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Peony and Parakeet

No Creative Blocks – Painting Grief and Loss

Even if I want these blog posts to be a celebration of art-making, I also want to paint and write from the heart. This week’s post is about sadness and its’ effects on creativity.

"If Grief Smoked" - an acrylic painting on canvas by Finnish artist Paivi Eerola

Here’s my latest acrylic painting called “If Grief Smoked.” Like many of the recent paintings, this also has a connection to a poem. The title is from Eeva-Liisa Manner’s poem “Jos suru savuaisi.” But this time, I didn’t follow the poem but used the title as a prompt only.

Missing Cosmo

I have been very melancholic this fall, and to be honest, building a new class Floral Freedom, has been my savior. It’s been a captivating escape from a life that feels emptier than before. My loyal companion Cosmo died in September, and it’s like a part of me has lost a purpose.

Cosmo - loosing a long-time family member

Cosmo was our family member for over 15 years, and there’s a lot I miss about him. Small things, often quite insignificant ones, like how he used to pick a sock when he wanted attention. My heart breaks when I remember how softly he did that, not leaving a single mark. In the end, he was a good dog and didn’t want to behave badly.

So yes, my grief has been smoking and burning. A wind of time has taken some away but also spread it further. When it started to feel that the grief would scorch my brushes, destroy the paints, and make the studio a smoky place, I knew it was time to paint. Not that it would take the grief away, but force me to deal with it.

Persuasion Can Replace Inspiration

Art is not always about inspiration. You know Picasso’s saying that the inspiration has to find you working. I find self-persuasion especially useful. “After this, you can paint whatever you want,” I said to myself.

Starting an abstract landscape painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

If we don’t paint these paintings that need to come out, it can cause a creative block. I have had some major ones in the past, and I didn’t want that to happen now.

A view to the studio of Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

“Follow the color,” I said to myself like many times before. It’s a quote of my own that boosts my confidence when I am working.

Painting grief and loss, Paivi Eerola in the middle of the process

Stepping Into The Painting

This scenery had been in my mind for weeks. It was like an overdue baby, pushing through the brush.

Paivi Eerola paints abstract inner landscapes.

I just had to open my heart and welcome it.

Wassily Kandinsky talks about a glass between the artist and the painting, and how to remove it. It’s one of the hardest things when in grief, but also the most impactful one.

Painting details with a thin brush, opening the heart for details and expression

When we paint without the glass, the image becomes more personal. It doesn’t matter what other people think about it because you are living and breathing it. But oddly so, removing the glass also makes the image more general. My loss gets connected to everybody else’s losses. We are all behind the same glass, under the same blanket.

"If Grief Smoked" - an acrylic painting on canvas by Finnish artist Paivi Eerola, a detail

If grief smoked, we would all be covered in it. Even if it’s the saddest thing, it’s also beautiful to let go of someone or something you love. You can no longer help them, and it’s time to give them away.

"If Grief Smoked" - an acrylic painting on canvas by Finnish artist Paivi Eerola, a detail

Mental Queue – Images That Need to Get Painted

Art helps us with things that can’t be solved intellectually. I also think that artists have a mental queue. If we try to jump over the hard images, we don’t have the energy for the more cheerful ones that come next.

A Finnish artist Paivi Eerola and her painting.

I hope this inspires you to pick the brush and paint the image that has been waiting for its turn.

When You Want Your Art to Be Less Stiff

This week, I want to be direct because I feel really passionate about this: what happens when art is stiff and why it should not be. There’s too much talk about balance and composition and too little about the stiffness of the mind.

How to Be Less Stiff and Start Painting More Loosely

I know this is what you think:
“I want my art to be less stiff.”

The modern master Paul Klee would answer:
Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.

Let me elaborate. There’s a door between the outer and inner world. As a painter, you choose whether you step outside or inside.

You can walk outside, pick a flower, and try to reproduce what you see. It’s often the easiest way – for a teacher too – because the comparison has more absolute rights and wrongs. Yet, many who paint realistically say that their flowers look too heavy, that the details are difficult to get right, and they wish they could be looser.

Then there’s the other way. You can step in. You can paint the line, a shape, bring tension and interaction, and slowly begin to see. Flowers of the inner world are not passive nor lonely. They have no restrictions of the real world but can fly, sing, and dream!

Painting flowers so that the outcome is less stiff. From the class Floral Freedom.

When you want to see further in your artistic path, you want to step in. 

You don’t want to paint what’s already been seen, but bring out the invisible – how we feel. Life is full of sceneries that can’t be photographed but need to be painted.

Meadows of the soul.

Abstract masters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky spent their lives figuring out how to visualize the inner world. In Floral Freedom, we apply Paul’s and Wassily’s ingenious techniques to floral art. 

I hope you will join me, pick paints and brushes, and step in. >> Sign up NOW!

New Beginnings

Has this happened to you?

I want to start a new chapter in art-making, change direction, and feel the excitement again.

Some say that this “new-beginning-thinking” is a thread for their artistry. That their problem is not to stick with one thing long enough so that the work is more coherent.

But new beginnings are built within creativity. Like nature, we need a new season now and then. In spring, trees begin to grow new leaves, and meadows new flowers. When nourished, they grow stronger and more beautiful year by year.

My new class Floral Freedom is this kind of creative nourishment. You will start building your visual language all over again. I teach both in theory and practice what I have learned from the two master abstract painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

Floral Freedom combines the intellectual and the emotional side so that you will wholeheartedly enjoy painting again. You won’t copy photos but use abstract techniques to express the flowers of the soul.

Yes, it will be a new beginning.

You will gather your paints and look at them from a new perspective.
You will paint lines and shapes with Paul’s and Wassily’s point of view.
You won’t see flowers right from the beginning but still end up with a floral painting!
You will stop dividing what’s abstract and what’s concrete,
and your art will grow from those insights.

