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Peony and Parakeet

Expressing Inner Storms by Painting

This post is dedicated to all who have lost their creative inspiration during these challenging times when outer storms cause inner storms too.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
This Too Shall Pass – Ohimenevää tämäkin, oil, 60 x 73 cm

I have always loved art that uplifts and is more on the bright side of fantasy than in the darkness. I have defined myself as an artist who does not express agony or suffering or bring out what’s wrong in society. My art has based on the possibilities of imagination. It’s about the richness of the inner world. “Spiritual freedom” has been my word.

But the longer I have painted, the more courageous I have become. How flowery do my paintings have to be? To free up my art and to free up my thinking as well, I have begun to accept all kinds of shapes, colors, and emotions. The same flowers that bloom in my watercolor pieces become little monsters when I paint more freely in oil. It’s like there’s a new world under the inner world I only used to know.

Painting Inner Storms

At the end of January, I started a new big painting. It had dark colors, but I intended to brighten it. “When the time is right, I will make it more cheerful,” I promised to myself. Weeks went by, and it always felt like I had something more important to do. I didn’t have the energy, or I had too much energy. The more I postponed the finishing, the moody I became. “This pandemic gets to my nerves,” I said to my husband.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola.

But when my spirit got more and more low, I had to do something. One night I picked paints and brushes, abandoned all the happy stuff I was creating and continued the painting. The brushes felt heavy at first. The paint tubes were like stones. But then I remembered the magic words: “Päivi, you can paint!” This confidence, even if it always feels false first, energizes my strokes and thoughts. The painting begins to speak to me, and my responses become more and more natural.

Expressing inner storms. Abstract art by Paivi Eerola.

This Too Shall Pass

“What are you painting, Päivi,” I heard my inner critic saying after a while. “The piece is still very dark.” My immediate answer was: “Yes, it’s dark, but this too shall pass.” At that moment, I knew the name of the painting and why it should not be forced to look more cheerful. Inner storms can be as beautiful as the happy moments and little monsters as clever as any flower.

Oil painting in progress. Adding finishing touches by laying the painting on the table. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Expressing inner storms. An oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola.
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

When I woke up the following morning, my mind was calm and still. And when I look at the painting, it gives me hope no matter how stormy and gloomy it seems.

Here are some detail pics.

A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola
A detail of This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

Here’s the whole painting again.

This Too Shall Pass, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola

Sometimes the lack of inspiration is a sign of not letting out what needs do so.

Have a creative Easter!

P.S. My abstract painting class Floral Freedom is now available as a self-study. Watch the video below!

My free painting style is based on Paul Klee’s and Wassily Kandinsky’s timeless teachings presented in this class. >> Buy here!

Create for the Inner Child – Painting and Drawing on Scraps of Paper

This week I have a new free video for you! It’s about using small paper scraps for playing and dreaming, but it also goes deeper. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Whether you want to play, be “on the bridge” or paint freely, welcome to my online classes!

Artistic Growth – From “Huh” to “Wow”

This week, we’ll talk about changing artistic direction and how the first reaction doesn’t always matter as much as the second one.

Lovestory - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read about her artistic growth!
My newest painting “Rakkaustarina – Lovestory”, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm.

My seed idea for this painting was slightly different from usual, and I wanted to see how it would grow on canvas. It took many sessions and lots of struggles with finishing. “There’s still something wrong with this painting, Paivi,” I said to myself after correcting a couple of shapes that my husband pointed out. Last night, I had a dream that I walked an ugly dog on a thin leash. The breed was an odd choice, but the dog was still mine.

“Huh” and “Wow” – First and Second Reactions

Isn’t it so that we want to change, but as soon as we begin to see the results, we are likely to bounce back? It’s so easy to say: “No, this is not for me, I’ll try something else. I’ll try a different style, a new technique, another art class, or find other artists to follow and admire.” And this is not only a bad thing. In the long run, bouncing back is about integrating the new stuff into our natural self. But in the short run, it can prevent the growth we want and need.

Oil painting in progress. Artistic expression on canvas. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
I use an easel when I want to see the big picture, and put the painting on the table when I work on the details.

I have been reading James Victore‘s Feck Perfuction as an audiobook. It’s a book about creativity and easy listening about things that are really tough in practice. It’s more like a two-hour inspirational speech than a down-to-earth guide, but it feels current with this painting. In the book, James Victore refers to an American pop artist Edward Ruscha. He has said: “Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?'”

This week, my favorite video podcast, One Fantastic Week, talked about “Instagram art” – pictures that the Instagram algorithm likes. It’s colorful, easy to consume and comprehend, but its exposure doesn’t ensure the artistic quality.

