Peony and Parakeet

Revamp Art Journal Pages So That They Spark Joy!

An art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Mixed media art.

Here’s an art journal spread that I just finished. First, it was just a couple of old black and white drawings that – like Marie Kondo would put it – didn’t spark joy. But I used the old floral drawings as an inspirational foundation for the revamped spread. How and why revamp art? Keep reading!

Why Revamp Art?

The more confident I have become in creating art, the more I have begun to see the potential in my old art. Busy sketches, not so beautiful messes, and clumsy paintings and drawings all show the level of inspiration that still satisfies me. It’s the level of execution that I want to change. I want to tidy up some messes and add more expression and depth. I am certain that Marie Kondo would approve the idea of working with the old art journal pages. Isn’t it quite minimalistic compared to buying new journals all the time?

Revamp 1 – Change the Topic of the Page

Maintain the composition but change the topic of the page!

Here’s the spread before I started re-working it. It has a couple of carelessly drawn floral clusters.

An art journal page ready for revamping. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I changed most of the flowers of the left page to animals, added more details and shadows, and made the lines and shapes neater.

A detail of ink drawing by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Then I used Derwent Artbars to color the line drawing.

Art journaling by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Revamp 2 – Tear the Page and Make Collage Art

I made some more drastic changes to the other page. I ripped parts of the black and white drawing that had been glued there. Then I went to my boxes of joy – the boxes that hold my hand-drawn collage pieces – and picked this motif.

The background was painted with white acrylic paint. I worked in layers, glued some of the ripped pieces and doodled carelessly, then added more paint.

An art journal page in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Revamp 3 – Paint Over a Part of the Page

I wanted to include a hand showing how I currently play with my art. I took a quick photo and used it as a reference.

An art journal page in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

See how similar a page from my first art journal from 2010 is!

Old and new art journals by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Have you documented your creative play? How you do it and how it makes you feel?

Art journaling and drawing collage pieces by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Revamp 4 – Cover a Page with a Piece from the Archive

Before I finished the spread above, I re-vamped another spread. This one only had some doodles on the right page, and then a drawing inspired by Mark Rothko glued on the left one.

An art journal page spread by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I found an old hand-drawn collage and glued it on the right page. In 2010, the collage was disappointing to me. I wanted to find my style and as a fashion illustration, the image looked clumsy.

However, it seems now that I wasn’t able to translate the message of the image correctly. Now, the piece makes me smile – there I am, sitting and handing the things that have always been inspirational to me: jewels and bags! I just wasn’t able to draw them like I did last October so I didn’t realize that they are the key elements for my visual voice.

My collage was saying: “You should draw more bags and jewels, Paivi!” What does your old art speak to you now?

Revamp 5 – Add a Decorative Frame

During the years, I have made quite many of Mark Rothko inspired drawings, see this blog post! I love detailed drawings, and no matter how skillfully I would try to replicate Mark Rothko and other minimalists, I was never satisfied with the result.

Drawing a decorative frame on an art journal. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I wanted to hug the idea though and make a decorative frame around the old abstract.

This way I am saying that the level of inspiration is there – Mark Rothko really makes me want to create whenever I look at his paintings. But the level of execution that I enjoy and am best at is something totally different.

This spread really sparks joy to me now, and I also couldn’t resist playing a bit with the collage pieces.

Playing with hand-drawn art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Isn’t it amazing how similar the style can be after so so many years, and after spending so long time trying to figure it out!

Playing with hand-drawn fantasy art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s to Mark Rothko!

Playing with hand-drawn fantasy art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. A decorative cat.

I am loving playing with the old art journal spreads, building the bridges between the years. If you separate inspiration from execution, does it make you look at your art in different eyes?

Playing with hand-drawn fantasy art by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. A decorative cat.

