Don’t Underestimate Your Scribbles! – Watch the Video!

This week, I have a video for you about the topic that I am really passionate. It’s about scribbles and how they are a part of an artist’s path. Believe me, ugly notebooks can be the best thing to boost up your creativity. Your scribbles matter!


In the video, I have divided my art into three categories: scribbles, sketches, and paintings. Here’s an example of a notebook page with scribbles:

Scribbles on Moleskine Classic Soft Cover notebook. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.


And here are some of the sketchbook pages that I show there (for you to pin if you like pinning!).

“Walking the Dog”
Walking the Dog, an abstract mixed media drawing by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

"Play", a sketchbook page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she uses scribbles and sketches to boost her creative process!

“One Eye”
"One Eye", a sketchbook page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet


Here’s a closeup of the painting that I am working on in the video:

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

And here’s a detail of another painting in progress, also shown in the video:

Oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

See my paintings in progress and buy my art:

Don’t Underestimate Your Scribbles – Watch the Video!

Join Bloom and Fly – Move Forward with an Inspiring Community!

Bloom and Fly is a community for you who wants to explore visual and adventurous ideas, get feedback and suggestions for your art, and connect with like-minded art enthusiasts. We have a private Facebook group, monthly themes, live sessions, and weekly opportunities for practical help and feedback.

Bloom and Fly is geared for those who have been creating for some time. It doesn’t offer regular step-by-step walk-throughs where everyone creates the same project. You will get ideas, tips, and process photos around the monthly theme but if you are a beginner, buy one of my self-study classes (for example, Inspirational Drawing 2.0) to accompany your membership!

Registration is now open for Spring season (April – June 2018): Sign up here!

10 Rococo Art Ideas for Creative Romantics

This week I share some old and new pieces that are inspired by Rococo and give art prompts for all who are like-minded romantics. Let’s send greetings to Marie Antoinette, and create some Rococo-inspired art!

1) Masquerade

Three-Eyed Antoinette, rococo-inspired art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See more of her rococo art ideas!

Three-Eyed Antoinette, 2018

2) Passion for Jewels

Rococo by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Rococo, 2015

3) Bird’s Nest

Marie's Bird, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Marie’s Bird, 2018

4) Listening to Mozart

Graceful Aria by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Graceful Aria, 2014

5) Anyone Can Fly

"Envy", from the sketchbook of Paivi Eerola by Peony and Parakeet

Envy, 2017

6) Eye of a Romantic

My Mind's Eye, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My Mind’s Eye, 2017

7) Ornamental Figure

Orna, a collage from hand-decorated papers by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Orna, 2012

8) Mimicking Embroidery

Embroidered Ornament, colored pencils on scrapbook paper by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Embroidered Ornament, 2015 (colored pencils on scrapbook paper)

9) Loose Ornament

Loose Rococo, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Loose Rococo, 2018

10) Softness All-Around

Rococo Dream by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Rococo Dream, 2018

Join Bloom and Fly – Move Forward with an Inspiring Community!

Bloom and Fly is a community for you who wants to explore visual and adventurous ideas, get feedback and suggestions for your art, and connect with like-minded art enthusiasts. We have a private Facebook group, monthly themes, live sessions, and weekly opportunities for practical help and feedback.

Bloom and Fly is geared for those who have been creating for some time. It doesn’t offer regular step-by-step walk-throughs where everyone creates the same project. You will get ideas, tips, and process photos around the monthly theme but if you are a beginner, buy one of my self-study classes (for example, Inspirational Drawing 2.0) to accompany your membership!

Registration is now open for Spring season (April – June 2018): Sign up here!

Artist Statement, Portfolio, Prints – Presenting a New Website for My Art!

Paivi Eerola's new website at She has original art and prints for sale, a portfolio, an artist statement etc.

I have a new website for my art! It has an online shop filled with originals and prints, a portfolio, pictures of the paintings in progress, and my story. Go to!

This Peony and Parakeet site will also continue, as well as blogging, classes, etc. but I wanted to have a better presentation of myself as an artist, not only as an art teacher. First, my intention was just to update this site, but it is already full of information, many of which I would like to bring more rather than less visible. So I decided to keep this site for art education and create a new site for selling art. Time will tell if having two sites is too confusing, hopefully not!

Paivi Eerola's business cards. She teaches art at

Artist Statement or Not?

I re-wrote the About page tens of times! It was quite easy to pick the things that I wanted to say, but it’s still difficult to not to be too boring! I decided not to put it in the form of an artist statement because I didn’t want to alienate anyone with long and grandiose sentences although the first sentences under the title could be seen as one:

“When Paivi Eerola is painting, she is a scientist who plays with the reality. Ducks can become plants, a fruit can replace fabric, and flowers can form a factory that produces glass. In this new world, everything is changing and moving, and it’s all celebrating the lushness of life.”

I wrote my story in the third person so that it can be used easily on other occasions too. While writing my story, I questioned if it’s really how you see me and my art. But in the end, everyone has their interpretations of the images, and this is just how and what I think when I am creating them. One thing that I left out is how I test my paintings.

