Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Life After Death – Commissioned Art

This week, I have a commissioned art piece to show you. I have fewer words than I normally do – not only because the project is confidential, but also because this project went beyond words in many ways.

Floral tribute painting. Commissioned art piece. Oil on canvas. By the artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Last fall, I got a commission for this oil painting. It was ordered by a man in memory of his recently deceased spouse. We brought elements of the wife’s life and references to what she liked into the painting. The painting is, therefore, a secret portrait, from which loved ones recognize familiar things, but which do not need to be explained to strangers, unless they want to.

Commissioned Art – Sketch First

I started with a digital sketch. Here you can see the sketch and the final painting side by side.

Making commissioned art. A digital sketch made in ProCreate and a final oil painting. By Päivi Eerola, Finland.

I painted the sketch freely in the ProCreate app. The sketch is more abstract than the finished work and is more about the impression than the details.

Painting Process

After the sketch was approved, I ordered the canvas. The size of this piece is 50 x 40 cm (about 19.5 x 15.5 inches). Here are the first blurry layers.

Starting a flower painting. A commissioned art in progress.

I worked several sessions and let the painting dry for 1-2 weeks between the sessions.

Working on a commissioned art piece. Painting flowers layer by layer.

The sketch helped with the painting process so that I could save my energy on the details.

Final Treatments

When the painting was finished, I photographed it outdoors. The natural light is wonderful now when Finland has a lot of snow, but the shoot had to be done quickly.

Photographing a painting in natural light.

I varnished the painting with Gamvar after the photoshoot.

Varnishing an oil painting.

I like to think that varnishing was like giving a special blessing to the painting.

Spiritual Meaning

This project made my work as an artist feel even more meaningful than before. I learned more about what kind of artist I am.

A detail of a flower painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I thought: “What could be a better assignment than building a bridge between life and death?”
What do you think?

Writing About Art

This week is dedicated to writing about art. I tell how I write these blog posts, and why it’s beneficial to write about art.

Watercolor flowers. A watercolor painting called "Juhlan taikoneet" by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
My newest watercolor painting called “Juhlan taikoneet” – those who magically created a party.
See more pics of this piece in the Taiko online art store!

How I Write a Blog Post

I have been writing these blog posts for years directly in English, so, in a language foreign to me. I wanted to develop my language skills and it seemed like the best method, even if the expression was sometimes limited. This year, I started to write these stories in Finnish first. Once the Finnish text is done, I translate it into English. I edit the translation 2-4 times before the story is finished.

Writing about art for a blog post, first in Finnish and then in English.

You might imagine that this is a slow road, but I have developed as a writer in such a way that it feels natural to push the story out first and then edit it. When editing, the subject becomes more clear and the images and texts work better together.

I love the interaction between two languages.

When I write in Finnish, I’m already thinking about English. In Finnish, passive constructions and long expressions are used a lot. I’ll try to be more concise right at the beginning. Words and expressions also differ. In Finnish, I can easily get a relaxed and even humorous tone, but I can’t translate it into English, and neither can machine translators. However, I don’t mourn the matter, I think that the union of two languages ​​is like a marriage: both have to give way.

Starting a watercolor painting.

Joyce Carol Oates talks about having a journal separate from the stories and novels. The journal could be more honest and raw, and use a little different style than what ends in the publication. For me, the Finnish script is a bit like that – a stream of thoughts that gets refined with edits.

The Relationship Between Images and Text

I used to enter the images into the post first and then write the texts directly between them. But these days I work in a word processor so that I only focus on the text. I can write more freely and the texts become more authentic and have more content. I can then fit the images between the text and add captions if needed.

Although I decide the topic of a blog post when I start writing it, most of the pictures exist before the text. I strive to always have new photos and I often plan the collection of images weeks in advance. Since this blog is about art and is aimed at visual people, I need lots of pictures. I want to inspire the reader to make art, so the pictures need also express the process, and not just finished works.

