Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Painting the Best Work for the Show

This week, I present the main artwork for my solo show in June and talk about the pressure of painting the best work.

Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.
Juhla Neptunuksessa – Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas

This oil painting, “Juhlat Neptunuksessa – Jubilee in Neptune,” is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Pluto here, the Earth hereVenus here, and the Sun here!)

Painting the Best Work – Feeling the Pressure!

I have had terrible pressure to create my best work for the show. Especially the two big pieces on the back wall needed to reach the next level, not that I was able to define what that would be. So I couldn’t pre-process and plan the paintings in my mind. I had to trust the brush and the intuition and start painting.

Beginning a new painting and producing your best work. Painting in progress.

This size (about 35,5 x 55 inches) was also new for me, so I felt like being in a new territory. But several smaller paintings of the same series had already been made, so it was a continuum too.


Last week I talked about introverts and extroverts, and this painting definitely was an extrovert. From the beginning, it knew what it wanted and kept talking to me gently but determinedly, and all I had to do was listen to its spirit.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

I felt like the painting gently carried me over a mystery of life and took me through the gates that I would not have dared alone. I don’t usually talk about the painting process in this mysterious way, but this time, it all felt pretty magical.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

One part of me, the inner engineer, was wiping the sweat from the outside pressure, and the other part of me, the inner artist, couldn’t care less. She was only serving the needs of the painting.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola. Quick strokes, but painting the best work.

I am very happy about the brush strokes – many of them have been created fast, but they still look pretty flawless.

Creating a Panoramic View

I wanted the two big paintings to be individual in identity but still share some parts when placed side by side. This way, the overall view of the gallery’s back wall could be panoramic.

Two oil paintings to create a panoramic view. By Paivi Eerola.
At Home in Pluto and Jubilee in Neptune side by side

To achieve this, I needed to finish the pieces so that they were placed side by side.

Whales in a Small Bond

My studio is a small room attached to our home, and the two whales were much too big.

Trying to paint the best work. Paivi Eerola and her big oil paintings.

But I managed anyway. In art, I don’t want to live a life where everything needs to be perfect before I can do something. I want to accomplish paintings like this right now and can’t wait for a better situation. And I love our home and working from home, so I just have to make things work. Fortunately, we have quite a lot of wall space in the other parts of the house so that the paintings can dry elsewhere.

Main Promotion Piece for the Show

The new painting is airy, but there are a lot of details too. I am very fond of this piece and feel relieved.

A detail of Juhla Neptunuksessa - Jubilee in Neptune, 90 x 140 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola.

This painting is the artwork in all the promo material for the exhibition. See the press release here! Because the show is in Finland, the text is first in Finnish but scroll down the page to read the English translation.

Paivi Eerola and her oil painting for her first solo show.

My first solo show Linnunrata will be June 3-19, 2022 at Gallery K, Vantaa, Finland.

Is Your Painting Introvert or Extrovert?

This week, I talk about the personality of paintings. Some are extroverts, some introverts!

Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto, 90 x 140 cm. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola.
Kotona Plutossa – At Home in Pluto, oil on canvas, 90 x 140 cm

This oil painting, “Kotona Plutossa – At Home in Pluto,” is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: the Earth here, Venus here, and the Sun here!)

Many Inspiration Sources

Earlier this year, I saw a documentary about Pluto, and it felt more familiar than many other planets that I have only read about. In the series, I imagine how the Milky Way could bloom and only take a small dose of the facts about the Planet.

Pluto’s ice volcanoes started the painting, but then I brought in more ideas. The central idea for this painting was home decor. I love mid-century modern houses and furniture, and many of the shapes have a similar feel.

A detail of Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola. An example of an introvert painting. Read more about introverts and extroverts!

Tricia Guild’s fabrics were another inspiration source. I have been her fan for decades and don’t even have to look at her photos to know what kind of florals she would like to bring to the painting.

