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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!

75 Ideas in an Art Journal – A Flip-Through Video

Art journal spread using neon markers by Paivi Eerola. Watch her art journal flip-through to see more inspiring pages!

My second large Dylusions Creative Journal (affiliate link) is full now, and I made a video of it for you. It’s not just an ordinary art journal flip-through, because I find many of them boring, but this video has 75 creative prompts and inspiring additional clips where you see me making many of the pages.

Dylusions Creative Journal – Thick but Durable

Large Dylusions Creative Journal, review by Paivi Eerola

This journal is very thick, but the book is amazingly durable. I recommend Dylusions Creative Journal for all who love to create collage art and paint thick layers! The paper works quite well with watercolors too. It took nearly four years to fill 66 spreads of letter-size paper. It’s not my only journal though! It feels a bit strange now when this one is full. I might buy the third one in the near future!

Art Journal Flip-Through – Watch the Video!

Want to see more? Here’s the flip-through video of the first journal!

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From Portraits to Stories – How to Dive Deeper in Visual Expression

"Mirimer" - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. See her blog post about moving from portraits to stories in visual expression.

Here’s my latest watercolor painting called “Mirimer”. The name is a combination of “Miracles” and “Meri” (sea in Finnish). I love to invent these names that mix the two languages!

When I started this piece, I had two things in mind: I wanted to use Cobalt Blue Spectral (see the previous blog post about this gorgeous color), and I also wanted to continue my series of watercolor fairies.

Watercolor fairies by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet

These fairies really speak to me. I feel that I should have started making these story scenes a long time ago and not wasted my time for stiff self-portraits, for example.

Life in Self-Portraits

As a teenager, I stared myself at the mirror and made self-portraits all the time. Any cardboard or piece of paper had my face!

A self-portrait by Paivi Eerola. See her blog post about how to move from portraits to stories.

Every time I wondered if this would be a portrait of an artist: “Would my dream come true? Is this piece good or not?”

It has taken tens of years to move from literal self-reflection to expressing my emotions and my inner world. If I could turn back the time, I would peg myself to move from technique back to childish imagination, because there’s always enough time to learn the techniques, and never enough time to deepen the expression.

A self-portrait by Paivi Eerola.

This is a self-portrait from a couple of years ago, and I like that the inner world finally begins to show.

However, for me, the greatest satisfaction of art is not in self-portraits or portraits in general. I want my art to move from portraits to stories, be more dynamic than just staring faces, tell about my experiences, and how I can see them in a new light. I believe that our inner world is full of stories that connect us to other people on a deep level. When I have thought about my artistic style or whether my art is “good” or “bad,” I have often neglected this story-telling aspect.

Mirimer – From a Portrait to a Story

When painting “Mirimer”, there was a magical moment when I heard my mother calling my name. She passed away tens of years ago, and I thought I had forgotten the exact tone in her voice, but the painting brought back the memory. It must have been because of the blue color, her favorite. I realized that I wasn’t painting a portrait of a fairy anymore. I was painting the story of accepting loss as a part of life.

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

Mirimer became a blue-hooded angel, and the drops of water got some red to indicate that life carries pain that we can’t get to choose.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. See the blog post about moving from portraits to stories.

Illustrating Stories by Lucas Cranach

Stories also came to my mind when I went to see Lucas Cranach’s exhibition in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Lucas Cranach (The Elder) and her son, Lucan Cranach (The Younger), were not only German master painters in the 16th century, but they also knew how to run an art business. They had a workshop, an illustration studio, which had many employees, a logo, a style that everyone had to follow, and they produced prints too. So even if they lived in the Renaissance, they did what most artists today dream about. They built a visual world around stories that people yearned for.

Lucas Cranach the Younger, Diana and Actaeon.

Many of the Caranachs’ stories were from Greek mythology. This painting, my favorite from the exhibition, tells a story about Actaeon turning into a stag when Diana and the nymphs splash water on him. They don’t like him to watch them, and his dogs begin to attack him too!

Paivi Eerola and Lucas Cranach, the Younger. See Paivi's blog post about moving from portraits to stories in visual expression.

In the painting below, there’s Venus and her child, a little cupid. The cupid has been stealing honey and the bees have bitten him.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Venus and Cupid the Honey Thief

There’s also an old poem, written in Latin on the top corner of the painting too:

As Cupid was stealing honey from the hive
A bee stung the thief on the finger
And so do we seek transitory and dangerous pleasures
That are mixed with sadness and bring us pain

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola.

From Portraits to Stories – 5 Tips

  1. Allow more intuition and imagination into your process: Add splashes and other unexpected elements. Spend time with a color that speaks to you. Instead of actively painting something, spend time discovering and highlighting what already can be seen.
  2. Grow your skills from faces to body gestures. Learn to process a shape that’s on paper, in your head too so that you can find alternative ways to continue the painting.
  3. Play with the scale of the elements. We tend to make shapes that are all equal in sizes. But if you want to paint a tiny fairy, for example, you need huge flowers to indicate the small size.
  4. Let go of strict outlining, and leave room for spots of light and shadows. There’s no story without the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is created by setting the lighting.
  5. Take time to let the story unfold. Often, the stories have many layers, and the first associations are just the path to deeper ones.

Magical Forest – Discover Stories by Painting!

Magical Forest, an online art class by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Move from portraits to stories and paint nature and fairies in watercolor!

Paint watercolor fairies and nature’s spirits in their magical surroundings. Enjoy freeing up your expression while exploring flowery woods, shallow ponds, leaf chapels, and adventurous sceneries. Magical Forest begins on January 1st >> Sign up Now!

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