Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

Selling Watercolor Paintings as Gifts

This week, I talk about making and selling watercolor paintings as gifts. At the same time, we celebrate the playfulness of watercolors.

"Kultaa huuhtoneet" - "Gold Panners", a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Size: A3. Abstract flowers in watercolor. Selling watercolor paintings as gifts.
“Kultaa huuhtoneet” – “Gold Panners”, watercolor, size: A3
See more and bigger pics at Taiko (online art store)

I love gift shops. My dream for a long time has been that, in addition to large oil paintings, I could sell smaller pieces as gifts. Recently, this has come true. I have sold many of my watercolor paintings not only directly but also via the Taiko online art store and the Gumbostrand Konst & Form gallery.

Art as Gifts vs. Art for Homes

An art buyer never buys art just for need. The work must appeal to the buyer on a deep level. Still, large paintings are chosen more according to the interior, and smaller ones are purchased as gifts. Sometimes a small painting is a gift to the buyer himself, often to someone else.

Packing a watercolor painting. Selling and making watercolor paintings as gifts.
I usually sell my watercolor art without a frame, especially if I mail it directly.

As a professional artist, I am more known for oil paintings, but I have dreamt that also my watercolor pieces would be in demand. I love to paint them and the idea of a perfect gift inspires me. However, it has taken time to grow my vision of how they should look.

Because I have grown many of my general painting skills with watercolors, my watercolor paintings have quite a similar style to my oil paintings. But with watercolors, I step in a slightly more illustrative direction. I want my watercolor art not to be too abstract, but approachable and atmospheric. See a collection of my recent watercolor paintings here!

Flower Art But With a Playful Attitude

My watercolor pieces usually have flowers. However, I don’t paint just static and spiritless flower arrangements. I see flowers as adventurous human or animal figures and get playful with them. On the one hand, the flowers are like dolls and teddy bears, and on the other hand, they are imperfectly perfect, feeling natural and real.

Starting a watercolor painting. The first layers.

When the playfulness really kicks in, painting is fun.

Negative painting in progress. Watercolor techniques.
I often use the technique called negative painting, to bring up the flowers.

I love to discover plants in the middle of random watercolor spots. I have also a course called Freely Grown about this kind of process.

Taking Several Sessions to Grow the Idea

Usually, the first layers of the painting are fast and only take an hour or two. But that’s when the painting is just a regular flower painting, not a special piece that has a special appeal. Within a couple of hours, there’s not much time to grow the idea further or adjust the details.

Painting flowers in watercolor.

I usually paint in several sessions where the first one or two lay the foundation and produce the basic painting, and where the next sessions (usually 2 to 4) grow the story and produce the finished look.

Using a narrow brush when working with details. Creating watercolor art.

For example, for this painting, I took walks to see flowers and to add some more to the painting. But after a while, that felt too traditional and then decided on the gold mining theme.

Bringing up older layers in watercolor. Watercolor techniques.

The further I go, the smaller the brush strokes become.

Working with a Progress Photo

I find it helpful to take a photo of the unfinished piece, and then use it as a reference. The small-sized picture makes it easier for me to spot the areas that still need adjusting.

Using a progress photo to point out the  parts that need adjusting. Making and selling watercolor art as gifts.

Looking at the photo also helps with distancing myself from the actual piece. I can ask: Do I love this? Would I buy this? When selling watercolor paintings as gifts, never underestimate the quality, always try a little higher.

Color over Color

Pigments are very different from each other. Some colors require many layers, and others can be used very thickly. Most artist-quality yellows have good coverage and work well for the finishing touches.

Painting layers in watercolor. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I have recently used smooth (hot press) watercolor paper because it’s best for tiny details.

Gentle Breakthroughs

I want to break boundaries with all my art, but in watercolor, I try to do it more gently than usual. In this painting, the flowers have caught Hokusai’s great wave from Japan and taken it to Lapland to pan for gold. And so it happened that the gold and the flowers started a decorative baroque party and everything small became surprisingly big and grand. Despite all this, this is a flower painting where the viewer can relax and enjoy the joyful atmosphere.

