Creative Struggles in the Middle of Possibilities

An art journal spread made for the mini-course Patterned Topiary. By Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s an art journaling spread that I made for Imagine Monthly Fall. It’s a part of November’s mini-course called Patterned Topiary. For the mini-course, I chose three main themes for the inspiration:
1) Gustav Klimt, the famous artist, and especially his Golden Phase pieces
2) playing with patterns and repeats
3) topiary art, the art of cutting trees and shrubs into shapes. As Gustav Klimt has brilliant portraits, I also included a woman there.

Predictions and Creative Struggles

Some time after creating the mini-course, I started the renaissance painting technique class under Emmi Mustonen. Now when I look at my work (which is still in progress), I see the same woman appearing there. It’s like art could predict the future!

Paivi Eerola learning old painting techniques at Finnish National Museum.

The two projects are very different and still – it’s easy to see that the person who created the first image, the art journaling spread, is the same who’s painting the copy of the portrait. I think this is a brilliant example of why we shouldn’t put ourselves in one corner, but be always willing to learn new perspectives. I could have said that I love freedom and won’t go to the class that is “just copying.” Or the vice versa: that I value old masters so much that I won’t combine them with mixed media techniques or with less-valued art forms like cutting trees. I might have avoided some creative struggles, but I would also have missed the possibilities.

My second project for November’s mini-course is also like a prediction.

An art journaling spread inspired by Gustav Klimt. Made for the art journaling mini-course Patterned Topiary. By Peony and Parakeet.

Namely, last Saturday, I went to see Yayoi Kusama‘s exhibition at Helsinki Art Museum. Another celebration of dots and patterns!

Paivi Eerola at Yayoi Kusama's exhibition in Helsinki Art Museum, a pause from creative struggles

Diversity of Themes and Techniques

I have now released 4 of 5 mini-courses for my art journaling master-class Imagine Monthly Fall 2016. There’s a lot of diversity in the projects: painting, drawing, making collages and combining the techniques to create mixed media art. You can still sign up and get all the published mini-courses immediately. There’s also a great community that you don’t want to miss! Seeing many versions of monthly themes is part of the enjoyment! I also lead a discussion related to the theme every month.

Imagine Monthly Fall, monthly art journaling mini-courses by Peony and Parakeet

Struggles in the Middle of Possibilities

When creating and teaching the mini-courses, I have experienced that art is full of possibilities but still, we fight with the fixations all the time. To me, the word “artist” has so much emotional overload that it feels difficult calling myself one.

But I got a wake-up call recently when someone said to me: “You’re already an artist and you should just embrace that. Doing otherwise is denying who you are.”

Selling My Art in Public!

After pondering that, I decided that I have to stop selling secretly based on occasional requests. I should make my art more accessible. So I set up a shop at Saatchi Art, which is a commercial site for artists. The great thing about Saatchi Art is that you can now also order fine art prints from my pieces, not only buy originals. Some of the paintings are sold already, but you can buy them as prints.

Paivi Eerola's paintings at Saatchi Art

Tell me, which struggles do you have with your creating right now? Are they due to a certain technique, certain conditions or a certain mindset?

New Online Painting Workshops – See the videos!

I have two new online painting workshops in October! See the videos and sign up!

Planet Color
 is suitable for beginners and focuses on color!

Nature in Your Mind is for those who have been painting for a while and who love nature themes!

I have got quite a lot of feedback about the intensity of my workshops: that people wish they could reflect more and have some time after the most intense part of the workshop with the opportunity to get more personal feedback. So I have taken this into account in this workshop, thank you all who have filled the feedback form after my workshops! I get back to them all the time and use them when planning new courses like this one!

Come along and free up your painting!

>> Sign up for Planet Color!
>> Sign up for Nature in Your Mind!

Hopefully I will meet you in either of these – or in both!

Libraries, Trees, Skies and Seas – This Year so Far

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet and her library room

While building new classes and updating the web site (see the new Create page!), I realized that I have over 450 blog posts in this blog. I have been blogging for a long time, but still, it’s a big number! While going through those posts, I realized that more than a diary, this blog is like a manual, lot’s of instructions and tips on how to start creating and keep on creating. I have no intentions to change it. However, I feel I have left out many things that have happened during the spring, so this post is a bit different.

