Peony and Parakeet

Watercolor Girl in a Spring Garden

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have just finished this watercolor painting. It’s a continuum for this recent one:

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This spring, I have been painting flowers, fruits, vegetables, vases, and pots – my inner garden – while my husband has been busy taking care of our outer garden!

I don’t intentionally paint what I see in the garden, but I am fascinated by it. Our front garden had big changes last summer so it’s interesting to see what has survived through the winter and what hasn’t. It’s a bit like when starting a painting – some details stay, and some get covered.

Watercolor painting in progress.

At the beginning of May, we got snow. We had just had a warm period but then it became really cold!

Snowing in a Japanese garden.

Fortunately, the weather has got warmer again. This morning, I walked in the garden and thought how perfect all the shapes and colors are. I imagined I am a watercolor girl in a watercolor world, translating all the beauty on a coarse cotton paper step by step.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It’s just magical when the old cherry tree blossoms in our new Japanese garden for the first time.

Cherry blossoms in a garden.

I only wish our tree would have pink flowers. But for a watercolor girl, everything is possible!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

One of our flowerbeds is filled with a variety of tulips. We buy some new bulbs every autumn, and the bed gets fuller and fuller every spring.

Tulips in a garden.

I love to paint abstract shapes and then draw lines to make them flowers or filaments!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Does your garden appear in your art?

Enjoyable Floral Watercolor – Paint with Me!

Flowers with watercolors by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watch the video to paint with Paivi.

To celebrate the upcoming class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, I have made a new free video. It is a tutorial for painting a layered floral watercolor painting. I love to paint this way – freely without reference photos and hope that you will enjoy this method too. It’s based on a negative painting technique where you paint more the areas around the flowers than the actual flowers.

Enjoyable Floral Watercolor – Watch the Video!

You only need a couple of brushes, watercolors, and watercolor paper. A spraying bottle is helpful also. Watch the video tutorial below!

More Floral Watercolor Projects

Here are some of the pieces from my floral watercolor series which I haven’t published in my blog before and which were showcased in the video. I link the title to my art shop where they are available with more descriptions. The first one is “Aamu – Morning”.

"Morning" - a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My favorite detail:

A detail of a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This one is called “Tahtoisin jäädä” – Would Like to Stay“.

"Would Like to Stay" - a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My favorite detail:

A detail of a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This painting is one of my favorite florals that I have painted so far. I saw the color scheme in an old painting and wanted to use it. This one is called “Saan elämältä paljon – Life Gives Me Plenty

"Life Gives Me Plenty" - a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My favorite detail:

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

A lovely birthday bouquet that I received this year was an inspiration to “Syntymäpäivä – Birthday” I will show how this was made more in detail in Week 2 of Floral Fantasies.

"Birthday" - a flower watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My favorite detail:

A detail of a floral watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

All the bigger paintings shown in the video are available in my art store too. See all the paintings here!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles – Sign Up Now!

My comprehensive flower painting class Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles will begin on Monday, April 29! Don’t miss this!

From the Garden, a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. A class project for her class Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles.

Come to draw and paint flowers with me – Sign up for Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles!

Abracadabra – Magical Watercolor Effects

Magical watercolor effects. A watercolor painting called Abracadabra by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My latest painting called “Abracadabra” is a big one, 56 x 38 cm or 28 x 15 inches. It was a lot of fun to create so I want to dedicate this post to the magical effects that water creates when painting with watercolors.

Magical Mess

Right from the beginning, this painting had a mind of its own. And as you can see from the photo, I also used a lot of water to make the process even more uncontrollable. The more I paint this way, the more boring all the other mediums feel. Watercolors are magical companions, introvert when in pans but extrovert on paper!

Tip: Start with a plenty of water!

Magical watercolor effects. A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

In this project, I was testing Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, new to me. It has a weird smell when it’s wet but other than that I quite like it!

Fun Appearances

When I add some sharpness and control, I try to do that gently so that I don’t put too much burden on flowers that have born naturally. The idea is to bring out the best details.

