Peony and Parakeet

How Are You, My Friend in Art?

Watercolor painting in progress

I hope you are coping, and as safe as anyone can now be. It’s fortunate that we can have this electronic connection, and that closed borders don’t prevent us from communicating as we have always done.

Over 5 Years Ago and Now

Over five years ago, when I left my day job to become an online art instructor, I saw the Internet as a space ship where I wanted to jump to. But I was wrong. The Internet isn’t a space ship, it’s a whole new world. We, humans, have built a space to go and survive through crises. With the Internet, we have the teleportal that sci-fi movies and books so cleverly illustrate.

Yes, the Internet has its flaws, and yes, we also need fresh air and human touch. But now when our life gets limited, it brings consolation that you, my friend in art, are there. That I am not only someone living in the north, inside a house with a garden, but someone who has soulmates around the world.

Thank you for being my mate, always loving art, always making time to create, always seeking the beauty around you, inside you. Together, when the physical world quiets down, we can make this other world beautiful and positive, with the power of art. Because now or never, humans need art. Our love and passion for it are needed, also in this other world of our being.

Many of you have met each other in some of my classes. I want this artist community to stay together and grow, despite the times we are living.

Now all classes include the membership for Bloom and Fly in 2020!

I used to have dedicated classes for the membership, but now any class will do. All my classes include the membership for Bloom and Fly in 2020. This also applies to all who have bought my classes this year. If you have bought a class from me earlier this year, email me, and you will get instructions on how to join. 

Bloom and Fly artist community

Let’s support each other and create together through these tough times!

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level

Paivi Eerola, a visual artist from Finland, talking about how to become more passionate in art.

What Does “Passionate” Mean to You?

This week, I had a free live webinar of how to conquer the excuses and become more passionate about art. I asked what does “passionate” mean to you and then divided it into four categories. After that, I re-phrased five excuses so that you see them from a new perspective. It may sound theoretical, but you also get ideas of how to apply these things in practice as well. I hope you will enjoy watching the recording below!

Take Your Art to a Passionate Level – The Recording of the Webinar

The Exploring Artist Begins on Sept 10 – Sign Up Now!

The Exploring Artist is a 12-week group coaching program for artists, between Sept 10 – Nov 30, 2018. This coaching is for you who wants to get clear about your artistic passion and become more open about your art, for example, share your art in social media, blog about art, sell your originals and prints, teach classes, etc.

The Exploring Artist - a coaching program for you who wants to become more confident and get clear about your artistic passion. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

In The Exploring Artist, you will get coaching as a part of a small and tight-knit group. I will personally help you to put your passion into words and visual insights. We will work together to discover what you want to change in your art, where you want to move forward and how to do it.

The maximum number of the participants is 12,
and the early-bird sale ends on August 19 (midnight PST), so sign up now!

Little Assistants – How Pets Help with Art Making

Surreal Stella, a sketchbook page made with Derwent Artbars and waterbrush. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

I work at home with two dogs and four birds. My husband leaves early in the morning and then there are only us, the gang of seven. One of my little assistants is a beagle called Stella, a very cute little angel to every human but I think she would describe herself as a hungry hunter and would order a very different portrait than this one!

Gathering Inspiration

First, I take the dogs out for a walk. I solve most of my work-related problems and make plans in this private morning meeting, happening inside my head.  In the afternoon, there’s another walk, but that’s not as productive as the one in the morning.

I always carry a phone with me so that I can take photos if I happen to see something inspirational and artistic. As a result, I have a lot of pictures that are not so great or meaningful to memory keeping and such, but that look abstract art to me.

Photographing light and gathering inspiration for art.

This winter we have got quite a many snow storms. In February, it had snowed a lot during the day, so before we left our front yard, I was already taking photos of this mad whiteness that we were trying to overcome.

Snowstorm in Finland.

We had been wading for some time when I realized that I had lost my keys in the snow while taking photos. After a lot of sweat, and stepping back and forth, I finally found the keys in the middle of “the road.” During a year, there are many days in Finland where everyone else than dog owners have their meetings indoors.

Taking Healthy Breaks

On a workday, my dogs hang around quite a lot.  They have learned that if I set something on the floor, it’s not for them to lay down on.

Photographing art and having a pet around an art studio. Read more about the life of an artist who has pets!

They try to be patient when waiting for daily treats but maybe see their role as interrupters who force me to have short breaks now and then. Cosmo, the old one, is the leader who decides when to stop my work, and Stella quickly joins him.

Cosmo and Stella, Paivi Eerola's pets.

These breaks don’t always seem so healthy and fun to me. I am often in a very concentrated mode and find a soft touch of a nose just annoying. But who could resist these faces?

Getting Genuine Encouragement

The birds – four budgies called Henrietta, Citronelle, Dynamite, and Bonneville – see my work differently. They want to join me and encourage me when I am at my best. It means that every time I record videos, and they sense the excitement in my voice, they start chirping: “Go on, you are doing great! Oh Paivi, you are so inspiring!”

Paivi Eerola's fours budgies. Read about her life as an artist working from home.

Hearing the birds is a contradictory thing. My birds don’t lie so if I don’t hear any sounds when I am speaking, I know that my enthusiasm doesn’t show and I have to fix that. But despite the walls, the mic picks up the high-note sounds easily. So I have to stop recording, go to the library room to ask them to be quiet. Sometimes nothing else helps than darkening the room and adding a cover on their cage. It often feels cruel, especially after seeing them happy and excited first. So many of my videos have bird sounds in the background, and I hope that you forgive us!