Original Canvas Paintings and How I Test Them

When I paint on canvas, my goal is to create a treasure rather than just an image. I test the painting so that I lay it flat on the table, walk away from it and then turn back to see what my gut reaction is. If I just make a mark that there’s a painting on the table, I need to continue working on it. If the painting looks more like a thing, a glowing treasure box, then I have achieved my goal.

A detail of an original acrylic painting. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

It’s really important to me to make paintings that stand the test of time. I have spent tens of hours painting these, and I hope that they will live longer than me. Sometimes I wonder if I have this strong aspiration because I don’t have any children.

Original art. A detail of an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Nothing beats the luxury of an original painting, especially when it’s varnished and the colors glow like the paint would still be wet. See the originals that I have currently available!

Prints from Me to You

So far, I have sold prints via Saatchi Art. It’s great for US customers especially because the prints are delivered directly from there, and they also provide canvas prints. However, I also want to have few prints available directly from me, and there’s a small selection at my new store. I have printed them with an inkjet printer on a lovely fine art paper.

Healing Power - a limited Edition print by Paivi Eerola. Available at!

I am selling one of the prints as a limited edition. Every copy of it is signed and numbered. The painting in the print is called Healing Power. The original painting is sold, and I only produce 40 art prints from the image. So if you wish to have some healing power, would like to give that to someone, get your copy!


To show a big picture of what I have done, I wanted to include a portfolio that is like a small art gallery on my new website. I tried to pick the pieces that present my style but there was a lot to select from.

For example, I didn’t pick this one because I didn’t want to add too many. Anyway, I have a gallery on this site too, and it can be less curated!

Harvest Still Life, 2015. A mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola.

Harvest Still Life, 2015

Picking pieces for the portfolio is a really good exercise. It made me think about my artist’s path and see how my ideas have merged and grown to produce new work.

Paintings in Progress

I always aim to be as transparent as possible. Being very secretive has never worked for me, it’s against my personality. So there’s a section called In Progress which shows the paintings that I currently work on. Now it shows my first series of oil paintings. Here’s one of them so far:

Oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her original art is available at

Oil paintings take even more time than acrylic paintings because I need to let them dry properly before adding a new layer. You can follow the progress at the new site. I also have a separate mailing list for all who are interested in buying my paintings. Subscribe to the list here!

Hopefully, you enjoy the new site!

Intuitive Painting with a Reference Image

Intuitive painting with a reference image – can it be possible? Let me show you how!

Madama Butterfly, an intuitive painting from the sketchbook of Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Here’s a painting from my sketchbook. It’s called “Madama Butterfly.” My reference image was this Renaissance painting called “Flora” by Tiziano Vecellio, 1515-1520. I took the photo last summer when visiting Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

Flora by Tiziano Vecellio. Uffizi gallery. Photo by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

There are very little similarities in these two pieces. The pose is fairly similar, the composition and the facial features have some similarities, but that’s it. The style, the theme, and the technique are all different.

Tiziano Vecellio's painting Flora, and a painting from Paivi Eerola's sketchbook. See how she used the reference for the painting!

The Supplies and the Setting

I like to do fairly quick paintings on my big A3-sized sketchbook. For this sketchbook, I often use Derwent Artbars, a water brush, and Faber-Castell Gelatos because they are easy to layer and I am more relaxed than when working with tube paints. I use acrylic or oil paints for canvas paintings, and working with them is more serious. This time I wanted to demonstrate a concept or a method rather than creating a 30-hour painting.

Derwent Artbars, Faber-Castell Gelatos, and a waterbrush ready for making a sketchbook page.

1) From Intentional to Intuitive Painting

The first idea was to pick the pose and the composition loosely from the reference image and then add geometric shapes to fill the space.

First steps of an intuitive painting that also uses a reference image. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

After sketching the foundation of the figure, the triangles, rectangles, and circles were fun to paint without looking at the reference at all. I painted the face roughly, and then I used the reference image as a guide. But because at this early stage, I didn’t know what I want to express and what kind of person the figure could be, I didn’t bother to spend time perfecting the facial features. At this point, my painting resembles cubistic pieces from the early 20th century.

2) Changing the Style

When creating art for the sketchbook, I like my style to be a bit more illustrational than when I make bigger paintings. Even if I love cubism, I wanted my piece to be a bit more current.

Making an intuitive painting by using a reference image to some parts. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Nowadays, illustrations often use geometric shapes but rather than triangles or rectangles, the shapes are often round, and scallop edges seem to be a bit hit. So I started changing the painting by altering the shapes. This routine work gave me plenty of time to connect with my inner world and work intuitively from one association to another. I tend to be both nostalgic and romantic, so I thought how portrait painters often spend time with the clothing even if they are just a shell. Why not use it as a canvas for the memories, the ideas, and the achievements of the person?

Changing an artistic style by changing angular shapes to round shapes. Example by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

3) From Intuitive to Intentional

After rounding hundreds of triangles and rectangles, I realized that I was painting Madama Butterfly, the opera that I just saw last Saturday! I finished the face after this realization and adjusted other elements so that they fit with the theme.

