Peony and Parakeet

Three Creative Approaches that Affect the Way You Feel About Your Art

Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

Here’s my latest oil painting called “Dreaming Ducks.” I started it in December 2017 and finished it just recently. It’s the biggest oil painting that I have made so far – 70 x 50 cm. I painted it too long, too many sessions, and lost my motivation several times. Painting became more challenging layer by layer and I demanded more of myself, never feeling fully happy what I had made.

1) Fine Art is a Stone on the Bottom of the Sea

Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

The deeper I dive into fine art, the heavier it feels. If creativity is a sea, fine art is like a big stone on the bottom. I have to dive deep, it takes time to reach it, and then it feels so heavy, that it’s often impossible to lift it. But then, on the other hand, it’s also an anchor, the core of my visual voice and artistic identity.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

But at the same time, I believe that if we only create fine art, it narrows everything. It narrows our artistic vision because we lean too much towards what is appreciated in the art world. It narrows our audience, and we no longer serve all the people we are meant to serve. It suffocates our enthusiasm because we raise the bar all the time. We forget what really matters because we block ideas based on whether it’s fine art or not.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

Fine art makes us limit ourselves: “I paint abstracts only”, “I have to choose my palette and stick to it”, “I need to find my style”. When we have the mindset of a fine artist, we question what we do all the time.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

2) Creative Play is the Boat Floating on the Sea

But then, there’s the surface – the fun stuff that I personally missed too many years while growing my skills to reach the big stone.

Magical Inkdom, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

These ink drawings are like a boat to me. I acknowledge now that it’s mindless to make the diving attempts if I don’t have anything supporting me on the surface. Something like drawing witty cats! I have made many for the upcoming class Magical Inkdom!

3) We Easily Miss the Water That Connects the Two

We have been talking about the bottom of the sea and the boat, but it’s all connected, right? It’s easy to forget the water when you are going for the stone or polishing the boat! An artist friend of mine pointed out this to me. She said: “Your work always contains designs.”

Like water, it was a no-brainer: “Well yes, I used to be a designer. I like to design things.” But at the same time, it was something I hadn’t really thought about.

Drawing a design from an oil painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about the three approaches that you can take for your art!

I went to my computer, wiped the dust from my old Intuos 4 drawing tablet, opened Adobe illustrator, and started drawing.

Drawing a design from an oil painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The blue cat got a cousin! Look how I used the motifs above to complete this digital drawing.

A cat illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Creative Approaches

Now I think that these approaches should be the elements of every creative process:
a) diving deeper to find the anchor – discovering your visual voice
b) sailing happily in a little boat – playing with your imagination
c) seeing the water that connects the stone and the boat – becoming more aware of your current capabilities and what you can accomplish now

When I started to see the water, I got the feeling that it’s all good. Anything that I do can be connected, repurposed, and fed back to the process. What I have dreamt can begin to happen now, not years later.

What do you think of these approaches? Can you apply them into your art? Which is the hardest and which is the easiest for you at the moment?

Creating Horse Art – Reawakened Love!

"Brave", a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s my newest watercolor painting called “Brave” (for sale in my art store!) I got an idea of using a horse to symbolize bravery that comes with finding your passion(s). Isn’t it a romantic thought to see the passion as a horse inside us, rising from the depth and blowing strength!

Past Passion for Horses

Recently, I have found a lot to be passionate about. Many of those things have been inspiring to me as a child. but I have let them go for tens of years. One of these things is horses. I used to play a lot with toy horses, and I was also addicted to taking care of my hobby-horse, an ugly plastic blue thing! Sadly, I rarely saw real horses and I haven’t ever had a horse as a companion.

Hobby horse love

Once my parents took me to a field where a small horse farm offered horse-riding for children. They lifted me on a big Finnish Horse that had no saddle. Someone walked the horse, and I tried to keep myself sitting straight even if the back of the horse was really slippery. I made it to the center of the field and then fell off. The field offered a soft ground, and the horse didn’t step on me. They offered me a horse with a saddle, and it was much more comfortable! That’s most of the practical experience I have about horses. But of course, my theoretical knowledge was much more vast. As a child, I had borrowed all the possible horse books from the library and stayed busy building stables or crocheting rugs for the toy horses.

Finding the Creative Play with Horses Again

It must be early teenage years when I got alienated from the subject. Since then, I had never had a desire to own a horse, to ride a horse, or to do anything with horses. Until I participated in Inktober, the monthly drawing challenge. While making this drawing, my love for horses was reawakened.

"Double", horse art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

As adults, we easily ignore things that resonate with us but that don’t belong to our outer world. Even if we can draw and paint anything, we easily define ourselves with outer standards. If not having experience about real horses didn’t bother me as a child, it shouldn’t worry now either. I may not be a horsewoman in the outer world, but I can have a stable as big as I want in the inner world.

Creating Horse Art with Watercolors

I started the painting from the flowers and as usual, didn’t use any pencil sketch. It’s a bit risky way to create, but I love problem-solving and knowing exactly what to put and where is not always a practical solution for me. Here are some quick early stage pics! I used a reference loosely for the head of the horse.

I was painting happily but in the middle of the process, I was in trouble, not knowing how to finish the piece.  When working with watercolors, it’s especially tempting to just stop so that the painting doesn’t end up too dark.

Creating horse art - a watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

But here, I loved the idea and didn’t want to leave it looking unfinished and busy.

Planning in the Middle of the Project

I took a snapshot of the unfinished painting and made a plan in Photoshop. This is how I help my students all the time, and it’s a very handy skill to have!

Planning how to proceed with suggestions made in Photoshop. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

The first image above is the starting point, and the next images are made in Photoshop. They demonstrate what changes should be made next. This time, I also followed the plan. But sometimes it happens, that I end up with a totally different solution but which would have never crossed my mind without the Photoshop play.

Late Night in the Studio

I like to paint so that I watch tv shows or video podcasts on my iPad at the same time. It can happen that I paint a romantic and profound piece and then watch a tv reality show that I can barely stand! Sometimes it feels like the worst the show, the better the painting becomes!

Creating horse art while watching Idols. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! What did you love as a child but that doesn’t show in your current creative life?

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet and her surreal horse art piece called "Brave"

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