Peony and Parakeet

The Child and The Adult – Finding Clarity for Your Art

This week I show a new painting “Call of the Sun” and talk about finding clarity in art. This week’s post is especially for you who feels that your art is all over the place and you have no artistic direction.

Auringon kutsu - Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Auringon kutsu – Call of the Sun, acrylics, 50 x 70 cm. Click the image to see it bigger!

The Child and The Adult – Who Do You Serve?

I used to think there are two kinds of artists – those who like to play and dream, and those who are more ambitious and aim to express their deepest emotions. Just recently, when I started this new painting, I asked myself: “What do you want to paint, Paivi?” And the answer was: “Horses!”

– You can’t paint horses only!
– Why?
– Because there’s more that needs to come out.

Artist Paivi Eerola holding her abstract painting Call of the Sun.

There was. There is. My inner child wants me to paint horses, but I am an adult too. If all my art is playful illustrations, I am desperately missing the adult in me.

Magical Pets image sheet - Paivi Eerola's drawings

The Magical Pets image sheet is now available in my art shop. Or make your own in the classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom!

Concrete vs. Abstract

The adult in me wants to work in a way that does not appeal to the child. The expression is more intuitive and abstract and thoughts less concrete. I feel free when painting like this. It’s like life travels through me, and it heals my soul. It makes me feel that this is the best that art can offer.

Acrylic painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

But I also feel free when I grab a more childish painting. I imagine talking to the horse and how it responses with gentleness.

Ebony, a miniature oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Ebony, a miniature oil painting

This, too, is the best that art can offer – the connection to childhood, to the person who didn’t want much more than a pet of her own.

The Child and the Adult – Don’t Lose Either One

Nowadays, my studio is both the playroom and the space for meditation. The inner adult needs to paint with the inner child and vice versa.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio. She writes about finding clarity for your art.

If the child gets neglected, other people’s expectations step in, and I lose myself. If the adult is away, I focus too much on the tangible things. Then the invisible side of the experience doesn’t come through. This realization has helped me in finding clarity for my art.

What are Invisible and Intangible Things?

Examples of intangible things that we can visualize in art:

  • communicating the atmosphere with nature’s elements like light, air, and wind
  • expressing emotions that contain mixed feelings, for example, the combination of love and melancholy
  • inventing creative concepts like seeing similarities in the structure of plants and bridges
  • focusing on experiences like flying instead of painting a bird

When we omit these kinds of intangible things, we are in danger of only creating shells rather than expressing a spirit.

Viewers Have Child and Adult Too

As viewers, we also have both sides: the child and the adult.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I painted a dragonfly for your inner child to play with while the adult can ponder about the more abstract strokes.

A detail of Call of the Sun, an acrylic painting of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Sometimes simple lines and colors can express more than realistic objects.

Finding Clarity and Balance for Art-Making

For a long time, I haven’t been happy about my art. Especially this fall, it has changed. I have found what my child needs to be satisfied with the result, and what pleases the adult in me. Surprisingly, being able to satisfy the child has been crucial for me to getting forward in abstract painting. This one is in progress, and you will get more pics and stories about it when it’s finished.

Artist Paivi Eerola and an abstract acrylic painting in progress. She helps artists to find clarity for their art.

What do you think? Are you in the journey of finding clarity for your art? What would need to change in your art so that both the child and the adult are happy? Tell me, I am interested to know!

Expressive Abstract Style Tutorial – Paint a Beautiful Mess!

Expressive abstract style tutorial by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This week I have a video about painting in an expressive abstract style. It’s a very contemporary style which many artists have nowadays. It’s based on loose strokes, and I guess it’s the style that many who are not so much into art say that even a child can do it, but it’s not quite like that! Watch the video!

Are you interested in creating abstract art? Do you wish to learn more about abstract art in my blog and in my classes? Leave a comment!

Making of a Miniature Painting

This week, I have a new miniature painting and share tips for making small-sized paintings in general.

Ebony, a miniature horse painting, 4 by 4 inches, by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Let me introduce Ebony, my newest miniature painting! It’s only 10 cm x 10 cm (4 inches x 4 inches). The size shows better in the photo below.

Holding a miniature horse painting, made by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This is an oil painting, and it took over a month from start to finish, but just because I let each layer dry properly. There’s about a week drying time between each layer. If you use acrylic paints or watercolors, the process is much quicker!

The Beginning – Making Not So Beautiful Mess

As usual, I didn’t have any particular idea for the painting when I started. Here’s how the painting looked after a couple of layers.

The beginning of a miniature painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

My surface here is Ampersand Gessoboard Panel. It’s very smooth and thus suitable for small details. I had bought a pack of four over a year ago. I finished the first one last year, see this blog post!

When making an abstract mess, I don’t usually settle for pretty little messes, but make the mess more layered. When the mess is as ugly as I can bare, it begins to talk to me. It came to my mind, that the random strokes could be mane, and there could be a horse coming up.

The middle and the end of a miniature painting. This is called Ebony, and it's made by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Using Negative Painting to Dig Out the Spirit

I like to use negative painting a lot. So here, I painted the background first so that it defined the head of the horse. When painting the surroundings, you slowly get closer to the actual spirit. It’s like taming a wild animal!