Madama Butterfly, an intuitive painting from the sketchbook of Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

More Intuitive Inspiration from Opera

This is not the first time I have been intuitively inspired by opera!

>> Tosca

"Tosca" by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Tosca, 2015

>> The Phantom of the Opera

"The Phantom of the Opera" by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

The Phantom of the Opera, 2016

>> La Traviata

"I Am Listening", a hand-drawn art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

I Am Listening, 2015

>> The Marriage of Figaro

Opera, a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet.

Opera, 2014

And there’s also a video about
>> Kaija Saariaho’s Emilie

More About Simple Shapes

>> What to create from simple shapes – 6 ideas

Self-study classes:
>> Planet Color – release your mind by focusing on color!
>> Modern Mid-Century – put a modern twist to simple shapes!

Let me be your mentor in creating: Subscribe to my weekly emails!

Loose Realism in Watercolor – 6 Tips for Expressive Floral Art

Watercolor painting of a tulip by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her 6 tips for expressive floral art!

It is the last week to sign up for my floral art class, so I wanted to show why flowers are so inspirational to create and give tips for expressive floral art. In this blog post, I make a fairly quick watercolor painting that treats the flower as a miracle of its own rather than a boring stereotype. Because let’s admit, we have all drawn these:

Stereotypes of a flower. You don't want to paint or draw these when creating expressive floral art!

Using reference photos or real flowers as a reference doesn’t help if we just try to build the bridge between the stereotype and the real thing. The result can be even stiffer and more boring.

But flowers are not boring at all! I picked one fairly modest tulip from a vase to show you how to highlight its beauty and create expressive floral art.

A vase of tulips. A photo by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the setting:

Starting a watercolor painting. Dr Ph Martin's Hydrus Liquid Watercolors and a real tulip as a reference.

And here are my six tips:

1) Flowers are Never Solid-Colored

You don’t have to use a huge range of colors, but mixing them to get several tones is essential. Here are the colors that I used for this project, just seven, and I mostly used only two of them: blue (ultramarine) and pink (Quinacridone Magenta).

Dr Ph Martin's Hydrus watercolors. They have a very strong pigment so use carefully!

2) The Structure of a Flower is Always More Elaborate Than You Think

Accept that you don’t quite understand the structure of any flower. It is much more elaborate than you can ever imagine. So when painting realistically, don’t simplify what you see!

Sketching with watercolor. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I began the painting by sketching the biggest petals with the mixture of blue and pink. Notice how pale my sketch is! In reality, it is even a bit paler, but I enhanced the photo so that you can see it more clearly. When painting with watercolors, it’s important to start with a very pale color so that you can fine-tune the painting as it progresses.

3) Flowers Have Strong Shadows

We usually connect flowers with light and light-weightedness and don’t want to use dark colors for them. But if you imagine being an ant living inside a flower, there are a lot of hiding places between the petals. Without those murky dens, bright plazas lose their shine, and the flower looks flat.

Sketching with watercolor. Painting light and shadows before adding more colors. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her 6 tips for expressive floral art!

With the mixture of pink and blue, I continue by adding more shadows to the flower. The result is a bit like an underpainting (one of the techniques in the floral art class). It focuses on the lightness and darkness instead of the actual tones of color.

4) Flowers Are Full of Gently Flowing Streams

In general, flowers may look static but when expressing them with paint, take a different mindset! Every petal, shadow, bright spot, any detail, is a part of a dynamic, circulating and flowing stream.

Painting a tulip by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her six tips for expressive floral art!

Instead of fixating to the big picture, I move from one detail to another and change them so that they are more curvy and organic.

A tulip opens when the daylight increases.

My tulip is not static either. The petals open with the daylight! It doesn’t bother me because I follow the streams of my painting more than the reference.

5) Flowers Are Never Separate from Their Surroundings

If you aim for a realistic look, don’t make the background too separate from the flower! In reality, colors interact with each other, and there are blurry reflections everywhere.

Painting a background of a flower painting. By Paivi Eerola fro Peony and Parakeet.

I mix some neutral colors for the background before finishing the flower. Then I go through all the details one more time, and finally paint and splash colors carelessly for the background.

Splashing watercolor on the background. A floral painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her 6 tips for expressive floral art!

I use the same pink and blue in most of the color mixes than what I used for the flower. It makes the painting more unified.

6) Macro-Painting: Flowers Can Be Big!

When you want to give a realistic impression, don’t start with a tiny sketch! The smaller your flower is, the more difficult it becomes. My paper is 16 x 12 inches, and the flower is approximately 8 x 7 inches. I can easily think about creating a flower twice the size to get the details even more aesthetic.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her 6 tips for expressive floral art.

Floral Fantasies – Create Expressive Floral Art!

Stylish floral designs, abstract intuitive flowers, and loose realistic art may seem different, but they all use similar building blocks, just in a bit different way. In Floral Fantasies, you grow your imagination, expression, and technical skills by creating beautiful floral art together with like-minded art enthusiasts! I will show methods that make your art bloom and help you to finish your pieces so that the expression shines through.