Artistic Growth and New Truths

When a painting is not for a class or a specific exhibition, I try not to think about the audience too much. I trust that you will pick what you like, and forgive me those you don’t.

But with this painting, I realized that I have played in the “Wow! Huh?” category, and this one tries to be more “Huh? Wow!” And that change makes me uncomfortable. It’s like I have been written a revealing story but in a code language, being afraid that anyone who stops to look will see to the core of me. And at the same time, worrying about that anyone who doesn’t, only sees a mess.

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
Oil paints are different from acrylics so that you can easily smoothen or remove the paint with cloth.

An Outside View to the Inside World

Teaching art has helped me to grow as an artist a lot. For example, when I get to see a student sharing a wonderful painting saying: “I don’t know about this one,” my gut reaction is then: “What!? This is beautiful!” But what’s “huh” for them is “wow” for me because I see the painting in a context that’s still new to them. They haven’t got used to seeing themselves like that. They are in the middle of a change, and it’s tempting to get back to the same old thing.

Oil painting in progress. Paints and palettes. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
In progress. Oil paints are stored in a wooden box that my husband made for them.
I recycle plastic lids and use them as palettes.

But when we do something regularly, it’s natural to miss the change. Floating on the surface isn’t enough anymore, and we get curious what’s deeper – “behind the glass” as we say in Floral Freedom, referring to Wassily Kandinsky‘s teachings. Then we need to learn, stretch, and redefine. Accept new truths.

Lovestory - an oil painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

When looking at the mirror, I see more wrinkles than before. What was “huh” some years ago would be “wow” now. But with this wisdom, I hope long life for this painting. That the “huh” that it causes now will be “wow” someday. Maybe after I have fully accepted that my artistic growth is towards more and more abstract art.

Paivi Eerola and her oil painting. Read about her artistic growth!

It’s also good to accept that some paintings are just “huh-huh” and a few manage to be “wow-wow,” and what’s “huh” for some is “wow” for another. What do you think?

Artistic Spirit between Abstract and Realistic

This week’s theme is the artistic spirit. I share a new painting, glimpses of my painting fever, and inspire you to explore the zone between abstract and realistic art.

"Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Here’s an acrylic painting that I just finished yesterday. It’s called “Paradise” and it’s quite big: 61 x 50 cm, about 24 x 19,5 inches.

Painting at Late Evenings and Wee Hours

I like to paint in the late evenings when the world quiets down. Now when it’s summer, Finland floods in light, and nights are short. When the blackbirds begin to sign at 3 am, I know it’s time to wash the brushes.

Starting an intuitive painting. Connecting with the artistic spirit.
Painting abstract shapes. Connecting with the artistic spirit.

After a long night, I rush to the studio in the morning: “What have you done! You’ll never be able to finish it!”

Painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

But with this painting, I decided to accept whatever comes up. And with that, I have a little story to tell. I shared it on Peony and Parakeet’s Facebook page recently, but if you missed the post, here it is, with one of the paintings from the teenage years.

My Story about Artistic Spirit

An acrylic painting made by artist Paivi Eerola when she was a teenager.

As a teenager, I browsed big art books at the local library. I started hanging around with Matisse and Picasso and they said: “Hey Paivi, take this obsession from us, and make the most of it.” First, their inspiration was like a fever: mustpaint…mustpaint… mustpaint. Then, after too many matissepicassos, it became a burden and I went to study engineering.

During the past five years as a full-time artist, I have been hanging around with other guys – like Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rubens. Even if I first thought so, they are not much different. After too many rubenscaravaggios, the empty feeling takes over again.

But recently, I went to my studio secretly, picked the brushes, squeezed the paints, and in silence, I met a spirit. It was not me or any of my masters, but the spirit that arrives when we are ready to let go of the ego.

To paint like me, I need to let go of me. I am pretty sure Matisse and Picasso already told this, I was just so impressed by their names that I didn’t listen.

Painting an artistic spirit. An acrylic painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Abstract, Realistic, or Stylish?

Every time I make a class, I don’t only teach but also learn new things. The newest class Decodashery boosted my confidence to paint decorative motifs right from my imagination. Between “abstract” and “realistic,” there’s a zone that’s “stylish.” Then you simplify what’s real, and complicate what’s not. By simplifying, you dig the artistic spirit out of tangible things, and by complicating geometric shapes, you make the spiritual things more tangible.

"Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

I really like this painting, and hope that you enjoy these close-up pics too.

A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet. Read her post about connecting with the artistic spirit.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.
A detail of "Paradise", an acrylic painting by Paivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

Wishing you many happy moments with painting and drawing!

Artist Paivi Eerola holding a painting called Paradise, in her garden.
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