Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Belonging Somewhere as an Artist

This week, I share my word for 2024 and thoughts about the good and bad in the sense of belonging. I also have a new finished painting!

Muutosvoima - Driving Force, acrylics on canvas, 2024. An abstract floral painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Muutosvoima – Driving Force, acrylics on canvas, 2024.
See more pics at the Taiko art store!

I haven’t used acrylic paints on a canvas for a long time. But now I wanted to paint faster and not wait for the layers to dry.

Painting Freely

This painting took me a couple of long evenings and I deliberately left it abstract, because the subject of the painting is not about the flowers, but about the power rising from the ground.

Here’s how the painting started: loose strokes and juicy colors.

An abstract acrylic painting in progress. Read thoughts about the sense of belonging by Peony and Parakeet.

It’s easy to fall in love with colors, but when you want depth, you also need muddy colors: browns and greys.

Creating abstract art. Adding muddy colors to bring attention to the other parts.

I like to use several different brushes in one painting, and my favorite brushes are very thin.

Abstract art. Painting details with a thin brush.

The title “Muutosvoima – Driving Force” sums up what I want to tell with this painting. Muutosvoima could also be translated as “power of change.”

Paivi Eerola and her painting Muutosvoima - Driving Force.

I believe that the best power of change is not the hype created by others, but the inner enthusiasm that has a grounded tone. Because isn’t it so that flowers only bloom when the earth warms up? Sunlight alone is not enough.

Belonging Somewhere – The Good and The Bad

I’ve been thinking about togetherness lately. It’s a wonderful feeling. For example, last week when many people commented on my post, I felt happy that this blog brings us together. One of the best things that has come with the internet is that you can be pretty weird and still find like-minded people.

Abstract florals, a detail of a bigger painting.

However, the sense of belonging has its danger. Art is about walking your own path. Encounters are important, but you also need to go in the other direction to create something unique. As a teacher, I have often thought about how I could better guide people in their own direction.

Brush strokes on canvas. Painting loosely and in an abstract style. Pondering about the sense of belonging.

Art is like a pot that you have to break first and then put together again. The pot can be broken in many ways and at best, you find your own way to put it together. You need a driving force to break the pot and then persistence to rebuild it.

Finding Your Places in the Art World

In my career as an artist, I have often wanted to be like someone else. I have envied popular artists and then later realized that I wouldn’t want to create the kind of art that they do. I realized that I would like to be popular in creating something else and somewhere else.

Signature on a canvas painting. Pondering about the artistic identity and the sense of belonging.

With experience, the art world opens up. Instead of one hall, you begin to see numerous smaller rooms. What is popular in one room can be overlooked in another. Being an artist requires a lot of self-esteem and the power to move from one room to another.

Holding a painting in the spring garden.

When you find one room that feels like your own, the sense of belonging is at its greatest. However, it’s better to move between several rooms and find many groups. At best, the artist acts as a bridge between different things.

My Word of the Year – Do You Have One?

My word for 2024 is Integrate. This year I have allowed myself to do more diverse things, but on the other hand, I have tied all the pieces together so that one benefits the other.

Have you chosen a word for this year? How has it been realized?

Designing Cross Stitch Patterns

This week, I have something very different than before: cross stitch!
Buy my first commercial design Primavera from my Etsy shop called Needle and Peony!

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

There are two main reasons for designing this pattern. The first is the need for creative play and the second that I couldn’t find anything like this from other designers: a fantasy woman’s facial portrait that wouldn’t be a huge project.

Playing and Drawing in the Stitchly App

My need for creative play comes from being very serious with art this year. I have spent a lot of time in programming computer art and I have been painting a bit too. It’s all great but I started to miss drawing, and especially, making something that is purely illustrative and not so abstract and artistically challenging.

So because I have had cross stitching as a hobby almost all my life, I bought an app called Stitchly and started drawing there – on lunch breaks and such, a few stitches at time. First I just doodled freely with the Apple pen to get to know the app.

Designing cross stitch patterns in the Stitchly app.

Stitchly is easy to use and with the pen, drawing is fun and the squares get filled nicely. Of course, you can also import a photo and let the app create the chart automatically. But to make the image look realistic enough, the stitch count needs to be high and the design … well I don’t think it would be a design anymore, just a pixelated photo. So, when I design, I like to draw with the pen and if I use references, I only use them as inspiration and draw every square myself.

I also like that you can have a custom palette in Stitchly. I have made a palette that has all the DMC colors from my stash, so I can also check the real color when designing.

Drawing and Stitching Faces

When people begin drawing in adulthood, they often start with faces. Eyes, mouth, nose too. Facial features create a connection to the person born on paper. It’s also fun to draw hair and add decorations there.

So, one day it hit me that even when doing cross stitches, I can get company from the character I am stitching. However, couldn’t find a cross-stitch pattern that was a reasonable size and where the character was naturally asymmetrical, but still sparked the imagination.