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, a floral art class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles
Level up your skills and let flowers show the way to expressive art!
The registration closes on Sunday midnight, Feb 18th (PST). Sign up here!

How to Add Depth when Creating Abstract Mixed Media Florals

Blooming Cactus, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watch her video about how to create this and add visual depth to your art!

When I started drawing and painting as an adult, it took quite a long time for me to understand the power of creating visual depth. Before that, every time I wanted to highlight a particular element, I added more lines to it and it just looked stiffer and stiffer. When you add depth, your art is not like a sentence where every word is underlined.

Instead, your art becomes more like a paragraph that invites the viewer to dig deeper.

How to Add Depth – Create with Me!

In the video, I create a floral painting without any reference photos and give you some basic tips along the way. I use a mixed media approach and combine pens with paints to make the job easier!

Come and Create Unique Floral Treasures!

Level up your skills, find the process you love and let flowers show the way to expressive art! You don’t want to miss this class!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, a flower art class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles begins on Feb 19th – sign up now!


Finding Visual Voice – Prepare for the Free Webinar!

What to Think About Finding Visual Voice? – Watch the video!

Currently, I look at my art with a different point of view than when I created it. Non-art-related things in the past can also get integrated into art. Watch the video to dive deeper into these insights and to see examples!

Free Webinar – Save Your Spot!

Let’s meet! I am broadcasting live from my studio and talk about finding your visual voice. I have a subtitle: “How to start the journey?” because I think it’s a thing we need to rediscover again and again!

Finding Visual Voice, a free webinar run by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet, Jan 31, 2018

When you register, enter your time zone, and you will see when the webinar begins where you live. Save your spot even if you couldn’t come just at that very moment. You can then watch the recording later that week! >> Register here

Draw and Paint Flowers Like Never Before – Sign up for Floral Fantasies!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles - Paint and draw both abstract and realistic flowers in new ways! By Peony and Parakeet.

I am rerunning my best technique workshop so far, Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles. It’s about taking the best tricks from three visual approaches and immersing into the beauty of flowers. The workshop is now in the early-bird sale, so reserve your spot!

Finding Your Visual Voice – Free Webinar!

A letter to the reader of this blog:

Dear friend and soulmate in art,
Like you know, I have had this dream to be an artist from a little girl. Back then, and many times before taking the leap, I didn’t quite understand how unsure and tentative the life as an artist can be. When I was about five years old, I thought I knew what I liked to create and how. In a way, I did, but life got more complicated year after year. When I was about 16, I had a turning point. I discovered the way to paint that made me tremble with joy. Two of those paintings are still displayed here in my home, and they remind me of that time.

Two paintings from Paivi Eerola. She painted these as a teenager.

But then I got critical towards myself. I thought that my paintings lacked content, something. I thought that I need some experience in life to become a better artist. Soon after that, I started studying, lost my parents and all that made me stop painting. In the perspective of art, I became nobody to myself.

But if you have been following me, you already know that. And you know that my journey in art has been quite obsessive in the last years. It has felt like I had wasted all those years when I was not painting, and I need to hurry and fast forward before life ends. Losing close people make you realize that. That life does end some day, and the dreams can remain dreams. That’s why it’s sometimes necessary to step into the unknown and try the wings.

I started painting a new series about a month ago. ” I have put so much thought into the series that my brain hurts,” I wrote on Instagram. And the more I have been painting recently, the more I feel the same than as a teenager! Wow! It’s even better now when I have more ways to handle with the self-criticism.

A series of paintings in progress, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also understand that this new euphoria has a simple explanation. My imagination, expression, and the technical skills finally meet. I have also discovered a process that feels natural to me. I know this won’t last forever. When the life changes, as it constantly does, I can’t develop or even maintain this. But at this very moment, I feel joy and relief. It is a pleasure to rest in this new base camp for a while before I feel the need to start climbing up or walking down to the mountain called art.

Because I am painting with oils, I need to wait for every layer to dry for a week or so. So these paintings will get more color slowly but surely. You will be surprised!

Oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

During painting, I have been thinking: do you want to find your visual style or your visual voice? Is there a difference for you? To me, the voice is at a deeper level than style. I can play with styles, but the voice is more static, something that you have born with. Or is it only me who sees similarities between those teenage paintings and these recent ones?

I thought I record a video of these thoughts and show you some examples. But even if I can edit out all the umms and breaks from the video, it doesn’t feel so good to talk on a camera instead of talking to you. So I suggest we meet live on Jan 31, 11 am PST and chat about this together. Can you come?

Many warm greetings from

Free Live Webinar about Visual Voice

So yes, come to my live webinar “Finding Your Visual Voice – How to start the journey” where I tell some key points that have made a big difference to me!

A free webinar about visual voice by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

When you register, enter your time zone, and you will see when the webinar begins where you live. Save your spot even if you couldn’t come just at that very moment. You can then watch the recording later that week!

“Floral Fantasies in Three Styles” is Back!

