Peony and Parakeet

Joyful Art Taught by Drawing Paper Dolls

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This one is called "Living Paper Doll"

Here’s my latest illustration called “Living Paper Doll.” It expresses the world of fantasy that I have been able to find after changing some of my artistic dreams.

Trade-Offs to Create Joyful Art

For a long time, one part of me has admired old master paintings, yearned for more visits to famous art museums, and desperately wanted to master more and more skills. Another part has been less serious, playing with the idea of getting back to childhood, drawing animals and paper dolls, re-reading books like Emily of the New Moon, and watching Bride and Prejudice for the 12th time …

After October, or should we say Inktober, these two parts have started to shake hands and discuss what to save and what to throw out. A lot of that inner conversation has been about changing technical skills to using more imagination. Another trade-off has been between abstract and representational art. I no longer aspire to create fully abstract paintings. More than a fine artist, I am an illustrator of the mind.

If you look at this piece from January 2018, its visual style is very similar to my current pieces. But content-wise the change is a big one. This now looks empty to me.

Abstract art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Freedom of the Line or the Mind?

How many times have we tried to grow our drawing and painting skills to become “looser”? And how many times it has led to more stiffness regarding the use of imagination?

I have to admit that often we art teachers can be blamed here. It’s easy to focus more on the technical side, composition and such, rather than supporting the growth in expression. But on the other hand, “techniques” and “step-by-step” are often the words that students want. Expression and imagination sound much vaguer.

However, joyful art is created with free spirit. Now I feel that if I had to choose one stiffness, it would be the stiffness of the line instead of the mind.

Joyful Art in Practice – Forgotten Piece Gets Completed

Last weekend, I organized my studio and found a piece that I had started in July. I hadn’t finished it because I had no idea how to proceed. It was made on a huge piece of paper that I had later cut smaller just to be able to store it more easily.

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Last summer, I did many experiments with graphite pencils. Here I also used watercolors, one of my favorite supplies. Now I wanted to add some ink drawing as well. It was a lot of fun drawing my current favorite subjects, animals, to this forgotten piece.

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Ink pens and watercolors go well together!

Creating mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Painting with watercolors and creating joyful art.

First I thought I make this piece a self-portrait by drawing my face on the background. But then I thought about my business name Peony and Parakeet, and how Peony represents beautiful things while Parakeet is for curiosity and play. So the idea of a face changed to a bird. Notice how the elements blend with each other, creating a sense of unity to the piece.

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watercolors, ink, and graphite pencils.

I toned down the bright white areas with yellowish green. I used Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold. It’s one of my favorites when painting with watercolors.

Mixed media art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. This one is called "Living Paper Doll"

Paper Playground in the Studio

My studio has always had a minimalistic feel, but now it has got more and more joyful art that I don’t want to put away!

Paivi Eerola's art studio full of joyful art.

One of the big joys in January has been the art that has been created by the participants of Animal Inkdom. On Monday, we will start a new module and it’s about drawing birds. I am so excited to see what everyone will create from the class projects.

Hand-drawn paper bird. Art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

These paper dolls feel alive to me. They radiate hope that was always present when I was a child. I was living in a dream world most of the times, and back then, there seemed to be nothing extraordinary. But for an adult, it’s amazing what the mind of a child can discover, and sad how we ruin that when starting to follow other people’s expectations.

A detail of a mixed media artwork called "Living Paper Doll" by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Art, Hope, and Humor!

There are no boundaries in art. Art includes hope and humor as well. To me, exploring humor joy has revealed new ways to create. I feel that I am now better at delivering a sense of mystery, dealing with dark themes, combining suspense and silliness, and accepting that sometimes art can be so bad that it’s almost the best possible kind of art!

Humorous and joyful art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Come to Animal Inkdom to draw with us, we’ll start with the birds on Monday. The previous module “Bees and Butterflies” arrives immediately after signing up, and you are good to go! >> Sign up here!

10 thoughts on “Joyful Art Taught by Drawing Paper Dolls

  1. I love watching your discoveries! Your classes reflect your delight in learning new things. I can’t wait for the birds!

  2. I find myself truly inspired by your work mostly because you let your imagination flow freely in your art. I am an artist using fabric to tell my stories and I am an anomaly amongst my contemporaries because I let my imagination loose in my compositions. Sometimes I feel lonely and unimportant. That’s when I like to pop in and see what you are doing. Your way of creating affirms my decision to be the same way – imaginative. Your work is fresh, inventive and always provocative.

  3. Paivi: I love the direction your art is going. I’m really enjoying your Animal Inkdom class and eagerly awaiting Monday’s class. The way you break down your subject to its smallest parts makes it easy to learn and the results make you a fabulous teacher. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Diane!! — I made the exercises of Animal Inkdom so that all have a common simple ground to start easily and then move on to a more personal direction.

  4. It is funny how things have to happen at the right time. Paivi, you are the right time for me now. The years have taken a tole on my imagination and I have been bound up in other people’s expectations. I got myself into this state of stiffness, which means I have the power to get out of it.

    I am enrolled in your Animal Inkdom class but haven’t started doing the exercises. Reading your blog has made me realise that my stiffness is stopping me from taking that step. I have been doing the technical thing of practising drawing flowers, but my fear of letting go has stopped me…up until today.

    As I am writing this, an idea has popped into my head on how to draw my first butterfly. I am excited about the prospect of really letting go and finding the joy again.

    You are a great inspiration Paivi, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    1. Thank you, Pamela! I believe that we make the world a better place when we get the courage to use imagination. It makes our art more unique and enjoyable, and thus it serves other people as well. Have fun drawing, playing, and expressing yourself!

  5. I agree that your January 2018 piece looks a bit empty but that is exactly why I LOVE it! I can look at it and wonder about the colors and shapes for a long time. Sort of feels like I’m bathing in a warm colorful pool with ripples and eddies that invite me to relax and enjoy my stay. Somehow, I really enjoy looking/diving into your work and swimming around as it always gets my imagination flying with me. I love the relaxing way I feel while enjoying your work and how I feel while entranced in the colorful view. I understand what you meant about being empty but that can also mean it is full of potential for my brain to imagine things. Maybe it is both empty and full depending upon who looks at it. I just adore that painting with it’s hazy white space bubbling under the volcanic eruption of colorful warm waves splashing – the pink keeps the red from being hostile so volcanic in this painting describes a warm and happy place.

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