Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

A Natural Approach to Creating Art

Withering Peonies, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. Finding a natural approach to creating art.

My latest art journal page is called “Withering Peonies.” What I love most about peonies is that they are always graceful and brave, whether they get ready for blooming or withering, whether it is late autumn or early spring. They are living in the middle of the continuous transformation, and it’s always enjoyable to watch them. They seem unique and individual; even every flower looks different from each other.

Yellow peony from the garden of Peony and Parakeet

No Fixations, Just Painting and Doodling

When watching peonies, I think about the word “natural.” To be able to grow as artists, we need to learn to express ourselves naturally. Like peonies bend towards the light, we should bend towards our inner thoughts and feelings. So when I began to create the artwork, I did not think about anything particular, not even about peonies.

Adding acrylic paint with a pallette knife

I started with acrylic paints and a palette knife creating thin spots of color using a restricted color palette. Then I changed to a drawing pen and let it move freely, without any fixated thought.

Drawing freely

I believe that we suffocate our creativity when we have fixed images in our minds. We get disappointed if we cannot copy the images exactly on paper. But then, the fixed image is often imperfect, impossible to copy. It is more like a collection of visuals, a movie or an emotion that is not very detailed. If we fixate on that, we turn away from what is natural.

Moving forward is natural. It’s natural to let thoughts flow freely and add more colors and layers.

Finnish sky

More Mixed Media

I used watercolors for some areas.

Painting with watercolors near acrylic paint spots. Finding a natural approach to creating art.

After watercolors, I worked with colored pencils.

Colored pencils with watercolors and acrylic paints

A Theme Emerges

While coloring, I saw peonies emerging on the page and I remembered the peonies that were put in a vase to save them from the rain.

Peonies in a vase

When peony flowers mature, they will lose their color. That gave me the idea to take some gesso and rub it on the surface of the piece. First with a palette knife but then with fingers, to soften parts of the edges.

Gesso over a mixed media painting

Finally, I sharpened some details with a drawing pen and made some color areas clearer with colored pencils.

Withering Peonies, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet


Writing thoughts after creating an artwork feels natural too. Drawing or painting is not only a technical process, but it’s also a way to process thoughts.

Withering Peonies, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

The Natural Approach

Withering peonies can be a symbol of letting go. When you open yourself to art, something beautiful might disappear. But it is so exciting to see what else will appear – naturally!

Withering Peonies, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

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57 thoughts on “A Natural Approach to Creating Art

  1. Your process feels so right and allows such freedom of expression. I just love your paintings no matter what mediums you use. The class has really provided a change for me in allowing the free-flowing of creativity manifested in one’s drawing and choice of colors.

    1. Thank you, Valerie! I am so happy that my students keep on creating and especially when they find their own natural way to do that!

  2. I love peonies…ever since childhood when my sister grew enormous peonies in her garden. She sent me a tuber years ago, and I have one plant now in my teeny tiny garden. It blooms beautifully every year.

    I love your page and also continue to enjoy your excellent art philosophy!! Thanks Pavi.

  3. WOW Paivi! You continue to amaze and inspire me!! Ditto to Valerie’s comment too. Your class has opened up a whole new freedom and life in my work. I think your class was the most valuable class I have ever taken. I thank you SO MUCH for being so sharing of yourself!

    1. Thank you so much, Deb!! I am so happy you enjoyed the class! Hopefully it will bring you joy for a long time!

  4. The process is just as beautiful as the finished piece. Thanks so much for being so generous with your work. Lovely, absolutely lovely!

  5. Your beautiful work is so original, I adore every piece you show! It makes me want to jump into your head to experience what you experience while making these stunning pieces and I also simultaneously want to dive into my own art supplies and see what comes up for me if I try to let go of fixed images in my head.

    1. Tammy, thanks so much! The intention of these blog posts are to make everybody get a bit deeper in creating art, so hopefully you did go to your art supplies!

  6. Such wise words to use in my creating process! Can’t help but tell you what I see in your gorgeous piece. A golden sailing ship is coming into a flowering harbor that lies near the coast while behind the flowers is a magnificent busy city skyline waiting for the ship’s delivery. If I saw this again, in one month, I wonder what I would see? I love to travel and experience your pieces from the comfort of my laptop and easy chair. Your art is like a masterfully written good book!

    1. Thank you, Mary, I love your imagination and how you can write everything down so that we all can enjoy it too!

  7. Beautiful work. I’m a fledgling returning to art after many years at other things. I’m always inspired by your posts – new ways to approach the art and new ways to think about life. Thank you, Paivi!

  8. absolutely beautiful work of art — I love the way you express your inner most thoughts — loved the class — I learned lots of different ways of thinking about my art

  9. I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from your joie de vivre and your art, but when you use your colored pencils which are hard to sharpen without breaking, precisely what kind of sharpener do you use? Thank you very much.