One of the big things to me has been to find enjoyable techniques, including the ones that old master painters used. You can now study them too! I am rerunning my best technique workshop so far, Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles. It’s about taking the best tricks from three visual approaches and immerse into the beauty of flowers. The workshop is now in the early-bird sale, so it’s a great time to reserve your spot!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles. Floral art workshop by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet that also teaches Flemish old masters' painting techniques.
If you haven’t attended my classes before, please be assured that you will be supported and your questions will be answered. I also run discussions and give visual suggestions if you run into problems. See what students have said!

So I hope to see you in the class and of course, at the webinar too!

Behind the Scenes in Finland 2017

With the new year, I was organizing my stuff and found an old reader survey from 2014. “Tell me about your life in Finland,” many wrote. So this blog post is for you! I share some highs and lows from the last year, and you will get to see my beautiful country too.

1) January – Am I an Artist?

First, we Finnish would not ever say “my beautiful country” in Finnish. We are too honest people and sometimes a bit pathetic in that. Everybody and everything are serious if you come to Finland.

After two and half years of making a full-time living with art, I started to question myself. Instead of a self-employed entrepreneur, could I call myself an artist? Could I have pink hair even if I am 47?

Paivi Eerola and sunset in Finland

I know that the question of calling yourself an artist is frightening for some of you too, so maybe you can relate. It’s a funny thing that the more you know about art, the more frightening the title is. It can be a dream, yes. It can be someone else, yes. But I, no.

In Finland, we like to ask about your education and then decide. Based on that, I am a designer and an engineer. Or not just an ordinary engineer, as I have a Master’s Degree in Technology, we call those “diplomi-insinööri” – “Diploma Engineer.” Most Finns wouldn’t even mention the designer part because engineering is much more important. Our prime minister is also a Diploma Engineer, and everybody knows that in Finland.

But then someone said to me that you must be kidding, you are an artist! He was an American though. Then I found a hairdresser who dyed my hair. And she was Finnish!

Blog Pick from 2017: 4 Big Misconceptions I Have Had About Art
Class Pick: Planet Color
(Relax, you are an artist!)

2) February – Second Summer

In Finland, only children celebrate birthdays unless you hit the milestone of 50, 60, 70 or so on. But for me, the whole February is my month of celebration. I buy fresh strawberries for the cake in July, and that begins the preparation for it.

Birthday cake with strawberries and February in Finland

February feels like a second summer. The winter sun always shines so brightly in February and really, if someone decorates the cake like that, isn’t she an artist!

Blog Pick: Life in an Art Journal – Dylusions Creative Journal Flip-Through
Class Pick: Coloring Freely

3) March – Sky is the Limit

In March, I received a t-shirt from the USA. “I am the new economy,” it said. That was from Tara Gentile, my business coach who has built a great community called CoCommercial for digital small business owners. We Finnish don’t believe in coaches. Business coaches and life coaches, they all go to the same category of people. We call them consultants. Everybody in Finland knows that consultants just try to get more money. So we choose not to use them unless we end up in the exceptional situation where we have to do something that we can’t figure out by ourselves.

Paivi Eerola, a visual artist and a member of CoCommercial from Finland

I had that kind of moment a couple of years ago. Because I am a Finn, I didn’t just google “I need a consultant.” I already had prepared myself for the worst case scenario. In 2013, I saw Tara’s first online business course at CreativeLive. Back then I was still safely in my day job but was planning the big escape from the cubicles. “That person could be my coach if I ever need one,” I thought. But then, because I am a Finn, I needed to double-check that.

In Finland, being trustworthy is important, so I am double-checking things all the time. So far, when typing this, I have checked: “when exactly did I dye my hair” (couldn’t find the exact date but based on my photo library I don’t lie if I say January 2017), “do people celebrate birthdays over 50” (according to Google: yes), “are this year’s strawberries doing fine in the freezer” (yes they are).

So yes, I met Tara in 2014 before leaving my day job in a small business conference in Scotland. Since then, she has helped me many times, and her community even more than that. I am happy to wear her promotional t-shirt and tell you that nowadays do believe in coaches, and also coach artists myself!

Blog Pick: 3 Secrets for Removing Stiffness when Creating Mixed Media Faces 
Class Pick: Inspirational Drawing 2.0
(my most popular art class has the second edition already!)

4) April – How to Escape Silence and Minimalism in Finland

There is one big shadow in the field of Finnish art and design. It’s a famous architect Alvar Aalto. He has passed away already, but he lives in every Finn. You only need to know what his surname means: “Wave.” Not “Sea” or “Storm” or “Burst,” just “Wave.” If you come to Finland, you soon notice that our white airplanes are not the only white and simplified designs. Finnish homes are usually white boxes with white ceramic tableware. Another color that we accept is black, nowadays also grey, because grey sofas are so practical.

In April, I got an invitation to an art exhibition from my artist friend Johanna Rytkölä. She is a trained artist, and we could call her Diploma Artist if there would be a title like that. She is the most knowledgeable and experienced person that I know in the world of fine art. In Finland, she has a one big But though. She is a ceramic artist. For Finns, ceramic means cups and saucers, not art. Johanna also often creates quite colorful pieces. But to play safe and to please my Finnish readers, I chose a white sculpture from her for the image.

