Rebuilding Art – Using Reference Images for Self-Expression

Using a reference image as a model for the painting. By Peony and Parakeet.

This blog post is about composing new art by using reference images. At the moment, I have a couple of paintings in progress that are based on reference images, and I also show other examples as well.

Why Don’t Artists Always Tell About Using Reference Images?

While painting my first oil painting at The National Museum of Finland, the visitors of the museum were able to visit the studio and watch us paint. Many people asked why we paint copies of the old paintings. The teacher Emmi Mustonen replied that it’s a good way to learn the old painting techniques and develop the understanding of formal elements. But I got the feeling that some of the people didn’t get it. Their facial expressions were imprinted on my mind, and it made me ponder why using reference images raises conflicting feelings.

Even if most artists who create realistic art or include realistic elements in their art, use reference images, many are not very open about it. I think that one reason is that many artists believe that people know that already and another reason that the process is not interesting. My experience is that there are surprisingly many people who assume that artists don’t take photos or use other than live models. And to me, the process of composing a new image from old ones is fascinating. I always stop to see an article where an artist shows how the reference images were used. I am especially interested if it’s about choosing the photos and combining several reference images into one piece.

Strawberry Madonna – Combining Several Reference Images to Tell a Story

A reference image of Strawberry Madonna and painting in progress. By Peony and Parakeet.

I am currently painting an acrylic painting on canvas that I call “Strawberry Madonna.” It’s my first using old masters’ painting techniques with acrylics instead of oil paints. The idea for the painting started differently than usually. I invented the title first and then started to think how Strawberry Madonna would look. I wanted to find a young woman who would have lips like she had just eaten a strawberry. By googling Renaissance paintings, I found Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio‘s painting. After that, I moved to building a story around the original idea.

Strawberry Madonnas are young girls who enjoy life without worries, have long summer holidays, eat strawberries, learn to crochet and read books like Emily of the New Moon or Anne of Green Gables. I have been one of them, and I feel quite nostalgic about it. I wanted the painting to include surrealistic elements. It has a big strawberry that is placed so that it could be a sleeve of the madonna’s dress. I am also going to change the flowers in the hair wreath to strawberry flowers and play with green and red paint. It will happen when I move on from underpainting to adding colors. In the background, there’s a photo that I took last summer. I am going to make it a little less detailed.

I used Photoshop to compose the reference image and made the sketch on canvas with charcoal. I drew a grid to make the sketching quicker.

Girl with a Ferret – Changing the Meaning with a Simple Trick

A reference image and a painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I have also started a new oil painting under the guidance of Emmi Mustonen. I got to pick the reference image freely. I wanted to pick an old Renessaince painting, but I couldn’t find any that would have a couple of my favorite features when painting with old masters’ techniques. I love to paint fur and fabric, and I wanted to find a face that would include openness. I fell in love with Boccaccio Boccaccino‘s portrait of a gypsy girl, but it didn’t have any fur. So I remembered Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine” and created a new image by combining the two in Photoshop. I have several stories about this one.

The first one is about today’s society and how the pets have become more human in our eyes. I want to show the similarities in the wild gypsy girl and the tame ferret. Another story is about young girls and their love for taking care of animals. They might not know the wildlife, but they help to rescue animals and are ready to work hard when taking care of them. They are against fur clothing and not afraid to show it. The third story goes back to the 16th century. I imagine that the gypsy girl was hired to dress up and hold the ermine because the lady didn’t have the patience to pose for the artist. In the end, she never showed. The artist became frustrated and painted the girl instead. I can imagine the magical moment when the girl realized that she would be in the final painting instead of a lady.

I would like to talk with Boccaccio Boccaccino about my version. I also wonder, how he was able to paint the portrait of the gypsy girl when the artists mostly painted for churches and aristocrats back then.