"Kultaa huuhtoneet" - "Gold Panners", a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola. Size: A3. Abstract flowers in watercolor. Selling watercolor paintings as gifts.

But whatever the story is, I try to express it so that it can evoke different memories and associations in different people. Somehow, the painting must make a gentle breakthrough in the eyes of the viewer – find a soft spot where the immersion can begin.

See more pics of “Kultaa huuhtoneet – Gold Panners” at the Taiko art store!

Freely Grown – Paint Watercolor Flowers with Me!

Freely Grown - online art course about painting watercolor flowers without references.

In the course Freely Grown, I walk you through my watercolor painting process. Because the finishing touches with a small brush are the most challenging, we take the easier route and do them with colored pencils. In Freely Grown, you paint flowers freely without reference photos and create a unique painting from the given techniques and guidelines. >> Buy here!

Birth of the Attic Paintings

What stories define you as an artist, and how could they inspire you to move forward?

Satumaa, a miniature oil painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
“Satumaa” – oil on canvas, 15 x 15 cm

“Satumaa” is a Finnish word that’s something like “fairytale land.” This painting is only 15 x 15 cm!

Holding a painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

I call these miniature pieces attic paintings. Here’s the story behind them.

Päivi’s Attic

When I was a child, I dreamed about running a shop. My main interest there was in product development. I wanted to design things and offer an attractive selection. We lived in a wooden house with a big attic, and I established my shop there. It was called “Päivin puikko” – Päivi’s Needle and had a modest selection of hand-crocheted things.

I remember the joyful sound of footsteps on the staircase when my two sisters came to visit. They were a lot older than me and had coins with them too. When they admired the little handmade items on the table, the feeling of acceptance ran through me. One sister grabbed a long chain and asked how much it was. “Twenty pennies,” I said. “But this is so long,” said the sister, ” you worked hard for it, I give you fifty.” Sold!

Stories That Define Us

The stories where we experience big feelings define us. I realized that when I tried to figure out how much I have to raise the prices of my paintings. It was necessary as I have grown as an artist, and the general prices have come up too. But a little child in me said: “Don’t!”

“Why,” I asked.

“Because your paintings are already too expensive for my shop in the attic,” she whispered.

And yes, I couldn’t imagine selling my big paintings in that little corner. Yet, I wanted to have something for her too.

“Here’s what we do,” I said to the child. “I will raise the prices, but I will paint some small studies for you, only 150 EUR each.”

A miniature painting in progress.

And that’s how these miniature paintings were born.

Miniature paintings from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland. Thickness approximately 3 cm, over an inch.

I call these attic paintings. The size is only 15 x 15 cm, and they are born from left-over paints. They are the same high-quality oil paints that I use for bigger pieces, but I often have leftovers on the palette after a painting session.

Miniature paintings from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
These are 3 cm high, and the painting continues on the sides. The fourth one is already in progress.

I am now much more comfortable with the higher prices when I have something for the attic – and for gift shops too!


Valkovuokko, a miniature painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.
Valkovuokko, oil on canvas, 15 x 15 cm

The English word for “Valkovuokko” is “wood anemone.”

Valkovuokko, a miniature painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.


“Mansikkapaikka” is “a strawberry place” in English. I was thinking about wild strawberries here.

Mansikkapaikka, a miniature painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

These small canvases work well for studies. It’s good now when I am practicing Albert Edelfelt‘s painting style for my upcoming exhibition in Villa Albert.

Mansikkapaikka, a miniature painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Mansikkapaikka is inspired by Edelfelt’s painting Ahomansikoita.


I like to paint sceneries that are overly romantic and full of fantasy.

Satumaa, a miniature painting from the Attic series. By Paivi Eerola, Finland.

Satumaa was inspired by an older painting called “Luvattu maa – Promised Land.”

Promised Land - Luvattu maa, an oil painting by Päivi Eerola, Finland.

