Peony and Parakeet

Intuitive Painting in 60 Colors of Arteza Gouache Set

"Refresh", a gouache painting using all 60 colors of Arteza gouache paint set. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Paint with me! This week, I have a video tutorial of making an intuitive gouache painting with Arteza Gouache set.

Arteza gouache paints, Arteza water brushes, Arteza watercolor paper.

In addition to the gouache paints, I also use Arteza water brushes, Arteza watercolor paper (mine is A4 from Arteza’s UK store, but here’s the link to the similar paper in the US store), and Arteza Fineliner. These supplies are all donated to me by Arteza (US Store, UK store). You can get 10% off with coupon code peonyandparakeet1. This coupon is valid till Oct 25th, 2019.

Intuitive Gouache Painting – Watch the Video!

Gouache Comparison – Arteza vs. Schminke

Arteza’s gouache paints are very affordable compared to artist quality paints. I have few tubes of Schminke Horadam Gouache paints, and with the price of 60 colors of Arteza, you can only get a few tubes of Schminke!

But of course, there are differences too. Schminke, manufactured in Germany, has a higher pigment level than Arteza, manufactured in China. These tubes are both Burnt Sienna, but Arteza’s color is much more pastel and creamy.

Comparison of Arteza gouache and Schminke Horadam gouache paints.

Most of Arteza’s colors have names that are not pigment names. They describe the tone very well and sound tempting, like “Blush Pink.” But if you have used to dealing with pigments and their individual qualities in transparency and archival quality, it can feel frustrating. If pigments are individual spices, Arteza’s gouache paints like spice mixes – easy to use for beginners, but a bit joyless for professional cooks.

Comparison of Arteza gouache and Schminke Horadam gouache paints.

The differences between these paints are small, and it requires an eye for nuances and experience on pigments to notice them.

Comparison of Arteza gouache and Schminke Horadam gouache paints.

When painting, Arteza’s creamy paints are like family vehicles, easy to maneuver. Schminke’s gouache paints are more like sports cars, quick to react with water and more suitable for fine brushwork.

Traditional vs. Acryl Gouache – Reacting to Water

Some gouache paints are marked as acryl gouaches. It means that they are not opaque watercolors as gouaches normally are, but translucent acrylic paints. I had some Turner acryl gouaches (made in Japan), and you can see the difference below. Unfortunately, I didn’t have similar magenta tone, but the color doesn’t matter when testing how the dried layer reacts to water. Both Arteza gouache and Schminke Horadam bleed, Arteza a little more than Schminke. But acryl gouache doesn’t bleed at all!

Comparing traditional gouache to acryl gouache. Arteza, Schminke, Turner.

Bleeding is not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I prefer paints that bleed because I often like to remove color in later stages.

A detail of Paivi Eerola's gouache painting. Painted with Arteza gouache paint in 60 colors.

Bleeding wasn’t any problem when making this painting either. I used both thin and thick paint quite effortlessly.

Finnish artist Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope you enjoyed the video, and let’s keep creating!

Let’s share the passion of creating art!
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Flower Gardener’s Diary – Welcome to My Art Exhibition!

Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet in a group exhibition Flower Gardener's Diary in Helsinki, FInland. Watch her video about this art exhibition.

I currently attend a group exhibition in Helsinki, Finland. The place is called “Hietsun paviljonki”, and it’s located on a beautiful beach quite near the center of the city. The art exhibition is open from 11th to 22nd September, so if you are in Helsinki during that time, welcome!

See the Exhibition – Watch the Video!

For those who can’t come, I have made a video of all the 11 pieces that I have there.

The Art of Framing

As you see on the video, I got several pieces framed for the show. My artist friend Eeva Nikunen has gorgeous frames in her paintings, so I used the same framer than she usually does. I am really happy with these frames!

For a drawing, that already had a hand-drawn decorative border, I chose a narrow frame that goes well with the fantasy theme too.

Framing art. A drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This frame also had a purple version, and I chose it for the houseplant-inspired piece. The purple frame highlights the green leaves beautifully. Originally, I hadn’t planned to frame this piece so I didn’t leave any blank space around the paper when creating it. The framer attached the drawing on the green cardboard first. I like this solution.

Framing art. A drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted something silvery for the madonna painting and chose a broad white frame that also has real silver! It wasn’t the cheapest option …

Framing art. A painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I was a bit doubtful if I could find a perfect frame for my big yellow drawing but this one really hit home.

Framing art. A drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I hope this inspired you to frame some of your pieces!

Paintings ready for an art exhibition. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Coming Up!

I have another group exhibition coming up soon (Sept 20 to Oct 8). It’s in Gallery K in Vantaa, Finland. The show is called “Raffia ja smoothia”Rough and Smooth, and it’s organized by the local professional artist association.

The Only Thing You Desire to Paint – Whether You Are Aware of It Or Not

"Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.
“Heaven and Earth” – one of my latest oil paintings

I finally painted something that I have tried for years – my view of life and my personal mystery.

Art, Religion, and View of Life

Art and religion have been connected for centuries. Some see it primarily as a business connection – churches have ordered paintings and artists have made their living.

Murals of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy

But I like to think that the connection is not only about money but that’s spiritual too. At best, art expresses what we think about life and death. This doesn’t mean that an image has to be gloomy, or that it has to illustrate any particular religion. Vice versa, I believe that every person has their view of life. Let’s call it a personal mystery!

Searching for Personal Mystery

Your personal mystery sets the direction of your deepest thoughts, but it’s difficult to put into words. Now and then, you can catch it emotionally. But intellectually, it can feel impossible to reach.

Church of the Savior on Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia
Church of the Savior on Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia

Even if your personal mystery is unique for you, it’s so authentic that it resonates with many other people too. When I go to historical places like the Church of the Savior on Blood, they have a flavor of my mystery. But still, it’s not quite in line with my deepest thoughts and feelings.