At Monet’s Garden – Including All the Good Stuff to the Same Image

Last spring, I published a mini-course called Strokes of Energy as a part of the Imagine Monthly Spring series. I asked my students to name their favorite artists, and Claude Monet was among most popular ones. But when I thought about Claude Monet, I didn’t want just to serve those who love the garden or those who adore his way to paint the sky, or those who want to express the windy scenes. I wanted to have all the good stuff in one image and then some more.

A digital collage combining 3 paintings from Claude Monet. By Peony and Parakeet.

So I created a reference image in Photoshop combining three of Claude Monet’s paintings: “Woman with a Parasol” and a couple of paintings from the water lily series. Then I invented a technique where you can paint some of the elements as collage pieces so that you can adjust the overall composition before making the final decisions. This way it is possible to add more details one by one and improve the image during the actual creative process.

A Monet-inspired art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. See her mini-course Strokes of Energy.

So this painting is about a woman who is experiencing strong wind. She doesn’t mind wind catching her parasol. She enjoys the fresh air and the beautiful scene around her.

Ulla’s Take

One of the students, Ulla M. Holm, made a Photoshop sketch from another set of Monet’s paintings and then painted the image with short impressionistic strokes. I love how the result also reminds me of her home country, Sweden!

A Monet-inspired art journal spread by Ulla M. Holm, a student of Peony and Parakeet.

Using Reference Images More Intuitively – From a Story to an Experience

I admit having mixed feelings about following the reference images carefully. With my art, I want to express freedom, and I don’t think that following reference images too closely helps with that. On the other hand, I don’t want to restrict myself doing abstracts only or creating similar paintings one after another. Many artists create the same again and again and become better and better with that. To me, art is about exploring and the hook there is to widen my perspective continuously.

So even if you would prefer abstract art, it doesn’t mean you can’t have reference images. Instead of connecting with the actual story, you can connect with an emotional experience.

Emile Vernon's painting and Paivi Eerola's abstract interpretation. By Peony and Parakeet.

I picked colors and ideas from Emile Vernon’s painting and imagined what it would be like wearing that soft dress. The dress felt like a dream, so I wrote: “Muisto unelmasta” –  “a memory of a dream” in the image.

Using reference images: a photo and an abstract interpretation. By Peony and Parakeet. To learn how to do this, sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0!

Here’s another example from my class Inspirational Drawing 2.0: a photo from The National Library of Finland and my interpretation, “The Power of Knowledge.”

Do yo want to experiment with this approach using your personal reference images? >> Sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0!

For the Fans of Monet – Strokes of Energy

My Monet-inspired mini-course Strokes of Energy is now available as an individual self-study course. >> Buy Strokes of Energy!

Strokes of Energy, a Monet-inspred mini-course by Peony and Parakeet.

Geraldine’s Take

I want to end this blog post with a skilled artist Geraldine Norris from Australia who created her version of Monet in my class. She had just seen an art exhibition showing Monet’s work, and I think it shows how deeply she connected with the experience.

A Monet-inspired painting by Geraldine Norris, Australia, a student of Peony and Parakeet.

But wait, there is more beautiful Monet-inspired art from my students, see the presentation page of Strokes of Energy!

Until next time!

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!

Mixed Media Seascapes – 5 Tips for Expressive Art

Notice the new, useful categories for the blog posts, see the sidebar “Posts by Theme” or if you are in mobile, see the end of the page!

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

1) Play with Colors!

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

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

Claudia Watkins, UK

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

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

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

Susan Rajkumar, India

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

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

Sheila McGruer, Australia

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

3) Express the Softness of Water

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

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

Cheryl Rayner, USA

4) Show The Movement of The Waves

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

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

Lorraine Cline, USA

Terttu Laitinen has the great eye of the storm.

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

Terttu Laitinen, Finland

5) Make The Scene Look 3-Dimensional!

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

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

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland

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

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

Mackie d’Arge, USA

Internal Seascapes – Connect with Your Internal Energy!

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

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

Create Mixed Media Seascapes!

