Peony and Parakeet

Art Inspiration from Flowering Trees

Dulciana, an acrylic painting by paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Inspired by flowering trees.

Here’s my latest painting, “Dulciana.” It’s inspired by flowering trees and their power to bloom year after year. This spring was special because I got to see blossoming cherry trees in a park that was filled with them.

Paivi Eerola in a flowering cherry tree park.

Embracing the Decorative Side of Art

This spring has also been different concerning my artistic endeavors. I have been building a new class, but a little slowlier than what I usually do. I have been really intentional about what I include in the class and how the class is structured. It’s has felt like it’s my life’s work even if it’s still a very light-hearted and fun class.

A floral collage painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

The class is called Decodashery, and it dives deep into the decorative side of art. The projects that I have made for the class have given me new skills and ideas about including decorative elements in my intuitive paintings too.

Light Paints the Flowering Trees

Now when summer has come to Finland, I have also spent more time in the garden. I wouldn’t really have to because my husband is crazy about gardening. He has found his passion, and I am so happy for him.

Garden view with flowering trees.

But when I look out of the window, and the sun is shining, I can’t help going there, walking and weeding, taking photos, and admiring how light paints the view.

And when I start a painting, I can’t help thinking about light, and how essential it is for the magical atmosphere.

Starting a painting. Abstract shapes, shadows and light. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

So most times, when I paint freely, I start with random strokes expressing light and shadows.

Starting a painting. Abstract shapes, shadows and light. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Art, Cembalos, and Flowering Trees

To make the painting shine softly, I like to add washes whether I paint with acrylics, watercolors, or oils. Washes have just a small amount of pigment and plenty of painting medium. For washes, I use water in watercolors, water and glazing gloss in acrylic paints, and the mixture of dammar varnish, french turpentine, and linseed oil in oils. This one is an acrylic painting.

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

When I paint without any assignment, I usually do it late at night. I listen to cembalo music when I start digging out the elements from the mess. Cembalos sound like the light I want to capture in my paintings. The sound is pompous and full of energy, and still, there’s something so delicate and vulnerable that it almost shatters.

The vulnerability is also in the flowering trees. They seem sturdy and unapologetic, but they know how bypassing the blossoming is. It looks like they miss the flowers already, and the dark trunks feel heavy and burdened by the upcoming work of making fruits of them.

Apple blossoms. A flowering tree.

I try not to make one painting at one go but take several sessions. Like trees, the painting also has seasons. It needs time to grow, and time to rest.

Artist Paivi Eerola and painting apple blossoms.

Often it feels that when I am not painting, the painting progresses best. Ideas come when I get out of the studio and talk to the trees.

Endless Flow of Swirls and Ruffles

After making the projects for the new class, Decodashery, I have enjoyed painting decorative shapes than ever before. I especially like swirls and ruffles.

Acrylic painting in progress. Focusing on swirls and ruffles inspired by flowering trees. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Similarly than old cembalo music sounds like a melody that never ends, all kinds of little curves can make even a small painting feel like it’s a world of its own. The eye travels from one place to another so that there seems always to be something to discover.

Dulciana, an acrylic painting by paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Inspired by flowering trees.

Here’s “Dulciana” with the last week’s painting “Ceruleana.”

Dulciana and Ceruleana, small acrylic paintings by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Decodashery – Registration Will Open Next Week!

The registration for the new class Decodashery will open next week, and the class begins on June 29.

Decodashery, sneak peeks, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.,

In Decodashery, we will create a beautiful and comforting world that has some jazz too. We will enjoy painting flowers, lace, cakes, dollies, and break the border between vintage and modern art. When building it, I have been inspired by Jane Austen movies, old jazz clubs, Russian handpainted floral plates, and skillful crocheters and cake makers around the world. I hope you will join us! Until next week!

Art Makeover – Revamp Your Old Paintings!

Ceruleana, an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post about how to revamp old paintings and make art makeovers!

Let’s give an art makeover for an old painting! The idea for this blog post came last month when I was running out of paper. Instead of traveling to an art supply store, I stayed home as was advised, and found another solution: reusing old paintings!