Writing Moves Art Forward

Nowadays, many have left blogging and moved to posting on Facebook or Instagram or uploading videos to YouTube. I too write regularly on my Facebook page and Instagram account. Every now and then I also make a video on YouTube.

But writing is magical. When you write a longer story, you don’t just write to others but to yourself too.

And I am not the only one who thinks that way. Last spring, I participated in an artist coaching program by the Finnish Art Agency, where the coach wanted us to write regularly about our art. She emphasized that working with words is important because visual artists often need to tell about their art.

Writing About Art is Almost Similar to Talking About Art

I believe that all who create art also want to talk about it. It’s just very difficult sometimes. Pictures go to the other side of the words and the ideas get mixed up.

Talking about your art can also feel like pompous boasting, even if the recipient would be interested. Long art stories can also bore the listener if she is not as deep in creating. The same applies to writing, you can feel pretentious or be afraid to bore someone, but when you write it’s easier to notice when you’re stuck and repeating yourself.

Watercolor painting techniques: adding soft spots by wiping the paint off.
When you use good quality watercolor paper, you can make a soft glow by wiping the paint off.

My art has not only developed by drawing and painting diligently. It evolves every time I write about it. It has developed by blog posts, manuscripts for classes, short video posts, and even description texts, where I have to briefly tell who I am or what inspired me to create a certain piece.

Writing brings out problems. You have to focus on what you really want to say and tell who you really are. There will be a temptation to find words that sound great but not say the truth. But if you can overcome the lure of meaningless words, creativity in you wakes up.

I have noticed that when I can put my wishes and ideas into words, they begin to appear in my paintings. Our creativity strives to fulfill our wishes if it can read them. So, that’s why I am writing about art weekly. Thank you for making me do that!

Do you write – or plan to write – about your art? Tell us more!

Romantic Watercolor Florals

This week is about red, pink, sugar, and cream – so, romantic watercolor florals!

Talven voittaneet, a floral watercolor painting in reds and pinks by Paivi Eerola.
Talven voittaneet, 29,7 x 42 cm, watercolor

I had a break from watercolor painting for a long time, but in the summer I started again.

Romantic Flowers and Chicklit

In summer, I had all kinds of complicated ideas for a new course, but my inner voice said:

  • – What if we take out the watercolors and do something that hasn’t been done in a long time?
    – Can I be a romantic?” my artist-me asked my educator-me.
    – You can be as romantic as you want, as long as you work systematically and understandably, she said.

When the camera turned on, a short “Yippee!” went up inside me. Freely Grown was born, but watercolor painting didn’t stop there. I had been dreaming for a long time that I could do something lighter – like the writer Rachael Herron, who wanted to start her career with a profound book, but ended up writing a chick-lit novel. He noticed that chick lit is surprisingly challenging and realized that every genre of literature has its own difficulties.

Romantic watercolor florals from an online course Freely grown.
Paintings made for the course Freely Grown. >> Sign up here!

Watercolor Flowers like Sweet Desserts

I’ve learned a lot of painting techniques with watercolors in the past and it can certainly be seen in my oil paintings. But in the summer I started to be interested in what I had learned while painting with oils and whether I could do vice versa – so, use it in watercolors.

Starting new watercolor paintings. Intuitive starts - several at the same time.

Now I didn’t want to do anything hugely abstract, but sweet flowery paintings. The kind that, if they were food, would have a lot of sugar and whipped cream in them.

Painting details in watercolor. A romantic watercolor flower painting in progress.

An artist should probably only do fine dining, but this has started to resonate with me and it has also been nice to notice that there is a demand for it.

Painting flowers using a flat watercolor brush.

Even now, I’m making a small series for a gallery.

Painting romantic watercolor florals

Those Who Won Winter

This red-hued Talven voittaneet is the first for the series of four. The name would be translated into English as “Winners of Winter” but it is not quite the same. The Finnish version is closer to the expression “those who won winter.”

Paivi Eerola's watercolor painting "Talven voittaneet". Watercolor roses.