Introvert or Extrovert? – Changing the Approach

Even if Pluto is a dwarf planet, this is my biggest painting so far. My style is detailed, and there’s a lot of space in 90 x 140 cm (about 35,5 x 55 inches). There were moments when I felt very unsure about how to proceed because when I asked the painting, it stayed quiet. “Can you hear me, Pluto?” I whispered several times. No response.

This painting clearly was an introvert. I felt like I wanted to quit.

I recognize this syndrome – what I call Big Picture Syndrome – by its signs:

  • You feel the need to look at the piece only from the big picture perspective, as a quick stroke here and another there would magically make everything work. In truth, you don’t yet have a clue what the carrying theme for the piece is, and should discover it by making the details more inspiring.
  • You feel negative about your potential as an artist but try to convince yourself that the piece is good enough. That someone will like it. And at the same time, you know it’s only an excuse for quitting. The truth is that some pieces are harder than others. Some paintings are extroverts that begin to speak to you right away. And some are introverts that need more time to open up. No need to blame yourself for that. Just keep working and trying to figure out what the piece wants!

“Can you hear me, Pluto?” I asked after bringing in new ideas and adjusting colors and shapes. I was relieved when she answered shyly “Pluto hears.” And when I finished the painting, it felt like coming home.

A detail of Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto. Oil painting by Paivi Eerola. An example of an introvert painting. Read more about introverts and extroverts in this blog post!

Listening to an introvert painting is always helpful for learning new things about yourself. I became more aware of how much textiles and fabrics inspire me and I want to show that more later too. If you only accept extrovert art, moving forward is more difficult.

Childhood of an Introvert

Another thing that came to my mind was this small crayon piece from about 40 years ago. ( Read more about this one here!)

A childhood crayon drawing by Paivi Eerola.

When I put it here, I am astonished at how similar these two pieces look. No wonder she was so shy, there are a lot of years between us!

A Finnish artist Paivi Eerola and her big painting "Kotona Plutossa - At Home in Pluto." She talks about paintings being introverts or extroverts. How do you know if your painting is introvert or extrovert?

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed over the years, isn’t that so? Introvert or extrovert – try it!

Preparing For the Solo Show

My first solo show Linnunrata will be in June, and it’s keeping me super busy! I still have a couple of paintings that are not finished, and there are lots of edges to paint, hanging wires to attach, and varnishing to do. My current plan is to show 18 paintings, and every single one still has something that I need to do before the show. And there are posters to design, marketing to do, a lot of work!

Linnunrata will be at Gallery K, Tikkurila, Vantaa in June 3-19, 2022.

Roaming Instinct – Why Not to Limit Artistic Inspiration

This post is about artistic inspiration and spirituality and enabled by Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the seventh blog post of the project, see the first one herethe second one herethe third one herethe fourth one herethe fifth one here, and the sixth one here!

My second big painting is called “Roaming Instinct.”

Roaming Instinct - Vaellusvietti, an oil painting  by Paivi Eerola, Finland.
“Vaellusvietti – Roaming Instinct”, 120 x 100 cm, oil on canvas

This painting and the previous big one have been really significant to me.

Two big oil paintings in a small studio. By Paivi Eerola, Finland. Read what she thinks about inspiration and style.

Regular practice and the big size have helped me to relax and let go – break the glass between the inner and the outer world, as Wassily Kandinsky would say.

Can There Be Too Much Artistic Inspiration?

As long as I have created art, I have been inspired by a variety of things. It has often felt like it’s too much.

Here are some:

  • old portraits in fancy dresses
  • houseplants and their pots
  • midcentury-modern interiors
  • colorful kitsch
  • primitive dolls
  • dressage horses
  • English country gardens and cottages
  • Tibetan yaks
  • base jumping
  • mountain climbing
  • skateboards
  • graffitis
  • physics
  • outer space
  • mathematical algorithms

The list is ongoing and overwhelming!

