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Peony and Parakeet

Mystical Side of Art(ist) in Progress

This week, I show an unfinished painting and talk about the mystical side of nature and art.

I have a big painting in progress. At least it’s the biggest one that I have ever made – 92 x 65 cm, about 36 x 26 inches. It’s an oil painting, and it takes time because it needs to dry between the sessions. The pics you see here are from the third session, and there’s at least one, maybe even two, to go. But this is the last piece of the series, so I don’t want to rush. The painting needs time to mature, and I want to end the series gloriously.

Paivi Eerola in her studio. A mystical painting in progress.

I don’t usually post about a piece that I haven’t finished yet. It’s like presenting an uneducated child that doesn’t quite know how to behave. But the more perfectly my art has aligned with my personality, the more I have started to embrace imperfection. My art will always be imperfect because I am imperfect. Life is imperfect.

Rational or Mystical?

My education in software engineering has shaped my beliefs about life for tens of years. But recently, I have had experiences that feel less scientific and more mystical.

Paivi Eerola sitting in her studio and painting an oil painting. Read more about her mystical art.

My paintings seem to know how they want to grow, and my ego disappears.

One Mystical Morning

One morning, when I was walking the dog, I saw a miraculous view. It was meant to be just an experiment. I asked myself to look at nature like I would look at a painting in progress. And suddenly, I saw everything in a new order – not organized by a hierarchy or by their aesthetic value. Gravel, weed, grass, dandelions, trees – all were equal and formed one mysterious mesh.

Nature's mystical imperfection.

I was part of that mesh too. Not any more valuable than a crooked stem of a dandelion, but still tremendously happy and free.

Every Stroke is a Weed – For How Long Can It Grow?

We art instructors talk often about visual hierarchy – there’s a lot of that in my classes too! The image needs a focal point, and there needs to be a visual flow in a composition. Otherwise, the image looks stiff and the viewer is left puzzled. But the more I have painted, the more I have postponed all that visual organization. That’s why you see me working on the table mostly, focusing on the details.

Paivi Eerola painting with oils. The painting is upside down.

When the painting is in progress, it grows all kinds of weeds, and it’s ok. Then, when I am close to an end, I will put the painting on the easel and improve the visual hierarchy and flow.

An oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

So, I let the child play freely first before teaching it to greet, bend the knees a bit, and make the viewer feel welcome. Before the last part, I can just enjoy the mesh and let the artist be one with the child.

An oil painting in progress. Mystical colors. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

What do you think? Does this make sense to you? Have you had mystical experiences?

Free Like a Bird – Creating Free from Expectations

This week, I write about my personality type based on Thomas Erikson’s book Surrounded by Idiots and how to paint free from expectations.

"Finch" - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Read more about how she paints freely!
“Finch – Peippo” – oil, 50 x 61 cm

Here’s my newest painting. When finishing it, I became surprised gladly when “Blackbird” got a little sister “Finch.” Here’s Blackbird again:

"Blackbird" - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Abstract art and ideas.
“Blackbird – Mustarastas” – oil, 60 x 73 cm

Book: Surrounded by Idiots – The Four Types of Human Behaviour

All my life, I have had strong opinions about how and what I should paint. And yes, these opinions have not been something like “powerful dreams” but more like pushy commands. I didn’t even realize how pushy they have been until I read Thomas Erikson’s book “Surrounded by Idiots.” It made me think about my personality from a new perspective.

Even if the idea of the book – dividing personalities into four categories and naming them by colors – could be taken as nonsense, after reading it, I can’t help thinking about how “red” I am. An ambitious fact-oriented person who has pushed herself to the utmost limit with this art-making obsession.

If you are “yellow,” you probably think that I should either have fun or move on. “Greens” might recommend taking a rest and stopping working too hard. And “Blues” claim that the book is not scientifically proved and there’s no reason to quit.

But I have discovered a new solution. It’s been a joy to use my red energy only to make sure that I keep painting. When I open the tubes, my redness is gone. I am open to painting anything. Every ugly start feels like an invitation to the jungle: Let’s see what’s going on in the inner world.

Painting wildly when the personality type is red (based on the book Surrounded by Idiots)

Breaking the Glass – Growing Compassion Towards Inanimate Things

In the class Floral Freedom, you dive deep into Wassily Kandinsky’s ideas about abstract art. Among other things, he talks about breaking the glass – stopping being the observer and starting to be the one that experiences things. Now when I have been pushing myself for almost seven years, the glass has become thin. I feel joy about how easily it breaks right after squeezing the paint on the palette.

For a red person, it has been difficult to break through. I have been giving orders and tightened the control from time to time. But now, the only goal for the spring is to paint all the canvases that I purchased earlier this year. Not questioning what I paint, but just do it.

Filling canvases, painting without an ego,

“Do it!” the red in me commands matter-of-factly and then leaves me working. After breaking the glass, I arrive at a lobby that’s filled with all kinds of stuff. For example, there are tulips that my husband removed from the bench where they were not supposed to grow.