My favorite part of this painting is unexpectedly the bottom right. I often leave the edges pretty undefined, but here the bottom part plays a key role. It has melting ice from which the flowers rise.

Romantic watercolor florals by päivi Eerola. A detail of a watercolor painting.

Imagine flowers winning the winter with their warmth – isn’t it such a lovely thought! I have really enjoyed making these kinds of romantic watercolor florals.

Flowers and Gala

This week has been busy. I already received a grant from the city of Vantaa in the summer for my early autumn art exhibition, but it was celebrated only last Wednesday when the city organized a cultural gala.

Päivi Eerola and her husband in Vantaa's cultural gala.
My husband is my best supporter.

It was nice to be surrounded by respected colleagues. In the picture, a councilor Lasse Norres representing the city congratulates the visual artists. Päivi Allonen and Satu Laurel also received a grant and are there on the stage with me. They have wonderful paintings and I highly respect them both.

Vantaan kulttuurigaala, a cultural gala of Vantaa, Lasse Norres and visual artists Päivi Allonen, Päivi Eerola, Satu laurel

Have I mentioned that I love flowers? I think if you’ve been following me for even a little while you know that!

Romantic Watercolor Florals

At the moment, my small studio is a flower painter’s heaven and the flowers have free access there, even if I don’t use them directly as models. The flowers of my inner world may resemble the flowers of the outer world, but they have their own romantic life.

Floral watercolor painter's studio
I use a plastic plate on the top of the worktop when painting, and then keep the paintings in progress under the plate between the sessions.

Nice creative moments for your weekend!

Yellow and red rose, a watercolor painting in the background.

Watercolor Flowers in Louisa M. Alcott Style

This week, I talk about Louisa M. Alcott’s characters and painting flowers in watercolor.

Freely Grown 5, a watercolor painting by the artist Päivi Eerola, Finland.

They say that nature should not be humanized, but when I paint flowers, I do that without hesitation.

Splashes Start an Adventure

I love getting to know my flowers little by little. Their life begins with random splashes and I try to grow them as freely as I can.

Random splashes in watercolor. Beginning of a flower painting.

At its best, a painting is like a good book that hooks you into the atmosphere and cannot be left unfinished. It’s always exciting to see what kind of characters turn out on paper and what happens to them.

Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott

In this painting, the big peony was born first. She is a girl who is sure of her position, but always ready to hug and strengthen others as well. I was reminded of the novel Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott. Could that peony be like Meg, the big sister of the family?

Painting flowers in watercolors. Imagining flowers as characters.

And could there be Amy next to her, a growing beauty and sometimes a bit self-centric too?

Painting watercolor flowers. Expressing characters of the book Little Woman by Louisa M. Alcott as flowers.

Right below white and glamorous Amy, there’s sweetly round Beth who left this world far too soon.

Painting the Atmosphere

When the watercolor wets the thick cotton paper, I would like to invite you to my little studio and give you a thin brush. Together, we would then paint small shapes like writers working on a common story.

Painting the atmosphere. Abstract flowers in watercolor.

However, as everything in flowers does not have to be literal or recognizable, we could just focus on the atmosphere.

Jo the Tulip

The key figure in my painting is the tulip in the background. He is like Jo, unique and more modern than others, ready to create her life joyfully, but without being forced to the center of the painting. I admired Jo as a child, and it has taken me a long time to dare to be like her – step aside and do my own thing.

Finishing a painting that has the characters of Little Women as flowers. Louisa M. Alcott inspired art.

Somehow I also think that when you come to my course, you too want to be like Jo – do your own thing, express the flavor of life, embrace the abundance of nature, and allow unapologetic playfulness.

A detail of a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Painting abstract flowers in watercolors. Getting inspiration from the book Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott.

Freely Grown – Sign Up Now!

The course Freely Grown starts next week. I can hardly wait for it to start – join me!

Freely Grown - online art course by Peony and Parakeet

Freely Grown >> Sign up here!

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