The Idea For This Blog Post Came from These

a) One of my notebooks mixes writing and drawing so that randomly scribble, doodle, and write there. It’s a private journal, and I didn’t want to publish its pages but the more full it has got, the more I have realized that when the sketches and writings are not organized chronologically, and I can revamp the pages repeatedly, they naturally produce new ideas.

b) Mackie d’Arge, a wonderful fellow artist from the USA, has shown her beautiful art in my art community Bloom and Fly. She has made many pieces by rebuilding and revamping her old artworks. It has given me the idea of looking at the potential of my old art and what could be made from there.

c) My classes Animal Inkdom and the upcoming Magical Inkdom are all about playing by drawing. I have wanted these classes to be fun, so they have made me include humor, fantasy, and play in my artistic process as well. They have made sure that my boxes of hand-drawn collage pieces stay filled even if I would “shop” there all the time! In Magical Inkdom, we will also draw decorative frames. >> Sign up Now!

Three Creative Approaches that Affect the Way You Feel About Your Art

Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

Here’s my latest oil painting called “Dreaming Ducks.” I started it in December 2017 and finished it just recently. It’s the biggest oil painting that I have made so far – 70 x 50 cm. I painted it too long, too many sessions, and lost my motivation several times. Painting became more challenging layer by layer and I demanded more of myself, never feeling fully happy what I had made.

1) Fine Art is a Stone on the Bottom of the Sea

Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

The deeper I dive into fine art, the heavier it feels. If creativity is a sea, fine art is like a big stone on the bottom. I have to dive deep, it takes time to reach it, and then it feels so heavy, that it’s often impossible to lift it. But then, on the other hand, it’s also an anchor, the core of my visual voice and artistic identity.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

But at the same time, I believe that if we only create fine art, it narrows everything. It narrows our artistic vision because we lean too much towards what is appreciated in the art world. It narrows our audience, and we no longer serve all the people we are meant to serve. It suffocates our enthusiasm because we raise the bar all the time. We forget what really matters because we block ideas based on whether it’s fine art or not.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

Fine art makes us limit ourselves: “I paint abstracts only”, “I have to choose my palette and stick to it”, “I need to find my style”. When we have the mindset of a fine artist, we question what we do all the time.

A detail of Dreaming Ducks, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland

2) Creative Play is the Boat Floating on the Sea

But then, there’s the surface – the fun stuff that I personally missed too many years while growing my skills to reach the big stone.

Magical Inkdom, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

These ink drawings are like a boat to me. I acknowledge now that it’s mindless to make the diving attempts if I don’t have anything supporting me on the surface. Something like drawing witty cats! I have made many for the upcoming class Magical Inkdom!

3) We Easily Miss the Water That Connects the Two

We have been talking about the bottom of the sea and the boat, but it’s all connected, right? It’s easy to forget the water when you are going for the stone or polishing the boat! An artist friend of mine pointed out this to me. She said: “Your work always contains designs.”

Like water, it was a no-brainer: “Well yes, I used to be a designer. I like to design things.” But at the same time, it was something I hadn’t really thought about.

Drawing a design from an oil painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about the three approaches that you can take for your art!

I went to my computer, wiped the dust from my old Intuos 4 drawing tablet, opened Adobe illustrator, and started drawing.

Drawing a design from an oil painting. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The blue cat got a cousin! Look how I used the motifs above to complete this digital drawing.

A cat illustration by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Three Creative Approaches

Now I think that these approaches should be the elements of every creative process:
a) diving deeper to find the anchor – discovering your visual voice
b) sailing happily in a little boat – playing with your imagination
c) seeing the water that connects the stone and the boat – becoming more aware of your current capabilities and what you can accomplish now

When I started to see the water, I got the feeling that it’s all good. Anything that I do can be connected, repurposed, and fed back to the process. What I have dreamt can begin to happen now, not years later.

What do you think of these approaches? Can you apply them into your art? Which is the hardest and which is the easiest for you at the moment?