My stitching time is lonely time in the evening. I clean the studio if I have been painting, and then pick extra glasses and while stitching, watch other cross stitchers’ videos on Youtube, so Flosstube as we cross stitchers call the channels.

Cross stitching in the evening

So when I wanted to stitch a facial portrait of an imaginary person, I decided to draw it in Stitchly. After making the chart, the fun started – I was stitching my own pattern!

Cross stitch project Primavera in progress

Primavera can be stitched in the colors I suggest in the pattern, but since there are only 11 colors, it’s easy to change them as you like.

DMC floss and aida cross stitch fabric

Although Primavera means spring, by changing the colors you can associate a different season or different theme with the character. The decorations are designed to be so general that they don’t limit the character you create.

Primavera fancy lady portrait cross stitch pattern by Paivi Eerola.

The hair has three colors of different darkness, the skin has four. The hair band has two colors close to each other. It is easy to change the accent colors of the mouth and eyes, and also the colors of the decorations.

You can buy the pattern for Primavera in my Etsy shop!

Needle and Peony

It feels nostalgic to have something on sale at Etsy again! Long before I became a full-time artist, I opened the Etsy shop called Kukkilintu, then later changed the name to Peony and Parakeet. That little shop had a major impact on my career and life. Most of my customers lived outside Finland and I started communicating more and more in English.

Folk bags by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Me and some of my folk bags in 2008.

Maybe some of the current readers of this blog were my customers over ten years ago when I sold folk bags (currently available as a knitting pattern), handknitted doll clothes, hand-decorated papers and cards!

Now I changed the shop name to Needle and Peony and intend to add some charts over time. Maybe some slow stitching ideas also, as I have some of them too. Last week, I set up an Instagram account called @needleandpeony to show my cross stitch projects – also what I have stitched from other designers.

Which Design Should I Do Next?

While designing Primavera, it hit me that I have a pile of drawings that I have made for classes and that could be turned into cross stitch patterns. When I browsed them, I couldn’t decide what to choose next, so I now ask you – what would you like me to design next? I have picked 5 drawings to choose from, leave a comment and let me know which one is your favorite! Which one of these would make a great cross stitch design?

A) Angel

Angel drawing by Paivi Eerola

See how I drew the angel in 2022: Angel Drawing for the Inner Child

B) Girl

Flower girl drawing by Paivi Eerola

This flowel girl was drawn for the course Doll World.

C) Cat

Funny cat drawing by Paivi Eerola

This cat was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

D) Leaf

Folk leaf drawing by Paivi Eerola.

This folk leaf is an older design, from 2015. See more: Art Quilts in a Modern Way

E) Horse

Fantasy horse drawing by Paivi Eerola

This fantasy horse was drawn for the course Magical Inkdom.

Tell me your favorite of the five – A) Angel, B) Girl, C) Cat, D) Leaf, or E) Horse?

Support me in the cross stitch design journey, here’s the link to purchase Primavera!

About Creative Freedom

Creative freedom. Examples from the online course Liberated Artist Revisited.

I have often wondered why I am an artist. The first answer that comes to mind is creative freedom. “Creative” and “freedom” seem like easy words at first. Everyone wants to be creative, right? And who doesn’t want to be free?

But creative and freedom are also difficult words. Especially if you think of creativity as the opposite of traditional or familiar, and freedom as the opposite of safety and stability.

I find many things in myself where I love tradition and security. You could call me a homebody, that’s how much I love being at home. If I had to choose between a museum of historical art and a contemporary gallery, I would definitely go to the museum. And I love decorative items and anything small and cute. Also, my studio is always super clean – not what is expected from an artist!

But I still want to be a liberated artist, create a mess, break the formula, and then discover something new out of it. Crafting, or copying reference photos, or drawing the same things year after year, has never been enough for me. I have wanted to blow up the lump inside me, which has accumulated from creative energy that has not been able to get out. That’s why my courses also have a lot of creative freedom.

The idea of ​​the course Liberated Artist Revisited is not to create an image similar to what I do in the videos, but to solve a puzzle that we first create. Creative freedom begins when you realize that there is not only the art of creating but also the art of seeing. When you highlight what you see, you become a liberated artist.

Liberated Artist Revisited - online art course by Paivi Eerola.

Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

12 Spring Art Ideas from Over the Years

This week, I share spring-themed art from the past 10 years and give ideas for creating spring art.

12 spring art ideas from over the years by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

There’s a variety of ideas and I hope everyone can find some that inspire to get creating!

#1 – For Beginners and Dull Moments

Doodle spring flowers with the mindset “more is more”!

Doodle easter flowers. For beginners and dull moments. See more spring art ideas!
Easter Flowers, mixed media, 2013.
See the blog post: Subconscious Art

Course recommendation: Collageland

#2 – For Self-Explorers

Express your spring energy by following this step-by-step exercise: Bursting Circle

Bursting Circle, mixed media art exercise by Peony and Parakeet
Bursting Circle I, mixed media, 2014.
See the blog post: Bursting Circle

Course recommendation: Inspirational Drawing

#3 – For Free Spirits

Splash color and let everything grow from there!

