Watercolor Video – Filling a Plain Background

A small watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watch her video of painting this and how she fills the plain background!

Painting with a wet brush on a wet background is a traditional and proven way to start a watercolor painting. But what then? Representational or abstract? Watch the video!

Fill a Plain Background with Watercolors – Watch the video!

Take Yourself on a Picturesque Watercolor Journey

My class Watercolor Journey is especially for you who admires traditional watercolorists but who wants to be more loose and contemporary in your approach.

Watercolor Journey, an online watercolor art class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

If you find sketching, perspective painting, careful shadowing and copying boring, but want to learn tips and tricks to let watercolors do half the work for you, you don’t want to miss this class!

Connect the dots between watercolor techniques and your imagination – Sign up for Watercolor Journey!

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!

Using Color Schemes from Home Decor

Green talks to Black, a painting by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

In the early 1990s, I bought an interior design book from the UK. It’s called “Design and Detail” and it’s written by a famous designer Tricia Guild. She was not as well-known as she currently is back then, and I hadn’t known her before I saw the book.

Creating Art by Using Color Schemes from Home Decor

I felt drawn to the interior color schemes and the decorating style presented in Tricia Guild’s book. Never before had I felt such a strong appeal to home decor. I knew I liked to be surrounded by strong colors, but I had never seen them used in such a powerful way. Since then, my every home has had elements and spaces inspired by the book. Whether I lived in a small single room as a student, in a flat or a house, I have always browsed the book when I’ve needed inspiration for interior color schemes.

Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail

Last week, I saw a picture that had one of the color selections that are presented in “Design and Detail.” It was the combination of green and black including a little bit off-white, yellow and muted orange-red. We already have that color scheme in our bedroom but at that moment, I wanted to play with those colors again. So I started a painting that has green and black and followed the instructions from my upcoming class Planet Color!

Green talks to Black, a painting by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Once it was finished, I painted more interior color schemes from the book. Again, I used the 7-step method from Planet Color. I had so much fun creating these!

Warm and Inviting Colors

The dining area in Tricia Guild’s book looks very cozy. The striking combination of yellow and black is balanced with earthy colors and then brightened with a few warm, bright spots.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

My art journal spread is inspired by the flowers and vases. It also plays with angled and round shapes as seen in the dining room.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Whites and Neutrals

I am definitely out of my comfort zone when using pale colors in larger quantities whether it’s creating art or home decor. But I wanted to try to get inspired by Tricia’s master bathroom. It was surprisingly easy when I focused on expressing the textures shown in the photo. The narrow color scheme also made me focus on adjusting the colors only slightly.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

It is surprising how many tones can be created from a very restricted color palette. I also quite like the red/orange spot on the right and how it balances the upper left corner. When using neutral colors, even the smallest colorful detail can make a difference.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Many Shades of Yellow

I had a bedroom that had quite a lot of warm yellows when I was a child. But before “Design and Detail,” I never thought I could have bright yellow walls. But during the years, I fell in love with the warm yellow shade that I call “Tricia Guild’s yellow.”

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

In the art journal spread, I played with various shades but six years ago, when we moved to our current house, I wanted to have that particular “Tricia Guild’s yellow” on a wall.

Yellow wall inspired by Tricia Guild's home decor book Design and Detail

Even if there were tens of yellows available as paint, “Tricia Guild’s yellow” wasn’t found in the color charts. I thought people must think I am mad being surrounded by all the yellows and shaking my head. Then I just picked one that was closest and we started painting. But it wasn’t the right shade and after one layer, it felt too warm. After carefully analyzing the yellow in the book and comparing it with the wall, I decided to add warm black to adjust the tone. And so we got “Tricia Guild’s yellow”, just the perfect tone on the wall!

Home decor - Mixing yellow paint to get just the right color

This story shows how many colors there are in the world and how little you experiment with if you are using only ready-made colors. Start mixing your colors! It is a reason why I built Planet Color, my color-oriented workshop!

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by home decor!

Colors from Potted Garden Using Leftover Paint

After creating so many paintings, I ended up having some leftover paint on the palette. I decided to use the paint by getting inspired by exteriors too.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet and Tricia Guild's home deocr book Design and Detail. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Expressing a potted garden with circles is easy. Angular tiles are also easy to add to the picture.

