Peony and Parakeet

Watercolor Girl in a Spring Garden

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I have just finished this watercolor painting. It’s a continuum for this recent one:

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

This spring, I have been painting flowers, fruits, vegetables, vases, and pots – my inner garden – while my husband has been busy taking care of our outer garden!

I don’t intentionally paint what I see in the garden, but I am fascinated by it. Our front garden had big changes last summer so it’s interesting to see what has survived through the winter and what hasn’t. It’s a bit like when starting a painting – some details stay, and some get covered.

Watercolor painting in progress.

At the beginning of May, we got snow. We had just had a warm period but then it became really cold!

Snowing in a Japanese garden.

Fortunately, the weather has got warmer again. This morning, I walked in the garden and thought how perfect all the shapes and colors are. I imagined I am a watercolor girl in a watercolor world, translating all the beauty on a coarse cotton paper step by step.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

It’s just magical when the old cherry tree blossoms in our new Japanese garden for the first time.

Cherry blossoms in a garden.

I only wish our tree would have pink flowers. But for a watercolor girl, everything is possible!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

One of our flowerbeds is filled with a variety of tulips. We buy some new bulbs every autumn, and the bed gets fuller and fuller every spring.

Tulips in a garden.

I love to paint abstract shapes and then draw lines to make them flowers or filaments!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Does your garden appear in your art?

Drawing on Fabric – Illustrated Quilt Blocks

Drawing on fabric with Copics by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This week’s blog post is for all who love fabric! I have started building a new class, a magical sequel to Animal Inkdom! I want these “Inkdom classes” to be as versatile as possible so that you can use your illustrations in gifts, everyday items, and whatever you like to create. This goal perhaps brings out the designer from me – always seeking for ways to get the most of the beautiful pictures.

Brainstorming when Making a Quilt

My best ideas come, when I am taking a break. Last week, I had to stop the class development for a few days, because my beagle Stella had been waiting for her quilt far too long. The old ones were so worn out that she could barely carry and wrap herself in them. I had almost finished the top of the new quilt but there was still quite a lot of work in quilting and binding it.

Quilting with a sewing machine

So I put the art supplies away, bought pink fabric for the back, and started stitching. The blocks had printed photos, crocheted doilies, ugly leftover prints, experiments that had piled up … I had just sewn them all together! But the more I worked on it, the more unique the blanket felt, and the improvisational way of working kept me energized. Just like when drawing!

Finished quilt by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

So it hit me, that it would be wonderful to build bridges with this kind of fabric play and drawing.

Finished quilt by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

See how full of “doodles”, improvised quilt patterns, the top has!

Finished quilt by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

I doodled a bit with the embroidery floss too. But that’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t feel the same as holding a pen in hand. I missed my markers!

Finished quilt by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Drawing on Fabric with Copic Markers

Once Stella’s quilt was finished, I went to my Copic markers. I ironed a piece of natural white cotton fabric that had some print patterns. To make the patterns even more subtle, I drew on the wrong side of the fabric. So I had a lively background that wasn’t too busy. First, I made a line drawing with thin-tipped black pens. They were Copic brand too.

Then I started coloring and making the drawing more detailed.

Drawing on fabric with Copics by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s the finished piece. I loved the easiness, the softness of the lines, and that I now have a unique quilt block. I will certainly draw some more!

Drawing on fabric with Copics by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Here you can see how the lines, fabric and color blending go well together.

Drawing on Fabric by Peony and Parakeet - a detail.

When I look at my fabric stash, this hand-made piece is definitely what I love the most.

Hand-drawn image on fabric by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

My art studio looks so happy now! The best thing is when many things that I love to create come together.

Fabric and art studio by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

While I am preparing the new class, tell me, what kind of ideas and instructions have you been waiting for building bridges between your arts and crafts!

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet holding her hand-made quilt.

How to Create Art that Reflects Your True Self?

Watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article about finding visual style!

We artists talk a lot about finding our visual style. But while working on with this watercolor painting, I started to wonder if we try to force it too much through big declarations like:

– “I am going to paint portraits only.”
– “I am a fantasy artist.”
– “I only do abstracts.”