Pros and Cons of Making Postcards from Your Art

Art postcards by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

I have just got new sets of postcards printed from my art. These have been ordered from Moo (affiliate link) and are now available at Here’s how I see the pros and cons of making postcards of your art.

Pro: Seeing Your Art as Collections

When selecting art for postcards, group similar work so that you can make sets. You can also aim for the specific set size and make more pieces with that style. This way the postcard project can inspire you to work in series and explore a certain topic, medium, and style.

Watercolor floral art postcards by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

One of my new sets have watercolor florals, and another has acrylic and oil paintings inspired by art history.

Paintings printed to postcards and stickers. Art by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

If you like to fill art journals as I often do, go through the journal pages too! This girl was just a sketch but I really like it as a postcard!

An art journal page as an postcard. By Paivi Eerola from Finland.

Pro: Saving Good Pictures of Your Art

It’s easy to neglect taking good pictures of finished work. However, there’s more use for them than just postcards. It’s easy to browse your pieces quickly when they are archived digitally. You will also share them more!

Making postcards of your art. A watercolor painting as a postcard. Art by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

If you organize the image archive chronologically, you also see your progress at a glance. The archive also brings memories and inspiration. Whether you make postcards or not, it’s always good to take good pictures of your finished projects.

I use a tripod and manual settings of my DSLR camera to get the best possible photo. Then I crop and process the photo using Photoshop. New phone cameras take good pictures that don’t necessarily need more adjusting than cropping. Taking photos outside is also a good option!

I like to use white cardboard so that I can adjust the image according to the white area first, and then crop it away.

Pro: Playing between Digital and Physical

If you like to create digital art, seeing it in physical postcards is wonderful. I also like to play between physical and digital art so that I scan the elements of collage art, and then make the final image by combining them in Photoshop.

Art by Paivi Eerola from Finland. Digital art from hand-drawn components. Zebra postcard. Circus postcard. Zebra illustration.

I really like this digitally composed but hand-drawn zebra postcard! You can find the instructions for drawing zebras in my class Animal Inkdom!

A set of postcards by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

Pro: Getting Ideas for Other Products as Well

If you have good images and great collections, you can also make other products as well. There are services like Redbubble or Zazzle where you can make a variety of products. I printed some stickers to go with the postcards at Moo (affiliate link).

Paintings as stickers by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

Pro: Postcards Market Your Art

By getting your contact information printed with the postcard you also spread the word of you as an artist.

Designing the backside of the postcard. By Paivi Eerola from Finland.

I also like to think that postcards spread the joy that’s packed in my art. When I hear people keeping my postcards visible so that they can look at them often, it feels good and makes producing the cards meaningful.

An oil painting and a postcard. Art by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

Cons: Making Postcards Can Be a Bad Financial Decision

Good-quality postcards are expensive and selling postcards alone is not good business. Especially if you want to sell original art or bigger art prints, having postcards in the same shop or sales table can reduce other sales.

But I also have other experiences. If I go to an art fair or another small local event, I find it easiest to introduce people to my art by letting them select a business card first. Then I introduce them to postcards, then to prints, and finally to originals. That’s why I always get a selection of small business cards printed too, showcasing my latest work.

People love selecting their free image! They often explain it in detail why they selected it. It’s fascinating and useful information for me as an artist!

Business cards printed at Art by Paivi Eerola from Finland.

If you print cards – postcards or business cards – make sure that there’s some contact information where people can go to look before contacting you. Many are shy to call or send an email right away. Having a website is the best thing. But if you don’t have a website, write the address of your Instagram feed or set up a Facebook page for your art.

My final advice is to start small and print a very limited set and let people curate the collection. The image that appeals the most to you is most probably not your best seller. At least that has happened to me many times! As artists, we value the process of creating, but as customers, we only see the result and how it fits with our home and perspective. Sometimes the beauty of art is more in the process, sometimes more in the result. So, whether you make postcards or not, keep creating!

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