A small-sized horse painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Ebony is now a gentle soul, and she reminds me of Black Beauty, the television series in the 1970s. I watched every episode and it inspired me to play with plastic horses.

Working on small paintings on Ampersand Gessoboard Panels. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I still have two more panels to finish. I think I will dig out horses or other animals from their messes so that I get a small series of miniature paintings.

My Four Tips for Painting in Miniature

  • Start boldly and enjoy all kinds of mark-making and color play. If you are painting on paper, you can start with a bigger piece, and then cut it into smaller ones.
  • Make a few big shapes that contain smaller ones. In my painting, the horse is one big shape, the background another. Let smaller shapes break the borders of the bigger shapes so that the image doesn’t look stiff.
  • The negative painting technique where you paint the surroundings of the shape enables you to paint delicate shapes easily. Magical Forest is the class to take for mastering this technique!
  • We hold miniature pieces quite close when looking at them, so the quality of brushwork matters. Use thin paint, small brushes and even magnifiers if needed. Taking photos and zooming them helps to see the details too. Decodashery is the class to take for making the best out of every stroke!

Drawing Small

Small horse drawings by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Of course, your miniature artwork doesn’t have to be a painting, but a drawing! For me, drawing has been in a significant role in becoming a better painter. It can be just free drawing like in Inspirational Drawing, or more intentional practice like in Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom. I use both approaches in painting too.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s project. Do you like painting or drawing in small size?

3 Tips for Improving Busy Mixed Media Pieces

This week, I have a revamped old piece, and share three tips about making busy mixed media pieces more attractive for the viewer.

"Song of Glass", a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See how she revamped an old busy mixed media piece and made this!

The image above is a revamped version of the busy mixed media piece below. It’s 12 by 12 inches, and I originally made it back in 2014 for a blog post about how to paint glass.

A busy mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See how she revamped this one!

I visited the Finnish Glass Museum a couple of weeks ago, so this piece felt really inspiring again! Let’s dive deeper into how I changed it.

Tip #1 – Cure the White Spot Fever

Back in 2014, I had fallen in love with all kinds of white pens, paints, and correction fluids. A little dot here, another there, and the element looked prettier. But adding dots and spots also make the piece busier. For the viewer, it’s like trying to find its way through crowded streets where everyone is trying to get the attention: “Hey, hey, hey, you there, look at me!”

Lots of small white dots can lead to problems in composition. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When you are a doctor for the white spot fever, start by toning down all the spots that are located near the edges. We want to steer the eye to the middle first, so the edges don’t have to be so eye-catching. If this is the first time you work on this job, watercolors can be a good choice. Even if the pigment wouldn’t stick on all the surfaces, you get the impression of how the piece looks if you make the edges less noticeable. Turn the piece upside down, so that it’s easier to focus on the task, and not look at the big picture.

Painting over an old busy mixed media piece. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Of course, your pieces can have fever, even if it’s not the white spot fever. The general advice for any fever is to remove all the eye-catching small elements that are located near the edges.

Tip #2 – Form Friendships between Elements

Often when we don’t feel connected with the image, the image itself doesn’t express connection. When the elements are floating separately, there can be a lonely undertone in the whole piece. On the other hand, if there is no contrast between the elements, the image can look busy no matter how connected the elements are.

Here are my two versions side by side. In the old version, there are big glass jars, but the contrast between them is not very clear. There are a lot of small shapes that are floating lonely.

Improving old artwork. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

At best, adding connections make the image to deliver a message. When I looked at my piece, it was unclear to me what it was about. In the old blog post, I had written: “It’s about parents trying to protect their children. The parents have good intentions, and they do their best, but in the end, they have to let the child step into the world. I have painted two glass vases to represent the parents. The child sees the world through the parents, and even if they want to protect the child, they are fragile too.”

But now, I found the element that looked like jaws most intriguing. It seemed to be a rising spirit, a small but powerful baby dragon, which only needed a neck to become a central element.

Creating mixed media and painting with acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I used dark india inks and black pen to quickly sketch how I would connect the elements, and then continued the work with acrylics and lighter colors. I broke the biggest jar near the edge to two jars so that they won’t compete with the focal point so much.

Tip #3 – Make a Highway for the Viewer

Busy pieces often have so many paths for the eye that it’s not clear where to start and how to continue. The best thing is to be clear and make a highway that goes around the image. The viewer can then take smaller scenic routes around the details, but there’s always the big safe road to return to that leads to the main attractions.

Improving composition. Art advice by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Building a highway requires that you know what your main elements are. After finding the spirit of the jar, I made the red circle communicate with it. Now I added a couple of white spots so that it looks like there’s a voice or a reflection flying between the two. So there’s use for those white dots, just use them sparingly and near the places where you want to lead the eye!

Painting shadows with acrylic paints. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

With turquoise tones, I painted a route from the right bottom corner to the two central elements. I also added more depth to the image by painting shadows. Shadows would be my fourth tip, but it’s worth a separate post, so I will get back to it sometimes later.

No More Busy Mixed Media!

I named the revamped version as “Song of Glass” because it’s now about finding the singing spirit of the silent jars.

"Song of Glass", a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope you found this post helpful for busy mixed media pieces. See my classes for more handy tips and advice!

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