I think this is not exceptional at all. The world is full of artistic inspiration. Like animals, we have a roaming instinct to explore further. No wonder they say that the hard choice for art-making is to choose what inspiration to pick.

Oil painting in progress.

But recently I have felt like I don’t have to pick. No matter what I paint, I can bring it all together. If I paint a flower, it can look like a nomad, or a mountain, or a furry animal, or a space station, I don’t have to define.

Shapes can have an identity of their own. A detail of an oil painting by artist Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Every element can have a strong identity and the overall scenery can have a strong sense of location even if I can’t name it. Some people say my paintings are underwater sceneries, others see outer space. For me, they can be both, and yet neither. I feel I am delivering more than what can be labeled.

Finding Your Artistic Voice/Style/Spirituality/Identity – Whatever You Call It!

I have created art for a long time expecting to become better at what to pick and why. I assumed that art would make me know myself better and yes, it has. But it’s surprising that now when I am painting, it doesn’t really matter who I am and how I get inspired. My art is not to limit or to focus but to integrate.

Paivi Eerola and one of her oil paintings. Read more about her thoughts on artistic inspiration!

When I started the project, one of the goals was to get clearer about my spirituality. My question was: “Can a former engineer create spiritual art?”

At the moment, I find it difficult to separate physical from the spiritual. All material things seem to have a spirit and everything immaterial seems to have a figure. When I paint, they mix and merge, and after a while, the painting seems to have a mind of its own. It tells what it wants, and my job is to obey.

Does this make sense? What do you think?

Longing for Freedom – An Intuitive Floral Still Life

This week, I have an intuitive floral still life! It’s the biggest painting that I have made so far – about 47 x 39 inches.

This post is also about artistic and spiritual freedom and enabled by Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the sixth blog post of the project, see the first one herethe second one herethe third one here, the fourth one here, and the fifth one here!

About Flying and Freedom

"Longing for Freedom - Vapaudenkaipuu", oil, 120 cm x 100 cm - an intuitive still life by Paivi Eerola
“Longing for Freedom – Vapaudenkaipuu”, oil, 120 cm x 100 cm
Vapaudenkaipuu is one of the most beautiful Finnish words that I know. Listen to me saying it by clicking the audio!

Our back garden is a mall for birds. We get to see many species and, if lucky, some butterflies too. I became interested in birds in the early 90s when I shared an apartment with a friend who had budgies and a cockatiel. Living with the birds made me notice them outside too. And what a great ability they have – flying!

“Free like a bird,” they say, and yes, flying and freedom do belong together. But when a blue tit enters a small bond under our dining room window, I see worry. Worry if he manages to clean himself before my beagles run out of the door or before bigger birds take their turn. His freedom is limited like anyone’s in this world. Even a dove couple who I jokingly call “the owners of the spa” are frightened by their surroundings. Last summer, a dove was killed near our home, maybe by a fox, and it took some time for the couple to reappear.

Flocks, couples – we are born not only to be free but also dependent on each other. When we have each other, we are safer than alone.

But birds have taught me that the longing for freedom is also about safety. The blue tit feels safe enough to wash on the ground because he is free to take off. Insignificant dots, that’s what we all are to him. And still, he also enjoys that we do exist – we who keep the bond clean and pretty.

Intuitive Version of 17th Century Floral Still Life

Starting an intuitive still life. A studio view of an artist Paivi Eerola.

I wanted this painting to be my version of 17th century still lives. They had black backgrounds and were filled with things that had hidden meanings.

17th century Dutch still life, a detail. Jacob Vosmaer, 1613.
Detail of Dutch Jacob Vosmaer’s still life, ca. 1613. Tulips for nobility, butterflies for transformation, a withered flower and a salamander for decay and death.

Nowadays, we can be freer and let the colors and shapes hit straight to our souls. We have the artistic and spiritual freedom to create intuitively and also, feel safe enough to open our inner world to others.

Two big intuitive floral still lives by artist Paivi Eerola.

Freedom – What are your thoughts? Does it show in your art?

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