  10. Stunning! I love Peonies too Pavi! I love all the bright colors. Especially the magenta! I use bright colors in my art!

  11. I have a question about the pens you use. When I used a micro pen over gesso, it clogged and wouldn’t work. Do you use a micro pen over watercolor and pencil crayon? I have tried your technique but have run into pen problems so have not had very good results yet. Hopefully you can guide to a suitable pen.
    Love your work!

  12. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read and see! I ditto everyone else’s comments! I will need to take your class. I have soooo many images in my mind, and this class, I can see already, will help to let go. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

    1. Anna, thanks! Yes, my class Inspirational drawing is all about letting go and creating a process for your art!

  13. Hi Paivi
    and thanks again! I really do love peonies. Since my childhood I can remember big rows of dark red peonies glittering in the sunshine… Then sun always shined. And as a daughter of a gardener I have loved flowers, all kinds, and all creatures great and small, too. Yesterday it was possible to visit my parents house for the first time after my accident. It was bitter sweet day. It lifted up good and not so good memories. Greatest of all, I could wonder around in the garden and take a look . I didn’t remember the names but they came popping up when I walked around. I started collecting some flowers, hays, weeds even. I looked at them like a child for the first time. Their beaty of constriction, how the curled up, winded around and so on. I rubbed their scent with my fingers and sniffed them.The nettles I leaved in peace… I made a bouquet of mine with wild flowers. One of each. I did take though 4 different kind of Bellis and a poppy with its seedpod, lovely flashback to my childhood again.
    Now I have the bouquet in my windowsill with my Sansevierias. I have a large collection of mother-inlaw-tongues… The bouquet fits in perfectly with the Sansevierias. They have same greatness as wild flowers do.
    Sun starts getting up now and I see it in my right eye corner. Have a beatiful day today Paivi! And many happy thoughts from the northern Finland, Kainuu !

  14. Oh Paivi, so beautiful. Your work is always an inspiration to me, but this one in particular is my new favorite. I love the magenta and other colors. And for those of us in your class, that you asked for class ideas, a more in depth class of this technique starting with acrylic, to water color to colored pencils and black ink would be wonderful. As other said, I appreciate how generous you are with your art. Thank you

    1. Nancy, thanks! I will include more mixed media in a workshop that will hopefully be released in the late fall.

  15. Its difficult for me to express how deeply I feel your beautiful and compelling art work. Your Inspirational Art class was so helpful in guiding me toward my own creative freedom and every piece of art work of yours you show us is a new teaching. Thank you so much Paivi.

  16. I can not wait to take your class in September, Paivi. Your work has an almost spiritual movement for me. I like to pull up your site in the mornings after my devotional time; it is full of hidden inspirations! Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. I, too, am looking forward to taking your class in September. I just recently found your work and love the energy and freedom that your art expresses. When I draw, I find myself getting caught up in details, when what I truly want to express is the essence of the subject, or feelings I am having. I am very appreciative of the way you explain your process. It makes both my right and left brains happy. 🙂

  18. Every week I say – this is my favorite piece you have ever done and every week you top it. This piece is so beautiful – I saw the flowers immediately. I just love everything about this! Are you ready to come to the US? I would love to host you.

  19. I have wanted to paint peonies forever, but knew I didn’t have the skill to do so realistic — you have nailed it! I’m going to give this a try. Your work is so beautiful and after taking your class I think I may have a chance to do some nice work. I’m with Sandi, come to the US for a visit – we would all love to take an in person class and be your host.

    1. Gloria, thanks so much!! I would really like to come over some day! When painting peonies, think about what they mean to you!

  20. Paivi…..the way you express your words in English is astonishing to me! You express yourself better than most native English speakers (assuming that English is not your native language) 🙂 I have been following your website for a few weeks and am constantly inspired by not only your art…but the beautiful words that you use to describe and encourage others. You have such a unique way of expressing your thoughts. (in words and art) Thank you!

    1. Kellie, thanks so much!! English definitely is not my native language, I struggle with it every day! But I have always enjoyed writing and try to practise it in the way I preach about drawing: I know I make mistakes but hopefully the text is still understandable.

  21. What a glorious piece of work! Every time I see one of your artworks I am completely in awe. Love to see your process. Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. You have put into words exactly how I feel about painting and crafting. I can’t look at something and draw it, but I *can* create the essence of the thing that is inspiring me. Your art is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.

  23. Dear Paivi,
    You have done it again and I am as amazed as the first time I found you online.
    Everytime I pull up your site and see your picture it brings a smile to my face just knowing the sweetness that comes through in your art works and writings. Keep creating. I can hardly wait for the next new work.
    Thanks for sharing. Nancy

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