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

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

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

What to Create from Simple Shapes? 6 ideas

When I catch myself building a visual image in my mind, I say to myself that my hands have to process the idea first. The idea can be a decorative design or a new painting or anything visual. When my mind is vigorously trying to create images that I would be happy with, my hands don’t understand my mind at all. My mind is a fool and my hands are ruthless.

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In my mind, I can easily miss the elements that are needed for building the beautiful image. If I imagine a scene, the details that make the scene look so wonderful, are not all there. My mind only has a glimpse. The connection from the mind to the hands feels easier if it’s the other way around. The hand draws a couple of circles and the mind gets creative with them. This way building the bridge from my mind to my hands seems to work much better. Big pictures, personal stories, attractive designs are not born in my mind first. They are born in a conversation that is led by my hand drawing with pen on paper.

But hands don’t decide when to get started, the mind does. This is why I will give you few ideas to start the conversation between your hands and your mind. Like this, this and this post, this blog post is illustrated by my students. The art journal pages that you see here have been made at Modern Mid-Century art journaling class.

1) Build ornaments by grouping simple shapes.

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

Nel Wisse has created colorul clusters and then grouped them to bigger ornaments.

Nel Wisse, Netherlands. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

2) Create a surface pattern and cut a shape from it.

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

For example, see Darci Hayden’s cat and the stairs! Shapes that include patterns look always fascinating. (More patterned paper ideas)

Darci Hayden, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

3) Play with Sizes and Layers

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

Cut some elements smaller and add dimension to your page by playing with layers.
Sue Jorgensen has a good variety of both large and small elements.

Sue Jorgensen, Australia. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

4) Build a map, a house or a room plan

6 ideas to play with simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet

A clear hierarchy between the elements pleases also your left brain.
Marie Jerred’s fox is in the middle of an adventure!

Marie Jerred, Canada. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Stephanie Carney’s Flamingo is just entering a house of dreams.

Stephanie Carney, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

5) Express Micro or Macro World

Both micro and macro biology deal with basic shapes. Explore either molecules or satellites!
Susan Prothero’s micro world is captivating.

Susan Prothero, UK. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Elise Tobler‘s space is full of life!

Elise Tobler, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

6) Find a connection to a story

Explain what you associate with the shapes and then move on to a more illustrational approach. Elaine Wirthlin’s spread is an awesome example!

Elaine Wirthlin, USA. A student artwork for the art journaling class Modern Mid-Century.

Buy the class: Modern Mid-Century!

Modern Mid-Century, an art journaling class that teaches drawing and collage art based on simple shapes. By Peony and Parakeet.

Designers in 1950s and 1960s (like Annikki Hovisaari from Finland and Lisa Larsson from Sweden) truly knew how to play with simple shapes. Modern Mid-Century is a self-study art journaling class where I am inviting you to my living room and showing inspiring examples from the middle of the 20th century. Then I will help you to design your own unique motifs and build a collage that is both decorative and expressive.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with the art journal spread playing with simple shapes.

Modern Mid-Century
Start playing with simple shapes!
 >> Buy Now!

Build Imagination with the Students of Peony and Parakeet

During the last spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Painter’s Ecstasy. Like in the previous blog posts (this one and this), I want to share some of them with you.

Build Imagination with Watercolors!

The pieces of this post are made with watercolors mostly. To my experience, watercolors are the supplies to go if you just stare at the blank paper and have no ideas in mind. They are soft and not so exact than pens or acrylics. It’s also easy to see something interesting appearing and start building new details from that. Maintain an open mind and not try to figure the end result beforehand. Instead, start with a general idea in mind.

1) Start with Mixed Emotions

Because creating art should be enjoyable, we often want to express positive feelings. But to get more connected to your piece, analyze your emotion more in detail. It’s often mixed: joy can hold tears of affection, happiness can contain worry, love can include dependency of some kind. This doesn’t mean you have to dwell in negative emotions but pondering about the more complicated nature of emotions can also free up your imagination. When controversial issues are allowed, it’s a sign to your mind that anything is allowed. This, in turn, will build imagination!