Tip: Add dark shapes to bring out the magical watercolor effects!

Fascinating Translucency

Magical watercolor effects. A detail of a watercolor painting called Abracadabra by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

When painting with a lot of water, watercolor becomes magically transparent. I love how the colors get mixed when they are layered.

Tip: Let each layer dry properly!

Watercolors Can Draw!

Magical watercolor effects. A detail of a watercolor painting called Abracadabra by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I also like to think that watercolors can draw. When applying water, watercolor blooms with sharp frilly edges. These lines can be more than just lovely outlines. In the detail below, I used one to make a stem!

Magical watercolor effects. A detail of a watercolor painting called Abracadabra by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Tip: Use your imagination to make the most of what you have on paper!

Flow and Melody in the Safe Haven

I have had mixed emotions this spring. I have lost some old birds and my oldest dog has been sick. It’s been something that I have found difficult to share, it’s still so recent. But in the middle of all the worries, my studio has become a safe haven where I have been painting in the late evenings. The colors of the 16th-18th centuries and the pop songs of the 1980s have inspired me. Do you still remember Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band? A very superficial hit song but it has such a flow in the melody that it goes well with magical watercolor!

Paivi Eerola in her studio showing her watercolor painting Abracadabra.

Come to draw and paint flowers with me – Sign up for Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles!

Painting Watercolor Still Lives

A watercolor still life painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

I usually have a lot to say but this time I can barely type any words. I am madly in love with painting watercolor still lives. They keep coming! It feels that any topic can be put in the form of a still life whether I am painting a princess or a bonsai.

A watercolor still live painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I think that art is this kind of a bonsai: even if it would be nourished very little, it keeps staying alive, producing flowers and fruit. It’s both ancient and fresh at the same time.

First a Mess, Then a Still Life!

I love how watercolors have a mind of their own. Especially, when painting without reference photos, the first brush strokes feel exciting and the possibilites seem endless.

A beginning of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The bonsai painting was just a mess after the first layers. I had a lot of fun making the mess!

Starting a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and parakeet.

But I even had more fun bringing out the bonsai.

A detail of a watercolor still life painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I use an abstract approach, and it’s so exciting that it keeps me painting. What was first just a clumsy geometric shape is soon a delicate flower! I teach this technique in the upcoming class Floral Fantasies.

A detail of a floral still life painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

My Watercolor Set – A Mix of Brands

I like to use pans more than tubes because it’s much quicker to start painting right away, not wasting time for opening and cleaning the caps. But I also buy tubes because when a pan gets empty, I can use a tube to refill it.

Painting with watercolors by Paivi Eerola from Parakeet

My watercolor set of 36 pans is originally White Nights by St. Petersburg, but within time I have purchased other brands too.

New Pans – Roman Szmall Aquarius

One of my latest purchases are pans manufactured by Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolors. It’s a new professional quality brand from Poland. I find their color chart fascinating. For example, they have a very light pink called Cobalt Violet Light and their black called Aquarius Black is very granulating which means that it has a grainy texture. So far, my favorite of theirs is a warm grey called Przybysz’s Grey. It’s very good for muted color mixes. I am lucky that my local art supply store sells this brand!

Watercolor set of 36 pans and mixed brands.

Drawing a Watercolor Chart

Always when I change the pans, I also draw a new chart in a notebook. This is how the chart looks currently (VG = Van Gogh, RS = Roman Szmal, DS = Daniel Smith, “Oma sek“= my personal mix).

Watercolor Color Chart by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I love to curate my palette. When one color runs out, I consider carefully whether I buy more or change it! I also like to examine what the best order is for the pans, and as you see from the chart above, I often change the order a bit! This is my way to bond with the supplies, and every time I begin a new painting, I feel that they are my team, working with me!

Painting Watercolor Still Lives Together

Watercolor Still Lives by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Come to draw and paint flowers with me – Sign up for Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles!

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