Tulips in a vase

They twisted and turned in the vase, like wild animals in a cage, trying to break free. And when they withered, they became angry and devastated beasts, desperate to continue their lives. They didn’t want to face the fact that they wouldn’t reproduce like they were born to do.

The beauty of withering tulips.

When painting, we can see similar things or just glide on the glass and bypass them. Shapes that don’t get the place in the spotlight. Lines that disappear before they reach high enough.

Painting abstract art by Paivi Eerola

But if we put our mind into noticing them, we can make these inanimate splotches of paint breath and fly, even save some ugly spots. Not because we would hasten and thus compromise the quality, but because we feel sudden compassion towards their character.

Before and after - starting wildly and painting freely. By Paivi Eerola.

Then a picture is not forced but appears naturally. However, the result is not static or exact like the observer would want. Instead, it describes the inner experience of being.

Paivi Eerola and her painting Finch. Read more about her red personality and what she thinks about Thomas Erikson's book Surrounded by Idiots.

The Experience of Being a Finch

In this painting, the being is a little bird, facing danger, trying to take care of its nest, flying and falling, still living the summer of her life.

"Finch" - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola, photographed against the sky.

Have you read Thomas Erikson’s book Surrounded by Idiots? Do you see a connection between your personality and art-making?

Can or Can’t Draw – Did You Know This About Drawing?

Before you decide whether you can or can’t draw, read this!

Last week, I re-organized my art supplies. Paints and painting mediums got a more accessible location, and pens and other drawing supplies went into a closet. It was a consequence of the revelation that I had become a painter.

Artist Paivi Eerola in her studio

But instead of declaring the love for painting, this post is about drawing!

Namely, my journey in art has been gathered around finding my line. To me, the line is the voice. It’s the leading singer, while colors and heavier shapes are the rest of the orchestra. The line itself is enough to make any piece of art sing.

I am listening, an example of drawing freely from inspiration by Paivi Eerola. If you say you can't draw, maybe you define drawing too narrowly.
“I Am Listening” from 2015, black drawing pen and colored pencils

“I can’t draw” was my problem for too many years. Then I realized that we define drawing too narrowly.

We aim for the skills of drawing realistic objects and then end up worrying about the stiffness of our work. “I want to be more spiritual, I want to be more abstract, I want to see me in my drawings.” Have you ever thought like this?

My solution was to abandon references and start drawing circles.

Handdrawn circles. This doesn't have to be the only thing you can draw.
Circles from 2011

Don’t Just Draw Circles!

Those years spent with circles now felt like a waste of time. I didn’t have guidance for freehand drawing, and I did what felt comfortable at first. But circles are closed and rigid shapes, and when you want to open up and loosen up, you need to open and loosen your circles too.

Here’s a short 4-minute video from 2017 that shows how you can move forward from drawing circles.

Drawing – like any art – has two sides.

One side is a skill of controlling a pen or a brush so that the result is attractive and aesthetically pleasing. But drawing is also a skill of getting out of control and expressing the limitlessness of the mind.

Both skills support each other. Clarity and stiffness add ornamental beauty to loose lines. And drawing wildly helps with showing more personality when you want to be in control.

Drawing from imagination with a thin-tipped drawing pen. If you can't draw, try this!

For me, exploring drawing from the other angle was ground-breaking.

I developed a class called Inspirational Drawing, where we draw and color freely but also use inspiration images to boost imagination. Inspirational Drawing 2.0 is the latest version of this popular class.

Inspirational Drawing, an online art class about drawing freely

You know you can draw when drawing feeds inspiration.

When I paint, I start with a vague idea and go where happy accidents lead me. I don’t need much to get started. The first idea can be just a color combination from an old painting.

Painting lines with a brush - one form of drawing!

By practicing inspirational drawing, I found my living line, and the energy that’s packed into it is enough for any sized painting. My line sings, and the rest of the orchestra supports it.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola. Exploring living line by painting.
This Too Shall Pass, oil painting, 60 x 73 cm, 2021

So, isn’t it sad if we try to improve our art without paying any attention to our line?
If we try to release the expression without releasing the line, giving the full power to the leading singer?
If we say we can or can’t draw without allowing free expression?

What do you think?

Your Art and Loosening Up

This week, I talk about being unique and loosening up in a video. You also get to see me working with a new oil painting.

Your Art and Loosening Up – From a Former Engineer

With the video below, I want to get you to think about how much you do layering. But this time, I don’t talk about the actual layers of the painting, but the layers of you and your life – the more abstract stuff. Namely, we often lead our artistic direction too literally and don’t allow contradictory or silly ideas. I hope you enjoy this video!

This is a little different than many of my videos. I would be interested to hear how you like it! Do leave a comment!

Links Relevant to the Video

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