Johanna Rytkölä's ceramic sculpture and spring in Finland

Johanna’s work is very different from my style. I often think about adding decoration to her pieces, and I am almost certain that she thinks of removing some from mine. She likes to create for the future, and I often get inspired by the past. But when we meet and close the door, we start talking lively, laughing and smiling, and we have lots of ideas about art. It’s like for one moment, we are not in this country of silent thinkers and small waves, but in the world of art that’s full of voices and energy.

Blog Pick from 2017: Easter Still Lifes in Watercolor
Class Pick: Modern Mid-Century
(show the designer in you!) and Stormy Scenery (show that storm inside you!)

5) May – The Icon

When I was a child, the only art class I could find was about painting icons. I was about 10, and in that age, you learn anything by heart. Red, blue, ochre, brown, white – if those were all the colors, so be it. I accepted any rule and tried my best to cope with a group of adult painters. My definition of an artist was clear back then: if you can paint an icon, you are an artist.

Paivi Eerola with her old masters' painting and spring in Porvoo, Finland

But in the group, I realized that there are icons and Icons. I knew I only painted icons with the small “i”. It wasn’t because they weren’t so flawless as my teacher’s. It was that they didn’t mean so much to me. Icons with the capital “I” represent what you would want to be if you were a saint. Nobody said this to me, I just knew it. I dreamt that someday I would paint an Icon.

Finally, by learning to paint like old masters at Emmi Mustonen‘s classes, and by combining two famous paintings, I made my Icon in 2017.  So if I were a saint, I would be a Madonna of animals. Having no children, I think it would fit me. As a Finn, nature is my church anyway.

Blog Pick from 2017: What Any Artist Can Learn from Old Masters
Class Pick: Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles
(coming up again in 2018!)

6) June – Two Kinds of Luxuries

Finland is a rich country with a poor history. If you come to Finland, you see a lot of new buildings and very little old ones. Often the poverty shows up in culture too. If Finnish men could choose, there would be only two activities that they call art. The first one is chopping firewood, the Finnish version of meditation, and the second one is ice hockey.

Palazzo Pitti Florence in June 2017 and summer in Finland

Luckily my husband is not a typical Finn! He likes to go to galleries, museums, and operas, so we had a wonderful time in Florence, Italy, in June! When visiting the heart-breakingly beautiful places in old Florence, it felt like I don’t want to go back to Finland anymore. But Finnish summer has a little luxury of its own: 20 to 24 hours of daylight, depending on how north you live!

Blog Picks from 2017: Lessons from  Palazzo Pitti, Ideas from Uffizi Gallery
Class Pick: Imagine Monthly Art Journaling Bundle 2 
(includes the mini-course Romantic Geometry, inspired by Renaissance art)

7) July – Failures

In 2017, I failed several times. Should I talk about them? I googled: “How to share failures.” The result: Yes, sharing is a good thing and yes, failures should be celebrated. Ok, let’s celebrate these:
1) I recorded a new class spending one sunny day inside the house from morning to late evening. My most efficient set of recordings ever. However, I didn’t find the time to edit those videos to get the class finished, and after six months, it’s still in my pipeline.
2) I studied old masters techniques for a whole year and created a painting class (the best ever if you ask me!). However, my marketing for the class failed, and it didn’t bring me the income that I had planned.
3) At the beginning of the year, I made new plans for networking. I wasn’t able to follow them.

Paivi Eerola in her studio in Finland.

Now when I think of it, the last one IS worth celebrating. Instead of networking, I got more friends than ever, both locally and online. And speaking of friends …

Blog Picks: Painting with Imagination, Bad Ideas Make You a Better Artist
Class Pick: Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles
(will be back in 2018!)

8) August – Friends in Fantasy

My native language is Finnish. It’s very different from English and best explained by the only extrovert of Finland, a comedian called Ismo Leikola. He won the competition of Funniest Person in The World in 2014, and we are very proud of him.

However, most Finns don’t participate international competitions or sell their work internationally. So when I met Eeva Nikunen at the old masters’ technique painting class, I was gladly surprised when she said that she sells her art abroad and produces content in English. And when we got to know each other more, we realized that we live fairly close! Eeva is a fantasy artist, and I admire her flawless drawing skills.

Finnish visual artists Paivi Eerola and Eeva Nikunen.

This photo has been taken from my studio when we had a painting day together. I wanted to bring some fantasy to it by placing a view from Hanko in the background. Hanko is a small town on the south coast of Finland that I visited in August.

More than just painting with Eeva, I have also had a pleasure to become friends with other brilliant artists from the old masters class: Emmi Mustonen, the excellent teacher, and Olli Kilpi, a very versatile artist and 3D motion designer.

In June, I launched The Exploring Artist – my first coaching program for artists. We became a very close-knit group, and I am honored to know all 13 of them. Check out and like these Facebook pages:  Claudia Kern, Wendy Holmgren, Carla HeistenSusan Rajkumar.

