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!

Snow Bird – Drawing and Painting the Cold Weather

Snow Bird by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watch the video of how she made this one!

It’s cold and snowy in Finland, and I just had to get it out on paper. Watch the video blog post!

The Joy of Drawing – Register for the Free Webinar!

The Joy of Drawing, a free webinar by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

On Jan 17, 7 PM GMT/ 11 AM PST, I will be talking about the supplies and techniques that have made me get back to the joy of drawing during the years! Join us!  Reserve your spot here!

Let’s Imagine How You Will Draw in 2019!

Playing with hand-drawn collage Pieces. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Let’s imagine the end of January: a simple line, then a simple shape, a simple bee or a butterfly. When you decorate its wings, your heart begins to flutter too: Where does this play take me?!

Drawing a butterfly. Sign up for Paivi Eerola's class Animal Inkdom!

Let’s imagine your heart leads you to February, to Valentine’s day when you want to give something special to a friend. You doodle a cake with a bird, a bird carrying your heart, a bird that no one has ever twitched before.

Drawing Birds. Sign up for Paivi Eerola's class Animal Inkdom!

Let’s imagine, the bird flies over a clear water. There are fish and glittering jewels, all hand-drawn by you.

Drawing sealife. Sign up for Peony and Parakeet's class Animal Inkdom!

Let’s imagine it’s March, and you realize how feathers and scales are not so far away from fur. Foxes, wild cats, squirrels … the furry wisdom enters your playful world.

Drawing wildlife. Animal Inkdom - an online drawing class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Let’s imagine you want to take a ride in this fantastic hand-drawn safari. You draw a deer or an elephant, anything that can carry you, dress it with tassels, woven blankets, and knits, and let your imagination hop on.

Drawing elephants. Animal Inkdom, a drawing class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Let’s imagine that despite all the seriousness that the word “art” has, you discover the power of play, and get hooked on what you can create for your Animal Inkdom!

Play with …

… Books: Embellish a notebook, an art journal, or make the prettiest bullet journal.
… Gifts: Make a set of greeting cards and be a shopper of your private gift shop.
… Collage Art: Draw collage elements, animal paper dolls, scrap pics …
… Style: Draw minimalistic animals with a blank background.
… Color: Make colorful drawings that are full of elements, enjoy the overwhelm!
… Design: Have fun drawing motifs and patterns and seeing animals as canvases.

Drawing on a bullet journal. Paivi Eerola's drawing class Animal Inkdom.

Start the new year by drawing and playing!

>> Sign up for Animal Inkdom

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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