Libraries

As I work from home, most days during this spring have been spent in the library room of our house. While creating new mini-courses for Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, I have also visited public libraries examining art history where I get most of my ideas from. This “library time” is one of the best things in my job as an art teacher. I love the feeling of control that I get from seeing all the books around me. It’s very different from browsing information on the internet. Internet is like a tube or a bunch of tubes, while libraries are like arenas, bringing more information visible at the same time.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, January's mini-course, Doodled Luxury, inspired by Alphonse Mucha

I have not only visited the usual local libraries, located near my home, but “the library”, National Library of Finland.

The National Library of Finland, one of the most beautiful libraries

I tried to capture its’ beauty to one panorama photo but it doesn’t quite show all the wonderful details the building has.

Trees

When working from home, garden views become important. Our back garden has old trees that had grown too big and they had to be cut. We hired arborists to do that and the trees looked like sculptures first, now there’s lot’s of green already.

Trees in spring, Finland

Another tree-related event was when our apple and cherry trees blossomed. It was more beautiful than ever before, the spring had been so warm. Like creating this William Morris inspired spread for one of the mini-courses, would predict a warm weather to Finland!

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, February's mini-course, Flowing Greenery, inspired by William Morris

Speaking of trees, I visited the center of Helsinki to see a famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama‘s instalaltion. Again, I tried to get a panorama photo of it!

Yayoi Kusama in Helsinki, Finland

Small and Surreal

Spots came to my mind already earlier in the spring when I spent a lot of time examining Hundertwasser’s surrealistic way to build big pictures from small structures.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, March's mini-course, Painter's Ecstasy, inspired by Hundertwasser

No wonder I have not only taken panoramas, but used macro lense too. When we took care of our long spruce fence, I saw small dew drops that looked like mini worlds! Who wouldn’t want to go there and see what treasures they carry!

Dewdrop, spruce, nature photography, Finland

Taking photos is really important part of my creative process. The camera challenges me to see further than the obvious.

What a Movie!

In May, after publishing the mini-course on Claude Monet’s style, I went to a movie theatre to see a special documentary. It was called Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. Anybody who likes flowers, gardening and painting should see it!

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, April's mini-course, Strokes of Energt, inspired by Claude Monet

Mid-Century Magic Box

June’s highlight was Rut Bryk’s exhibition Magic Box and the inspiration I got from it.

Rut Bryk, Finland

Earlier in the spring, I had already examined mid-century modern designs. My mini-course for Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 was about how to make your own mid-century modern art journal page.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, May's mini-course, Modern Mid-Centiury, inspired by mid-century modern style

From Expressive Skies to Seas

After examining Claude Monet’s style, I became more and more aware of how beautiful skies can be. There were some beautiful sunsets this spring.

Sunset in Vantaa, Finland

These glowing sunsets made me think about landscapes and how expressive they can be – how we can create fantasy landscapes and use them as a tool of self-expression! Then I saw a couple of art exhibitions that had seascapes and felt drawn to them more than ever before. So the last mini-course of the spring is about seascapes.

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016, June's mini-course, Stormy Scenery, inspired by seascape painters Ivan Aivazovsky and J.M.W. Turner

When I make recordings for my classes, I must confess that it’s terribly exciting. It requires extreme concentration to produce the artwork in front of the camera and take care of all the little things that make a good video. Every brush stroke has to be educational as well as exact. I intend to get better and better at this, showing how you can create with less fuss and more expression!

Cosmo – My Dog

My beagle Cosmo has had health issues for the whole spring. It has been stressful and I have worried about him a lot. He is already 11 years old so I have feared for the worst. But luckily the cure was found finally and he is now happy and healthy again, enjoying the beginning of summer.

Happy beagles, Finland

Imagine Monthly Continues

Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 closes in the end of June. Before that you can still sign up and receive all the 6 mini-courses immediately after the purchase + get access to the discussion group to see what other students have been creating! These courses will become for sale individually sometimes in July-August, but as self-study classes, without the access to the discussion group.

Imagine Monthly Fall 2016 will start in August 1st! Get 5 new mini-courses, 1 per month from August to December, sign up now!

New Class: Imagine Monthly!

Imagine Monthly, an art journaling class by Peony and Parakeet

I have been preparing for the spring season and composing my newest class: Imagine Monthly. This art journaling class lasts from January to June and is slower-paced than my workshops. It also includes less tutoring, but will be perfect for developing artistic skills through regular practice, compelling techniques and new ideas. Hopefully I will see you there! (If you read this in November 2015, you might actually want to stop reading now and purchase the class, as it’s on Black Friday Sale!)