Blog Pick from 2017: Want to Find Your Art Style? Need to Focus?
Class Pick: The Exploring Artist
(will be back in 2018!)

10) September – Meeting Local Customers

When working mostly online, I rarely get to see my customers face to face. In September, I had two local classes: one for painting miniature carpets and another for freehand-drawing. Then in October, I booked a table at a local miniature fair and sold some left-over dollhouse furniture but also had some postcards and fabric designs with me. As you can see, it was fun!

Paivi Eerola and her hand-painted miniature carpets.

September and October are always the busiest months, and now when I look back, I don’t know how I managed to do it all: selling, painting, tutoring online, blogging, etc. Maybe because after work, late at night, I knitted a little and then slept the night peacefully.

Blog Pick: Don’t Just Create Circles! Moving On with Freehand Drawing 
Class Pick: Drawing Factory
(start from stick figures and play by drawing!)

10) October – One More Round!

Knitting is a very important hobby to me. Before working as an artist, I knitted more creatively than nowadays. After inventing new ideas every day, I want to do something monotonic in the evenings and knitting fits to that role too.

Paivi Eerola and her knitted sweater and the winter in Finland. Sweater design by Andrea Mowry.

As you have probably noticed, our seasons are very different. The warm and light summer changes gradually to a cold and dark winter. In 2017, the first snow came in October, and the new woolen sweater was just in time.

Blog Pick from 2017: Knitting and Painting – A Video Visit to My Studio
Class Pick: Folk Bag Workbook

11) November – Miracle Mornings

By November, the darkness becomes devastating. The tourist sites call Finland “the land of the midnight sun” but if you come here in November, you see the land of the midnight more than the sun.

Paivi Eerola's sketchbook and the darkness in Finland

This month, I changed my morning routine so that I started to wake up early, about 6 PM and spend the first couple of hours in the studio after taking the dogs for the morning walk. My studio has an artificial daylight lighting, and I love my miracle mornings. I get a lot done, and when I move to a different room to work on a computer, the sun has risen already. This routine has made me reorganize my studio, set up a process for a new series of paintings, and get computer-free time to process ideas – an important part of being an artist!

Blog Pick from 2017: How to Make Your Art More Captivating
Class Pick: Bloom and Fly Community 2018
(inspiration and friendships with other artists)

12) December – Independence

On 6th December, Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary. It was a big thing here. There had been celebrations throughout the year, but everything culminated for this day. To me, the most wonderful thing was to see that also the countries all over the world congratulated Finland by illuminating iconic venues and buildings with blue and white lights. It included Colosseum in Rome, the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Niagara Falls, etc. It made me feel grateful that our small country is getting this kind of attention!

Quilted christmas ornament and winter in Finland

When I was a poor student, I didn’t have money to buy Christmas decorations or gifts. So I made stuffed patchwork stars for relatives and friends and kept some myself too. I thought it was nothing compared to those fancy decorations sold in stores. But now, about 25 years later, the stars are my treasures that I proudly hang every Christmas.

In 2017, I was reminded again that it’s how my life has changed. My values have changed, the way I see things have changed. What used to be the sign of poverty, is now a symbol of wealth to me. The real wealth is time, and there’s a lot of that put into them.

Blog Pick from 2017: Helene Schjerfbeck – Step by Step Formula for Her Style

2017 – Year of Friends

Getting to know more new artists through my classes and other contacts, has been the best thing in 2017. I call 2017 the year of friends. How would you name your 2017?

Passion for Color? – Try This Method!

Passion for Color, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her step-by-step method for creating mixed media art by focusing on one color!

Create a color-focused art journal page! You can choose as many supplies as you want but just one color!

Step 1 – Pick Your Color!

What color speaks to you today? Red, blue, yellow, green, brown, black … Pick any that you feel drawn to! Collect the art supplies that you have in that color!

In most mornings, after taking the dogs out, I go to my studio and start creating sketches, or art journal pages, or continue paintings in progress. I often make a hot beverage called Sunny Grapefruit. I have bought it from a tea shop, but it doesn’t contain any tea, just fruits, and lemongrass. I sit down in an Ikea chair found at a flea market. I have painted it and put a sheep fleece on it, so it’s warm and cozy. All this warmth made me think about red.

Art supplies for a color-inspired mixed media piece. See the step-by-step method for creating an art journal page that focuses on color!

I chose the supplies so that they were all various tones of red ranging from orange to pink.

Step 2 – Source of Energy

Your color is the source of energy. Pick any coloring supply and make a simple circle somewhere on the page! However, don’t begin in the middle! Your work will look more expressive if you don’t make it symmetric.

Starting the morning by creating art. See the method for using one color for one mixed media piece!

I colored a soft circle with a couple of Faber-Castell Gelato Sticks.

Step 3 – Radiating Power

Add more color to the circle with different supplies! Imagine that your passion radiates strength. Use your imagination to color shapes and lines that are connected to the circle. Again, keep the design asymmetric.

Growing energy. See how to finish this mixed media piece!