Promised Land was so much fun to paint that I wanted to repeat the idea of using a limited selection of shapes and expressing plants traveling toward the light.

Attic Paintings – Expansion of Style and Love for Plants

I placed “Mercury Temperatures” with the attic paintings to see how the small ones go with the bigger ones.

Floral abstract paintings by Paivi Eerola.

My love for plants and yearning for nostalgia and fantasy are well presented in both, I think!

My husband and I are enthusiastic about plants, especially decorative ones. Our home is like a flower shop now when I have got some bouquets for my birthday and when orchids are blooming.

Paivi Eerola and her husband with flowers.

When I think about the shop in the attic, I wonder how I could not see its influence earlier. The stories that define us can prevent us from growing. But the stories can also be the key to solutions that enable growth and change.

A floral abstract oil painting by Paivi Eerola, Finland.

What do you think?

Preparing for Sales Events

This week’s post is about something that I have been doing lately: preparing for sales events!

Sale items for art sales events

I participate in four events:

For me, this is a lot! Fortunately, I have had time to prepare. For example, I got the deadline for the suggestions for the curated group show on Sept 1st. I was then able to apply and have new work specifically painted for the gallery.

Of these four, I am most anxious about the 2-day Christmas sales event even if it’s the smallest one! I have a sales table there, and I haven’t been preparing one for ages. I enjoy selling face-to-face, so it’s also something that I look forward to. It’s also great to see all kinds of sales items on one table and make a nice selection.

Selecting Sales Items – Delivering the Experience of an Original

Even the smallest sales table is a chance to strengthen your artistic voice and communicate your art brand. Most customers may buy postcards and other affordable items only, but still – we want to give them the whole experience. People have come back to me saying: “I remember you. I bought one card from you a couple of years ago, and I look at it every day.” I like to think that with the card, they also buy a piece of the world I am presenting to them. That’s why I always try to include original art as well.

Here’s one of the small paintings that I just finished. It’s called Samettikukan sointi – The Sound of the Marigold.

Samettikukan sointi - The Sound of the Marigold, 20 x 25 cm, oil on canvas, by Päivi Eerola, Finland
Samettikukan sointi – The Sound of the Marigold, 20 x 25 cm, oil on canvas

The Sound of the Marigold is a sister to a piece that I showed you earlier called Ruusun henki – The Spirit of the Rose. But when I placed the paintings side by side, I wanted to make adjustments to the rose painting so that its’ color scheme is less similar. So here’s the new version of The Spirit of the Rose:

Ruusun henki - The Spirit of the Rose, 20 x 25 cm, oil on canvas, by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Ruusun henki – The Spirit of the Rose, 20 x 25 cm, oil on canvas

Here are the two versions together so that you can compare the changes.

Before and after finishing touches, finishing a painting
Before and after – Click the image to see it bigger!

I am going to have small stands for them so that they will stand out from the rest of the selection.

Two small paintings by Paivi Eerola, ready for a sales event

There are also a couple more small oil paintings. They are still in progress, but I hope to finish them soon so that they have time to dry.

Small paintings in progress

I have noticed that people who don’t regularly go to art events forget the difference between a photo and an actual painting. – like it would be the same browsing the feed or picking a postcard as watching an original.

A6 and A5 printed cards for sales events, by Päivi Eerola, printed at

On my sales table, prints will dominate in quantity. And because most of them are pictures of oil paintings, I also want to deliver the experience of an original oil painting. With the four small ones, I can hopefully present one medium-sized original, maybe Forest of Wishes.

What A Part of Your Audience Expects to See

In my experience, some people are interested in a specific art technique. Previously, when I had the sales table at a similar event, there were some who wanted to talk about watercolor painting and were disappointed that I only had one example or so. These are people who are art hobbyists themselves and who are potential customers for my classes.

Watercolor paintings for sales events, by artist Paivi Eerola

I used to paint a lot in watercolor, but lately, not so much because they don’t sell as well as oil paintings and have a low price point. Because I need to make a living and because I enjoy creating big paintings, I have focused on oils. But this time, I thought I would take a bunch of watercolor paintings with me and set the price lower than expected. If I still actively sold watercolor paintings, I wouldn’t do that, but now I see the chance to reach this part of the audience and show my watercolor work.