My starting point was practical, but the benefits were spiritual – the journey that had ended, started again. I picked pieces that were made about 30 years ago – when I was in my 20s. At that time, I studied software engineering but still felt partly an artist.

Makeover Tip #1 – Change the Subject

Art makeover - read Paivi Eerola's tips on how to revamp an old painting!

The paintings from the 1990s look very different from my current work, but after examining old paint strokes, I did recognize myself. Although the strokes were rougher and the shapes simpler, they were still very much the same. The subject has changed, but my love for playing with shapes never went away.

Makeover Tip #2 – Save Something Old

Art makeover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When revamping the painting, I like to save something from the original one. So here, I kept a part of the yellow curtain but altered its color with a thin layer of paint so that it fits with the new color scheme. Old curtain, new home.

Makeover Tip #3 – Change the Colors

The old painting has screaming colors, but I wanted something more sophisticated for the revamped version, called “Ceruleana.” As the name suggests, the new painting is a tribute to Cerulean Blue.

Golden Artist Colors Cerulean Blue and Paivi Eerola's painting Ceruleana.

Cerulean Blue is an expensive but lovely color, especially when mixed with white. It makes every engineer a romantic and looks heavenly with ochre and yellow tones.

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

But this post is not only about blues and its hues, I have another example too! This one has a lot of Magenta (“Medium Magenta” of Golden Acrylics), and the colors are very different from the original muddy version.

Golden Artist Colors Medium Magenta and Paivi Eerola's painting Cosytopia.

Art Makeover Tip #4 – Change the Orientation

The original was an artistic self-portrait like the first one. I did those a lot back then, and in every picture, I tried to look a bit different. But my imagination never got this far! The revamped version is horizontal but here they are side by side so that you can compare.

Another art makeover by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I like how the original version is still present in the new one!

Makeover Tip #5 – Use the Old Painting as a Foundation

This magenta abstract was so much fun to make. The old painting was like a map that had roads and towns, and when trusting them to lead me to one place to another, I didn’t have to worry about composition or such. I picked the easy abstract painting style from my class Planet Color. The whole process was relaxing, and the painting is called “Cosytopia.” A place to escape the big bad world.

Cosytopia, an abstract acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Extreme Art Makeover – Polish and Varnish!

Like in any makeover, why not do it to the very end! Take care that the brushstrokes are smooth where they need to be, and shapes stylish enough for a party.

Painting details by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

If the painting has a sturdy background, varnish it too! Ceruleana was painted on a cardboard canvas, so I used a polymer varnish on it. Before the varnish, I added a layer of glossy gel medium. (A detailed post about varnishing)

Varnishing an acrylic painting. By paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Glossy varnish makes colors glow beautifully. Even if this is an old revamped acrylic painting on cardboard, it may happen that someone someday says: “Oo-oh, it’s an oil painting, isn’t it?”

A varnished acrylic painting. Ceruleana by Paivi Eerola.

I hope this post inspired you to make the most of your supplies and past artistic endeavors!

Planet Color – Weekend Sale!

Planet color, an online painting class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Great for beginner painters!

My beginner painting class Planet Color is for sale between May 28th to 31st! The normal price is 35 EUR, now only 25 EUR. >> Buy here!

Why I Paint White Flowers – How Your Artistic Voice is Influenced by Others

There’s a lot of talk about finding your artistic voice, but very little about how other people affect it. So this week, I share a story about my mother and her influence on my art.

Painting the Same Thing Again and Again

A couple of days ago, I was on a morning walk near my home in Southern Finland. The air was fresh as well as the view, dominated by the blue sky and white clouds. My beagles’ busy noses and a glimmering brook followed a sown field that had already started to green. Both birds and earphones fed entertaining listening. But all I could think of was my painting. Was it finished? Should I add more color to the flowers? What else did I need to adjust to make most of the tens of hours? I was alone with my dogs, but the inner critic kept me company: what kind of artist doesn’t even know the meaning of her images?

An oil painting in progress by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland. Read her article about how artistic voice is not only our personal choice, but can be influenced by others.
Signed, but is it finished?