Planning a New Class is Like Creating a New Collection of Art

When I am planning a new class, I use notebooks. I have Moleskine sketchbooks where visual ideas get recorded and a green Moleskine notebook that I use for plans that need more writing. Building a class is a creative process that requires not one idea but hundreds of small ideas that are processed into one focused entity.

Moleskine art journals and a Moleskine notebook

When planning a new class, I try to keep the collection of ideas as diverse as possible. I try to include not only technique-oriented ideas but also philosophic ideas, principles, practical problems, various motifs and styles etc. This also affects how my notebooks are filled. I try to be open to all kinds of things and write single sentences, play with different styles and break the content in modules that I can use for building new kind of combinations.

Art journals and colored pencils

In my opinion, even most elaborate art journals should have occasional style changes and imperfect pages. It’s in the nature of art journaling to support creative process and not try to keep everything as tidy as possible. However, I have noticed that short sentences that made a perfect sense a couple of weeks ago don’t always remain useful. Same thing happens with fast sketches: some are just plain ugly!

Sketch with a black drawing pen

That’s why I think it’s important to make more detailed pages too: focus on the shapes and coloring and put more effort on saving the original idea.

Artwork by Peony and Parakeet

Like combining all kind of different ideas for one class, creating art is also a process of building new entities from smaller motifs. These motifs are like building blocks. If you have problems with your imagination, maybe you don’t have enough building blocks in your toolbox? Or if you want to take your style to a new direction, maybe you need new building blocks too?

Artwork by Peony and Parakeet

In my opinion, best art journals include quick sketches, collections of reusable building blocks and luxorious, imaginative pages. These art journals can work as creative portfolios – notebooks that we browse with pleasure to find new ideas for the next pieces.

Imagine Monthly – Pre-Order Now!

Sign up for a 6-month art journaling journey Imagine Monthly to get new building blocks and create pages that will take your art journals to a new level! To thank you, my most active followers and customers, I have tried to make the class as affordable as I can. And if you buy the class during Black Friday weekend, including Cyber Monday (Nov 26th-30th 2015 PST), you will even get a special discount price!

Imagine Monthly, art journaling class - Black Friday Sale!
>> Sign up by clicking here!

Am I the Same as My Coming Book?

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet holding folk bags in the front of her fabric stash.

November has been a folk bag month. In the beginning of the month I thought I would be writing a craft pattern. The more I worked with it, the more obvious it became that it will be a book. If I knew that before I started, I would have spent the whole month just procrastinating. But now it’s too late! The book has been written. Just some Finnish translations and single word check-ups has to be done before putting it all together visually. There will be 9 chapters and over 100 photos!

Stella, the beagle, Paivi's dog

Most of the days, including the weekends, have been spent on a computer. Luckily I have two dogs to take care of, so I need to take breaks!

At the same time, I am excited and worried. I am anxiously waiting to be able to see the bags that you will make using the book! At the same time I am worried if I have included all what I have to give and put it in a way that you are able to comprehend.

Paivi walking on the snowy road

I have also been thinking about my connection to my business. How I could understand the difference between the work I do and me as a person? All the creative people have to deal with this someway, I think.

During a month like this, it is very difficult to remember that I am much more than a folk bag or an intuitive painter. Have you felt that you take the result of your creativity very personally? I think it’s normal behaviour as we have put so much of ourselves into our work. But at the same time, it is good to remember that we are much more, and can become much more. Luckily, for Stella, my little beagle, I am something totally different than a painting or a book!

Sunflowers – Tell Me How to Improve

Watercolor sunflowers by Peony and Parakeet

Sunflowers bring light to darkness and look very powerful. Perhaps that’s why they symbolize a life change for me. This fall they are more relevant than ever. I resigned from my day job just few days ago and started as a full-time creative entrepreneur!

In the past, I have always admired the people who make changes in their lives. But I never thought I could do that myself. It seemed to require exceptional courage and ability to take risks. Seven years ago I experienced a small change when I decided to change my professional identity from computer engineer to designer. I went to study industrial design.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet

Little did I know back then that it was the seed for the big change that I am experiencing now. I thought I would be perfectly happy developing new products focusing on user experience more than their technical qualities. But with designer studies something reappeared to my controlled life that had been hiding for a long time: the compelling need to create art.

Watercolor sunflowers in various color schemes. By Peony and Parakeet.

The assignments connected to my studies gave some basic skills but I missed more – self expression! That goal in mind I spent years practicing most of the evenings, analyzing what went wrong and where to improve. At some point I realized that I do not want to be the greatest artist on earth. I do not want my blog to be the showcase of my artwork only. I want to share what I have learned and also what I am currently learning while struggling. I want to teach art.