Watercolor paintings for sale, by artist Paivi Eerola

Because most elements of my style were developed in watercolor first, these pieces fit well with cards that have oil paintings.

A5 cards with satin finished, printed at, Paivi Eerola's art for sales events

These cards came out gorgeous! They have a satin finish and are bigger and thicker than standard postcards. I ordered them as well as the cards from (affiliate link, but I would recommend them without one too!)

What to Leave Out

Many times, I have put everything I have on the sales table, and that’s never been a good thing. You might have potential best sellers, but bringing items that don’t make sense to them will ruin the sales. For example, I brought fabrics with my designs and some craft items to an event focused on fine art. And vice versa, I took some original art to a craft show. Yes, you might get some sales from the odd items, but confuse most of the audience.

Price can be a reason to exclude some too. For example, if the organizer takes a percentage of the sales or if the price of the sales table is high, selling the most affordable items doesn’t necessarily make sense. And vice versa: when people come for good finds on their way to the shopping center, selling the biggest and most expensive pieces can be hard.

This painting – Tiger’s Eye – has been waiting to get to a curated exhibition that interests art collectors. Now I am happy to pack it and two other paintings for a big gallery show.

A big painting varnished for the gallery show, by Paivi Eerola, Finland
Tiikerinsilmä – Tiger’s Eye after varnishing

My oil paintings always get a varnish and a hanging wire so that they are ready for hanging on the wall.

In my experience, original art that is ready to hang is more tempting to buy than pieces that require, for example, framing. However, if the price point is very low, it doesn’t always make sense to frame the pieces. Whatever the case, it’s always good to present a unified collection and leave out some that are too different in size, style, or frame than others.

When selecting work for the small postcards, I left out many paintings I like and value. For example, many of my big paintings are not so great for postcards. Their details get lost in the tiny size, and their subject is more suitable for decorating interiors than sending wishes.

And then some paintings are quicker but more suitable; for example, Kukkiva maa – Flowering Earth that I painted in acrylics for the class Floral Freedom.

Postcards for sales events, selling and marketing art

I think it’s perfect for a postcard – full of colors and flowers!

How You Will Be Remembered

Many times when I have been preparing for the events, my behavior has been on my mind: Am I able to show my enthusiasm? How could I not only make sales but be remembered afterward too?

But the best answer here is quite technical. You should have something to give that has your contact information on it. And all your products should have your name and website – or at least an email – on them. I use the same tactics, the same generosity that is, that I have used with selling online courses. I give something for free and invite people to see if I am suitable for them. On the sales events, I have small cards that have different pictures – details of my art – and I invite people to pick one that they like.

Moo mini cards for art sales events

This begins a conversation about their likings about them, and when they have the mini card, I can serve them better and be remembered too.

The postcards also have contact information printed on the back.

Back side of a postcard, printed at, designed by Päivi Eerola

There’s also another artwork as a frame.

Back side of an A5 card, printed at, designed by Päivi Eerola

I think about these features as generosity as well. I have taken the time to design the back to make the cards even more valuable.

Sales Events Are the Opportunity to Test

Even if it’s good to have a unified style and selection, the sales event is also an opportunity to test new ideas and approaches. I like to do tests that are not big new things but hidden in the small stuff. This time, I made a postcard of my colored pencil work to see how many people can recognize the medium and how many are interested in this style of drawing.

Paivi Eerola's art on glossy postcards, printed at, ready for sales events

This postcard is composed digitally of many colored pencil pieces.

Digital collage of colored pencil artworks by Paivi Eerola

As you know, I am not just an oil painter, but also love colored pencils. It would be fun to talk about them too.

This leads us to my course sales event on Black Friday weekend. All classes will be on sale and registration for the new class Doll World will open. Doll World will begin at the beginning of January.