Sheila McGruer, Australia - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Sheila McGruer’s art journal spread tells a visual story about a woman who has an origin. This would not be so expressive without the tear drops!

2) Get Surreal

People say: “I do only abstracts”, “I focus drawing faces”, “I like landscapes”. Break the rules and combine various approaches. Could abstract contain faces? Could faces include landscapes? Could geometry meet human parts? Could 3-dimensional meet 2-dimensional?

Terry Whyte, Canada - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Terry Whyte‘s piece is fascinating. It’s simple if you count the elements but mind-blowing if you examine their relations. A wonderful example of how the surreal can look like!

3) Play with Proportions, Colors and Abilities

Can houses be smaller than faces? Can trees be red and purple, then change their color and leave off the ground? Anything can be possible in your art journal!

Annemarie de Brujin, The Netherlands - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Annemarie de Brujin plays brilliantly with proportions, colors and dynamics. The painting feels like an experience, more than just an ordinary scene.

4) Envision Your Location

Mind-travel to a place where you would like to go! It can be a real location, an imaginary one or the mix of many! Nothing has to be exact. Get inspiration from the colors and the atmosphere. Make your art journal a mind-traveller’s notebook!

Gal Brule, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Gail Brule‘s art journal spread is a wonderful interpretation of the city Barcelona. Mountains, the beach, Gaudi, the colorful street life … it’s all there!

5) Treat Inanimate Object as Humans

One of the easiest way to get imagination going, is to treat anything inanimate as a living object. Can a house have an identity of its own? Can group of items look like a choir of brilliant singers? How do the trees look like when they are smiling?

Claudia Kern, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Claudia Kern has created more than a landscape. The painting is like a big and inviting party!

6) Merge Everything into One Flow

Instead of adding single elements, build connections and flow to your piece. Connecting lines also connect the viewer to the painting and it all seems to make sense. This way, small elements can be used to build big pictures.

Debbie Kreischer, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Debbie Kreischer shows it so well: we are all part of the same flow!

7) Express a Conversation

If you always do faces, why not creating more than one and express a connection between them. Then take it even further: what are they talking about, where are they walking, why are they together? Show it all visually!

Patty Furey, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Patty Furey’s dreamy woman and dynamic man are the perfect couple to dive deeper into the story. They seem to live in a city. Maybe the man has brought the flowers for her. She seems to be the country girl in her heart, though! These kind of pages that evoke stories are the best ones. If you like creative writing as well, use your image as an starting point for a poem or for a short story!

8) Get Ideas from Treasured Items

Open your treasure box or shopping wish list and analyze how the single items are constructed. Does your favorite blouse have ruffles? Do you grave for jewelry that holds the beads elegantly? How are the details of your dream hand bag? Thinking like a designer can give ideas to an amazing art!

Vikki Hoppes, USA - a piece created at the art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy

Vikki Hoppes’ painting is a great example of how to build imagination by constructing elements creatively.

Painter’s Ecstasy

When planning Painter’s Ecstasy, I spent weeks examining the paintings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He had students but to my knowledge they didn’t get much guidance, only a green classroom:
– “I tell them nothing. I just put the plants there and leave them alone together.”

My first sketches were made with few bold strokes but they didn’t catch the essence. Sketch by sketch, I slowed down and toned down. Hunderwasser called his way of working “vegetative painting” as it develops slowly. It doesn’t start with drum rolls but with little bell sounds. The techniques that I discovered with trial and error
make starting easy but stopping almost impossible when you reach the spheres of painter’s ecstasy!

This mini-course, Painter’s Ecstasy, 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.

Build Imagination with watercolors - Art journaling class Painter's Ecstasy by Peony and Parakeet

Build imagination, right 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!

9 Collage Ideas from the Students of Peony and Parakeet

This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Doodled Luxury and I want to share some of them with you. There were so many great pieces that choosing was difficult but this time I thought to share pieces that are very idea-driven. You can never have too many collage ideas, especially if you process several at the same time!