The beginning that builds the foundation is never a thread but a strength.

We often wait for the right time to the new beginning. It’s easy to postpone it, I know. My mother passed away with too many regrets. The time never seemed to be right. A new beginning would always be somewhere in the future.

I have had a similar problem with Floral Freedom. I have wanted to build this class since 2016, after reading Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook. But there have always been excuses – what I am capable of and what’s appropriate and safe. This summer, I even planned not to build a new class at all. I have made so many of them already.

But then I heard me saying:
“Don’t leave without teaching what you have got from Paul and Wassily! You’ll always regret not doing that!”

And yes, the better time for the class may come, but this is also a fact:
new beginnings don’t wait forever. 

As you see, Floral Freedom is a very special class. I hope you will join me, pick the paints and brushes, and give yourself the joy of a new beginning.

Black Friday Week Sale

Floral Freedom is 20% off. 
The sale ends on Monday, Nov 30, midnight PST.
The class begins on Dec 4.
>> Sign up now!

Impressionistic Floral Painting on Structure Paste

This week, I show how I made an extraordinary floral painting with acrylics and structure paste. See how I achieved the historical look!

Old Art Yearning, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola. She has used structure paste to make reliefs and a frame.

I call this piece “Old Art Yearning” because I desperately miss Europe’s palazzos and museums. It would definitely be the time to pack the bags for a few-day trip to Vienna or some other old city, but I chose differently because of the pandemic. But first, look at the interior of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj in Rome. My husband and I visited the place on June morning in 2017, and it was pleasantly quiet, just suitable for dreaming about living there in the middle of luxury.

Interiors of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome.

So, what luxurious can you do when you are asked to stay home and be safe? I decided to create something that’s like a soft drink for the old art thirst: fake but sweet and consolating!

Old Art Yearning by Paivi Eerola. A detail of an acrylic painting which has structure paste.

The idea of using structure paste is from the summer, but back then, I didn’t quite see as far as I did this week.

Structure Paste Inspiration from Clay

This summer, my friend Johanna Rytkölä, a ceramic artist ran a flower pot class for a small group. My husband made a stylish and minimalistic bonsai pot, but mine came out quite different!

Ceramic handmade flower pot.

Even if my pot was not perfect, I wanted to experiment with a 3-dimensional surface for a painting right away. I dig out a jar of structure paste that some call molding paste as well. I have blogged about the paste twice before. In 2014, I made cardboard templates to create reliefs for a mixed media piece and in another project, I made surface textures with a variety of tools.

I decided to try the template technique again, and cut simple geometric holes to a thick cardboard.

Making cardboard templates for structure paste.

Then I placed the template on the top of the painting board and filled the holds with structure paste.

Filling cardboard templates with structure paste. Making reliefs for an acrylic painting.

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the edges of the structure paste shapes and put the board away.

Acrylic Painting on Structure Paste

But now, when I wanted to create something with historical feel, I remembered the board, and started painting on it. The small imperfections didn’t bother me so much anymore. All pieces can’t be so serious anyway. There has to be some room for creative play too!

Painting on structure paste with acrylics.

I decided to paint something loose and impressionistic that would still look decorative.

A floral acrylic painting in progress.

On the reliefs, the strokes were sharper and more controlled than on the background.

Painting a florals on structure paste.

But before I made the finishing touches, the piece looked too bare to me.

A floral panel that has structure paste shapes.

It needed a frame!

Making a Frame from Structure Paste

I still had some structure paste left and I found a piece of cardboard too. I traced the outline of the painting on a soft foam board and used that as a template for the center.

Making a frame for the painting from structure paste.

It’s not easy to make a smooth surface of the paste so I didn’t even try. Historical frames had all kinds of textures so the hills and valleys would look ok when painted.

A structure paste frame left to dry.

I painted the outer edge of the frame black and the inner edge with gold paint.

Painting a frame with gold and black acrylic paints.

The transition from black to gold became lovely when smudging the paint with fingers. I also added some gold mica flakes on the top of the gold parts and near the edge.

Adding gold mica flakes to a handmade frame.

Then the painting got some finishing touches and gold paint too.

Painting golden details on a structure paste reliefs.

I also added some acrylic paint on the frame.

A Mini-Monet for Old Art Yearners!

The finished piece is a bit clumsy, but I love the historical feel.

Old Art Yearning, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola. The frame and the reliefs are made of structure paste.

It’s my mini-Monet!

A detail of Old Art Yearning, a floral impressionistic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The unevenness of the structure paste in the edges looks quite good with the gold paint.

A detail of Old Art Yearning, a floral impressionistic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The frame was intentionally placed so that it’s not quite in the middle. This way I could make the piece more interesting. I really like how these painted spots look like nails or blueberries!

A detail of Old Art Yearning, a floral impressionistic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Just cardboard, structure paste, fake gold, acrylics, but I enter the gentle world of old art by looking at it!

A detail of Old Art Yearning, a floral painting with a handmade frame by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I display this piece in our library room which has more old-fashioned style than my studio.

Paivi Eerola and her paintings.

My painting has simple strokes but it’s still romantic. I have bent the principles of abstract art to serve the impressionistic style. It’s so much fun to paint freely like this!

Paint Dreamy Florals to Free Your Spirit!

Floral Freedom – the floral class based on Paul Klee’s and Wassily Kandinsky’s insights on abstract art – will begin on Dec 4, 2021. In this class flowers are not just passive decorations, but they fly, sing, and dream! >> Sign up Now!

Floral Freedom, an online painting class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Floral Freedom is 20% off for the rest of November, so now is a good time to sign up!
>> Sign up now!

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