Sunflower ornament by Peony and Parakeet

It took years to dream and nine months to plan the big leap. I have gone through the fears of being lonely, poor, inadequate and uninteresting.

Now, in this special phase of my life, I ask you: help me improve and develop new products and services!

Answer the reader survey of this blog!

While answering, think where you want art to take you!

Start Blog Reader Survey by Peony and Parakeet

Let Me Be Your Art Teacher

Paivi Eerola, Peony and Parakeet, in 1983During the years I have had all kind of art teachers. For example the bohemians of my childhood: two professional painters who taught on Saturdays at the children’s art school. Or that very strict old lady that gave exact instructions and kept the class of 30 teenagers busy with various techniques and approaches to art. I also remember a textile artist who taught freestyle weaving for adult students. She adjusted her view according to each student’s skills and desires. When I studied industrial design I was taught by an illustrator guy who was specialized in sketching the prototypes of sports cars. Despite of their different personalities they all had a big impact in my life.

What kinds of art teachers have you had? How have they impacted your life?

(Photo: Me 30 years ago at the art exhibition of the children’s art school)

There are some things that I would have liked to change in my teachers. They taught perspectives, techniques and theories but very little about self-expression. They showed the work of other artists but never spoke about the unique style that all of us naturally have. They gave exercises but never explained how to make creative thinking as a regular, enjoyable practice.

140224bI just had my 45th birthday and it’s about time to give back what life has given to me so far. So, I ask, let me be your art teacher! Let me show the fascination of using creativity. Let me give you new ideas how to find the artist in you. Most importantly, let me bring colors and imagination to your life. Whether your daily practice is just enjoying the images you feel drawn to or creating them yourself.

Say yes and subscribe to my newsletter to get new ideas and keep motivated to create beauty and meaning through art.

Scrapbooking News

Investment, a scrapbooking page about an old type writer

I attended the Finnish Scrapbooker of the Year competition with this layout. It is about an old typewriter that my parents bought with part payments. My father was a policeman and needed the machine to type the investigation reports. I also wrote about how different the machines are nowadays and how it all relates to me.

I managed to get to the final! There are 6 of us. There is a about 4 weeks to make a mini album for the final judging. The theme is “A day of somenone’s life” and some scrapbooking supplies were sent to us. I took all the photos yesterday. The weather was great and it was Saturday so it wasn’t too stressful. Furthermore it was my beagle’s 1 year anniversary!

Me and my beagle Stella

This photo is taken by my husband. I think Stella looks very content. And yes, I am happy too, there’s a lot of work with a puppy but now it’s getting a bit easier once she’s older. I think she is still as cute as a puppy though!

I heard that Google reader is retiring and that must be a reason that I have got new followers through Bloglovin.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New Site, New Folk Bag and Other News

A lot of things have happened recently, along with the new web site and the location of this blog! I am going to expand the web site within the next months and hopefully you’ll already have bookmarked the new location of the blog.

Participating in an Exhibition

From October to the beginning of December my work is displayed at a knitting themed exhibition in Tampere, Finland. At the crafts centre Verkaranta you can see my printed fabric Botanical Garden and a new folk bag there.

Fabric, Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden, turquoise colorway

Here’s the new folk bag.

Folk Bag

I think that crocheting the bottom part with many colors looks pretty!

Folk Bag

Great Time at the Craft Fair

In september I attended a craft fair in Helsinki, Finland. It was organized by a small group of local small businesses. I mostly sell online so it was fun to talk people in person for a change.

Paivi at the Craft Fair in Helsinki
I am holding the fabric Summer here.

But now it’s nothing like summer in Finland, it’s cold and dark and we have already got some snow too!

Stella, my beagle

This was the day Stella saw snow the first time. She loves it!

I am sorry about the few week’s break in blog posts! Now when I am settled here in the new location, I will get back to regular posts. Lot’s of new creative stuff to come!

Some Publicity!

My interview is published at the newest issue of Taito magazine. It is a Finnish magazine about crafts and art industry in Finland. My story and the photos of my work covered several pages. It feels great! Here are some of the pages.

My folk bags were included in the cover of the magazine!
Here’s me showing how I save even the tiniest piece of paper!
Even if I enjoy tremendously making all the stuff I show here at my blog and sell at Etsy, it is hard work. I have a day job and all the creative work takes place at my spare time. That’s why rewards like this interview feel really great!