1) Many Variations of One Shape

Gina Meadows shows beautifully how hand-drawn elements are all like from the same family when created by the same person. I also love how it’s full of feather-like shapes. They repeat the idea of a free, observing bird.

Gina Meadows, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

2) Solid Ground

The second art journal spread that I want to show you is by Debbie Loftus. Her work is a wonderful illustration of the quote she has picked. This piece also reminds me of how we can create very free flowing, beautiful mess that still speaks harmony. This can be done by simply making the bottom of the page strong and solid. This piece communicates how we as humans see nature. It’s full of weeds and still so beautiful!

Debbie Loftus, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

3) Mystery That Can Be Revealed

Mary Werner’s lady looks a bit mysterious here – but wait until you see the second picture!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

The lady has a secret, a dog who is her muse, making her to relax and take in much more than when walking outside alone. Mary has used velcro to attach the lady above the muse. Isn’t it a great idea to include a hidden mystery!

Mary Werner, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

4) Spiritual Softness

Speaking of true friends, Stephanie Carney has illustrated two sisters. I love the way they look at the flowers, sharing the same experience. Examine how softly the round frame has been decorated and compare it to others! These kinds of little nuances can communicate a lot visually!

Stephanie Carney, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

5) Real Person in a Fantasy

Terry Whyte made her grand daughter the central person. Isn’t this spread a treasure? Combine your hand drawing with the photos and start building your own fantasies!

Terry Whyte, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

6) Many Sides of One Personality

Satu Kontuvuori included her cat who is a very wild character. Even if she stays still in the image, it’s like the wildly flying bird is one of her many lives. If you are expressing a personality, or any subject that has many sides, you can scatter it into various elements of the same piece. That way you will focus on one theme but still express it in a free-flowing and rich manner.

Satu Kontuvuori, Finland, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

7) Focal Point Balances Richness

Speaking of focus … Christie Juhasz has a trick for creating a clear focal point. See how her mermaid is sitting on a white frame! Even if the work has full of details, white circle makes sure that the main character gets noticed.

Christie Juhasz, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

8) Movement + Space to Breathe

Another great example of using circles: look at Betsy Eaton’s fish and how there’s a circular space around it. Brilliant! Another thing which makes this so appealing is the movement of elements. That dynamic feelhas been created by adding swirly shapes.

Betsy Eaton, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

9) Rainbow Softness

Kathy Lewis (a.k.a KjAllison) made a gorgeous spread full of multicolored elements, like mini-rainbows. This makes me think about macro photography and dew drops! Soft transitions of colors – why not use them in your next art journal page?

Kathy Lewis, USA, a handdrawn collage created at the art journaling class Doodled Luxury

Doodled Luxury

This mini-course, Doodled Luxury, was published as a part of 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 other 5 classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.

Paivi Eerola and a handdrawn collage created for the art journaling class Doodled Luxury, collage ideas for creatives!

Start doodling and collaging, right now!

From the Students of Liberated Artist

This blog post is dedicated to my painting workshop Liberated Artist.
Read how the students have experienced the class
and enjoy the wonderful art that they have made during the class! 

Make Creativity Bloom!

Christie Thomas says: “Every lesson started with a bit of fear, then once started I found that I often set it aside because I could not move on to the next step. I did not “see” anything. But with Paivi’s patient encouragement on the videos and free flowing hands, I watched, listened, and tried to follow the instruction even if it was completely foreign. I finished the pieces and feel excited about my creativity.”

Christine Thomas, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Move Forward with Painting!

Geraldine Norris says: “The course allowed me to move on in my art practice, by being engaged with a teacher who is inspirational, celebrates diversity, creative expression and artistic self acceptance. I now feel I am able to see a sustainable way of moving forward with my painting by having experienced a clear connection with my intuition through the weekly exercise prompts, rather than always wanting to know what work is going to look like finished. In this course I have felt supported on the journey into the unknown and encouraged to make space for the unexpected.”