I used colored pencils and thought about the sun and the fire. You can use your imagination based on the ideas that the color evokes. For example, if your color is blue, you can think about waves and the energy and the movement that they contain. Don’t overthink; it’s just a start! Usually, we get conventional ideas in the beginning but then become more inventive as the work progresses.

Step 4 – Explosion and Spin-Off

Change the supplies again, and imagine an explosion of energy. Let your circle grow but also become less solid. Create a spin-off that has a life of its own.

Using Derwent Artbars for mixed media art.

I used Derwent Artbars and water. I could have used watercolors instead, but nowadays, I often find it quicker to grab some Artbars and use a water brush when I am creating a mixed media piece.

Explosion of color. See step-by-step instructions on how to finish this art journal page!

Step 5 – Look Around!

So far you have focused on one area of the page. Now imagine, that the explosion reveals some of the surroundings. Add some pale elements but don’t cover the whole page.

Using Faber-Castell Gelatos for mixed media art. See how you can combine them with other art supplies!

I just made some soft splotches with Faber-Castell Gelatos. Notice how my explosion travels diagonally across the page and reveals areas that are also diagonal but in the reverse direction. Diagonals make the image look dynamic.

Step 6 – Birth

Color clearly-defined shapes that connect the energy source and the spin-off. Imagine that something concrete is born out of the explosion and moves forward. 

Abstract art journal page with mixed media supplies. See step-by-step instructions on how to finish this page!

I colored geometric shapes with Fabel Castell PITT Artist Pens. To highlight the movement, I make the shapes cross over each other. I also add bigger shapes that are shown only partly so that it looks like they are flying away.

Step 7 – Mountains

Color a big area of the page so that it’s like mountains have grown to your page. Again, keep one part of the page blank. Add some color to the other side of the blank area too so that the blank area is like a gulley between the mountains. 

Painting a color-oriented art journal page. See the step-by-step directions on how to make and finish this mixed media art journal page!

If you have acrylic paints, now it’s a good time to use those. Painting is quicker than coloring with pens, and you can also create layers easily.

Using acrylic paints for mixed media art. See step-by-step instructions for creating a color-inspired art journal page!

I use gel medium to make the acrylic paint more fluid and translucent. I also use two brushes so that there’s more variation in the brush strokes.

Step 8 – Jump!

Imagine being up in the mountains, looking down to the gulley. When you jump, you begin to see that the blank area also contains wonders. The fall is not so high than what you first expected. Softly color some vague shapes in the blank area.

A detail of a mixed media art journal page. See step by step instructions on how to focus on one color and create mixed media art!

I used Derwent Artbars and water.

Step 9 – Test and Adjust!

When creating abstract art, I find it practical to test it based on how well it fits with other patterns, textures, and shapes. I placed my sketchbook near the fireplace where we have a place to watch the fire. To me, it looks like my page doesn’t have enough contrast.

Matching the sketch with the interiors. See how this mixed media piece got changed after the analysis!

So I add some alizarin red which is very dark and some lighter orange to finish the mountain area.

Creating mixed media art. See a method that focuses on one color!

Now the contrast looks better.

Matching art with the interiors. See how this mixed media sketch was made!

Learning to Create – Using a Model, “How To,” or a Method?

There are many ways to learn:
a) Watching someone create and then following it accurately. This way you will create something that you wouldn’t have thought of figuring out yourself. The downside is that your expression and imagination has very little space to come through. You are learning technical skills mostly. Sometimes it can happen that you don’t know why you do what you do.
b) Learning how to use certain supplies in a certain manner. This makes you learn the characteristics of a certain art supply and the techniques that you can use. You can then use the techniques to produce your unique art. The downside is that if you don’t connect with your imagination, you lose the joy of creating. You know why you do what you do but don’t know where else you could use it.
c) Following a method that connects you with your imagination. This gives you preliminary ideas that you can then expand to fit your thoughts and to grow your style. The downside is that if you have no idea how to use the supplies, it will take up your energy.

My Methods

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet with her art journals

As a teacher and a mentor, I focus on the methods that grow the expression and imagination. Even if I value knowledge and techniques, my strength is in innovating new methods that help you to connect with your creativity. I have heard many say that when they analyze someone’s art, it’s easiest to focus on the technical part. I agree. There are more rights and wrongs to catch. But after creating in a very disciplined manner for the last year, I have come to this conclusion both as an artist and as a mentor: I want to grow my skills to all directions, but if I had to pick one, it would be imagination.

Boost Your Visual Imagination!

Without imagination, we just go around the same circle. We don’t feel free, and we end up believing that there’s one more technical trick around the corner that will change the game. But it’s the imagination that will do that. That’s why I don’t select students based on their supplies, or the technique or style they use. Together, we share our love for making the invisible visible and learning to use the techniques to serve that.

Boost your imagination by joining my community Bloom and Fly! We’ll start with a method for your creative goals, then pick easy ideas from Rococo, explore abstracts together, etc. I will help you to express yourself so that it’s adventurous and imaginative!  >> Sign up here!