An art journal spread by Peony and Parakeet. Get inspired by using interior color schemes in your art!

Sign up for Planet Color!

Planet Color, online painting workshop by Peony and Parakeet

Take your favorite interior design book, or Pinterest board, or any source that inspires you with color, and sign up for Planet Color! I’ll show you how to experiment with colors so that your painting is more than just a selection of color samples. I’ll show how you can make colors interact and how to enjoy adding more instead of just making a mess! And if you are more of a minimalist, you can omit some steps of the process and create a simple yet eye-catching painting! Reserve your spot now!

What Acrylic Colors to Buy?

Tosca, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

This is a very practical blog post but let’s start it with my recent artwork, called “Tosca.” It is inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera. I went to see the opera last week and it was an experience that I wanted to communicate visually. The drama has always appealed to me and the contrast between the most beautiful sounds and the big emotions, often agony, was unforgettable.

Before the evening at the opera, I had just realized that I need to buy some more acrylic paints. I had run out of almost all the basic colors. I love Golden Heady Body Artist Acrylics, so I went to a local art supply store to get some. I know there are lists of what colors you should buy when buying the basics, but as my selection is a bit different, I thought I might not only share it but also give some general guidelines of what acrylic colors to buy. These can be applied to colored pencils and watercolors as well.

Guidelines that I Follow when Choosing Acrylic Colors

1) Always buy basic white and black. They give contrasts and are great for color mixes.
2) Never underestimate the number of yellows you need. I use yellows for everything. I love the color itself, and use it a lot for color mixes as well. I often make a mistake of adding too much another color with yellow and then I need to add some more yellow to get the right tone. So I need a lot of yellows!
3) Warm and cold tones of each primary color are usually enough. I don’t buy browns and greens unless I find a specific tone that I fall in love with.
4) Always include some personal favorites. When I open the box where I store the tubes, I want to become happy. Cerulean blue reminds me of the time when I painted icons. I think of the sky when I see it and it makes me feel creative and happy. Whatever the current color trends are, cerulean blue always feels great. When I buy colors, I think about creating as an experience and don’t just focus on what is generally recommended.

Cerulean Blue acrylic paint tube, read more about what acrylic colors to buy!

My Basic Collection of Acrylic Paint Colors

A basic collection of acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

Basic Colors:
1) Titanium White – because it’s basic white
2) Mars Black – because it’s basic black
3) Quinacridone Red – because it is great for mixing pinks and purples
4) Pyrrole Red– because it’s fiery and pure warm red
5) C.P. Cadmium Yellow Primrose – because it’s ideal to get beautiful greens but it is still a strong pigment, not a mix
6) C.P. Cadmium Yellow Medium – because it’s the most beautiful warm yellow I know
7) Primary Cyan – because it’s basic and more affordable than many other blues
8) Ultramarine Blue – because I have used to using it for decades

Extra Colors:
1) Medium Magenta – because I like pinks
2) Hansa Yellow Light – because it is an affordable extra yellow
3) Cerulean Blue Chromium – because it makes me happy
4) Manganese Blue Hue – because I like turquoises

I also have some special effect tubes, for example, gold and silver and some odds and ends. The more I paint, the more I rely on basic pigments and don’t like to spend money buying color mixes in tubes or jars.

A Red Day

Sometimes one color seems to be more appealing than the others. This happened to me last week; it was “red red red” that I thought all morning.

Three red acrylic pigments: magenta, pyrrole and quinacridone

Even if I had the new tubes and all, I started with watercolors and 12-by-12 inch watercolor paper. Playing with water is so liberating!

Painting a background with watercolors

Then I changed watercolors to acrylic paints and turned the music on.

Adding acrylic paint over watercolors

Puccini’s Tosca was playing in the background but as I had not visited the real performance yet. So I put this away to wait for the more detailed insight.

Colored Pencils Make the Details

A couple of days after seeing the opera, I was ready. I continued with colored pencils. They are wonderful art supplies. They are brilliant with watercolors, but they are ok with acrylics too of you create thin and even layers.

Tosca, a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

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