Paivi Eerola's art studio.

Having Pets as Models

Cosmo and Stella are very proud of their modeling skills, and they think that the reward they need for every minute is very moderate too. However, it’s often cheaper for me to take a photo and use that as a reference.

Cosmo and Stella, Paivi Eerola's pets. Read how she describes her life as an artist working from home with pets.

Unfortunate for them, but I don’t often paint dogs. But this month, when the monthly theme of Bloom and Fly is stretching the imagination and adding surreal elements to art, I wanted to express how cute Stella is in my eyes.

Paivi Eerola's art studio.

Learning Leadership Skills

My position as the leader of the pack has strengthened during the past years. We all wait eagerly for my husband in the afternoons but I am often the one my pets turn with their needs. My husband loves them as much as I do, and it hasn’t always been this way. But the time spent with them matters, and it gives me the sense of satisfaction when I don’t have to leave my pets alone.

Paivi Eerola and her beagles. Read how she works from home with her pets!

This year, leading an online community has been new to me. In fact, when I left my day job in 2014, I thought that I would be just making self-study classes and taking care of the pets! There’s a false sense of independence built in the art making because most of the creating happen alone. But after running my first workshop, I realized that I can help more when there’s more interaction.

With the community, it has dawned on me that the role of a leader doesn’t mean that I have to know it all. We are all learning from each other. It’s a liberating thought, and it doesn’t only empower the leader, but the members as well.

We often have intentions to create a certain kind of art or share our art but postpone it because we feel that we need to figure it out by ourselves first. Some of the things that I have postponed are diving deeper into watercolor painting and develop more ways to use art for self-exploration.

A Detail of "Surreal Stella", a sketchbook page made with Derwent Artbars and waterbrush. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

But the truth is that when you have the support, changes start to happen. You get structure and kindness that gives you courage. There’s no need to struggle alone or wait until you are ready. The life is not so long after all.

Bloom and Fly – Don’t wait until you are more skillful, join the community now!

Have You Ever Felt Like an Outsider?

Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

I have finished a new oil painting called “Gypsy Madonna.” I painted it at Emmi Mustonen‘s class during this spring while learning more about old masters’ painting techniques. It took about 42 hours from start to finish and about four months in calendar time. Every thin layer of paint had to dry before adding a new one. I show you some phase photos, but I focus on the deepest thing that I learned from this painting: feeling like an outsider and what to think about it.

The Basics of the Painting Process

My Gypsy Madonna combines two Renaissance paintings: Boccaccio Boccaccino‘s Gypsy Girl and Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine.

By Boccaccio Boccaccino and Leonardo da Vinci

First I was just on a mission to get better with the painting technique.

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Then I wanted to play with the setting and discovered several stories that could be told through that (some of them are in this blog post).

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, underpainting, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Experiences of Being an Outsider

One day during the painting process, I remembered a childhood memory of a real gypsy girl. The local library had a weekly hour for children to listen to fairy tales and to play together. We were playing a game where two of us danced in the middle while others were watching. There were a lot of children, all waiting for to be chosen. Someone picked me, and we danced in the center of the ring while others were cheering.

Then it was my turn, and my friend Anne almost stepped up. But I had seen a sad gypsy girl sitting there, head drooping. She knew that nobody would pick her up. It was one of those games that would only depress her. It broke my little girl’s heart to see her sadness. I just had to do it, leave Anne sitting and ask the girl to dance with me. I never forget that smile when we were swirling around. It may have been the best thing that I have done in my life so far.

Making of a Gypsy Madonna using old masters painting techniques, finishing, by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

When I continued painting, it was suddenly me in the picture. I became the gypsy girl who gently scratches her pet. The outsider who never got children because she was much more enthusiastic about her love for animals. The outsider who was the only girl in most of the classes when studying technology. The outsider who dreamt about art while trying to tackle the more practical career. There are so many moments when I have felt like a black Madonna, not quite fitting in.

A detail of a Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

Everybody Is an Outsider

To me, the finished image symbolizes the beauty of choosing differently, being different. Even if I know that it’s perfectly ok to be different, the painting helps me to connect with the feeling on a deeper level. It makes me empathize with other people as well. Everybody is an outsider despite their personal story. We all belong to a minority in some ways. We are all Gypsy Madonnas in one way or another.

A detail of Gypsy Madonna, an oil painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, combining two Renaissance paintings into one

Have You Ever Felt That Nobody Understands Your Art?

To be honest, I feel shy about showing this painting. It’s not what I usually create, and I have shared some very personal stories. It has crossed my mind for several times how you, as a reader of this blog, might feel confused: “Is this what Paivi is creating nowadays? Is she going back to the Renaissance age?” I have also feared that the dark colors of the painting will make you want to stop reading. But on the other hand, I don’t want to stop exploring. If you don’t explore, you are unable to integrate new things into your creative work. Pablo Picasso has said: “To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic.” So no wonder if there are times when nobody understands what you are creating!

It’s also difficult to grow artistic identity when a part of that experience is feeling like an outsider. When you start creating art, you want to find your personal way to do it, but those discoveries can also make you feel lonely sometimes. This contradictory has caused me to challenge myself. I want to be better at not only understanding my personal feelings but also supporting other artists in their explorations. In the end, we are all on the same journey. We are standing together on the border of art and the rest of the world, expressing the same view through different eyes.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet, with Gypsy Madonna, one of her oil paintings. Read her blog post about feeling like an outsider as an artist and how to get through it!

Stay tuned for my new class for building belongingness, making art that matters, and strengthening your artistic identity! The registration will open in May!

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