The Only Thing You Desire to Paint

Your personal mystery dictates your artistic goals. Whatever you say you want to accomplish, the deepest desire is to express your personal mystery. You can say you paint because you want to escape everyday life, but in truth, the escape is about reaching your mystery. No matter how successful you want to be, you also want to be authentic – and that requires discovering your mystery! Your visual style may seem like the primary goal but believe me, it’s secondary – just a tiny hammer in a big toolbox that you need to reveal your mystery.

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

No matter how orderly you begin the painting, the final goal of the process is to let go and become one with your mystery.

Painting Your Mystery

In the middle of the painting process, your mystery like a secret whisper, so sacred that it feels forbidden even to try revealing it. This secrecy sends mixed messages to your creativity and the process gets confusing and disappointing.

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

When painting the woman and all the colorful details, I started to hate the mess and get disconnected with it. The image felt too complicated and decorative, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was traveling through strange places and wondering how to reach an unknown destination.

At this point, it’s tempting to give up. I put my painting away for months. My plan was to wipe the paint away with turpentine so that I can re-use the canvas for another painting. But about a month ago when I picked the unfinished piece again, I knew instantly how to finish it.

Making of "Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

Five Tips for Revealing Your Personal Mystery

I don’t think there’s a straightforward formula for revealing the mystery, but here are some things that are helpful:

  • Grow visual skills so that you can freely choose what you paint whether it’s representational or not. Learn to use references creatively, and study the principles of abstract art (my favorite book about abstract art).
  • Grow confidence so that you can let uncomfortable, erroneous, silly, and “wrong” things happen while creating. You won’t find the mystery if you stay in your normal zone (breaking the rules)
  • Grow imagination so that you can jump from one association to another and come up with a unique solution. Creating from prompts help with that (I recommend Inktober).
  • Curate what you love and value. List things that inspire you and keep filling and editing the list (remember to include innocent little secrets)
  • Become more aware of details and nuances in all art-related things. The more general you think (“I am an abstract artist”, “I draw faces only”, “these are pretty flowers”), the more difficult it is to connect with your uniqueness and find inspiration.

I used to think that when painting people, humans should look as realistic as possible. But I am more of an engineer and an innovator than a portrait painter. By trying to make the woman look like a real person, I had blocked my personal view of life appearing on the canvas.

"Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

When I realized that the woman is just an anonym observer, the painting was very straight-forward to finish.

A detail of "Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

My Personal Mystery

In my mind, science, beauty, and spirituality are all connected.

A detail of "Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

The biggest miracle for me is how the universe works, and how I can take parts of that to create a new world.

A detail of "Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

Historical buildings and paintings connect me to the origin of our culture and universe emotionally. To me, the painting looks historical enough to fit in.

Paivi Eerola at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy.
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy

In the future, I hope to create more pieces that express my personal mystery.

"Heaven and Earth", an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. read about her blog post about painting a personal mystery.

For Finnish readers: Come to see this piece and more of my art! I show about 10 artworks in a group exhibition this month in Helsinki. Lisätietoja täällä!

Out of a Creative Rut – Do What Illustrators Would Do!

Illustration by Paivi Eerola. Read her post about how to get out of creative rut by thinking what illustrators would do.

I am currently reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. It’s about growing skills and making changes in life a small step at a time. James Clear doesn’t believe in setting goals as much as building a new identity. James tells about a person who lost weight by thinking “what would healthy people do” every time he had to make a decision about eating, sleeping, and exercising. 

Bird and desserts. Illustration by Paivi Eerola. Read her post about how to get out of creative rut by thinking what illustrators would do.

Out of a Creative Rut by Asking What Would Illustrators Do

Since last fall, I have been practicing “what would illustrators do.” I have wanted to make art that is less abstract and more joyful and rememorize the things I learned when studying design several years ago.

Butterflies. Small drawings by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When building the latest classes Animal Inkdom and Magical Inkdom, I have wanted to include more small projects than before so that you can quickly grab a pen and draw more regularly. James Clear advises building habits by combining them with our current ones. When we do something like having a cup of tea in the evening, we can also grab a pen and doodle a bit. It’s not much, but when it’s repeated regularly, the results will come.

Sealife. Bird and desserts. Illustration by Paivi Eerola. Read her post about how to get out of creative rut by thinking what illustrators would do.

To me, drawing small collage pieces has brought back the joy of drawing. I haven’t always had the time to do a lot, but I have made it a regular practice because “that’s what illustrators do.”

Illustrations by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Bullet journal art.

Drawings are Like Pets – Treating Them Gently

I have also developed gentle self-talk by thinking of these animals as my pets. That way, I don’t try to control the outcome too much or negatively judge a single piece. They are my pets, and I love and care about them because “that’s what animal lovers do.”

Hand-drawn collage pieces and illustrations by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Breaking a Creative Rut and Moving Forward

At the same time as I have developed the illustration classes, I have also built my illustration portfolio

Illustration by Paivi Eerola. Read her post about how to get out of creative rut by thinking what illustrators would do.

During the next couple of months, I am doing more “what illustrators do” when I am making images for a book. I will share more pics about this commission later.

Practicing illustration has also brought new perspectives to my fine art projects and what I want to create in general. So, I highly recommend practicing “what illustrators do” – especially if you are in a creative rut or have a too strong inner critic.

Start now – Animal Inkdom Is for Sale!

Online art class Animal Inkdom. Taught by Paivi Eerola, a Finnish illustrator.

This weekend: Buy Animal Inkdom for 59 EUR (normally 79 EUR).
The sale ends on Sunday midnight Sept 1st, 2019 (PDT).
>> Buy here!

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