visual style is very similar to my current pieces. But content-wise the change is a big one. This now looks empty to me.

Abstract art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Freedom of the Line or the Mind?

How many times have we tried to grow our drawing and painting skills to become “looser”? And how many times it has led to more stiffness regarding the use of imagination?

I have to admit that often we art teachers can be blamed here. It’s easy to focus more on the technical side, composition and such, rather than supporting the growth in expression. But on the other hand, “techniques” and “step-by-step” are often the words that students want. Expression and imagination sound much vaguer.

However, joyful art is created with free spirit. Now I feel that if I had to choose one stiffness, it would be the stiffness of the line instead of the mind.

Joyful Art in Practice – Forgotten Piece Gets Completed

Last weekend, I organized my studio and found a piece that I had started in July. I hadn’t finished it because I had no idea how to proceed. It was made on a huge piece of paper that I had later cut smaller just to be able to store it more easily.

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Last summer, I did many experiments with graphite pencils. Here I also used watercolors, one of my favorite supplies. Now I wanted to add some ink drawing as well. It was a lot of fun drawing my current favorite subjects, animals, to this forgotten piece.

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Ink pens and watercolors go well together!

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Painting with watercolors and creating joyful art.

First I thought I make this piece a self-portrait by drawing my face on the background. But then I thought about my business name Peony and Parakeet, and how Peony represents beautiful things while Parakeet is for curiosity and play. So the idea of a face changed to a bird. Notice how the elements blend with each other, creating a sense of unity to the piece.

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watercolors, ink, and graphite pencils.

I toned down the bright white areas with yellowish green. I used Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold. It’s one of my favorites when painting with watercolors.

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This one is called "Living Paper Doll"

Paper Playground in the Studio

My studio has always had a minimalistic feel, but now it has got more and more joyful art that I don’t want to put away!

Paivi Eerola's art studio full of joyful art.

One of the big joys in January has been the art that has been created by the participants of Animal Inkdom. On Monday, we will start a new module and it’s about drawing birds. I am so excited to see what everyone will create from the class projects.

Hand-drawn paper bird. Art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

These paper dolls feel alive to me. They radiate hope that was always present when I was a child. I was living in a dream world most of the times, and back then, there seemed to be nothing extraordinary. But for an adult, it’s amazing what the mind of a child can discover, and sad how we ruin that when starting to follow other people’s expectations.

A detail of a mixed media artwork called "Living Paper Doll" by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Art, Hope, and Humor!

There are no boundaries in art. Art includes hope and humor as well. To me, exploring humor joy has revealed new ways to create. I feel that I am now better at delivering a sense of mystery, dealing with dark themes, combining suspense and silliness, and accepting that sometimes art can be so bad that it’s almost the best possible kind of art!

Humorous and joyful art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Come to Animal Inkdom to draw with us, we’ll start with the birds on Monday. The previous module “Bees and Butterflies” arrives immediately after signing up, and you are good to go! >> Sign up here!

Technique, Style or Identity? Which comes first to you?

I re-wrote an old blog post because this is the subject that’s close to my heart!

Technique

During the past ten years, I have wanted to learn and experiment with art techniques. It has been fun to combine all kinds of supplies and see what comes out. It has often felt that after I have learned the technique, I can then do whatever I want with it. But many times, adding a new technique to my repertoire has just grown more doubts about my style.

Playing with collage art techniques. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Style 

Style means something that you are comfortable with doing, and that makes your work recognizable. When I have been unsuccessful in finding my visual style, I have had too much focus on the result and too little on the play. Techniques may change, but discovering the how you can process inspiration and what inspires you, and then connecting all that with shapes and colors and compositions, produces style.

Three Churches of St. Petersburg. A mixed media watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Made for the class Watercolor Journey.

Identity

Even when working full-time as an artist, I sometimes still have problems in calling myself an artist. I wonder, why there’s so much talk about finding your style and so little about finding your identity as an artist? It includes me too. I often talk and think about style issues when I should think about identity issues. It’s easier to analyze the line, the theme, the mark making, than talk about things that go deeper.

Things like:

1) Why do you make art?
2) How do you define the quality of your art?
3) What’s your role in the art community?
4) What’s different with you from the artists that you admire?
5) When and how do you know that you have succeeded as an artist?

Most of these questions are valid whether you are a beginner or more advanced. The answers change when your journey progresses.

Paivi Eerola and her oil painting Heaven and Earth.

When your order is 1) identity, 2) style, 3) technique
your art becomes more expressive because you allow more play,
you take on new challenges because your art has a purpose,
and you connect more with people because you have a natural urge to share.

The Exploring Artist – Few Spots Left!

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for finding your artistic identity. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

In The Exploring Artist, you will grow your artistic identity in 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 registration closes on Sunday, Sept 9 (midnight PDT).

>> 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!

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