Making the Most of Visual Nuances

"Summer is Coming", a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet
This is my latest mixed media painting “Summer is Coming”. It has been exceptionally warm weather in Finland and all that sunshine has brought summer not only to my mind but to my painting too. I tell you now how I created the painting!

First Layers: Having Fun with Watercolors

The painting began with watercolors. I made a mess that didn’t look so good when looking at it from a distance. But it looked wonderful when taking close-up photos!

Starting a mixed media painting with watercolors, by Peony and Parakeet

After splashing the first couple of layers with a big brush, I changed to a smaller one. I painted simple shapes with soft edges and thought that maybe this will be an abstract piece.

Is This a Still life – Again?

Mixed media painting in progress, by Peony and Parakeet

But after a while, it looked like a still life! I must admit that I have developed some kind of obsession for still lives. I have loved them for a long time already. But recently it has begun to feel that anything could be expressed with them. Well, a Finnish artist Miina Äkkijyrkkä has painted and sculpted cows for all her life, so still lives might not be so bad …

More Details with Colored Pencils

With colored pencils, I made the flowers more distinct. I wanted to work as softly as I could so that the delicate look of watercolor paint would still be dominating.

Almost There – Visual Nuances

Then I entered the actual finishing phase. This is what I call “Almost There” phase. It is the point where many just call the painting finished, and they try not to think about it too much. But if I am teaching a class, I encourage people to continue. One way is to show them what they can do next. So I open the photo of the painting in Photoshop and make little adjustments. With these suggestions, I try to add more visual communication and interest to the painting. Sometimes a little spot of color can make a big difference! See what kind of suggestions I made for my painting!

Adding visual nuances - suggestions for finishing a mixed media painting, by Peony and Parakeet

What’s the Magic of Using Photoshop for Suggestions?

One thing is that I can zoom as far as I can. Another thing is that I can try out different kind of adjustments without making a mess. I don’t do this often for my paintings, but I wanted to show you how little guidance can take the image to the next level. This is one thing that an art teacher can do: show you how you can fine-tune your work so that it has those visual nuances that make the painting more dynamic and alive.

Finished Painting

Here’s the painting after finishing it according to the suggestions. I used colored pencils and white gesso for the final details.

"Summer is Coming", a mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet

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8 Responses to Making the Most of Visual Nuances

  1. Peggy Lynn says:

    Paivi, this is so outstanding on so many levels! It’s why I follow you…your ability to make the subject easy to understand…your willingness to share with us…and the absolute BEAUTY you create…so inspiring!!! Thank you over and over again.

  2. Sandi Keene says:

    What a gorgeous piece. I immediately saw a bouquet of flowers. I have never thought of using Photoshop to try out changes. Super inspiring! So lovely!

  3. Trish Gibson says:

    This is just gorgeous! Your mind and hand takes us to beautiful places and the finished product is absolutely superb! Yes and thank you for teaching us step by step, the ways to get things on paper and just play! No pressure. Just play.

  4. Nel Wisse says:

    Thanks a lot for this superb lesson !

  5. Theresa Merkling says:

    You have no idea how much I love and admire you and your art. This is on of my fav blogs to follow and I often share with my art friends.

  6. Running Lynx says:

    This is another one of your many many dynamic pieces!!! So yummy!! I am learning so much from you about “taking each piece to another level.” Thank you so much Paivi!!

  7. Lorraine Cline says:

    Paivi, I love this still life. Those little pops of blue are just right!

  8. Deb Weiers says:

    Paivi this piece is SOOO gorgeous!!!! And thank you again for sharing and for your wonderful teaching!!