Geraldine Norris, Australia. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

See Art with Fresh Eyes!

Deb Weiers says: “The class made me more open to staying in the struggle, to be willing to walk away and come back with fresh eyes, to be able to wait longer for the art to come through. To stay open to the unexpected.”

Deb Weiers, Canada. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Express What You See and Feel!

Cheryl Rayner says: This class really helped me to see how I could start from ground zero and express something that was personal. I am even encouraged to start art journaling now, which I had always been turned off to, because it seemed like everyone was just trying to see how much product they could use! Paivi’s approach is far more meaningful.”

Cheryl Rayner, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Let the Painting Grow to a Story!

Karen Nowviskie says: “I am no longer afraid of using watercolors. Most importantly, I have learned to embrace the unexpected and be open to the story of the painting.”

Karen Nowviskie, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Bring More Elements into Your Creative Process!

Kathy Lewis says: “I am looking at creating so differently. I don’t even know how to start to describe my excitement for this course. I trust the process so much more and look into the colors to see things that I would never have noticed before. The actual coloring process has also changed. I love mixing watercolor, color pencil and acrylics! Never thought of some of these techniques before this class. Now I want to go through all the lessons again!”

Kathy Lewis, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Compose with Colors!

Mackie d’Arge says: “The class inspired me to search harder for the hidden images that appear on the painted page. I’m looking at the balance of colors now instead of just the balance of images and lines in a composition. This class was a pure joy. It was four weeks of anticipation and struggle and frustration and trying again and again…but oh what fun!”

Mackie d'Arge, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Take Creative Escapes!

Nea Wiseman says: “It’s a wonderful course. I am starting to free up my control buttons!”

Nea Wiseman, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Overcome the Fear of Beginning!

Ulla M. Holm says: “I discovered that I need not be afraid of watercolors, or to start painting. I am beginning to find my own style.”

Ulla M. Holm, Sweden. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Express through Painting and Drawing!

Susan Rajkumar says: “Something huge inside of me changed, and then it became much easier to sit down and freely let it flow through me. Suddenly I could draw. Seriously. I don’t think about it much now. This was the best art course online.”

Susan Rajkumar, India. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Dive into Art More Often!

Claudia Kern describes: “I expanded my artistic toolbox to include acrylics and pencils which means much more can happen/unfold than working strictly with watercolors. So for me trusting that something as yet unknown to me would emerge and having more tools to use were both liberating. I have learned so much, and the structure of the class has enabled me to make a huge leap forward in making art a part of each day.”

Claudia Kern, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Let Your Thoughts Grow while You Play!

Mary Werner says: “I learned to work in phases both with materials and with slowly completing the painting. I learned to begin with one image without knowing the whole picture allowed a deeper meaning to develop as I was involved with the slow building and thinking of the process. It gave my creativity a chance to play.”

Mary Werner, USA. Student artwork from the online painting workshop Liberated Artist taught by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

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Explore by Drawing!

This blog post is illustrated by students of the 4-week online workshop Inspirational Drawing. All the illustrations shown here are created at the class by these wonderful artists: Dianne Guerin, Ellen Schulz, Terri Elverum, Joan Gaetz, Alison Schockner, Cheryl Rayner, Carol Dickson, Debbie Kreischer, Virginia Clinton, Rosemary Bosse, Mary Joyce Weening, Donna Peake, Joyce Brown, Nancy Kvorka, Judy Shea and Janet Joehlin.

I have often thought about the contradiction between maintaining who I am and being open to what I can become. My friend said that when you know somebody for a long time, you can look through life circumstances and see the person that’s behind all those. And still, while situations change, we change too.

Dianne Guerin, Toronto, Canada, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

By creative drawing, we can find out where we are swimming and how deep we can go.

Terri Elverum and Joan Gaetz, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

We can take personality tests but sometimes the best way to find out what kind of fish we are, is to take a pen and start drawing.