Sneak peek at Doll World - drawing poses and clothing, an online art class
Sneak peek at Doll World – drawing poses and clothing

During the years, I have learned that if I love the class, there’s a possibility that you will love it too. The same goes for all art really. We have to pamper it and give attention to its needs. And when the course or the painting asks: “Will there be anyone for me?” we must say: “Yes, my dear – kyllä kultaseni – sometimes it will just take a little bit of time.” We both feel vulnerable about this.

Paivi Eerola with her oil painting The Spring of Dreams - Unelmien kevät
Unelmien kevät – The Spiring of Dreams ready for a big gallery show

P.S. The engineer in me says that this is not a comprehensive article about setting a sales table. But I intend to share some pics when I set the actual table on December 3-4 at Galleria K, Vantaa, Finland. So stay tuned for Black Friday sales and future blog posts!

The Electrical Life of Any Artist

This week I have a consolation post for any artist!

Flying Cats illustrated by Paivi Eerola. Read her article about the electrical life of an artist!
Cats and wings made for the class Magical Inkdom

We start from a movie and then let thoughts fly from top to bottom and come back up.

The Movie – The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Just a couple of days ago, I watched an inspiring movie called The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. It’s a story about the illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) who got famous for his cat drawings. Louis Wain’s life was full of misery, he was poor, responsible for five unmarried sisters, lost her wife to breast cancer soon after the marriage, made bad business decisions, and suffered grief and mental illness.

At the Play - an Exciting Moment. A cat illustration by  Louis Wain.
A cat illustration by Louis Wain

And yet, Louis’s cat drawings were fun illustrations full of liveliness and details.

The Two Undertones of Any Day

The movie felt strangely therapeutic. Maybe partly because it expressed so well what I had been thinking lately: how life has both melancholic and uplifting undertones and how important it is to recognize and make room for both of them.

For Louis, life had two separate sides – the harsh reality and the wonderous world of imagination. I think that many of us can relate to that even if in our lives, the melancholic and uplifting undertones would spread more evenly. If I think about my artist life, there have been so many rejections that where I am now is a small miracle. And if I think about the future, more small miracles are needed to move forward.

Here’s a short video about my journey so far.

This video was published on my Instagram account first, so the proportions were optimized for that.

Those Who Believe in You

In the end, you only need to have one person who believes in you as an artist. Many times you can be that person for yourself. Like Louis, the world of imagination has the power to keep the uplifting undertone going.

A detail of the drawing called "Blue". By Paivi Eerola. Read more about her points on the electrical life of any artist!
A detail of the drawing “Blue” from 2019.

But for me, there have been times when a small miracle has been needed – that someone else brings me up. When Louis found supporters in the movie, I thought of mine. They are a part of my electrical life story. Who could be yours?

It wasn’t easy to contact any of them – ask, apply, and reach out just after losing the belief and energy, but doing that has pushed me forward. Sometimes they have been friends, but many times strangers who have given me a chance to connect with their audience. In the art world, and especially in the fine art world, people are hesitant to accept outsiders. But once you get one door open, some others will open up too. The number of your supporters will grow step by step.

Opening Up for Small Miracles

In the beginning, art was something I did in secret. If I didn’t believe in my art, I simply stopped creating for a while. But the more I created, the more I wanted to find connections with other people. First with others who create, and then more publicly. After going public, stopping is much harder because you start to see wider: There must be someone who says yes.

Doll illustrations by Paivi Eerola.

I see that the melancholic and uplifting undertones are wrapped around each other like two plies in a yarn. By expressing both of them, not only a person but also her art becomes stronger – more touching and captivating. It’s then easier to make small miracles happen – have positive electricity as Louis Wain would put it.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie?

P.S. If you want to turn back the clock and learn from 6-years-younger Paivi, here’s your chance! Planet Color, is retiring on Sept 30, at midnight PDT.

Planet Color, a painting class for beginners.

If you are a beginner in painting and want to use acrylic paints more, for example, in your art journals, check this class! Planet Color is now more than 50% OFF before it goes away! >> Buy here!

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