Free Spirit, acrylics on paper by Paivi Eerola, Finland. Abstract floral art.
Free Spirit, acrylics, 2015.
See the blog post: Art is Freedom

#4 – For Those Who Want to be Freer

When you want to be freer, the art of seeing is as important as the art of creating.
See the video of making “March Still Life”: Painting in Liberated Style

March Still Life, mixed media art, see more spring art ideas by Paivi Eerola.
March Still Life, mixed media, 2016.
See the blog post: Painting in Liberated Style

Course recommendations: Liberated Artist Revisited and Freely Grown

#5 – For Minimalists

Pick a small piece of watercolor paper, moisten your watercolor pans, and let water do the trick.

Easter Flowers, a simple watercolor painting.
Easter Flowers, watercolor, 2017.
See the blog post: Easter Still Lifes in Watercolor – Video Included!

#6 – For Travelers

Paint a spring panorama. More examples: Watercolor Panoramas to Express Travel Memories

Spring in Scotland, watercolor panoramas by Paivi Eerola.
Spring in Scotland, watercolor, 2018.
See the blog post: Watercolor panoramas to Express Travel Memories

Course recommendation: Watercolor Journey

#7 – For Beautiful Mess-Makers

Beautify the mess by adjusting the details: paint frilly edges and draw fine lines!

After Winter, a floral watercolor still life by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
After Winter, watercolor, 2019.
See the blog post: Freely Born Watercolor Florals

Course recommendations: Floral Fantasies and Freely Grown

#8 – For Journalers

Decorate a journal cover with your original art! See more instructions in this blog post: Painted Paper Collage

Art journal cover. See more spring art ideas!
Art journal cover, mixed media collage, 2020.
See the blog post: Painted Paper Collage – 6 Tips for Intricate and Fun Art

Course recommendations: Collageland and Decodashery

#9 – For Bird Watchers

Take this challenge to move from illustration to fine art:
Step out of your comfort zone and think about a bird shape as a canvas for expressing its surroundings.

Blackbird, oil painting, Paivi Eerola, 2021.
Blackbird, oil on canvas, 2021.
See the blog post: Pros and Cons of Becoming an Artist

Course recommendation: Floral Freedom

#10 – For Art Lovers Who Procrastinate

Reduce watching those photo-realistic colored pencil videos and start coloring freely. One heart shape can lead to many and start your flight to the world of imagination!

Illuminated Heart, spring art ideas in colored pencils. By Paivi Eerola.
Illuminated Heart, colored pencils, 2022.
See the blog post: 5 Reasons Why I Love Colored Pencils

Course recommendations: Intuitive Coloring and Fun Botanicum

#11 – For Wannabe Fantasy Artists

Find the story first, then its surroundings! A character is not only described by his face.

Magician's Tea Party, oil on canvas, 2023. By Paivi Eerola, Finland. Alice in Wonderland inspired art. Spring art ideas.
Magician’s Tea Party, oil on canvas, 2023.
See the blog post: Wonderland Art – Inspiration from Alice in Wonderland

Course recommendations: Magical Forest and Magical Inkdom

#12 For Artists at Heart

Our creativity has winter and spring too. We need each other to keep the inspiration going – to turn the winter into spring.
A challenge for you: How can you make a new start – create a new spring for your art?

Mixed media art. Liberated artist Revisited, an online course by Paivi Eerola.
“I Will Be Back”, mixed media, 2024.
See the blog post: New Beginnings in Art-Making

Course recommendations: Liberated Artist Revisited

Bonus Idea #1: Spring Art Display

Gather your art on a side table for display! Make a collection of all kinds of pieces – even the smallest drawings and collage pieces can look fun this way.

Spring art display. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Most of these are from her course Decodashery.
This picture is from 2020 when I was making the course Decodashery.
I have a plastic plate that is the same size as my table.
It protects my art, and it also protects the tabletop when painting in watercolor.

Bonus Idea #2: Listen to This!

I also have a music recommendation: “Kevät”

Kevät is spring in Finnish and the song was presented by a Finnish girl band Tavaramarkkinat in 1985. Here’s an English translation of the lyrics. The tone of the song is melancholic. This kind of controversy between melancholy and joy is one of the most inspiring things in spring, I think!

P.S. PostScript for Spring Art Ideas

We still have a lot of snow in Finland, and I miss spring so much! In these spring art ideas, I wanted to combine my yearning for spring and the celebration of being a full-time artist for ten years. The actual anniversary is in September, but I want to celebrate this life span the whole year of 2024.

One part of the celebration has been making the course Liberated Artist Revisited where I invite you to paint with me – to follow directions from Paivi many years ago, and then create more with the current Paivi. At the same time, you can ponder, how your art-making has changed and will change.

Liberated Artist Revisited - online art course by Paivi Eerola.

Because of the 10-year celebration and the nature of personal stories, Liberated Artist Revisited is a limited edition – only available for purchase until the end of March 2024! >> Buy Now!

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