Isn’t style more in small and practical decisions that take place when we are creating. The problems arise so quickly and accidentally that we routinely respond to them. We often follow the easiest or the most ordinary path which usually leads to art that doesn’t reflect our true selves.

Child Doesn’t Think about Visual Style

A girl with a carrot. Children are creative no matter what they do.

When I was a small child, every day was filled with wonders of life. When I didn’t think too much of what would be appreciated in the world of adults, I led myself to enjoy things fully. I didn’t question if my hair was ok when my mother asked me to get in front of the camera. I loved the sunny day, the attention, and was proud of that big carrot, a miracle grown in our own garden.

A watercolor painting in progress. You can't see your visual style in the beginning of the painting.

So, when starting a painting, more than trying to see the whole garden at once, I try to dig out a carrot – a small detail that I choose to embrace. It can look ugly and insignificant to others, but to me, it feels lovely.

Watercolor painting in progress.

If I start questioning if this is my style, it’s like saying “If you want to become an artist, you should hold a brush instead of a carrot” to the child. In the class Floral Fantasies, I have an exercise where we grow a painting from a baby to an adult. The painting that’s just a small child can’t look like a grown-up. At best, you move towards your true self layer by layer.

Overcoming the Seek of Acceptance

Expression-wise, the most important decisions are made when you have been painting for a while. Then you are dealing with a teenager. In general and also in paintings, it’s the age when you follow what others do and seek acceptance.

A watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article about visual style and small decisions that we make during creating.

I tend to lock too easily what comes up in the middle of the painting process. In this watercolor painting, I saw a duck coming up. It would have been so easy to make the duck the centerpiece of the painting. I like animals, and I know many of my customers like them too. But I wanted the image to be more mysterious and express growth. So I left the egg instead and changed the duck to a pot. It required a lot more work, but I am very happy with the decision!

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Preserving Some, Letting Some Go

I have had the privilege to follow my dog Cosmo getting old. In the age of 14, has let go of many things, but he fights to keep the things he has always enjoyed. He wants to go for a walk in the woods, steal my socks, and roll over to get a pig’s ear.

Old dog.

With Cosmo, I have been thinking about how difficult it is to me to let go of the things that I don’t even want.

Here’s what we artists say to ourselves when we refuse to remove the duck, the obvious or the accidental elements:
– “Maybe somebody else will enjoy this painting.”
– “It was just an experiment.”
– “My next painting will be better.”
– “I don’t know if this is good or bad.”
– “I feel unfocused.”

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

If we try to preserve everything, we are left with nothing. Like Cosmo, we need to choose what makes life and our images rich and what reflects our true selves. Not forgetting “stealing socks” – embracing humor, small vices, often little embarrassing characteristics that make us who we are.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Her visual style is shown in the details.

To me, putting more value on these small decisions in the middle of creating has helped to make art that, more often than before, reflects my true self and is a clear presentation of my visual style.

A watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article on finding visual style.

You can still sign up for my class Floral Fantasies while it’s running. So sign up before May 24 to grab this class! >> Sign up here!

Paint Flowers – It Cures Everything

Flower paintings by Paivi Eerola by Peony and Parakeet. Flowers cure everything.

Here’s my mantra: Paint flowers – it cures everything.

When you want more color to your life, paint flowers.
When you need more confidence, paint flowers.
When you miss somebody, paint flowers.

When in bloom, paint flowers.
When frozen, paint flowers.

Paint flowers and everything will be ok, at least for the time you are painting flowers.

Painting watercolor flowers by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I am excited to teach a floral painting class starting on Monday, April 29! Floral Fantasies is a 4-week class, and you also get access to my art community Bloom and Fly for the rest of the year. This is the only time I will be offering the class this year, so now is the time to join!

>> Sign up here!

From the students of Floral Fantasies:

  • “I have been able to relax more and just let feelings flow into the colors and shapes.”
  • “I love seeing art through your lens and through your personal experiences. It most definitely adds depth towards my creative process by exploring various styles and techniques.”
  • “Although I have taken several of your classes and loved them all, this one has deepened my knowledge of art and techniques considerably. I know I will go back to the beginning again and redo the class many times.”

>> Sign up here!´╗┐

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