Yes, I am no artist at all. I paint white flowers, the easiest anyone can imagine, and the worst that my mother knew. “No white flowers,” she repeated to my father when her wedding anniversary came close, and he was about to buy a bouquet. “White flowers mean death.” And now, long after she has passed away, all I want to paint is white flowers.

Cherimona. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.
Icebreaker. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.
Torchbearer. Watercolor painting by artist Paivi Eerola.

Commenters are Your Art Coaches

Rebelling had no place in my upbringing during the 1970s and 1980s. As a teenager, I tried to respond to my mother’s corrections and criticism with an ignorant smile. Not for long. She didn’t hesitate to tell that it wasn’t a proper reaction. She was both a direct and shy person. Her presence was almost invisible in public gatherings, but at home, in her empire, she was the master of rights and wrongs. So when I showed drawings to her, she either approved or disapproved. She didn’t talk to me as directly as to my father – what to do or what not – but her words and facial expressions told everything.

My mother was like a strict gymnastic coach with high expectations, but she lacked one essential skill – the ability to show how the tricks could be done. She was as honest to herself as to anyone in this matter and put her energy for finding time, supplies, and art education for me. Time to create was the easiest part. My mother was a housewife. She had left her job at a young age right after she got married. She didn’t want her daughters to have the same destiny, so she did her best to keep me out of the kitchen and constantly reminded me how children would prohibit me from doing what I love.

Artist Paivi Eerola and her mother. Read about how she has influenced her artistic voice.
Me and my mother in 1984

We lived in a small town near the Russian border, and our family wasn’t wealthy. The only income came from my father’s pension. In the evenings, my mother wrote all the expenses on a small black book. But purchasing pens and paper was mandatory. To her, it was the lowest level of civilization, more important than books. Our town had one bookshop that sold some supplies, but after we got more knowledge from local art groups and competitions, it became evident that I needed a better and broader selection. So every month, when my parents drove to a bigger town, I was often with them, selecting paper, paint boards, crayons, and acrylic paints from a real art supply store.

A Praised Piece Sticks into Your Mind

When I was some years over ten, in one spring morning, I decided to try out a new set of crayons. It was just a warm-up, a quick landscape without using any reference. “Look, mother, what do you think,” I said like so many times before. She looked at the image, tightened her lips, but unlike her, she didn’t say much. Later, when I opened a narrow kitchen closet to pick an iron, I stopped. The landscape was taped inside the wooden door. “I like to look at it,” she said after seeing my puzzled face.

Landscape with crayons by artist Paivi Eerola. From her teenage years.

I was devastated. That little landscape didn’t deserve the place. So many times I had poured my heart out on paper and soon found out that it wasn’t to her liking. And now – I didn’t even color all the paper!

Finding the Why Behind Your Artistic Voice – Connecting the Appraisals and Repetitions

Fortunately, my mother was not the only one commenting on my art. My two big sisters had different opinions, and my teachers and friends as well. One piece didn’t satisfy them all, but there were always kind words from someone. It encouraged me to keep painting and drawing, as everyone, especially my mother, expected.

After my mother’s death, one stormy weekend, I traveled to the childhood home to pick things that I wanted to keep before we would sell it. The house was cold, but I knew it was the last time when I would see it like it used to be. Everything was clean and tidy. Performing tasks effectively with high quality had always fascinated my mother. “If I could choose what my profession was, it would be a researcher of work – if such a profession existed.”

When I got up the stairs to an attic, the sight would surprise anyone but me. The attic had always been nearly empty. In one corner, under a sloped sealing, my father had built a small closet for safe storage. I opened its little door, and there they were, neatly in a big cardboard box – my paintings and drawings. Not all, but a collection that my mother had curated over the years, the little crayon drawing included.

So a few days ago, when I was walking by the field and looking up in the sky, my mother came to me in the form of the freshly colored landscape. I now knew that my urge to paint white flowers hadn’t been an act against my mother, but a yearn for her acceptance that blank white blobs had once given to me. Now my question is: can I let go of them, or do I want to keep her in my art forever.

Paivi Eerola and her painting in progress. Read her thoughs about artistic voice and how other people affect it.

Who has influenced your art? Can you recognize how?

P.S. I also teach drawing and painting flowers in the class Floral Fantasies.

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