Ellen Schulz, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

By drawing, we can explore how we see ourselves in our surroundings.

Alison Schockner and Cheryl Rayner, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

We can pick ideas from new places and cultures.

Carol Dickson and Debbie Kreischer, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

And we can explore what’s going on inside our minds.

Virginia Clinton and Rosemary Bosse, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

When we illustrate what we seem to be and how we see the world, new combinations start to grow and inspire us.

Mary Joyce Weening, Donna Peake and Joyce Brown, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

Our art journals become our inspiration books.

Nancy Kvorka, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

If we just use thinking, we can endlessly question our creativity and ability to find new solutions. But when we get into the habit of creative drawing, it will be evident that we are creative people regardless of circumstances.

Judy Shea and Janet Joehlin, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

When we draw out our new thoughts and ideas, we become more aware of who we are and what our style is.

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Do You Have a Talent for Creating Art?

This blog post is illustrated by students of the 4-week online workshop Inspirational Drawing. All the illustrations shown here are created at the class by these wonderful artists: Deb Weiers, Chrissie, CHB, Valerie Lima, Sandy Guderyon, Mary W, Gloria Schurman, Katia Maliantovich, Nea Wiseman, Gina Meadows, Joanne, Jacqueline Kriesels, Marie Jerred, Sue Rowlands and C in Ohio.

Let’s start the actual blog post with a personal question: Do you ever wonder whether you are talented enough?

I used to think that some day I will meet a person, both knowledgeable and prestigious, who would tell whether my art is good or bad.  That thought made me both excited and worried. I became excited when I thought that someone saw more in my art than I did myself. And I became worried when thinking about the opposite result: that my art, that beautiful tower I had built, would just collapse. I would collapse.

Deb Weiers, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

Years went by and I got tired of waiting for a specialist’s opinion. Maybe I could be my own critic? I went to study industrial design to find out how the quality of art and design would be set. While studying I realized that there are no right or wrong. People are different. Some may like art that somebody else does not, even if they both are art critics.

Somehow that made me even more puzzled. I didn’t know what kind of people would be my people, who would enjoy my art. And furthermore, if my art was bad, there wouldn’t be many of them.

However, I became convinced that somewhere in the world, there must be people that want to use their imagination and design whatever they like. They want to build houses …

Chrissie's house, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

… they want to travel …

CHB and Valerie Lima, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

… they feel drawn to beautiful patterns, and dream about enchanting gardens …

Sandy Guderyon and Mary W, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

They want to learn from the history and use it to move forward in their own direction.

Deb Weiers, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

The more I examined whether I have the talent, I realized that art is not an absolute in any way. Art is a channel to express and communicate. If I look outside the window, and let my mind wonder on a path, the question is not how dimensional the window frames look like or how grey the stepping tones are. I find my people by sharing how uplifting the coolness feels like when walking barefoot on a hot summer day.

Gloria Schurman and Katia Maliantovich: student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

Even if there are theories about aesthetics, originality, playfulness etc. which determine good art, it is the experience that matters the most. If we feel connected to our art, there are much more chances that others will too.

Nea Wiseman, Gina Meadows and Joanne, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

By strengthening our connection, we will become more talented. We start creating more and seeing more. We will have more to express and more imagination to use. We can make people calm down in front of our art, or make them run and catch thoughts about their possibilities.

Jacqueline Kriesels and Marie Jerred, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

Nowadays, many ask me whether they have the talent. Even before they actually start.

Here’s the answer: Your talent cannot be determined by the grades you got while you were at school. Your talent cannot be determined by an opinion of a knowledgeable and prestigious specialist. Art is not about talent. It is about having something to say and work for saying it. It is about asking “what if” and finding the answer by using both your life experience and imagination. It is about looking out the window, seeing numerous possibilities for the perspective, and bravely picking your point of view.

Sue Rowlands and C in Ohio, student artwork created at the class Inspirational Drawing

So, do you have a talent for creating art? Always.

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